Out on 12 December and 19 December
Suicide Squad gets 13 minutes longer. Ricky Gervais takes his Office persona on the road.
Yes, here’s the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases coming out in the next two weeks. Click on for our reviews of Suicide Squad: Extended Cut, Elstree 1976, David Brent: Life on the Road, Lights Out, Finding Dory, The Lion in Winter, Punch-Drunk Love, and Space Jam.
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Suicide Squad: Extended Cut
“Needless to say, the whole thing was a bad idea,” says Joel Kinnaman’s Colonel Rick Flag in David Ayer’s DC super-villain shebang Suicide Squad – a rather unfortunate choice of words given the end result. Critically slammed on release – though that didn’t stop it racing to a $745 million global box-office tally – Suicide Squad fares no better on second viewing.
And this extended cut (not available on DVD), with 13 extra minutes, barely papers over the cracks.
Ayer (Fury) seemed like a perfect choice to direct, but he’s hamstrung here – caught between making a Will Smith drama and a day-glo Zack Snyder blockbuster. Smith’s hitman Deadshot takes centre stage; his single-handed take-down of some blackberry-headed goons is the movie’s stand-out scene, but the look-at-me emotional arc involving his daughter unwisely tries to humanise the killer.
With the plot starting post-Batman V Superman (opens in new tab), Snyder’s fingerprints are all over this, leaving Ayer little room to create his own world. It doesn’t help that the plot logic is skewed: Viola Davis’ intelligence operative Amanda Waller forms this criminal squad (“the worst of the worst”) to guard against the next wave of meta-villains… only to trigger Dr. June Moone/Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) to go rogue. Talk about creating your own mess.
Admittedly, some of it works. Margot Robbie rules as the crazed Harley Quinn and Jay Hernandez finds some soul in flame-throwing ex-gangbanger Diablo. But others – Killer Croc, Katana, Captain Boomerang and especially Slipknot – struggle for screen time. It doesn’t help that the supernatural Enchantress is a tedious CGI-laden non-entity or that the soundtrack (‘Sympathy for the Devil’, ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ etc.) reeks of unoriginality.
Still, the film’s biggest crime is reserved for Jared Leto’s green-haired, tattoo-clad, metal-mouthed Joker. Leto pours his heart into the role, and he and Robbie do generate some chemistry, particularly in the Arkham Asylum scenes. But he’s a secondary character (scenes were cut, judging by the trailers) whose impact is negligible. Why reprise one of the great screen psychos of all time only to sideline him?
The additional footage in this extended edition should’ve restored parity, but the opportunity’s wasted. Bar a few lines when the Joker tortures Harley, there’s little on offer. Instead, we get character snippets: Killer Croc being fed a skinned goat (and later vomiting in the helicopter), Captain Boomerang plotting a mutiny, more Flag/Deadshot soul-searching and a cameo from Ayer as a prison guard. The wait for a decent post-Nolan DC movie goes on.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Gag reel
Director: David Ayer; Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie; DVD, BD, 3D BD, 4K, Digital HD release: December 5, 2016
I had no interest in making a fan film,” says Jon Spira on the jovial commentary to his genial doc. Instead, Spira made something rare: an original film about Star Wars. In gathering interviews with 10 (mostly) bit-part cast members whose faces were hidden by masks, helmets or make-up, Spira has uncovered a fringe history not unlike – apologies to Clerks – the Death Star’s tale told by “independent contractors”.
Spira considered not mentioning Star Wars as his doc opens, so that viewers would only gradually catch on. He changed his mind, happily, resulting in an illustrative contrast between today’s Force awareness and the initially non-plussed, then awestruck, extras arriving on set in 1976.
