New to View: March 21
By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on March 21, unless otherwise noted:
Live by Night (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2016, Warner Home Video
Rated: R, graphic violence, language, sexual content, nudity
The lowdown: “Live by Night” would have greatly benefited if Ben Affleck had committed wholly to embracing the dark side of his rum-running bootlegger.
Instead, Affleck, who also wrote the script and directed the movie, based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, goes to great pains to give his Joe Coughlin a moral code and honorable set of ethics.
Yes, Coughlin kills people — lots of them — but, per his view, they deserved to die.
Affleck’s use of voice-over narration reinforces his character’s outlook, as well as Affleck the director’s need to make audiences understand and sympathize with Coughlin.
“Live by Night” reeks of pretention as if Affleck was not satisfied with making a simple crime drama, but, instead, had to infuse it with messages and observations that seem aimed at today’s political and social climate.
The film crawls along, interspersed by kinetic moments of violence. It is unevenly paced, cold and uninvolving.
“Live by Night” is weighed down by Affleck’s ambitions to create more than a simple gangster film. As good as he is as a director, this is one case in which his reach outdistances his grasp.
The film does work better in the intimate confines of a home theater than on the big screen. Affleck’s narration is easier to understand as are some of the ethnic accents of the Southern and Hispanic characters.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 descriptive audio and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus offerings include a featurette on the gangsters’ moral code, a look at Lehane, a featurette on the film’s women cast members, a behind-the-scenes look at creating the movie’s intense car chase sequence, a commentary track by Affleck and deleted scenes with commentary.
Sing: Special Edition (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2016, Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Rated: PG, rude humor, mild danger
The lowdown: Shows such as “American Idol” and “The Voice” tapped into people’s dreams of showcasing their vocal talents and propelling themselves to fame and riches.
“Sing” takes that premise and focuses it on the animal kingdom with various mammals and rodents letting loose to fulfill their aspirations.
A strong cast of vocal talent led by Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, John C. Reilly and Seth MacFarlane make this an enjoyable feature that will please young and old alike.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English Dolby ATMOS True HD, English 2.0 DVS, Spanish 7.1 Dolby digital Plus and French 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles; DVD: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen picture; English, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby digital and English 2.0 DVS; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include three mini-movies, a music video with Tori Kelly, character profiles, the best of Gunter one-liners, two lyric videos, a making of featurette, a behind-the-scenes look at editing an animated film, a behind-the-scenes look at the “Faith” dance routine and a featurette on updates in the lives of many of the film’s major characters.
Assassin’s Creed (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Details: 2016, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, intense action violence, language, adult themes
The lowdown: Michael Fassbender and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard star in this adaptation of the popular video game franchise.
The movie focuses on Callum (Fassbender), who discovers through some breakthrough technology, that he is a descendant of an ancient line of Assassins.
The transformed Callum begins to gain new knowledge and skills that he will need to help thwart the Templar’s, another ancient order that aims for world domination.
Fans of the game will enjoy the movie, which contains some fine action sequences, but the narrative is a bit incoherent.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 descriptive audio and Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital; English 5.1 descriptive audio; Spanish and French 2.0 Dolby digital surround; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a five-part documentary on the making of the film and various behind-the-scenes looks at the weapons, costumes, stunts and other aspects of the movie; a conversation with director Justin Kurzel and deleted scenes.
Details: 2016, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: R, nudity, sexual situations
The lowdown: Pedro Almodóvar directed this Spanish import about a rift between a mother and daughter that occurs after the death of the family’s patriarch.
Julieta and her daughter, Antía, are devastated when Julieta’s husband and Antía’s father dies.
Both are grieving, but instead of drawing them closer their pain creates a wedge that drives them apart.
When Antía turns 18, she leaves home without any explanation. Julieta is mystified by the loss and it begins affecting everything she does.
Her struggle leads to some self-discovery and surprising revelations.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 5.1 Dolby digital audio description track; English SDH, English and French subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a portrait of “Julieta” and a celebration of Almodóvar.
Insecure: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2016, HBO Home Entertainment
Rated: TV-MA, language, sexual situations
The lowdown: This HBO series centers on two black women navigating the professional and personal landscape of Los Angeles.
Series creator Issa Rae stars as Issa who, along with her best friend, Molly (Yvonne Orji), deal with all kinds of turbulence and uncomfortable racy experiences as they seek fulfillment, success and love.
The Blu-ray contains all eight first-season episodes.
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 and Spanish 2.0 DTS digital surround; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A look at the characters’ favorite reality TV show and two behind-the-scenes featurettes comprise the major bonus offerings.
