Movies to watch on Blu-Ray and DVD: Deadpool, Trumbo, more...
Out on 13 June and 20 June
The merc with a mouth gives it both barrels. Dalton Trumbo’s story gets a screenplay. Brad and Angelina have a bad trip.
Yes, here’s the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases coming out in the next two weeks. Click on for our reviews of Deadpool, Trumbo, Parenthood, By the Sea, Doomwatch, The Forest, Dad’s Army, Bone Tomahawk, Bone to Boogie, Enemy Mine, Visions, That Cold Day in the Park, Point Break, A Month in the Countryy, and Edvard Munch.
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Wading through the gags about clown porn and chlamydia, the commentaries and 80-minute Making Of on this well-stuffed disc show how much love went into slapping Marvel’s mucky-mouthed merc on screen – the sex montage alone was perfected over 76 rewrites. Recording his natter-track with writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, Ryan Reynolds offers to hand-pleasure his scribes for their work.
As for director Tim Miller and character co-creator Rob Liefeld’s commentary, you can almost hear the helmer blush at Liefeld’s enthusiasm over the film.
Deadpool may play the goofball, but it takes commitment to cook up such a unique comics adaptation in these superhero-stuffed times. Sure, Deadpool isn’t wholly original in its parts. Guardians of the Galaxy piled up pop and snark. Kick-Ass swore up a storm; Civil War nodded to The Empire Strikes Back; and Batman V Superman went large on honouring the noble knob gag (only kidding).
But few films have combined all the above to such bracing, bankable effect, and that’s before you throw in the other factors that make Deadpool unique. Building a scabrous, oddly romantic star/character vehicle from a throwaway line in a comic (Wade Wilson was compared to Reynolds crossed with a Shar Pei in a 2004 strip), Deadpool emerges from the need to fix a previous film’s botched treatment, plus a test-reel leak, fan campaigns, an untested director, fidelity to a tricky comic source and lashings of splatter. Factor in the R-rating and it’s clear that, minor shortcomings aside, Deadpool took winning risks to do right by a comic that always went for broke (writer Joe Kelly figured it could get cancelled at any time anyway).
The risks pay off in unexpected pleasures. Reese and Wernick (‘The Real Heroes Here’ scream the none-more-meta titles) capture the comic’s reckless spirit with the zinger-flinging fizz of their Zombieland script without neglecting to add characters you actually warm to. Quips fly faster than bullets up Main Street in the opening freeway shake-out. When the air clears, time is spent getting us to like Reynolds’ mouthy merc, a job done without compromising on close-tothe-bone gags about shared histories of abuse between Wilson and his lover Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).
It’s a pity Deadpool’s pansexuality isn’t explored beyond the strap-on moments he shares with Vanessa, but Miller does right by the combination of murkier character beats and rampant puerility that follows. Wilson’s cancer diagnosis and body-horror mutation are played largely straight, with T.J. Miller’s Weasel on hand to provide the necessary balancing stuff of inappropriate gags about avocados.
Encouraged to tell an origin story by Reynolds, Reese/Wernick make that old chestnut work by cutting briskly between ’Pool’s birth and a revenge plot. They also nail the tonal mix, something Miller frets about on his commentary, recorded before the theatrical release proved he’d got it right. Extreme slaughter? “Not funny,” he deadpans. Cancer? “Not so funny,” he adds. Yet the tonal stew works because every element – comedy, tragedy, romance, violence – gets its due without the pace ever stalling to allow one tone to capsize another.
The risk of Deadpool becoming “relentlessly annoying” is equally well navigated. His trademark fourth-wallbusting and pop-culture refs are given full rein with appealingly reckless disregard for viewers who might only know Cocoon as a “really old movie”. But in the absence of ’Pool’s straightman comics nemesis/buddy Cable, X-dudes Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) provide winningly poker-faced/unimpressed contrasts. As well as cracks about X-movie timelines.
Gina Carano is equally handy as Angel Dust, so it’s a pity Baccarin’s Vanessa isn’t developed beyond the ‘Hot Chick’ title credit. After Wonder Woman’s Dawn of Justice wardrobe and Vanessa’s get-up in their respective climactic dust-ups, here’s an idea: how about banning the ‘upskirt shot’ from superhero films? Another shortfall is its villain: Ed Skrein’s Ajax gives good toxic smirk but the role doesn’t extend beyond the film’s ‘British Villain’ gag.
Yet with Deadpool now established, there’s scope to enrich Vanessa at least by introducing alter-ego Copycat in the sequel. Whether a sequel is wanted, though, is debatable. Deadpool works because it feels like a one-off: its X-Men tie-ins are handled lightly and it doesn’t sweat “building a universe”. But one rule ’Pool can’t break is that success = sequel. If Miller, Reynolds and the other “asshats” involved manage to pull that challenge off, it’ll surely be hand-jobs all round.
