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.
Denis Villeneuve has quietly assembled an impressive body of work over the past few years, and although “Sicario” remains his finest movie to date, “Arrival” isn’t far behind. A deeply cerebral and emotional sci-fi film about the way we communicate with each other, “Arrival” takes a simple, well-worn premise and creates a captivating moviegoing experience led by a terrific Amy Adams. Focusing more on the science of language (and how it can be used to bring people together) rather than the aliens themselves, Villeneuve has produced an incredibly timely movie with real-world significance. Though its slow-boil pacing may test your patience, “Arrival” is a really good film that becomes a great one in the final minutes, leading to some pretty heavy, soul-searching questions that will stick with you long after it’s over.
Extras include Extras include a behind-the-scenes look at making the movie, as well as four additional featurettes on sound design, the score, editing and the film’s scientific concepts. FINAL VERDICT: BUY
Benjamin Franklin once said that the only thing certain in this world is death and taxes, but you could probably add boxing movies to that list as well. Hollywood has been cranking them out for years, and while Ben Younger’s “Bleed for This” doesn’t do much to stand out from the pack, the film is based on such a great story – five-time boxing champion Vincent Pazienza’s miraculous return to the ring after a near-fatal car accident – that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t made sooner. Though Younger takes some shortcuts with the true-life events and succumbs to the usual sports drama clichés, “Bleed for This” rises above all that thanks to a magnetic central performance from Miles Teller. It’s not quite a knockout, but it’s better than most in the genre.
Extras include a pair of making-of featurettes and some deleted scenes. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
Writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig’s debut film feels like something John Hughes might have made if he were still alive today. A wickedly funny coming-of-age dramedy that doesn’t shy away from real issues, “The Edge of Seventeen” is one of the more authentic portrayals of teenage awkwardness due in part to a pair of great performances from Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson. Though Steinfeld’s protagonist isn’t very likable (in fact, she’s kind of a bitch to everyone around her), she’s such a complex, strongly written character that you end up rooting for her anyway. It’s not often that you see a movie that depicts teenagers like actual teenagers, but that’s what makes “The Edge of Seventeen” so effective despite its familiar formula.
Extras include a gag reel and deleted scenes. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
Ang Lee has made some great films over the years, but “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” is not one of them. In fact, it might just be his worst movie to date – an adaptation of Ben Fountain’s 2012 satirical war novel that’s plagued by some really stilted dialogue and acting, as well as a number of awful subplots that go nowhere. Newcomer Joe Alwyn is incredibly flat as the titular hero (though his character is meant to be somewhat detached from reality, he has zero charisma), while Garrett Hedlund, Kristin Stewart and Vin Diesel can only do so much with the material they’re given. There’s a kernel of a good idea here, but it’s executed so poorly that it never has the chance to develop into anything meaningful.
Extras include a trio of featurettes on production, the cast and creating the halftime show, as well as some deleted scenes. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
Though it may not have received much attention when it originally aired, Cinemax’s 1970s-set drama “Quarry,” which follows a Vietnam War veteran who’s forced to work as a hitman after his army buddy gets into trouble, is an entertaining if flawed piece of crime fiction. Logan Marshall-Green turns in great work as the title character, and Peter Mullan and Damon Herriman offer good support as two of Quarry’s criminal associates. But while the season starts off strong and ends just as strongly, it drags considerably in the middle due to a series of boring subplots and superfluous side characters that don’t really affect the main storyline. “Quarry” is at its best when it operates as a gritty crime drama, and although it hits a few bumps along the way, fans of shows like “Justified” and “Breaking Bad” will find enough to enjoy.
Extras include cast and crew audio commentaries on three episodes, a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes and much more. FINAL VERDICT: RENT