Blu Tuesday: Moana and More

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.


Disney has been on an incredible run of form lately, comfortably outperforming sister studio Pixar over the past five years with films like “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Frozen” and “Zootopia,” and that trend continues with “Moana.” Although it’s structured as a rather traditional hero’s journey, the movie sets itself apart thanks to more progressive characters that break from the typical Disney stereotypes. Both leads are great – Dwayne Johnson is super charming as the demigod Maui, while newcomer Auli’i Cravalho more than holds her own in the title role – and the soundtrack (co-written by “Hamilton” star Lin-Manuel Miranda) is packed with infectious tunes that give “Frozen” a run for its money. Also boasting some of Disney’s most detailed and vibrant animation yet, “Moana” is an instant classic that only gets better with each viewing.

Extras include an audio commentary by directors Ron Clements and John Musker, a series of featurettes on the movie’s technical achievements, interviews with the cast and crew, deleted scenes, two short films and much more. FINAL VERDICT: BUY

“Trespass Against Us”

Director Adam Smith’s feature film debut about a close-knit criminal family of Irish Travelers is a relatively low-key drama that never quite gets off the ground. Featuring great work from Brendan Gleeson as the fierce patriarch and Michael Fassbender as his outlaw son, the movie is chockful of potential. But much like the main character, who’s trying to break the cycle so that his own son doesn’t go down the same path, “Trespass Against Us” seems incapable of following through on its many developments. Fans of the two actors will want to check it out for the performances alone, especially the always fascinating Fassbender, but while it’s a decent enough entry in the British crime genre that calls to mind David Michôd’s “Animal Kingdom,” the movie is ultimately pretty forgettable.

Extras include a making-of featurette and an interview with director Adam Smith about working with the Chemical Brothers on the film’s score. FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“Man Down”

Dito Montiel’s latest movie may not be very good, but Shia LaBeouf (who previously worked with the director on 2006’s “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints”) delivers such an incredible lead performance that it doesn’t seem nearly as bad as it is. LaBeouf completely throws himself into the role of a U.S. Marine who returns from his first tour in Afghanistan to discover that things at home aren’t the way he left them. The problem with “Man Down,” however, is that the movie is predicated on a major third-act twist that doesn’t quite work as intended. Although it’s certainly a well-meaning exploration of PTSD, the whole premise is so poorly executed (especially the ham-fisted finale) that its message gets lost in the shuffle.

Extras include an audio commentary by director/co-writer Dito Montiel and military consultant Nick Jones Jr. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP


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