Out on October 30 and November 6
A cosmic wonder from anime genius Makoto Shinkai. A lesson in life and maths from Chris Evans.
Yes, here’s the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases coming out in the next two weeks. Click on for our reviews of Your Name, Bad Santa 2, Churchill, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Gifted, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Mummy, Dunkirk, and Kill, Baby… Kill!
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For all its visual majesty and captivating, fairytale-like concept, this Japanese animation’s greatest accomplishment might be in its transition from gender-based body-swap comedy (complete with boob jokes) to sweeping cosmic romance.
Mitsuha and Taki are two teenage school kids unknown to each other, until they suddenly start alternating days in each other’s bodies. Initially communicating via notes, they eventually become playfully intertwined in each other’s lives, until each sets out to overcome the distance and practical circumstances that separate them.
Adapting from his own novel, writer-director Makoto Shinkai delivers a soaring metaphysical love story that’s universal in every sense of the word. Clearly a passion project, the film feels uniquely personal and conceptually epic simultaneously, hitting with wit and wonder, before shifting to devastating tension for an emotional climax.
Beautiful artwork matches the masterful storytelling. Everyday activities across both modern and traditional Japan are rendered with charm; occasional dazzling flashes of celestial intervention, meanwhile, fire up the imagination.
As the film delivers a gut-punching twist, the brushstrokes continue to enchant, offering a soul-lifting gaze at a timeless story that encompasses young love, friendship and adventure as well as exploring ideas about relationships and destiny. In short, it’s a masterpiece.
EXTRAS: CD (Steelbook only), TV show, Featurette
Director: Makoto Shinkai; Starring: Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryô Narita; DVD, BD, Steelbook release: November 6, 2017
Bad Santa 2
Justifying fears over belated comedy sequels everywhere, this (anti-)festive follow-up proves so offensive it actually undoes some of the original’s goodwill. Thirteen years after Bad Santa, Billy Bob Thornton’s booze-addled Willie is convinced by former partner Marcus (Tony Cox) to steal from a charity as part of a job planned by Willie’s estranged mother (Kathy Bates).
Crassness and slurred slurs ensue, providing merriment only for those with a floor-level threshold for taste.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Gag reel, Deleted scenes, Short
Director: Mark Waters; Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: November 6, 2017
Focusing purely on the days leading up to the momentous event of D-Day in June 1944, this portrayal of the great British prime minister reveals a man battling his own inner war, fighting the memory of his mistakes and fearing a legacy of irrelevance and failure.
It’s a claustrophobic portrait of insecurity that doesn’t quite match Brian Cox’s booming presence as the iconic figure, as much as he clearly relishes shouting eloquently written dialogue – and one powerful, spine-tingling speech – with full thespian prowess.
EXTRAS: Making Of
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky; Starring: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: October 16, 2017
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Given the 4K treatment on its 40th birthday, Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi marvel gets a suitably celebratory Blu-ray package. Collected alongside extras from earlier discs, fresh material includes Spielberg’s own home-video footage, showing him on set.
Meanwhile, featurette Three Kinds of Close Encounters sees the director reflect on its legacy, with input from J.J. Abrams and Denis Villeneuve, whose Arrival Spielberg adores. Classy additions to a film that, even now, leaves you slack-jawed with wonder.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, Interviews, Featurettes, Home video, Making Of, Storyboards
Director: Steven Spielberg; Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr; BD release: October 9, 2017
It might seem like another weepie of the week, but a touching script and a remarkable set of performances keep Gifted on the right side of schmaltz. Captain America himself Chris Evans plays a blue-collar Joe who struggles to keep custody of his maths genius niece (Mckenna Grace) after her evil English grandma (Lindsay Duncan) tries to steal her away to brainy school.
Evans proves he can act without abs and Jenny Slate stands out as the homespun love interest, but the film belongs to the prodigiously gifted, 10-year-old Grace.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Deleted scenes, On Location
Director: Marc Webb; Starring: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan; DVD, Digital HD release: October 23, 2017
Kill, Baby… Kill!
Forget the lurid title – Mario Bava’s seminal masterpiece is not some grindhouse slasher but the shivery tale of a young girl haunting a 19th Century Carpathian village.
From bold primary colours to stunning in-camera effects to a bouncing ball foreshadowing terror (see Fellini’s ‘Toby Dammit’ segment of Spirits of the Dead, Kubrick’s The Shining and del Toro’s Crimson Peak), this eerie gothic chiller casts a long shadow… and that’s before you consider the ghost-girls of J-horror. Brrr.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Video essay, Interview
Director: Mario Bava; Starring: Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Erika Blanc, Fabienne Dali; Dual format release: Septenber 11, 2017
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Splashy big-budget adventure nonsense, loosely based on the Jules Verne novel, with Edinburgh prof James Mason leading an ill-assorted bunch – including crooner Pat Boone, glamour element Arlene Dahl and a duck (no, really) – on a scientific subterranean expedition.
Toss in dinosaurs, earthquakes, underground oceans, Atlantis and some seriously naff dialogue, and you’ve got two hours-plus of gaudy-coloured widescreen hokum.
EXTRAS: Intro, Featurette, Booklet
Director: Henry Levin; Starring: James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl; BD release: September 18, 2017
When Tom Cruise’s tomb raider is cursed by an Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella), it attracts the attention of evil-hunting scientist Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) – who, inevitably, has issues of his own. Universal’s first ‘Dark Universe’ reboot of its classic monsters is a garbled affair, and even as a standalone it’s weak.
Director Alex Kurtzman’s half-hearted horror iconography sits awkwardly with the kinetic needs of a stunt-heavy Cruise vehicle, and it lacks the (superior) 1999 version’s humour.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted scenes
Director: Alex Kurtzman; Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis; DVD, BD, Digital HD, 3D, 4K release: October 23, 2017
In the wake of Christopher Nolan’s sensational World War 2 drama, which opened this summer, Leslie Norman’s earlier, black-and-white take on the events of Operation Dynamo gets a restoration. Dramatising how British Expeditionary Forces were evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk, it’s as involving and immersive as Nolan’s film in its way.
Switching perspectives between civilians (including Richard Attenborough’s factory owner) and soldiers (John Mills, leading a platoon of isolated and demoralised men), it’s surprisingly violent and hard-edged. Nolan, you suspect, took note.
EXTRAS: Interview, Newsreel, Short
Director: Leslie Norman; Starring: John Mills, Richard Attenborough, Bernard Lee; DVD, BD release: Septenber 25, 2017