Now Available to Own: Amy, Mississippi Grind, The Walking Dead, and More

Brace your bank accounts, it’s time to see what’s Now Available to Own for the week of December 1, 2015. Every Tuesday we run down new movie and television releases that you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home, as well as some slick deals that can help save you some coin. New on shelves this week are The Walking Dead, Amy, Mississippi Grind, Mistress America, and more.

Amy Winehouse Documentary

Source: Huffington Post

Movies on Blu-ray

Amy (Asif Kapadia) Rated R [128 min] – The story of Amy Winehouse in her own words, featuring unseen archival footage and unheard tracks. Starring Amy Winehouse, Mitch Winehouse, Mark Ronson, and Russell Brand

To preface my review, I’ve never listened to any of Amy Winehouse’s music, aside from “Rehab,” because I’m not a fan of the style. And the media circus surrounding her life didn’t help encourage me to listen either. BUT with all that said, Amy is a truly raw and heartbreaking look at the late performer’s life. It captures Winehouse in a very intimate spotlight, behind the scenes with interviews and footage of herself and those closest to her. While Amy focuses on Winehouse’s struggles with addiction with a fly on the wall approach and an unbiased attitude, the documentary doesn’t have much to say. The Blu-ray is packed with some solid extra features that bring even more depth, though, and makes it worth while for those who were touched by her music.

Special features include:

  • Previously Unseen Performances by Amy Winehouse
  • Previously Unseen Scenes (Deleted Scenes)
  • Audio Commentary with Director Asif Kapadia
  • Interviews with Friends and musicians

Mississippi Grind (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck) Rated R [108 min] – Down on his luck and facing financial hardship, Gerry teams up with younger charismatic poker player, Curtis, in an attempt to change his luck. The two set off on a road trip through the South with visions of winning back what’s been lost. Starring Ben Mendelsohn, Ryan Reynolds, Yvonne Landry, and Anthony Howard

Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn have been killing it this year, and bringing the two together makes for one powerhouse duo. The chemistry between the actors is oozing, which helps fill the semi-lull story with life. Although this is Gerry’s (Mendelsohn) story, it’s Curtis (Reynolds) who really walks away as the more memorable character.

Special features include:

  • Two of a Kind: On the Road with Mississippi Grind” Featurette

Cooties (Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion) Rated R [88 min] – A mysterious virus hits an isolated elementary school, transforming the kids into a feral swarm of mass savages. An unlikely hero must lead a motley band of teachers in the fight of their lives. Starring Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, and Alison Pill

I was hoping that Cooties would have a little more depth than your typical zombie movie. The screenplay comes from Glee and Scream Queens writer Ian Brennan along with Saw scribe Leigh Whannell; both star in the film as well. Although it has its fun moments, Cooties doesn’t really have the pizazz to differentiate itself from any other zom com. Rainn Wilson is a bit too much to handle, while Elijah Wood and Whannell both bring a certain spark to revitalize any hope of what could be a funny zombie movie.

Special features include:

  • “Circle, Circle. Dot, Dot…Catching Cooties” Featurette
  • Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • Alternate Ending with Optional Audio Commentary
  • “Talking Cooties” Featurette
  • The Cootietary – Audio Commentary with the Cast & Crew

Goodnight Mommy (Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz) Rated R [99 min] – Twin boys move to a new home with their mother after she has face changing cosmetic surgery, but under her bandages is someone the children don’t recognize. Starring Susanne Wuest, Lukas Schwarz, Elias Schwarz, and Hans Escher

There was so much buzz earlier in this year about Goodnight Mommy that I was afraid the hype would oversell the film. Luckily, that was not the case when I finally saw it. This movie is brutal, entrancing, and absolutely terrifying. Despite my anticipation, I had really no sense of how the narrative would play out. It’s a wonderful movie to take a chance on without knowing anything about it. Patience is highly rewarded.

Special features include:

  • “A Conversation with Filmmakers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala”

Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) Rated R [84 min] – A lonely college freshman’s life is turned upside down by her impetuous, adventurous soon-to-be stepsister. Starring Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke, Seth Barrish, and Juliet Brett

I’ve come to the decision that Mistress America is the Noah Baumbach film that has helped me come to the realization that I don’t like the writer/director’s work. The movie is far more reaching than his previous few  – Greenberg, While We’re Young, and Frances Ha are the ones I’ve seen – and I do not care for any of them. I really like Fantastic Mr. Fox, but that film had the pleasure of Wes Anderson directing and only Baumbach helping out in the screenplay. His characters are very difficult to connect with and sometimes they can be overly pretentious – this is more so the case in Mistress America. If his his style could be personified as a breathing human it would be a snobby hipster wearing flannel while smoking a pipe who hasn’t showered in three weeks.

