By Harley Lond - 05/16/17 at 08:38 PM CT
FROM THE BIG SCREEN:
"Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" is ostensibly the last in the series of six "Resident Evil" films (based on the video game) that debuted in 2002 with Milla Jovovich starring as Alice, a security operative turned zombie fighter turned savior of humankind after an evil corporation (aren't they all) unleashes the "T-virus" on the world, turning virtually everyone into zombies. This one picks up immediately after the events in "Resident Evil: Retribution" (2012), where Alice escaped from a hidden base and gathered a small army to -- unsuccessfully -- fight the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began -- The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation has developed another virus that will kill off the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse. The "Resident Evil" is a fan-based franchise, of course, but by the fourth and fifth entries, the series was getting long in the tooth -- with stale characterizations, too-familiar set pieces, and an overuse of CGI that drained the film of all excitement. The "Final Chapter" repairs some of the missteps of the previous go-rounds, bringing the story full-circle to its origins and giving back Alice-Jovovich her kick-ass fighting chops. It's fast, furious and fun but, seriously, it's for diehard fans only. Paul W. S. Anderson (Jovovich's husband) directs (as he did for all five previous films). Extras for Resident Evil: The Final Chapter include three featurettes: "Explore the Hive," "The Badass Trinity & The Women of Resident Evil," and "Stunts & Weaponry" as well as something called "Retaliation Mode" (in which Jovovich and Anderson break down pivotal scenes from the movie and discuss the world of Resident Evil. From Screen Gems/Sony.
At the peak of the extreme sports craze in the early 2000s, Vin Diesel deserted his "Fast and Furious" crew to portray Xander Cage, an extreme athlete recruited by the U.S. government to infiltrate an underground Russian crime ring in 2002's blockbuster "xXx." Now, 15 years later, he returns in "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" as Cage, coming out of self-imposed exile -- and long thought dead -- to face off against a deadly alpha warrior named Xiang (the great Donnie Yen) and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Cage finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments (do tell!). There's nothing new going on here -- just tired storylines and typical action set pieces. For fans of the first two films only. Extras include "Third Time’s the Charm: Xander Returns," "Rebels, Tyrants & Ghosts: The Cast," "Opening Pandora’s Box: On Location," "I Live for This Sh#t!: Stunts," and a gag reel. From Paramount.
"The Space Between Us" is a cornball interplanetary adventure about the unlikely relationship between a boy from Mars and girl from Colorado. The premise: a pregnant astronaut on a mission to Mars gives birth to a boy -- named Gardner -- who's raised by scientists on the Red Planet, reaching the age of 16 having only met 14 people -- and not knowing his father. While searching for clues about his birth-father and the Earth, he begins an online friendship with a street-smart girl named Tulsa and, when he finally gets a chance to go to Earth, the scientists discover that his organs can't withstand Earth's atmosphere -- and they quarantine him. Eager to find his father, he escapes with Tulsa on a race against time to unravel the mysteries of how he came to be, and where he belongs in the universe. Sappy. Weak performances and directing turn a possibly interesting love-story-adventure into a melodramatic mess. Stars Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Carla Gugino and Britt Robertson. Extras include an alternate ending, deleted scenes, a "Love" featurette, and commentary. From Universal.
THIS WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS:
"Good Morning" (1959) is a lighthearted take on director Yasujiro Ozu's perennial theme of the challenges of intergenerational relationships, "Good Morning (Ohayo)" tells the story of two young boys who stop speaking as an act of resistance after their parents refuse to buy a television set. Ozu weaves a wealth of subtle gags through a family portrait as rich as those of his dramatic films, mocking the foibles of the adult world through the eyes of his childish protagonists. Shot in stunning Technicolor and set in a suburb of Tokyo where housewives gossip about the neighbors' new washing machine and unemployed men look for work as door-to-door salesmen, this charming comedy reworks Ozu's own silent classic "I Was Born, But ..." to gently satirize consumerism in postwar Japan. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with a new 4K digital restoration from Shochiku Co., with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.
