New to View: Lack of focus subverts ‘Chappie’

By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on Tuesday, June 16:
Chappie (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2015, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: R, graphic violence, language, nudity
The lowdown: Neill Blomkamp is an imaginative and visually exciting director. But as a writer, he lacks discipline and a keen sense of what to retain or delete from his scripts.
And that is evident in “Chappie,” a science fiction outing brimming with ideas — too many of them for the film’s own good.
Because Blomkamp co-wrote the script, he filled “Chappie” with so many concepts that the movie lacks a consistent tone. Still, the special effects and the motion-capture acting of Sharlto Copley help elevate the film above its flaws.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital and English and French audio descriptive tracks; English SDH, Cantonese Chinese, French, Indonesian Bahasa and Thai subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include an alternate ending, an extended scene, a behind-the-scenes look at Chappie and Copley’s motion capture performance, a featurette on the film’s weapons and robots, a look at the visual effects, an exploration of the scriptwriting process from the early concepts of pre-production, a look at creating a South African gangster world, a featurette on present-day robotics, a behind-the-scenes look at some of the settings and a featurette on the stunt work.

Run All Night (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2015, Warner Home Video
Rated: R, graphic violence, language, drug use, sexual references
The lowdown: This is an action thriller that limps along on tried-and-true genre clichés. Leading this leaden stampede is Liam Neeson who again run all nightshows that despite his age, he can take punches, kicks and body slams, as well as dish them out, without mussing a hair on his head.
Action fans will appreciate the gunplay and fight choreography, even though it seems as if it is the same-old, same-old.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English audio descriptive track; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Among the bonus offerings are a pair of featurettes on the making of the movie and deleted scenes.

Wild Tales (Blu-ray)
Details: 2014, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: R, graphic violence, language, sexual content
The lowdown: Six short stories comprise this movie, which received an Academy Award nomination for best foreign language film.
The stories deal with revenge, love, loss, anger and deception.
The solid story is abetted by strong visual and audio transfers, which make the film jump off the screen.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English audio descriptive track and French 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH, English and French subtitles.
Don’t miss: A featurette on the creation of the movie and a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s director at the Toronto International Film Festival comprise the major bonus offerings.

The Newsroom: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2014, HBO Home Entertainment
Rated: TV-MA
The lowdown: The final season of this HBO drama that goes behind the news as it deals with the parent company’s corporate fighting and hostile takeover intrigue, the fallout from the receipt of leaked confidential government documents and the growing competition from social media that makes getting the news out quickly and correctly more difficult.
The two-disc set features a strong cast, including Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Dev Patel and Sam Waterston, that brings the compelling views of creator Aaron Sorkin to life.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.78:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 DTS Digital surround, Latin Spanish 2.0 DTS Digital surround and Castilian Spanish 5.1 DTS Digital surround; English SDH, French, Latin and Castilian Spanish, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A look inside the episodes and a commentary on the finale are the major bonus features.

Welcome to Me (Blu-ray)
Details: 2014, Alchemy
Rated: R, sexual content, nudity, language, drug use
The lowdown: Kristen Wiig stars in this dramedy about a woman with borderline personality disorder who wins a Mega Millions lottery and uses the money to produce her own television show on a local TV station in which she talks about herself, unleashes on long-ago grievances and fulfills her dream of being the next Oprah.
Wiig’s performance is what rivets you to the screen as she bounces from funny to manic to sad. It is an unpredictable, dangerous and, ultimately, charming turn.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 16×9 widescreen picture; English Dolby Digital TrueHD; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A behind-the-scenes featurette is the major bonus option.

Survivor’s Remorse: The Complete First Season
Details:
2014, Anchor Bay Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A six-episode Starz comedy series about a young basketball phenom thrust into the spotlight after signing a multimillion dollar contract with a professional team in Atlanta.
The player and his cousin move to Atlanta where they confront the challenges of a needy family, the poor community they left behind and the pitfalls and rewards of stardom and fame.
Technical aspects: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A meet the cast featurette is the major supplemental option.

Camp X-Ray (Blu-ray)
Release date: June 2
Details: 2014, IFC Films
Rated: R, language, nudity
The lowdown: A young woman (Kristen Stewart) joins the military to escape the doldrums of her small hometown. Soon, she is assigned to guard duty at Guantanamo Bay.
As time passes, and she gets to know the inmates and her fellow soldiers, she comes to realize her mission is not as black-and-white as painted.
She finds herself in a friendship with one of the detainees, which creates moral and ethical problems for her.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette is the major bonus option.