Special features include:

  • Featurettes
    • Story
    • Brooke
    • Tracy

Zoolander: Special Edition Steel Book (Ben Stiller) Rated PG-13 [89 min] – At the end of his career, a clueless fashion model is brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Christine Taylor

True story: I recently saw Zoolander in its entirety for the first time last Christmas. I never was attracted to the hype when it first released and I’m not a big fan of man-child characters i.e. most Will Ferrell roles. But I decided to finally check Zoolander out because I had free time and was bored. I dislike it. Maybe it will be like Step Brothers and I’ll have to watch it a few more times to appreciate it, but at this point in my life it’s not for me. I do think that this special Blu-ray release has a lot of awesome features for fans of the film, jam-packed with goodies that will be worth the buy, especially since you get a Derek Zoolander bandanna.

Special features include:

  • Audio Commentary by Ben Stiller and writers Drake Sather & John Hamburg
  • A Really, Really, Really Cool Teaser for Zoolander No. 2
  • Breakdance Fight Rehearsal—NEW!
  • Alternate Brainwashing Sequence Storyboards—NEW!
  • Walkoff Rehearsal Footage with Ben Stiller commentary
  • Deleted Scenes with Ben Stiller commentary
  • Extended Scenes with Ben Stiller commentary
  • Outtakes
  • VH1 Fashion Awards Skits
  • Music Video “Start the Commotion” by The Wiseguys
  • Public Service Announcements
  • MTV Cribs
  • Interstitials
  • Photo Galleries

Some Kind Of Beautiful (Tom Vaughan) Rated R [100 min] – A drama about a Cambridge poetry professor who begins to re-evaluate his life of Byronic excess. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Jessica Alba, and Malcolm McDowell

This movie is the worst. It’s on Netflix now, but don’t even bother wasting your time. The cast may be a selling point, but don’t be fooled. All the characters are dislikable and the story is below a trashy soap.

Special features include:

  • “Inside the Heart of a Romantic” Featurette

War Pigs (Ryan Little) Rated R [91 min] – A rag tag unit of misfits known as the War Pigs must go behind enemy lines to exterminate Nazis by any means necessary. Starring Luke Goss, Dolph Lundgren, and Chuck Liddell [Watch the Trailer]

If you could take the second squad rejects from The Expendables and pack them into a direct-to-DVD spin-off, that would be War Pigs. The only difference is that War Pigs isn’t as self-aware that it’s a goofy action flick nor does it have the big, bold over the top action to justify its existence. All of the actors are vapid, portraying stock characters that are more empty than your uncle’s flask on Thanksgiving.

  • No special features included

DVD Only

The Guardsman (Jiao Xiao-Yu) – When the Emperor travels in disguise to understand the problems that his people face, his enemies discover his identity and team up with Japanese pirates to assassinate him. Now, it is up to a group of loyal warriors to protect their Emperor and bring peace to the kingdom. Starring Yan Jie, Zheng Peipei, Wu Ma, and Yuan Biao [Watch the Trailer]

If you’re looking for a kung-fu flick just for the action you’ll find it here in The Guardsman. These wannabe Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon knockoff wuxia films are all one in the same. They all have very similar fight choreography, their imbued with the same messages and themes, and they want you to leave more enlightened when you came in.

  • No special features included

Zero Tolerance (Wych Kaosayananda) Rated R [Time N/A] – Two former para-military operatives, Johnny and his police detective friend Peter, search Bangkok to find the killers of Johnny’s beautiful daughter Angel – Leaving carnage and retribution throughout city. Starring Dustin Nguyen, Scott Adkins, and Sahajak Boonthanakit [Watch the Trailer]

Here’s a movie that takes itself too seriously in a genre that should be more fun than dower. These underground, neo-noir type movies are also becoming very familiar. There’s nothing nuanced or special about a man on a mission seeking revenge anymore. This movie reeks of straight-to-DVD craftsmanship and the proof is in the quality of the storytelling, acting, and the action.