Shout! Factory has a pair of ratty releases making Blu-ray debuts this week: In "Willard" (1971), starring Bruce Davison, Elsa Lanchester and Ernest Borgnine, Willard Stiles (Davison) is a young man with a big problem. He lives alone in a crumbling house with his ailing mother. His boss, Al Martin is a vulgar, cruel man who stole his business from Willard’s father and is now working Willard to death at his factory job. Lonely, depressed and isolated, Willard is on the verge of a breakdown when he makes a new friend: Ben, one of the many rats who inhabit his dilapidated home. Not only can Willard communicate with the rodent, but he can actually command him to do his bidding. Using Ben and his furry friends as instruments of retaliation, Willard commands his pets to carry out his vengeance. New 4K scan of the original camera negative. "Ben" (1972), starring Lee Montgomery, Joseph Campanella, Arthur O'Connell, Rosemary Murphy and Meredith Baxter, is a sequel to "Willard." When detective sergeant Cliff Kirtland (Campanella) investigates the horrifying murder of Willard Stiles by a band of rats, he discovers that the rats are now an organized army, and he must destroy the murderous rodents before it is too late. But the rats, led by Ben, the only survivor of the Willard attack, take to the challenge with full force and little fear. New HD transfer of the best surviving archive print.
After shooting cult favorites "Flesh for Frankenstein" and "Blood for Dracula" in Europe, Joe Dallesandro spent much of the 70s making movies on the continent. In France, he worked with auteurs like Louis Malle and Walerian Borowczyk, and in Italy he starred in all manner of genre fare from poliziotteschi ("Savage Three," "Season for Assassins") to nunsploitation ("Killer Nun"). "The Climber" (1975) follows in the tradition of gangster classics such as "The Public Enemy" and "Scarface" as it charts the rise and inevitable fall of small-time smuggler Aldo (Dallesandro). Beaten and abandoned by the local gang boss after he tries to skim off some profits for himself, Aldo forms his own group of misfits in order to exact revenge... . On Blu-ray/DVD Combo with new 4K restoration of the film from the original negative, the original Italian soundtrack in uncompressed PCM mono with optional and alternative English-language soundtrack. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.
BUZZIN' THE 'B'S:
In "A Mermaid's Tale" (2017), starring Jerry O'Connell, Barry Bostwick, Caitlin Carmichael and Nancy Stafford, a young girl is forced to move with her father to a small seaside town, where she struggles to fit in and make new friends. One day she discovers a secluded cove where she befriends a mysterious mermaid, and together they uncover a secret that could help save the town and heal an age-old feud between humans and sea people. From Lionsgate ... "Extortion" (2017), starring Eion Bailey, Barkhad Abdi, Bethany Joy Lenz and Danny Glover, a family vacationing at a Caribbean resort takes a carefree boat ride that turns tragic when they’re stranded on an island. Near death, they’re rescued by a local fisherman, who demands a million dollars, forcing the father to find his dying wife and son on an unknown island before their time runs out. From Lionsgate. In "The Outcasts" (2017), starring Victoria Justice, Eden Sher, Ashley Rickards, Peyton List and Avan Jogia, Mindy and Jodi are two world-class high school geeks who have been tormented for years by Whitney, the most popular girl in school, and Mackenzie, her second in command. When Jodi becomes the target of Whitney's worst prank yet -- embarrassing her at a party in front of a potential love interest -- the two outcasts conspire to unite the other nerds and put the bully clique in their place. From Monarch Home Entertainment.
ON THE INDIE FRONT:
In "Country Crush" (2016), starring Madeline Merlo, Munro Chambers and Sophie Tweed-Simmons, follows city girl Nancy Taylor (newcomer Merlo) who meets Charlie Bishop (Chambers) on her way to a party in the country. He returns with her to New York City where her music career is beginning to flourish, and despite the reservations of her best friend Ainsley, their romance continues. From Shout! Factory ... In "Lovesong" (2016), starring Riley Keough, Jena Malone and Cary Joji Fukunaga, Sarah (Keough), neglected by her husband, embarks on an impromptu road trip with her young daughter and her best friend, Mindy (Malone). Along the way, the dynamic between the two friends intensifies before circumstances force them apart. Years later, Sarah attempts to rebuild their intimate connection in the days before Mindy’s wedding.From Strand Releasing.