Made for Each Other
Release date: June 2
Details: 1971, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, language, sexual situations
The lowdown: The husband-and-wife team of Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna wrote and star in this romantic comedy about a couple of meet in their mid-30s at an “Emergency Encounter Group.”
They come from different backgrounds and argue constantly, but soon realize that they have formed a deep bond and need for each other.
The release, part of the Fox Cinema Archives series, can be found at www.foxconnect.com or other online dealers.
Technical aspects: 16×9 widescreen picture.

“Andre Gregory & Wallace Shawn: 3 Films”: My Dinner With Andre, Vanya on 42nd Street, A Master Builder
(Blu-ray)
My Dinner With Andre (Blu-ray)
A Master Builder (Blu-ray)
Details: 1981-2014
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn are not only theater director, writers and actors, they also are longtime friends.
Their first cinematic collaboration was when they sat down for a stimulating dinner in 1981’s “My Dinner With Andre.” In 1994, they created “Vanya on 42nd Street,” a read-through of Anton Chekov’s “Uncle Vanya.” They reunited in 2014 for an interesting interpretation of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Master Builder.”
These are not what you would call mainstream movies, but they do showcase how film can stimulate and expand a viewer’s look at the world. The titles also are being released individually.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.66:1 widescreen picture (“My Dinner With Andre,” “Vanya on 42nd Street) and 1.78:1/2.35:1 widescreen picture (“A Master Builder); English DTS-HD Master Audio (monaural) (“Andre’), DTS-HD Master Audio stereo (“Vanya”) and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround (“A Master Builder”); English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: A couple of hours worth of bonus features, including a 2009 interview with Gregory and Shawn about “My Dinner With Andre”; a 1982 BBC program with Shawn interviewing director Louis Malle; a 2012 documentary about “Vanya”; interviews with Gregory, Shawn, director Jonathan Demme and cast members about “Master Builder”; a conversation with Gregory, Shawn and Fran Lebowitz; plus a booklet with essays about the films.

Pin Up Girl
Release date: June 2
Details: 1944, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Betty Grable was the most popular pin-up star for GIs during World War II. This Technicolor musical comedy capitalizes of that popularity with Grable starring as a shy USO canteen secretary who falls for a soldier and, in order to be near him, poses as a famous entertainer.
Her subterfuge becomes reality when the USO hires her. Among the co-stars are Joe E. Brown, Martha Ray and Eugene Pallette. The release is part of the Fox Cinema Archives collection and can be found at www.foxconnect.com or other online retailers.
Technical aspects: 4×3 full-screen picture.

“Betty Grable 3-Film Collection”
Release date: June 2
Details: 1943-50, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Betty Grable is featured in a trio of Technicolor treasures from her years at 20th Century Fox. This set includes “Sweet Rosie O’Grady” (1943) with Robert Young, Adolphe Menjou, Reginald Gardiner and Virginia Grey; “That Lady in Ermine” (1948) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Cesar Romero, all the under direction of Ernst Lubitsch; and “Wabash Avenue” (1950) with Victor Mature and Phil Harris.
The set is part of the Fox Cinema Archives collection and can be found at www.foxconnect.com.
Technical aspects: 1.33:1 full-screen picture.

“Don Ameche 3-Film Collection”
Release date: June 2
Details: 1936-39, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Don Ameche was one of 20th Century Fox’s most versatile performers during the 1930s and ‘40s, playing either leads or supporting roles in musicals, comedies and dramas.
The three movies in this set are “Ramona” (1936) co-starring Loretta Young, John Carradine, J. Carrol Naish and Katherine De Mille; “Josette” (1938) with Simone Simon, Robert Young, Joan Davis and Bert Lahr; and “Swanee River” (1939) with Ameche as composer Stephen C. Foster, and costarring Andrea Leeds and Al Jolson.
The release is part of the Fox Cinema Archives series and can be found at www.foxconnect or other online retailers.
Technical aspects: 1.33:1 full-screen picture.

Tentacles/Reptilicus: Double Feature (Blu-ray)
Details: 1962, 1976, Scream-Shout! Factory
Rated: PG, Not rated
The lowdown: A creature feature doubleheader that leads off with “Tentacles” (PG, 1976), in which a giant marine menace starts snacking on the residents of a small seaside town. The film, which features such big-name stars as Henry Fonda, Shelley Winters as well as writer-director John Huston, was produced to cash in on the “Jaws” craze.
“Reptilicus” (Not rated, 1962) is a cheapie Danish flick about a monster from the past that reawakens and begins to wreak havoc. This is a camp outing, as the dubbing is terrible and the special effects are even worse.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 widescreen picture (“Tentacles”), 1.66:1 widescreen picture (Reptilicus”): English DTS-HD Master Audio stereo (“Tentacles”) and DTS-HD Master Audio monaural (“Reptilicus”).