  • No special features included

Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos (Gabriel Riva Palacio Alatriste and Rodolfo Riva-Palacio Alatriste) Rated PG-13 [98 min] – Toto, a young chick born the run of the litter, rises to the occasion when a rancher threatens his home and his family. Starring Bruno Bichir, Carlos Espejel, and Angélica Vale

If you’re looking for a really messed up children’s movie that promotes violence, sex, and gambling then Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos, or Huevos: Little Rooster’s Egg-cellent Adventure, it’s English language title, is right for you. Aside from the crude animation style, Huevos is a grating, head pounding experience to endure. Kids will even see past it’s stupidity.

Special features include:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Featurette (English-language cast)
  • Behind-the-Scenes Featurette (Spanish-language cast)

Get Santa (Christopher Smith) Rated PG [102 min] – A father and son who team up to save Christmas once they discover Santa Claus sleeping in their garage after crashing his sleigh and finding himself on the run from the police. Starring Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall, and Kit Connor [Watch the trailer]

I never realized there was a trending theme in Christmas movies until now. Get Santa is the story of a Scrooge-like dad, down on his luck who has to overcome his pessimism and non-beliefs in order to cheer up his son while reviving the world with a sense of holiday spirit i.e. Elf, The Santa Clause, and Jingle All the Way. Get Santa is a lot more heartfelt than most derivative holiday movies in the same vein, but also very cliche and predictable.

Special features include:

  • Behind the Scenes Featurette
Fear the Walking Dead Season 1

Source: MTV

TV Show Releases

Fear the Walking Dead: Season 1 (Dave Erickson and Robert Kirkman) Rated TV-MA [43 min] – What did the world look like as it was transforming into the horrifying apocalypse depicted in “The Walking Dead”? This spin-off set in Los Angeles, following new characters as they face the beginning of the end of the world, will answer that question. Starring Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Mercedes Mason, Lorenzo James Henrie, and Rubén Blades

The concept behind Fear the Walking Dead is something all fans are intrigued by and the creator’s hearts are all in the right place, but the characters and the story that follows them is utterly unbearable. You watch it because it’s part of The Walking Dead canon, it’s hip and now. However, after it’s all said and done, you feel more empty than the zombies in the series because at least they’re filled with something that nourishes their need to feed.

Special features include:

  • A Look at the Series
  • Character Bios

Additional Releases this Week

  • Fairy Tail: Part 18
  • Halo: The Fall of Reach
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXIV
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 9: Revenge
  • Zoo: Season 1

Blu-Ray Deals and Steals

  • American Sniper – $9.99
  • Spider-Man Trilogy – $9.49
  • Interstellar – $9.49
  • Trainwreck – $15
  • World War Z – $3.96
  • Pitch Perfect 2 – $11
  • Shaun of the Dead – $5
  • Paper Towns – $14.49
  • Kick-Ass 2 – $5
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete Series – $31.49
  • Arrow (Season 2) – $14.99
  • Side Effects – $5
  • It Follows – $9.99
  • Spirited Away – $19.49
  • Gone Girl – $10.99
  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – $12.49
  • Mad Men (Season 5) – $7.99

All prices from Amazon.com. Best Buy, Frys, and Target all price match online prices.

What will you be taking home this week? Tell us in the comments section below!


new movie tv video game releases on dvd and-blu-ray

All plot synopses come courtesy of IMDb.com

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Coming Soon to Blu-Ray and DVD: Game of Thrones Season 5, Fear the Walking Dead, and More

While we provide you with a list of available new releases Now Available to Own every Tuesday, Coming Soon to Blu-ray and DVD looks at all of the recent home video announcements. For the week of October 10, 2015 we have Game of Thrones Season 5, Fear the Walking Dead, Mistress America, and more. Find out when they’ll be out and what special features movie fans can expect below.

Game of Thrones Season 5 Blu-ray Box Cover Art

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD March 15

Game of Thrones Season 5 (David Benioff and D. B. Weiss) Rated TV-MA [55 min] – The War of the Five Kings, once thought to be drawing to a close, is instead entering a new and more chaotic phase. Westeros is on the brink of collapse, and many are seizing what they can while the realm implodes, like a corpse making a feast for crows. Starring Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Aidan Gillen, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Sophie Turner, Jack Gleeson, Alfie Allen, Rory McCann, Charles Dance, Jerome Flynn, Conleth Hill, John Bradley, Gwendoline Christie, Stephen Dillane, Carice van Houten, Liam Cunningham, Sibel Kekilli, Rose Leslie, Natalie Dormer, Michael McElhatton, Iwan Rheon, and Pedro Pascal