FOR THE FAMILY:
"Digimon Adventure Tri. – Reunion" (2015 -- Japan) is Digimon’s first feature-length movie since 2000; it reunites the characters and original cast from the classic series and picks up where the beloved Digimon adventure 2002 series ended. It's been six years since that summer adventure when Tai (now in high school) and the rest of the “DigiDestined” crossed over to the Digital World, and nearly three years since the frenzied final battles between warring factions. With the gate to the Digital World closed, time continues to pass, until the adventure “digi-volves” once again. On DVD, Blu-ray from Shout! Factory ... "Wonder Woman: Commemorative Edition" is a re-release of the 2009 DC Universe Original Movies feature with the voices of Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson, Virginia Madsen, David McCallum, Marg Helgenberger, Oliver Platt and Vicki Lewis. From Warner ... "Bubble Guppies: Super Guppies" (2017) is a new collection featuring five heroic "tails." Whether they're diving into a comic book, going on a treasure hunt or helping to keep the streets safe, the Bubble Guppies prove that being a hero is a lot more than just fighting crime. From Nickelodeon/Paramount.
"Special Blood" (2016) is an Award-winning documentary that chronicles the lives of four patients living with the rare and life-threatening blood disease Hereditary Angioedema (HAE). Failed by a healthcare system that is largely ignorant of their existence, patients Ava, Noah, Kelsie, and Lora join their voices together to conquer adversity and create change. Natalie Metzger, a filmmaker as well as an HAE patient herself, directed and produced the film. The film will be released in conjunction with the fifth national HAE Day. May 16 has been an important day of awareness for the HAE community ever since the US Congress signed a resolution in 2012 to make May 16 national HAE Day, now celebrated internationally. Hereditary Angioedema (HAE) is a rare genetic disease that causes unpredictable attacks of extreme swelling. Attacks can happen anywhere in the body and range from inconvenient hand swelling to grotesque facial distortion to throat swelling that can lead to suffocation and death. HAE is very rare, only affecting 1 in 50,000 people. Because of its rarity, many healthcare professionals have never heard of it, causing patients to often be misdiagnosed or treated incorrectly, sometimes even having unnecessary surgeries. In America, it takes nine years on average for an HAE patient to get diagnosed; that is almost a decade of not knowing what is wrong and of not having proper treatment. The delay in diagnosis is appalling, but more troubling is that six to ten patients still die every year from HAE, despite the recent development of life-saving medication. Many of these deaths are a result of ignorance about the disease or lack of access to medication. Some deaths even happen within a hospital setting, where the patient could have easily been saved. From Random Media ... Eagle Rock Entertainment will release on May 19 two volumes of "The Frank Sinatra Collection: The Timex Shows," bringing together some of Frank Sinatra’s finest performances on television and in concert. Vol. 1 combines his first two Timex TV shows from the late ‘50s. The Frank Sinatra Timex Show: First broadcast by ABC on October 19, 1959. This was the first of four Timex-sponsored television specials that Sinatra hosted. It’s a fun and energetic show that captures Frank Sinatra at the top of his game. Guests include Dean Martin, Mitzi Gaynor and Bing Crosby, who join forces for an opening rendition of “High Hopes” and later Jimmy Durante makes a surprise appearance. An Afternoon With Frank Sinatra: First broadcast by ABC on December 13, 1959, this was the second of Sinatra’s four Timex television specials. The show includes guest appearances from Peter Lawford, Hermione Gingold, The Hi-Lo’s, Red Norvo’s jazz combo, dancer Juliet Prowse and the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. Sinatra sings such hits as “I’ve Got The World On A String,” "I'll Never Smile Again" and duets on "Can't We Be Friends" with Ella. Vol. 2 combines his two final Timex TV shows from 1960. To the Ladies: First broadcast by ABC on February 15, 1960, this show surrounded Frank Sinatra with a host of wonderful female performers for his third Timex-sponsored television special. It’s a mix of comedy, opera, dancing and great songs. Guests include Lena Horne, Mary Costa, Barbara Heller, Juliet Prowse and special guest star Eleanor Roosevelt. Welcome Home Elvis: First broadcast by ABC on May 12, 1960, this was Sinatra’s fourth and final Timex special. It marked Elvis Presley’s first TV appearance after coming home from military service. Elvis performs “Fame And Fortune” and “Stuck On You” then Presley and Sinatra join forces on great renditions of “Witchcraft” and “Love Me Tender.” Joining in the fun is Nancy Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.
FROM TV TO DVD:
"Ice: Season One" (2016-17) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes of the DIRECTV high-impact crime series starring Jeremy Sisto, Cam Gigandet, Donald Sutherland, Ray Winstone. "Ice" follows the prestigious diamond-dealing Green Family, as they plunge into the high-stakes underbelly of the Los Angeles diamond trade. From Entertainment One.
Check out other May 16-May 22 DVD/Blu-ray releases and reviews at OnVideo.