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.
Ben Affleck’s directorial career suffers its first major setback with “Live by Night,” a gorgeously crafted gangster film that doesn’t really add anything new to the genre. It’s basically a hodgepodge of much better movies, and while it features some great action and performances, the execution itself is pretty clunky. Working once again from a novel by Dennis Lehane, Affleck is unable to condense the sprawling crime drama into a cohesive two-hour film; he simply tries to do too much, tackling serious themes like race and religion while also juggling a number of subplots that could have easily been excised. Though fans of Affleck’s previous movies will still find plenty to enjoy here, “Live by Night” is easily his weakest directorial effort to date.
Extras include an audio commentary by director/writer/star Ben Affleck, a series of featurettes on the characters, author Dennis Lehane and the car chase sequence, and deleted scenes with optional commentary. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
Directing an animated movie may seem like a step down for Garth Jennings, whose previous credits include “Son of Rambow” and “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” but “Sing” actually fits his comic sensibilities quite well. Unfortunately, the film is packed with so many characters that it doesn’t have time to properly develop any of them, jumping back and forth between the various stories like a kid hopped up on Adderall and caffeine. They’re all pretty uninspired as well, causing the film to sag around the hour mark before Jennings launches into a rousing finale that literally brings down the house. Though “Sing” lacks the depth and smarts of Disney’s own anthropomorphic animal flick, it’s nevertheless a mildly enjoyable jukebox musical that would have benefited from a tighter script and more actual singing.
Extras include a pair of featurettes on production and editing, character profiles, three mini-movies and much more. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
HBO has a pretty good track record of supporting up-and-coming talent, but while Issa Rae may be one of the most promising young comedians in Hollywood, her new series “Insecure” doesn’t quite live up to the buzz. The show has clearly been positioned as a potential replacement for “Girls” (although a better way to look at it is as a lesser version of “Atlanta”), and sadly, it shares many of the same problems, including a protagonist that isn’t as compelling as the supporting characters and manufactured drama that often feels exaggerated. That’s not to say that “Insecure” is a bad show – in fact, it improves a lot over the course of its eight episodes – but it’s also not good enough to keep you invested beyond the first season.
Extras include a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes and an extended look at the fake reality series “Conjugal Visits.” FINAL VERDICT: RENT