New to View: Jan. 24
By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on Tuesday, Jan. 24, unless otherwise noted:
Inferno (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2016, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, action and violent sequences, disturbing images, language, sensuality
The lowdown: Tom Hanks returns as super symbologist Robert Langdon in this adaptation of another Dan Brown thriller.
In this outing, Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital suffering from amnesia and finds he is the subject of an intense manhunt.
With the help of Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), who Langdon hopes will help him recover his memory, they race all over Europe to thwart a virus capable of wiping out half the world’s population.
Ron Howard again directs, ably assisted by a strong supporting cast including Ben Foster, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy and Sidse Babett Knudsen.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English 5.1 audio description track and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, English and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus offerings include Howard’s director’s journal, deleted and extended scenes, a look at the Langdon character, a profile of billionaire villain Bertrand Zobrist, a profile of Jones’ Sienna Brooks, a visions of Hell featurette and a look at “Inferno” around the world.
The Light Between Oceans (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2016, Touchstone Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, mature themes, sexual content
The lowdown: At times, good people do the wrong thing for what they perceive as the right reason.
Such is the situation in “The Light Between Oceans,” a thoughtful romantic drama with an air of melancholy that breaks your heart.
The movie spends much effort in attempting to justify the actions of the characters played by Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander and getting viewers to sympathize with their situation.
It partially works, since this is a movie about redemption and forgiveness. But, at more than two hours, the movie takes too long to make its point.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English 2.0 descriptive audio; Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a behind-the-scenes look at conceptualizing the movie and bringing it to the screen, a featurette on the Cape Campbell Lighthouse in New Zealand as well as a look at the life of a lighthouse keeper and a commentary track.
The Birth of a Nation (Blu-ray + DVD + digital HD)
Release date: Jan. 10
Details: 2016, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: R, disturbing and violent content and images, nudity, sexual content, language
The lowdown: “The Birth of a Nation” is a powerful film, made more so within the nation’s current racial and political climate.
The movie tells the story of a little-known slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in Southampton, Va., in 1831. That revolt lasted just two days, during which Turner and his followers killed between 50 and 60 members of slaveholding families, including women and children.
The movie stars Nate Parker, who also produced, directed, wrote the screenplay and co-wrote the story.
The feature, “based on true events,” details Turner’s life from childhood through his slow evolution from slave and fledging preacher to defiant leader, who believes he was doing the work of God by staging his uprising.
The film is not set among the grandeur of the fabulous plantations seen in such films as “Gone With the Wind” or even “12 Years a Slave.”
The slaveholders in Turner’s orbit are landowner-farmers struggling to stay afloat and earn as much profit as possible through enslaved black men, women and children.
The film succeeds and impresses in showing Turner’s realization of how this oppressive and cruel system continually degrades himself and other blacks.
“The Birth of a Nation” is a remarkable movie for many reasons. One is the restraint Parker uses during the insurrection. He could have been exploitative, graphically showing the killings. Instead, most take place off-camera or are depicted in a manner that is brutal, but not graphic.
Many sequences resonate, but none is as telling — or relatable to society today — as the one after the failed rebellion when Turner is on the run. He furtively contacts his wife, Cherry, who tells him that his actions have raised the fears of whites and that they are killing people “for no reason but being black.”
“The Birth of a Nation” is a fierce and furious depiction of one of the dark periods in American history that most citizens would like to forget and feel uncomfortable about dredging up.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 descriptive audio; Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital and French 5.1 DTS; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital, English 5.1 descriptive audio and Spanish and French 2.0 Dolby digital surround; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus offerings include a documentary, “Rise Up: The Legacy of Nat Turner”; deleted scenes, a commentary track, a making of featurette, a short film, “AmeriCAN”; a “Free God” spoken word extra; and a celebration of independent voices, focusing on Turner.
Also available is the shooting script.
Peanuts by Schulz: Snoopy Tales
Details: 2016, Warner Home Video
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A two-disc featuring 32 adventures of the “Peanuts” gang, showcasing Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, Woodstock and the rest of the gang.
These episodes combine print comic strips and animation to create some wonderful episodes that will please children and adults, all the while paying tribute to creator Charles Schulz.
Technical aspects: Widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital surround; English SDH subtitles.
xXx: 15th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Release date: Jan. 10
Details: 2002, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, action and violence sequences, sensuality, language, drug content
The lowdown: Vin Diesel introduced Xander Cage, an infamous underground thrill seeker who is “recruited by the NSA to infiltrate a gang of ruthless Russians (are there any other kind?) and thwart their deadly plot.
The movie is loaded with great action sequences and stunts, despite being silly and over-the-top on the plot side.
This reissue is being released in time for the theatrical unveiling of Diesel’s new adventure, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Czech, French (Parisian and Quebec), German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish (CastilIian and Latin American) and Thai 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese (Traditional), Croatian, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Slovene, Spanish (Castillian and Latin American), Thai and Turkish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Supplemental materials include 10 archival behind-the-scenes and making of featurettes, a new interview with Diesel that includes a look at the sequel, deleted scenes, a commentary track and two music videos.
USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (Blu-ray + UV)
Details: 2016, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: R, war-related violence and images, language
The lowdown: Nicolas Cage stars as the captain of the USS Indianapolis, the ship on a top-secret mission, carrying the atomic bomb to the airbase where it will be launched for dropping on Japan.
On its return from the mission, the ship was torpedoed. While many men died in the explosion, others died in the ocean, attacked by sharks while awaiting rescue.
The movie, directed by Mario Van Peebles, costars Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane and James Remar.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH, English and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette is the major bonus component.
The Monster (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2016, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: R, violence, language, images of terror
The lowdown: A horror-thriller about a mother and daughter on a late-night road trip who, on a deserted country road, are involved in a collision.
Though not seriously injured, their car is dead. Looking for help, the women soon realize something is out there watching — and waiting — intending that they never leave.
The movie has enough suspense and goosebumps to keep genre fans satisfied.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the film is the major bonus offering.
“The Black Society Trilogy”
Details: 1994-95, Arrow Video
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: These three movies, “Shinjuku Triad Society,” “Rainy Dog” and “Ley Lines,” were directed by Takashi Miike, who had previously worked in direct-to-video movies in Japan.
The three movies all are crime dramas. “Shinjuku Triad Society” deals with mixed-race cop hunting a psychotic criminal who traffics in children’s organs. “Rainy Dog,” shot in Taiwan, centers on an exiled yakuza saddled with a son he never knew he had and a price on his head, placed by the Chinese gang he once worked for. “Ley Lines” follows three Japanese youths of Chinese descent who seek their fortune in Tokyo, only to run afoul of a vicious gang boss.
The movies are bloody and compelling, worth watching for any fan of Asian cinema.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; Japanese stereo; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: An interview with actor Show Aikawa, who appeared in “Rainy Dog” and “Ley Lines”; commentaries on the three films; and an interview with Miike comprise the extras.
Other Blu-rays and DVDs being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Antarctica: Ice and Sky (Music Box Films)
The IT Crowd: The Internet Is Coming (MPI Media Group)
Adventure Time: Islands (Cartoon Network-Warner Home Video)
DIGITAL DOWNLOADS and STREAMING
Justice League Dark (Warner Home Video)
The Lovers and the Despot (Magnolia Home Entertainment)
Parasites (108 Media)
Trolls (DreamWorks-Fox Home Entertainment)
Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution (Acorn TV, Jan. 30)
Coming next week: Queen of Katwe
Ballers: The Complete Second Season
Pinocchio: The Signature Collection
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow Bloom on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. Movie reviews by Bloom also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.