This week’s home entertainment disc releases include Christopher Nolan’s highly successful World War II epic Dunkirk, the third major LEGO-themed animated feature, a period drama with Judi Dench once again playing Queen Victoria, Darren Aronofsky’s visionary (and brutal) thriller mother!, plus for the first time in North America, direct from the U.K., Sky 1’s most popular new drama series, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man.
This week’s biggest release is Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk
(Warner Bros., “PG-13,” 106 min., 29.98, BD $35.99, 4K $44.95), one of the most ambitious war movies of our time in which Nolan tries to balance the epic scale of World War II’s largest strategic retreat with the intimate stories of a few selected individuals involved in the chaotic evacuation. With relatively little dialogue Nolan tells the story visually from three perspectives (land, sea, and air) with superb cinematography (by Hoyte van Hoytema using 65mm IMAX film cameras), a brilliant soundtrack, and a great score (by Hans Zimmer). Nolan shunned computer-based effects and instead relied on vintage aircraft, stunt work and traditional movie special effects, a choice that pays huge dividends in verisimilitude, marking Dunkirk
as one of the best war movies of our era. The film does have flaws—Indian, African, and French forces who were part of the evacuation are largely ignored, and sometimes the “intimate perspective” Nolan creates can give the film a resemblance to a high-powered modern “first person-shooter” game that puts you in the middle of the action—but what game has visuals like Dunkirk
One of the biggest animated box office disappointments of a year that was littered with cartoon duds was The LEGO Ninjago Movie
(Warner Bros., “PG,” $29.98, BD $35.99, 4K $44.99), which earned just 25% of what The LEGO Movie
brought home in 2014. Unlike The LEGO Movie
, which had plenty to offer adult viewers, The LEGO Ninjago Movie
is geared for kids, who will appreciate the film’s humor a lot more than adults.
For those who enjoy period stories involving good old Queen Victoria there is Victoria and Abdul (Universal, “PG-13,” 112 min., $29.98, BD $34.98), in which the indomitable Judi Dench stars once again as the 19th Century monarch. The problem with this “sort of” sequel to Mrs. Brown is that its narrative brings up the whole British Empire thing and then attempts to absolve Victoria of any participation in that endeavor, painting her, not very convincingly, as completely free of the pervasive nineteenth Century racism, a portrait that is undercut by Abdul’s servile behavior. Still, Dench is always fun to watch, and director Stephen Frears is an excellent filmmaker.
Moviegoers who like allegorical films with characters with “names” like “mother” and “Him,” should enjoy Darren Aronosky’s mother!
(Paramount, ”R,” 121 min., $25.99, BD $31.99, 4K $34.99), a thought-provoking and brutal thriller that the critics admired (68% positive on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes), but which audiences anointed with a rare “F” CinemaScore. Only 20 movies have received an “F” from opening weekend audiences in the 38 years that the CS market research firm has been surveying moviegoers. This divide between the critics, who responded to the film’s flood of imagery, its “Garden of Eden” setting, and loads of Biblical allusions, and audiences, who didn’t, is typical of the dissonance between critics and mainstream audiences that is especially prevalent in the horror and thriller genres. So if you like puzzling “visionary” films, give this mother!
a try, otherwise let it be.
mother! performed poorly at the box office and lost money, but Stronger (Lionsgate, “R,” 119 min., $19.99, BD $24.99), which stars Jake Gyllenhaal in the true story of Jeff Bauman, who was severely injured in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, was a box office “bomb” of much greater magnitude. Once again the critics loved Gyllenhaal’s realistic nuanced performance and gave the film a sterling 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but the film made only $5.9 million against a cost of $30 million. Those who saw the movie liked it, giving it an “A-“ CinemaScore rating, but the film’s grim subject matter greatly limited its appeal.
TV on DVD
This week’s most interesting release is the Sky 1 (U.K.) drama series Stan Lee’s Lucky Man: Season 1
(Universal, 445 min., $29.98), which contains all 10 first season episodes of Sky 1’s most successful drama series yet—a show that resulted from the co-creator of Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, etc. ruminating on a fan’s question about what super power that Lee himself would want. The answer was “luck,” and the end result is, from all reports, the most interesting of Lee’s modern creations. The protagonist of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man is a London homicide detective/gambling addict, who receives an ancient bracelet that turns his luck around.
Also of interest is the science fiction thriller Salvation: Season 1
(Paramount, $39.99), the CBS series produced by Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek
) that debuted in July and is set in a contemporary Earth menaced by a giant asteroid.
The top vintage TV release is Police Woman: The Complete Third Season (Shout Factory, 1140 min., $34.99). This is the penultimate season of the groundbreaking 1970s police procedural that starred Angie Dickinson and the first ever hour-long drama with a female protagonist in the history of U.S. television—and this season has never been available on disc before. Also out this week is the Fess Parker-starring Daniel Boone—Season Six: The Final Season Collector’s Edition (Shout Factory, 1250 min., $24.99).
The only animated release out this week is a single-disc Duck Tales: Vol. 1—Woo-Oo! (Disney, 44 min., $9.99).
The only series that is new to North America on disc this week is Hundred: The Complete Series
(Funimation, “TV-14,” 300 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98), which contains the 12-episode 2016 series from Production IMS that is based on mecha/harem-themed light novel series written by Jun Misaki.
This week’s re-priced, re-releases include the dragon-themed fantasy Dragonar Academy: The Complete Series (Funimation, “TV-MA,” 300 min., $29.98) as well as new “complete collections” that combine previously releases from the same franchise such as The Familiar of Zero Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, “TV-14,” 1250 min., Subtitles Only, BD $129.98), the To Love Ru Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, “TV-14,” 1600 min., Subtitles Only, BD $129.98); and Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, “TV-MA,” 615 min., BD $99.98).