EXTRAS: Commentaries, Making Of, Deleted/extended scenes, Gag reel
Director: Tim Miller; Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller; DVD, BD, VOD release: June 13, 2016
If you told Dalton Trumbo that his life story would later be told by the director of Meet the Fockers, he probably would have been slightly surprised. More so that his life story was getting told at all – since most of his writing credits on some of the greatest movies ever made were scrubbed off by the anti-communist blacklist, leaving him a footnote of Hollywood history.
Jay Roach directs a brawny, bullish Bryan Cranston in a fizzy biopic that doesn’t peek under as many rocks as it should but does a solid job of unearthing Trumbo’s genius. Two featurettes, totalling six minutes.
Director: Jay Roach; Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren; VOD release: June 13, 2016; DVD, BD release: June 20, 2016
Don’t let the zany cover art of a grinning Steve Martin hoisting up two moppets by the ankles fool you: Ron Howard’s dramedy of parental dysfunction is just as angsty as you remember. It’s certainly not without insight, running the gamut of an extended family’s child-rearing problems from precocious toddlers to grown-up wastrels, but it feels dated in places.
The cast is uniformly good, including the always-reliable Dianne Wiest (Oscar-nommed here), but the most intriguing thing about the re-release is marvelling at early performances by Keanu Reeves and Joaquin ‘Leaf’ Phoenix. Insultingly paltry extras.
EXTRAS: Production notes
Director: Ron Howard; Starring: Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Wiest; DVD release: June 20, 2016
BY THE SEA
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie star in this ’70s-set oddity about martial discord in a French coastal town. Jolie writes, directs and plays Vanessa, a former dancer sliding towards depression. Pitt is hubbie Roland, a boozy, blocked writer. When the pair aren’t bickering, they’re spying on the couple next door (Mélanie Laurent, Melvil Poupaud) through a convenient peephole.
More anaemic than erotic and more self-indulgent than sexy, it feels like a backwards step for Jolie after the sweep of her last film, Unbroken.
EXTRAS: Making Of, Featurette, Deleted scenes
Director: Angelia Jolie; Starring: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Melvil Poupaud; DVD, BD release: ‘June 20, 2016
If The Wicker Man had been directed by an off-colour David Cronenberg, it might resemble this 1972 feature, spun from the original BBC Doomwatch series. Ian Bannen plays Dr. Del Shaw, investigating an oil spill for the titular eco-agency on the fictional island of Balfe, off Cornwall.
Predictably, the locals close ranks as Bannen and local teacher (Judy Geeson) discover strange goings-on in the wake of the disaster. Directed by Peter Sasdy, the film has dated badly, and not just because the prosthetics look like plasticine. Lacking in dramatic tension, it’s a somewhat, ahem, doom(ed) watch.
Director: Peter Sasdy; Starring: Ian Bannen, Judy Geeson, John Paul; DVD, BD release: June 20, 2016
There’s probably an intelligent film to be made about Aokigahara forest, Japan’s notorious suicide spot. But this trashy horror, from first-time feature director Jason Zada, is not it. Natalie Dormer stars as Sara, an American whose twin (also Dormer) has been lured into the forest – portrayed here as a place where ghosts trick you into killing yourself.
Given the real-life context, the premise feels particularly crass. It would help if the film attempted to understand either Aokigahara or the people who die there – but that would get in the way of the next hackneyed scare.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Featurette, Production gallery
Director: Jason Zada; Starring: Natalie Dormer, Eoin Macken, Stephanie Vogt; DVD, Digital HD, BD release: June 20, 2016
The gags creak like old knees in Oliver Parker’s warm but wan homage to the Home Guard Beeb-com. Steeped in tea-cosy nostalgia, Parker and writer Hamish McColl’s redraft doesn’t lack amiability, or game casting. Toby Jones (who humanises Mainwaring) and Michael Gambon are spot-on, while Catherine Zeta-Jones vamps up a journo role as the pre-D-Day plot apes spy movies via low-grade sex farces.
But with the twists signalled from afar, the groaning catchphrases lack the comic vim needed to take up the slack. Even Bill Nighy’s arched eyebrow looks weary.
Director: Oliver Parker; Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon; Digital HD release: May 30, 2016; DVD, BD release: June 13, 2016
Kurt Russell’s Hateful Eight facial hair gets another western workout in this genre mash-up, a spin on The Searchers that indulges in some gregarious camp-fire bonding before taking a left-turn into cannibal carnage. Russell is the sheriff in charge of a rescue mission prompted when a tribe makes off with the wife of Patrick Wilson’s homesteader.
Matthew Fox’s gunslinger and Richard Jenkins’ doddery boozehound present other potential impediments in a film that deftly blends comedy and horror with well-etched character dynamics.