We meet the ’trooper who bumps his head, the first bloke shot by Han and a woman from the cantina. Most famous are David Prowse (Vader) and Jeremy Bulloch (Boba), though even Dark Side heavyweights can feel small in a Star Wars-sized universe. Prowse discusses being banned from fan conventions; Bulloch recounts scary signing accidents. Yes, even Mr. Fett has leaky pen issues…
Vivid frontline anecdotes mount like Bothans delivering info. Greedo (Paul Blake) and Prowse dish witty anecdotes; others reflect warmly, wryly or sadly; one chap is Ricky Gervais in Extras writ large. It’s a rich portrait of lives touched by a passing behemoth, with a startling take-home: for better or worse, life goes on after Star Wars.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Featurette, Poem, Extended interviews
Director: Jon Spira; DVD, VOD release: November 14, 2016
David Brent: Life on the Road
Thirteen years on from The Office, Ricky Gervais digs out David Brent for a movie-length catch-up. Now desperate to make it in the music biz, Brent goes on a self-funded world tour (well, Berkshire) with rapper friend Dom (Doc Brown) and band Foregone Conclusion.
Enduring Brent for 90-odd minutes is a big ask, but after a flat first act, the film picks up: the songs are spot-on, the comedy excruciating and there’s even a note of poignancy. Painfully funny
EXTRAS: Commentary, Making Of, Deleted scenes, Live tracks/Viral videos
Director: Ricky Gervais; Starring: Ricky Gervais, Rob Jarvis, Abbie Murphy; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: December 12, 2016
David F. Sandberg’s nocturnal chiller has a killer premise: what if the shapes in the shadows are really there? Teresa Palmer stars as Rebecca, the daughter in an emotionally ravaged family, tormented since childhood by a razor-fingered spectre.
Sandberg conjures wildly effective shocks thanks to some inventive visual trickery and careful lighting, while Palmer proves a likeable scream queen. But even at 81 minutes, it feels stretched, with an egregious backstory blowout mid-movie and fumbled attempts at emotional resonance that highlight the script’s shallowness.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes
Director: David F. Sandberg; Starring: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello; DVD, BD, HD release: December 12, 2016
It's usually a good idea to approach Pixar sequels with caution – but 13 years have passed since Nemo got found, and the studio’s undersea opus was never its most untouchable property anyway. What’s more, the studio has clearly learned plenty in the intervening years; Dory rarely feels like a Nemo (opens in new tab) rehash.
It might not have the same stripped-back simplicity, but offers a more exciting lost/found adventure, even more astounding animation and, most importantly, a cranky octopus (Ed O’Neill) who steals the whole franchise.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Short film, Featurettes (BD), Deleted scenes (BD)
Directors: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane; Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill; DVD, BD, 3D BD, Digital HD release: November 28, 2016
The Lion in Winter
Peter O’Toole had two cracks at Henry II and was Oscar-nommed both times. Yet it was Katharine Hepburn whom the Academy honoured for this elegant period piece, an adap of James Goldman’s history play that sees the king and Eleanor of Aquitaine come to verbal blows over which of their sons should inherit the kingdom.
Early work from Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Dalton and the late Nigel Terry enlivens the intrigue, but stagey direction from Anthony Harvey does little to conceal the piece’s theatrical roots.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Interviews
Director: Anthony Harvey; Starring: Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins; BD release: October 17, 2016
Who else but P.T. Anderson could follow colossal dramas Boogie Nights and Magnolia with an Adam Sandler romcom and make it his most inventive work?
Mixing swooning romance with social phobia, blinding white space with saturated colour, and lush orchestral swells with dissonant percussion, it burrows into the headspace of gentle, furious Barry Egan (Sandler) as he dates sweet-natured Lena (Emily Watson). Ace extras are imported, plus a terrific interview with composer Jon Brion.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, Featurettes, Interviews
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson; Starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman; BD release: November 21, 2016
Viewed without nostalgia goggles, Space Jam has aged very badly. The combination of live action, animation and rudimentary CGI looks ropey, but that’d be forgivable if the film wasn’t so cynical.
Filling in the blanks in Michael Jordan’s bizarre real-life decision to briefly quit basketball for baseball, here he’s recruited by Bugs Bunny and pals to take part in an intergalactic basketball match. It lacks the joyful slapstick of the best Looney Tunes and the heart of any good sports movie, feeling like a creaky relic best left in the ’90s.
EXTRAS: Music videos, Making Of, Commentary
Director: Joe Pytka; Starring: Michael Jordan, Wayne Knight, Theresa Randle; BD release: November 14, 2016