Special features include:

  • Audio Commentaries – Twelve audio commentaries with cast and crew including David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Iain Glen, Maisie Williams, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie and more.
  • Anatomy of an Episode: Mother’s Mercy – Details about the creation of “Mother’s Mercy,” from the writing table all the way through to visual effects
  • The Real History Behind Game of Thrones – In a two-part series, historians and George R.R. Martin discuss the era known as “The Wars of the Roses” and other historical events that served as inspiration for his novels
  • Deleted Scenes – 4 deleted scenes
  • A Day in the Life – Inside look at the production process of Season 5
  • New Characters/New Locations – Explore the new societies, cultures and locations from Season 5
  • The Dance of Dragons – An in-depth look at the story behind the Targaryen civil war (BD exclusive)
  • In-Episode Guide – Provides background information about on-screen characters, locations, and relevant histories (BD exclusive)
  • Histories and Lore – Explore the mythology of Westeros and Essos from character perspectives in 14 history pieces with feature illustrations (BD exclusive)

Fear the Walking Dead Season 1 Blu-ray Box Cover Art

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD December 1

Fear the Walking Dead (Dave Erickson and Robert Kirkman) Rated TV-MA [43 min] – What did the world look like as it was transforming into the horrifying apocalypse depicted in “The Walking Dead”? This spin-off set in Los Angeles, following new characters as they face the beginning of the end of the world, will answer that question. Starring Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Mercedes Mason, Lorenzo James Henrie, and Rubén Blades

Special features include:

  • A Look at the Series
  • Character Bios

We Are Your Friends DVD Box Cover Art

Available on DVD and Digital HD October 27

We Are Your Friends (Max Joseph) Rated R [96 min] – Caught between a forbidden romance and the expectations of his friends, aspiring DJ Cole Carter attempts to find the path in life that leads to fame and fortune.Starring Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski, and Jonny Weston

Special features include:

  • How Zac Efron Learned to DJ

Minions Blu-ray Box Cover Art

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD December 8

Minions (Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin) Rated PG [91 min] – Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlett Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world. Starring Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, and Michael Keaton

Special features include:

  • Three All New Original Mini-Movies:
    • Cro Minion
    • Competition
    • Binky Nelson Unpacified
  • Deleted Scene – Me, Myself, and Stuart
  • Around the World Interactive Map – Explore the world of the Minions with this interactive map featuring a collection of games, trivia, featurettes, storyboards, and more all themed to movie locations.
  • Behind the Goggles – The Illumination Story of the Minions – Get a “behind the googles” look at the history and evolution of everyone’s favorite yellow henchmen.
  • Illumination MacGuff Animation – Go behind the scenes and hear about the challenges and excitement behind the Minion characters and bringing them alive through animation in the movie
  • Lighting, Layout, and Effects – A look at the ways in which layout and lighting plays a big role in the emotion and motivation in the movie. Also see the ways in which they try to keep the 60’s vintage look and the challenges they face with very technical shots, where one shot can take weeks.
  • Jingle Bells Minion Style – This holiday favorite is brought to life in a merry-Minion way. Now you get to sing along to the beloved video that was the most shared piece of content on Facebook in 2014.
  • The Secret Life of Pets Theatrical Trailer

Mistress America Blu-ray Box Cover Art

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD December 1

Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) [Limited] Rated R [84 min] – A lonely college freshman’s life is turned upside down by her impetuous, adventurous soon-to-be stepsister. Starring Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke, Seth Barrish, and Juliet Brett

Special features include:

  • Featurettes
    • Story
    • Brooke
    • Tracy

Shaun the Sheep Blu-ray Box Cover Art

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD November 24

Shaun the Sheep Movie (Mark Burton and Richard Starzak) Rated PG [85 min] – When Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he bargained for. A mix up with the Farmer, a caravan and a very steep hill lead them all to the Big City and it’s up to Shaun and the flock to return everyone safely to the green grass of home. Starring Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili, and Richard Webber

Special features include:

  • Making the Shaun Movie” Featurette
  • “Meet the Characters” Featurette
  • “Join Shaun Behind the Scenes” Featurette
  • “Meet the Crew” Featurette
  • Parody Poster Gallery

