New Blu-ray & DVD releases for the week include some military films, some TV, and more. I’ll start with a military film.

The best film of the bunch is Megan Leavey. It is based on the true story of Megan Leavey, a Marine who bonded with a tough dog (Rex) in the Marine K9 unit and together would serve over 100 missions overseas together. An IED wounds them both and Leavey would fight to be able to adopt Rex when his time in the service was up. Kate Mara plays Leavey and does a great job in the role. I knew the story a bit, but wasn’t familiar with the fight to adopt Rex. It never really dawned on me what happened to these dogs after their service was no longer required. The rest of the cast is good as well. I like Common as an actor and you can never go wrong with Bradley Whitford, Will Patton, and Edie Falco. The surprise might be Tom Felton who does a great accent in the film. Animal lovers will surely love the film and it will pull on their heartstrings for sure. It’s a different kind of war movie, more about those involved and less about war.

Sticking with a war/military theme, we have The Churchills. It is a multi-part documentary from David Starkey on Winston Churchill and how his ancestor, John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, effected his strategies. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the name John Churchill before. Winston seemed obsessed with his ancestor and kept many writings about him. That knowledge would shape Winston’s decisions in World War II. At first Churchill didn’t necessarily see Adolph Hitler as a threat, more just a strong supporter of Germany. Eventually he would see that war was coming and the series shows decisions and plans he made that mirrored John’s battles with France and their dictator Louis XIV. It’s a rather straight forward series, but it’s very informational and educational. Obviously the more you are into history, especially British history, the more entertaining it will be for you.

Did you ever want to see a love story set opposite African civil unrest and genocide? Boy does Sean Penn have a movie for you. The Last Face stars my favorite actress Charlize Theron and the always good Javier Bardem and is directed by Sean Penn and most likely you’ve never heard of it. There’s a reason for it, it’s not very good. I wouldn’t say it’s offensive, but I’m not sure what anyone involved was thinking. Theron, an international aid agent, falls in love with Bardem, an aid doctor, as the film spans time and different places. Of course Penn has scenes to really punch home how bad it is with shots of dead bodies, especially kids, piled up and people getting shot at. Bardem is from Spain and Theron is South African so I don’t know if people will gripe about a white savior complex, maybe with Penn they will. Again, I’m really not sure what people were thinking with this. If you want to show the horrors of what’s happening over there, that’s fine, but why put a love story in it? It was made in 2014 and is just now getting released and with the names involved, that should tell you all you need to know about the film.

Fourth we have Iron Protector, a martial arts film out of China. The story feels like something we’ve seen before and the acting is OK, but the action scenes are pretty awesome. After the death of his master, Wu-Lin leaves the village for the City of Stone-cold to protect the daughter of the richest family. She eventually gets kidnapped and he must fight his way through the gang and comes to realize people who were once close to him are now his enemies. There are some fantastic action sequences in the film and it’s worth watching for those. I didn’t always like the look of the film, too digital looking and computerized, but I loved the fight scenes. There’s a scene where they try to cuff his feet/legs and it’s pretty awesome. He takes on a ton of guys and cleans house. Song Yue directs and stars in the film and I’m going to have to check out his first film The King of the Streets because I loved his work in this.

Now we have some TV releases. Hawaii Five-O The Seventh Season is out this week. If you read me consistently you know I don’t watch CBS shows on air, I wait till the DVDs show up. I used to watch Hawaii Five-O when it first came on, but now I do wait till I review the DVDs. I like the show, I just don’t always have time to watch it week to week. Of course the setting is great and Hawaii is a character itself on the show, but I like the cast. Alex O’Loughlin is an underrated actor. Scott Caan isn’t great, but he’s good as McGarrett’s number 2. Daniel Dae Kim I’ve liked since Lost. Same for Grace Park since Battlestar Galactica. Over the seasons they’ve added another Lost alum Jorge Garcia and Masi Oka from Heroes. It’s why the show has remained fresh through 7 seasons. The storylines in Season 7 include the Chess Piece killer, a sex trafficking ring, a patient in a coma, working with a British agent and more. I’m curious to see how Season 8 plays out with the backlash of Kim and Park leaving the show.

Next we have Criminal Minds Season 12. This is another show my mom likes, but thinks is declining. It’s yet another show I don’t watch till DVD. To me it’s just another crime procedural like NCIS, Scorpion and Blue Bloods, but it gets decent ratings and fans still tune in. Season 12 starts with the hunt for the escaped prisoners from Season 11. Paget Brewster returns. Children riding bikes that go missing is similar to a case from 30 years ago. Philadelphia has a string of acid attacks. And they get a lead on Mr. Scratch. With 12 seasons I think you know whether or not you are a fan of the show. If you are, pick up Season 12.

Last we have Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In The Complete First Season. The full series box set came out earlier in the year and for those who couldn’t quite afford it, well now you can get Season 1 for your collection. It’s funny that a show from decades ago still seems relevant today. The show tackled politics and celebrity and civil rights and we are still dealing with all that today. Of course it made a star out of Goldie Hawn, but it also featured tons of guest stars. This collection features 14 episodes with over half not available before. You get the first appearance of “Sock-It-To-Me” girl, Cher as Pocahontas (an iconic classic), Arte Johnson’s “verrry interesting” German soldier which I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t realize came from this show or I did and forgot, and Here Comes the Judge. I’ll be honest, I laughed a lot. I’ve seen some of the skits before, but this show premiered well before I was born. Obviously it’s been rerun and you can find some stuff online, but this collection is really funny. It’s also very timely. Plus Goldie Hawn was such a babe.

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