Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on social media with your friends.
WHAT: The food at Shopwell’s supermarket has been raised to believe that going home with a customer is the greatest honor they can achieve. But when a horny sausage named Frank (Seth Rogen) is informed that the whole thing is a ruse, he embarks on an adventure to uncover the truth about humans and what really happens to food when it leaves the store.
WHY: “Sausage Party” isn’t a very subtle movie (the dialogue is laced with so much profanity that it feels like it was written by a bunch of prepubescent boys who just learned about swear words), but what the comedy lacks in maturity it makes up for with some clever commentary on faith, sexual temptation and the Palestine/Israel conflict. No, seriously. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough to disguise the fact that the film is essentially a one-joke affair. Vulgar food puns and visual gags abound throughout its brisk 89-minute runtime, but apart from the movie’s villain (a literal juiced-up douche who sounds like a “Jersey Shore” reject) and the totally bonkers finale, most of them fall flat. Although “Sausage Party” feigns subversiveness on the surface, it’s actually quite formulaic underneath all that foul-mouthed depravity, and kind of boring too. Nevertheless, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg deserve enormous credit for convincing a major studio to release an R-rated film about talking food and religion, because despite the letdown, it’s so wonderfully stupid and strange that you have to see it at least once.
EXTRAS: The Blu-ray release includes featurettes on the voice cast and Alan Menken’s opening musical number, an interview with co-writers/producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg about the pitching process, alternate line readings, a gag reel and more.
FINAL VERDICT: RENT
WHAT: In a dystopian future where the collapse of modern civilization has given way to a feudal society, seven rival barons – each with their own army of trained assassins – have divided control of an area known as the Badlands. When Sunny (Daniel Wu), regent to the ruthless baron Quinn (Marton Csokas), rescues a young boy (Aramis Knight) with extraordinary powers, he agrees to train him in exchange for his help in escaping to a mystical city called Azra. But with several parties desperate to get their hands on the boy – including the territory’s newest baron, The Widow (Emily Beecham) – Sunny must protect him at all costs.
WHY: AMC has never been afraid to take a gamble – and in the case of “The Walking Dead” and “Breaking Bad,” they’ve paid off in spades – but for as great as the idea of a martial arts TV series may sound, “Into the Badlands” is a disappointing mess of half-baked ideas and unlikable characters that squanders its potential. Though the show features a solid pedigree of Hong Kong talent like Daniel Wu, Steven Fung and fight choreographer Huan-Chiu Ku (“Kill Bill,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”), it’s severely lacking in almost every department. The expansive mythology is barely explored throughout the six-episode first season, leaving the audience with more questions than answers, while the writing and acting is so poor (save for Marton Csokas’ over-the-top performance) that the only thing that keeps you coming back for more is the brilliantly-staged action sequences, which are among the best on television. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to save “Into the Badlands,” which has somehow managed to earn a second season in spite of being one of AMC’s worst scripted series to date.
EXTRAS: There’s a behind-the-scenes look at making the series, as well as additional featurettes on the characters, fight choreography and production design.
FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
WHAT: After relocating to Heidelberg, Germany with his widowed father (Craig Robinson), 13-year-old wannabe rapper Morris Gentry (Markees Christmas) develops a crush on an older, rebellious girl named Katrin (Lina Keller), who befriends him when he’s ostracized by the other kids at the local youth center.
WHY: Writer/director Chad Hartigan’s latest film isn’t that different from most coming-of-age and fish-out-of-water movies, but by mashing the two subgenres together, he’s created an interesting template on which to build his narrative. “Morris from America” is unable to avoid the numerous clichés that come with the territory, but it succeeds thanks to some understated performances from the cast. Newcomer Markees Christmas is a natural performer, so likeable and charismatic as the titular teen that it’s difficult not to root for him, while Craig Robinson (in a rare dramatic turn) and Carla Juri (as Morris’ friendly German tutor) deliver solid work in supporting roles. Though the movie feels a little undercooked at times – for instance, Hartigan squanders the opportunity to dig deeper into the death of Morris’ mother, whose absence weighs heavily on the film – “Morris from America” is a sweet and honest look at growing up in a foreign country that doesn’t sugarcoat anything.
EXTRAS: There’s an audio commentary by writer/director Chad Hartigan and actors Craig Robinson and Markees Christmas, a making-of featurette, casting tapes and more.
FINAL VERDICT: RENT