Shaun the Sheep Season 1 DVD Box Cover Art

Available on DVD and Digital HD November 10

Shaun the Sheep (Nick Park) [7 min] – Shaun is a sheep who doesn’t follow the flock – in fact, he leads them into all sorts of scrapes and scraps, turning peace in the valley into mayhem in the meadow. Shaun and his pals run rings around their poor sheepdog Bitzer, as he tries to stop the Farmer finding out what’s going on behind his back. Every day brings a new adventure for Shaun. Starring John Sparkes, Justin Fletcher, and  Richard Webber

Ray Donovan Season 3 Blu-ray Box Cover Art

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD December 29

Ray Donovan Season 3 (Ann Biderman) Rated TV-MA [60 min] – Ray Donovan, a professional “fixer” for the rich and famous in LA, can make anyone’s problems disappear except those created by his own family. Starring Liev Schreiber, Paula Malcomson, and Devon Bagby

Special features include:

  • “The Affair” Season One, Episodes 1 & 2
  • “Billions” Season One, Episode 1

The X-Files The Complete Series Blu-ray Box Cover Art

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD December 8

The X-Files (Chris Carter) Rated TV-MA [44 min] – Two FBI agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained while hidden forces work to impede their efforts. Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and Mitch Pileggi

Special features include:

  • Season One
    • Series Intro by Frank Spotnitz
    • Chris Carter Talks About Season 1
    • Deleted Scenes
    • International Clips
    • Deep Throat: Audio Commentary by Chris Carter
    • Erlenmeyer Flask: Audio Commentary by R.W. Goodwin
    • Special Effects Clip From Fallen Angel
    • Documentary: “The Truth About Season 1”
  • Season Two
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Chris Carter Talks About Season 2
    • Humbug
    • Documentary: “The Truth About Season Two”
    • Duane Barry: Audio Commentary by Chris Carter
    • End Games: Audio Commentary by Frank Spotnitz
    • Anasazi: Audio Commentary by R.W. Goodwin
  • Season Three
    • Deleted Scenes (w/optional commentary by Chris Carter)
    • Chris Carter Talks About Season 3
    • International Clips
    • Special Effects with Commentary by Mat Beck
    • Documentary: “The Truth About Season Three”
    • Threads of Mythology: Abduction
    • Talitha Cuma: Audio Commentary by R.W. Goodwin
  • Season Four
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Extended Scenes
    • Special Effects with Commentary by Paul Rabwin
    • Deleted Scenes (w/optional commentary by Chris Carter)
    • Tunguska – Interview With Chris Carter
    • Paper Hearts – Interview with Vince Gilligan
    • Memento Mori: Audio Commentary by Rob Bowman
    • Introduction to Memento Mori by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz
    • Max: Audio Commentary by Kim Manners
    • Documentary: “The Truth About Season Four”
  • Season Five
    • International Clips
    • Deleted Scenes (w/optional commentary by Chris Carter)
    • Special Effects with Commentary by Paul Rabwin
    • Documentary: “The Truth About Season Five”
    • Threads of Mythology: Black Oil
    • FX Featurette
    • Introduction to The Post-Modern Prometheus by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz
    • Patient X: Audio Commentary by Kim Manners
    • The Red and the Black: Audio Commentary by Chris Carter
    • The Post Modern Prometheus: Audio Commentary by Chris Carter
    • The Pine Bluff Variant: Audio Commentary by John Shiban
  • Season Six
    • Special Effects with Commentary by Paul Rabwin
    • Deleted Scenes (w/optional commentary by Frank Spotnitz)
    • International Clips
    • Two Fathers: Audio Commentary by Kim Manners
    • One Son: Audio Commentary by Frank Spotnitz
    • Triangle: Audio Commentary by Chris Carter
    • Introduction to Milagro by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz
    • XFiles Profiles: Cigarette-Smoking Man
    • Featurette on Season Six
    • Documentary: “The Truth About Season Six”
  • Season Seven
    • Deleted scenes (w/optional commentary by Chris Carter)
    • Special effects sequences with commentary by Paul Rabwin
    • International Clips
    • Documentary: “The Truth About Season Seven” Behind-the-Scenes featurette
    • XFiles Profiles: A.D. Skinner and Samantha Mulder
    • Closure: Audio Commentary by Kim Manners
    • Documentary: “The Truth About Season Seven”
  • Season Eight
    • Special Effects by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin
    • International Clips
    • Deleted scenes (w/optional commentary by Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban)
    • Documentary: “The Truth About Season Eight”
    • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Chris Carter
    • Threads of Mythology: Colonization
    • XFiles Profiles
    • Within: Commentary by Kim Manners and Robert Patrick
    • Deadalive: Commentary by Frank Spotnitz
    • Vienen: Commentary by Rod Hardy
  • Season Nine
    • Deleted scenes (w/optional commentary by Frank Spotnitz)
    • Special Effects by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin
    • International Clips
    • Audio Commentary by Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz, Kim Manners
    • Documentary: “The Truth About Season Nine”
    • “The Making of ‘The Truth’”
    • “Secrets of The XFiles
    •  “Tribute to The XFiles
    • Threads of Mythology: Super Soldiers
    • XFiles Profiles
    • Reflections on the Truth Featurette
    • Wonder Con Panel