“Dan Dailey 3-Film Collection”
Release date: June 2
Details: 1949-57, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Dan Dailey is the focus of this DVD set featuring a trio of his comedies and musicals.
The set features “Chicken Every Sunday” (1949) with Celeste Holm and a young Natalie Wood; “Call Me Mister” (1951) with Betty Grable and Danny Thomas; and “Oh, Men! Oh, Women! (1957) with Ginger Rogers, David Niven, Barbara Rush and Tony Randall.
The release, part of the Fox Cinema Archives collection, is available at www.foxconnect.com or other online DVD sellers.
Technical aspects: 1.33:1 full-screen picture; 16×9 widescreen picture (“Oh, Men! Oh, Women!).

Joanna
Release date: June 2
Details: 1968, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: R, sexual content, violence, language
The lowdown: This feature, set in the swinging London of the 1960s, may seem a bit dated by contemporary standards, but it was considered daring for its time.
The story centers on an art student who gets pregnant by one of her lovers. The lover proves to be abusive, which is just one of the student’s many troubles. Among the film’s costars is a young Donald Sutherland. The release is part of the Fox Cinema Archives series and can be found at www.foxconnect.com or other DVD dealers.
Unfortunately, the film is being issued in a pan-and-scan release instead of its original widescreen format.
Technical aspects: 4×3 pan-and-scan full-screen picture.

“Pat Boone 3-Film Collection”
Release date: June 2
Details: 1957-61, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Pat Boone was an All-American singing heartthrob in the late 1950s. He was the “good boy” crooner, not the sexual threat of an Elvis Presley, who sent young girls into a heated frenzy.
20th Century Fox capitalized on Boone’s wholesome image by casting him in a series of light and fluffy features, three of which are included in this set. The movies are “April Love” (1957), “Mardi Gras” (1958) and “All Hands on Deck” (1961).
The films were all shot in widescreen, but are, for some foolish, unknown reason, being offered here in full-screen formats.
The release is part of the Fox Cinema Archives collection and can be found at www.foxconnect.com or other online dealers.
Technical aspects: 1.33:1 pan-and-scan full-screen picture.

“Richard Widmark 3-Film Collection”
Release date: June 2
Details: 1952-59, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A DVD set that spotlights the talent of Richard Widmark who transformed from playing villains to leading men roles at 20th Century Fox in the 1950s.
The three movies in the set are “My Pal Gus” (1952), “Red Skies of Montana” (1952) and “Warlock” (1959), an all-star Western that also featured Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn.
This latter feature was originally released in a widescreen format, but for this Fox Cinema Archives presentation is being shown in a pan-and-scan version.
The release is available at www.foxconnect.com or other online dealers.
Technical aspects: 1.33:1 full-screen picture.

Fire Sale
Release date: June 2
Details: 1977, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: PG
The lowdown: Alan Arkin stars and directed this dark comedy about a department store owner of the verge of bankruptcy who devises a plan to have a longtime friend burn down his store so he can collect the insurance money.
But when the owner suffers a heart attack, his sons pour the money back into the store, creating more problems.
The release, part of the Fox Cinema Archives series, costars Rob Reiner, Vincent Gardenia, Sid Caesar and Kay Medford.
Details about obtaining the movie can be found at www.foxconnect.com or other Internet retailers.
Technical aspects: 16:9 widescreen picture.

Other Blu-rays and DVDs being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Beyond the Reach (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet) (Lionsgate)
Country Bucks: Season 1 (Lionsgate)
La Gata (Cinedigm)
“Clifton Webb 3-Film Collection”: “Mr. Scoutmaster,” “The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker” and “Holiday for Lovers” (Fox Home Entertainment-Fox Cinema Archives, June 2)
“Maureen O’Hara 3-Film Collection”: “Sentimental Journey,” “Do You Love Me” and “The Forbidden Street” (Fox Home Entertainment-Fox Cinema Archives, June 2)

Coming next week: The Fisher King

Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. He reviews movies, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com. You also can follow Bloom on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. Movie reviews by Bloom also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com

 

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