Out on 6 February and 13 February
Emily Blunt has an especially memorable commute to work. Tim Burton gets back to his most Burton-esque
Yes, here’s the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases coming out in the next two weeks. Click on for our reviews of The Girl on the Train, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, The Unknown Girl, Trolls, Storks, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Lords of Dogtown, Jinnah, Cohen & Tate, The Driller Killer, and The Hired Hand.
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The Girl on the Train
The perfect commuter read becomes a less-than-perfect film in the hands of Tate Taylor (The Help). Its engrossing story of an alcoholic’s attempts to solve a missing-person case is compromised by a transatlantic location switch and the casting of cut-glass bombshell Emily Blunt as its supposedly haggard lead.
Yet while the Gone Girl comparisons are off the mark, this glossy adap of Paula Hawkins’ bestseller still does an efficient job of moulding its dizzying mix of flashbacks, multiple perspectives and unreliable narration into a coherent, if not always credible whole.
Blunt doesn’t completely convince as Rachel, who has a maudlin obsession with her sorrowful ex (Justin Theroux) and his new bride (Rebecca Ferguson), plus her former neighbour (Haley Bennett) and the hot shrink (Edgar Ramírez) she may have been having it off with prior to her disappearance.
But Blunt is hardly the least plausible element in Taylor’s far-fetched yarn: that honour is shared by Luke Evans, as Bennett’s ludicrously buff hubby, and a luridly Guignol climax.
There is, though, polished support to savour from Allison Janney’s sceptical cop and Lisa Kudrow as a glamorous New Yorker who’s not quite as ghastly as she first appears.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Deleted/Extended scenes
Director: Tate Taylor; Starring: Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Edgar Ramírez; Digital HD release: January 26, 2017; DVD, BD release: February 6, 2017
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Tim Burton’s super-powered fantasy centres on Jake (Asa Butterfield), who discovers Eva Green’s secret house for gifted youngsters. With a script by First Class scribe Jane Goldman, X-Men comparisons are tempting, but reductive: Burton leans more into playful horror territory.
If some of the plot’s Groundhog Day-style convolutions don’t stand up to scrutiny, that’s easy to forgive with so much inventive monster fun to enjoy. This is Burton back to his most Burton-esque.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Music video, Gallery
Director: Tim Burton; Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: February 6, 2017
The Unknown Girl
Despite a slight dip below form, the Dardenne brothers’ latest social-realist fable is a focused spin on detective-thriller basics. Adèle Haenel may not match the box-office pull of Marion Cotillard in the brothers’ Two Days, One Night, but she’s pitch-perfect – driven, guilt-wracked – as a doctor (Davin) investigating the murder of a girl she didn’t let into her practice.
The mystery is slight, and the plot suffers diversions, but as Davin plays amateur gumshoe, a portrait of character and community emerges with great insight, subtlety and empathy.
Directors Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne; Starring: Adèle Haenel, Olivier Bonnaud, Jérémie Renier; DVD, BD, VOD release: February 6, 2017
Dreamworks’ bid to build a franchise from the troll-doll brand pitches younger than most modern animation, and really, these trolls could do with more bite. The relentless positivity quickly becomes exhausting. What saves the film is that form and content are in perfect sync.
Structuring the story as a jukebox musical pays off with smart song choices, especially a witty use of ‘The Sound of Silence’. And the animation offers plenty of weirdness through its freakish menagerie.
EXTRAS: Party/Sing-along mode, Featurettes, Deleted scenes
Directors: Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell; Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: February 13, 2017
Nicholas Stoller (Bad Neighbours) and former Pixar animator Doug Sweetland helm this riotously funny animation. Junior (Andy Samberg) is the top bird for an online retailer that once delivered babies.
When a new infant is accidentally pumped out by the dormant baby maker, he teams up with human orphan Tulip (Katie Crown) to take the infant home. Logic is in short supply, but Storks is surprisingly sweet, with a consistent gag rate and a wolf pack that deserves a Minions-style spin-off.