EXTRAS: Making of, Q&As
Director: S. Craig Zahler; Starring: Kurt Russell, Richard Jenkins, Matthew Fox; DVD, BD release: June 13, 2016
BORN TO BOOGIE
When the Beatles were done, so rock wisdom has it, Marc Bolan nimbly leapfrogged into the vacuum, galvanising a new generation with his Chuck Berry-gone-cosmic groove.
So in the way of the old guard ushering in the new, it’s kind of fitting that Ringo Starr directed this 1972 concert movie with a couple of quid from Apple Films; and, by crikey, much of it (especially the cod-Magical Mystery surrealism) shows its age. The Wembley gig, though, included fully in the extras, is a joy, highlighting the magnetic appeal of the Jeepster in his pomp.
EXTRA: Wembley concert (BD) Featurettes
Director: Ringo Starr; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: June 13, 2016
In the late 21st-century, mankind is fighting an interstellar war with “non-human aliens” the Dracs. When prejudiced pilot Dennis Quaid crash lands on a deserted planet with Drac Louis Gossett Jr., they must join forces to survive. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Troy), this ambitious sci-fi makes heavy-handed work of its equality subtext.
Yet the pre-CG SFX are charming in this candy-coloured, space-age Robinson Crusoe – a flop on release, but likely to hold plenty of interest for viewers of a certain vintage
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, Booklet
Director: Wolfgang Petersen; Starring: Dennis Quaid, Louis Gossett Jr; BD release: June 20, 2016
Thanks to Insidious and Paranormal Activity, Blumhouse Productions has become synonymous with low-budget horror. Sadly, this straight-to-DVD effort is more akin to the studio’s shonkier efforts (Area 51, The Gallows), pitting a pregnant Isla Fisher against spooky noises and icky visions in her new home.
The question of whether she’s losing her mind is undermined by the film’s cavalier handling of mental illness, and the plot’s further undone by awful B-movie dialogue (“Yes! It was me!” rages a hammy villain). Though a fun third-act twist finally lays the half-dead mystery to rest.
Director: Kevin Greutert; Starring: Isla Fisher, Anson Mount, Gillian Jacobs; DVD, Digital HD release: June 20, 2016
THAT COLD DAY IN THE PARK
This edgy psychological study of repression and loneliness has all but dropped out of Robert Altman’s filmography. But it exerts a chilly, obsessive grip. Sandy Dennis plays a buttoned-up spinster, 30 going on 65, with only wrinklies as friends.
But when she sees a drenched young man (Michael Burns) outside she invites him in, and starts treating him partly as a child, partly as a potential bed-partner. Dennis gives a haunted performance, and Altman’s camera prowls and peers to unsettling effect.
EXTRAS: Interview, Booklet
Director: Robert Altman; Starring: Sandy Dennis, Michael Burns, Susanne Benton; Dual format release: June 20, 2016
Ericson Core’s extreme sports redo of Kathryn Bigelow’s gnarly ’90s actioner delivers crazy in-camera stunts, a credible Bodhi in Édgar Ramirez and a kinda-decent Johnny Utah in Luke Bracey. What it lacks is the suppleness that Bigelow brought to the set-pieces, and her ability to puncture all this macho posturing even as it makes you punch the air.
To the basic plot of a greenhorn FBI agent infiltrating a gang of bank-robbing dudes is added some guff about honouring the forces of nature, and it’s hard to fathom the decision to shoot in blues and greys, dampening the joy.
EXTRAS: Featurettes (BD), Deleted scenes
Director: Ericson Core; Starring: Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramírez, Teresa Palmer; DVD, BD, 3D BD, Digital HD release: June 13, 2016
A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY
In ’20s Yorkshire, two First World War veterans (Colin Firth, Kenneth Branagh) cross paths while restoring a church’s mural in this much-admired, lost-and-found Brit classic. That the director, Pat O’Connor, is an Irishman works to its benefit: this is an outsider’s study of a stifling English reserve; a sensitive (and gorgeous-looking) study of fractured and disconnected souls.
Firth is superb in his first leading role, going bats in the belfry while attempting to restore more than a fresco.
EXTRAS: Interviews, Commentary, Booklet
Director: Pat O’Connor; Starring: Colin Firth, Kenneth Branagh, John Atkinsons; Dual format release: June 20, 2016
Watkins’ biopic of the Norwegian artist is a three-hour-plus scream of torment. Against a backdrop of political, social and cultural upheavals, Watkins foregrounds a childhood clogged with illness and death, an anguished love affair, and his time with nihilist Hans Jæger and playwright August Strindberg.
Munch’s agony helped pioneer Expressionism, though his sad masterpieces were reviled. A stunning biopic that illuminates the artistic process, Edvard Munch was declared “a work of genius” by Ingmar Bergman. He wasn’t wrong.
Director: Peter Watkins; Starring: Geir Westby, Gro Fraas, Kerstii Allum; BD release: June 13, 2016