Monday, December 1, 2014

This Week’s DVD Releases

(Click on title to see trailer)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ***½ Directed by Matt Reeves. Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer, Kod Smit-McPhee. Ten years after a pandemic disease, apes who have survived it are drawn into battle with a group of human survivors. Not quite the intimate parable of the first movie nor a balls-to-the-wall battlefield extravaganza, Dawn is pitched somewhere in the middle, with much of its two hour-plus running time powered by the simmering, expertly sustained tension both between and within the two species.

The Congress **½ Directed by Ari Folman, Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Paul Giamatti, Danny Hustion, Jon Hamm, Kodi Smit-McPhee. A film star agrees to have her digital image recorded for reuse in future films. Despite the handsome payoff, however, she begins to recognize some unforeseen consequences of the deal. Folman’s vision is just too personal and obtuse, and the result can feel rather like watching someone else drop acid, enjoying their giddy descriptions of all the pretty colors but unable to fully engage.

The Hundred-Foot Journey ** Directed by Lasse Hallström. Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte La Bon. The Kadam family leaves India for France where they open a restaurant directly across the road from Madame Mallory’s Michelin-starred eatery. It delivers the kind of sentimental sledgehammering I found myself willing to forgive — the presence of Helen Mirren goes a long way in that regard — but once the story goes off on a pointless tangent, the whole soufflé collapses.

As Above, So Below Directed by John Erick Dowdle. When a team of explorers ventures into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris, they uncover a dark secret. It’s more unpleasant than scary, and ever so slow in getting up to speed.

The Hero of Color City * Directed by Frank Gladstone. A diverse band of crayons strive to protect not only their magical multihued homeland but the imagination of children everywhere from a terrifying monster. Cannily distills the children’s movie to its lowest common denominator: bright colors flashing on screen.

Kite ½* Directed by Ralph Ziman. India Eisley, Callan McAuliffe, Samuel L. Jackson. When her cop father is killed, a young woman tracks the murderer with the apparent help of his ex-partner. A kill-a-minute gore-a-thon whose twist is so obvious your grandma will see it coming. Kite never gets off the ground.

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