EXTRAS: Ninjago short, Commentary (BD), Deleted scenes (BD), Featurette (BD), Music video
Directors: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland; Starring: Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: February 6, 2017
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Tom Cruise returns as Lee Child’s ex-military drifter in this so-so sequel. With less tension than in his first outing, Reacher’s now on the run with an accused soldier (Cobie Smulders) and his maybe/maybe not daughter (Danika Yarosh). But this family dynamic only goes so far in the absence of any great set-pieces or a decent antagonist.
Then again, following the first film’s Werner Herzog appearance was always going to be mission: impossible. Still, the seemingly ageless Cruise is ever watchable.
Director: Edward Zwick; Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge; DVD, BD release: February 13, 2017
Lords of Dogtown
Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) gives 2001’s definitive skate doc Dogtown and Z-Boys the Hollywood treatment, fleshing out the lives of the Venice Beach surfers who adapted their skills to pioneer modern-day skateboarding in the ’70s.
With the doc’s maker (and original Z-Boy) Stacy Peralta on script duty, authenticity’s no problem, but the poor-kids-making-it-big arc too often frontsides into cliché. John Robinson, Emile Hirsch and Victor Rasuk each impress, though, as the lead Z-Boys, while Heath Ledger gets his fake teeth into the scenery as Fagan-esque Skip.
EXTRAS: Making Of, Featurettes, Extended/Deleted scenes, Trailers, Interviews
Director: Catherine Hardwicke; Starring: Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk; BD release: December 5, 2016
In what he considered his finest role, Christopher Lee plays Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan. Single-minded, he’s seen tussling with Gandhi, Nehru and the Brit authorities headed by viceroy Lord Mountbatten (James Fox) to achieve his dream of an independent state for India’s Muslims.
The film hit problems in Pakistan, partly for casting a British actor best known for playing Dracula as their national hero, and partly for taking a not-uncritical view of the man. But that latter point is its strength; and Lee gives a performance of immense stature and dignity.
Director: Jamil Dehlavi; Starring: Christopher Lee, James Fox, Maria Aitken; Dual format release: November 28, 2016
Cohen & Tate
An overlooked ’80s thriller, Eric Red’s blood-soaked B-movie features one great performance, one promising one and one god-awful one. Roy Scheider is at his grizzled best as a veteran hitman paired with Adam Baldwin’s loose cannon on a job to kidnap Travis (Harley Cross), a nine-year-old witness to a mob murder.
Baldwin is way OTT but Cross is decent. It’s a mixed bag of a road movie, but Red directs some stand-out set-pieces, including the killer ending, with real aplomb.
EXTRAS: Featurette, Commentary, Storyboards, Extended scene
Director: Eric Red; Starring: Roy Scheider, Adam Baldwin, Harley Cross; Dual format release: December 2, 2016
The Driller Killer
Inspired by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Taxi Driver and the films of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Abel Ferrara’s exploitation debut sees the director himself play a New York painter driven mad by pompous criticism, mounting bills and the punk band living above him.
Naturally, he vents his frustration by killing vagrants with a power tool. Aggressively shot and cut, The Driller Killer was one of 39 ‘video nasties’ banned in the early ’80s (it finally appeared uncut in 2002) but the real blood ’n’ guts is in the DIY filmmaking, as Ferrara’s impassioned commentary attests.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Documentary, Visual essay, Interview
Director: Abel Ferrara; Starring: Abel Ferrara, Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day; DVD, BD, Dual format release: November 28, 2016
The Hired Hand
Bringing his counterculture ethos to the western genre, Peter Fonda switches motorbikes for horses in his impressionistic directorial debut, a montage-laden, almost mystical tale of responsibility and revenge.
Fonda, in his first post-Easy Rider role, also stars as drifter Harry, who, after years on the road with fellow journeyman Arch (Warren Oates, oozing gruff charm), heads home to his daughter and wife (Verna Bloom, terrific), before facing a test of where his loyalties lie. Bountiful extras include an interview with fan Martin Scorsese.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Documentary, Deleted scenes
Director: Peter Fonda; Starring: Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Verna Bloom; Dual format release: November 21, 2016