Release date: March 14
Details: 2016, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: R, rape violence, nudity, language, disturbing images
The lowdown: Isabelle Huppert stars in this psychosexual thriller directed by Paul Verhoeven about the middle-aged head of a video game company who is brutally raped by an intruder in her apartment.
Instead of going to the police, Michelle (Huppert), decides to track the assailant down herself and inflict her own form of revenge.
Huppert earned a well-deserved Academy Award nomination for her striking performance.
The movie, at times, is uncomfortable to watch, but remains very compelling.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English audio description track and Hungarian 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, English, Bulgarian, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, French, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish and Thai subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette and an AFI tribute to Huppert comprise the major bonus offerings.
Release date: March 7
Details: 1981, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: R, language, nudity
The lowdown: Blake Edwards wrote and directed this Hollywood satire starring his wife, Julie Andrews, as well as Richard Mulligan, William Holden, Robert Preston, Larry Hagman, Robert Vaughn and Shelley Winters.
The plot centers on movie director Felix Farmer (Mulligan) who has had a string of flops.
To resurrect his career, Farmer, with the advice of agents, studio flacks and others, decides to make a film that will radically alter the wholesome image of his superstar wife, played by Andrews.
This is a biting behind-the-scenes satire that skewers the phoniness of Hollywood.
The release is a made-on-demand Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.wbshop.com or other online sellers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Finian’s Rainbow (Blu-ray)
Release date: March 7
Details: 1968, Warner Archive Collection
The lowdown: Francis Ford Coppola directed this screen adaptation of the 1947 Broadway musical about an Irishman who plants a stolen pot of leprechaun gold near Fort Knox to reap a rich harvest.
Fred Astaire plays Finian, with Petula Clark as his daughter and Tommy Steele as Og, the leprechaun.
The film reprises such Burton Lane and E.Y. Harburg favorites as “How Are Things in Glocca Mora?,” “That Old Devil Moon” and “Look to the Rainbow.”
The movie features some dancing by Astaire, which always is a pleasure to watch, plus some social commentary on race relations in the South during that era.
The release is a made-on-demand Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.wbshop.com or other Internet retailers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a featurette on the movie’s premiere and a commentary track with Coppola.
RoboCop 2: Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
RoboCop 3: Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1990, 1993, Scream Factory
Rated: R, graphic violence, language (“RoboCop 2”), PG-13, violence (“RoboCop 3”)
The lowdown: These two sequels are pale comparisons to the original, despite utilizing many cast members from “RoboCop.”
In “RoboCop 2” cyber cop Murphy (Peter Weller) must contend with another rampaging cyborg, a police strike and a new designer drug called “Nuke.”
Once again, an evil corporation that has its tentacles in every aspect of Detroit stands in RoboCop’s way.
“RoboCop 3” features Robert John Burke as the new RoboCop who, again, must do battle with the evil corporation that runs the city.
Once again, he must face off against an evil android, protect a group of disenfranchised people trying to save their homes and take on a corporate militia in order to save Detroit.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras on “RoboCop 2” include a commentary track, a making of featurette, a look at the special effects, a Robo-Fabricator featurette and an “OCP Declassified” featurette. “RoboCop 3” bonus offerings include a commentary track, a making of featurette, a look at the special effects, a “The Corporate Ladder” featurette, a look at “Training OTOMO” and a “War Machine” featurette.
The Zeta Project: Season 1 (DVD-R)
The Zeta Project: Season 2 (DVD-R)
Release date: March 14
Details: 2001-02, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This animated series, from the world of “Batman Beyond,” features Zeta, an experimental infiltration robot designed to be a government agent.
Zeta’s robotic technology allows it to assume any identity so it can be the ultimate assassin.
However, when Zeta’s programming evolves, it refuses to carry out orders from the government.
Zeta is now considered the enemy and government Agent Bennet wants to destroy it before it can harm humanity.
Zeta flees and forms a friendship with Ro, an orphan also on the run.
The first season set contains two discs with 12 episodes, while the second season set contains 14 episodes on two discs.
The sets are made-on-demand DVDs from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.wbshop.com or other online dealers.
Technical aspects: 1.33 (4×3) full-frame picture; English Dolby digital surround.
Don’t miss: Bonus materials on the season one set include a featurette on the making of the series and how it evolved as well as two bonus episodes of “Batman Beyond” featuring Zeta.
Other Blu-rays and DVDs being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Ali & Nino (IFC Films)
Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Complete Season Three (Blu-ray-R) (Warner Archive Collection)
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Super Shredder (Nickelodeon-Paramount Home Entertainment)
DIGITAL DOWNLOADS and STREAMING
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Lucasfilms-Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, March 24)
Asylum (Acorn TV, March 27)
Coming next week: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
20th Century Women
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.