And that’s it for this week. What are you looking forward to picking up when they release?

Stay tuned for more Blu-Ray and DVD announcements every Saturday.


All plot synopses courtesy of IMDb.com

Coming Soon to Blu-ray and DVD

Click here for more home video announcements

Box Office Battlefield: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. vs. Straight Outta Compton

Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of August 14, 2015 includes The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Straight Outta Compton, along with a handful of limited releases. Box Office Battlefield is here to help you decide which movie(s) will take priority over the others and determine who will be victorious. Should you see ’em, skip ’em, or rent ’em? Find out below!

Last weekend, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation chose to accept the impossible task of thwarting off four new wide releases, successfully completing their mission. Fantastic Four found no love while the low-budget thriller, The Gift bestowed upon its niche audience what its title infers.

Can Tom Cruise pull a three-peat or will the N.W.A. cruise down the street for a victory lap? Or will the ’60s chic spies from the U.S. and Russia get the upper hand? I got my mind on my tummy and my tummy on my mind. This is the Box Office Battlefield:

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 2015 Movie Title Logo

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Guy Ritchie) Rated PG-13 [116 min] – In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons. Starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, and Elizabeth Debicki

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 67% • Audience – 81%

My review:

To be clear, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a prequel to the 1964 spy television series, which makes the title of the film completely useless in context of what you can expect to see. Regardless, Guy Ritchie’s flashy showmanship works to the advantage of the cast whose chemistry captures the lighthearted nature of the TV show to some degree. But that’s all this movie is: all spectacle and no substance. Adding in a little more adult tone to liven up the series, U.N.C.L.E. has a handful of good scenes stitched together within an uninteresting story.

There’s little tension and it bears very few surprises, surprises that it seems to hit you over the head with to make sure you understand what’s happening at all times. The performances are really good from Vikander (especially), Cavill, and Debicki, but Hammer’s Ilya is barely fleshed out well enough to understand his thought process and leaves the actor out to dry – he does the best he can with what’s given. The worst offender of this movie is its structure where it would prefer telling you everything that is happening or describing certain characters, rather than letting it all happen naturally and organically with the story. It’s excruciating to bear. Go in for the action, but stay for the Vikander. RENT IT!

Straight Outta Compton 2015 Movie Title Logo

Straight Outta Compton (F. Gary Gray) Rated R [147 min] – The group NWA emerges from the streets of Compton, California in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes Hip Hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood. Starring O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr., and Paul Giamatti

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 87% • Audience – 94%

My Review:

If you know me, you know that biopics are not my bag. There has to be something extra special about them to catch my interest. Seeing something great in Straight Outta Compton due to its content, I found that my expectations mostly lined up to what I was given, but I wanted more despite its two and a half hour run time. They crammed so much story in, from the inception of N.W.A. to the beginning of Aftermath Records, but the filmmakers didn’t flesh out Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube well enough beyond the scenes that server the story for any particular moment.

Straight Outta Compton focuses more on breezing through the cliff notes of the rappers’ lives than actually providing enough personality or character to fully understand their motivations and drive. With what’s provided, the direction and production is very well put together, and seeing the influence that this group had on the music industry is a fascinating watch. The performances and the casting are also on point. But ultimately the film needed to be a little more focused on what makes Dre, E, and Cube unique throughout their journey and not so much about the journey itself. SEE IT!

mistress america Movie Title Logo

Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) [Limited] Rated R [84 min] – A lonely college freshman’s life is turned upside down by her impetuous, adventurous soon-to-be stepsister. Starring Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke, Seth Barrish, and Juliet Brett

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 80% • Audience – 84%

Their reviews:

“At the center of the film is the interesting idea that we’re all putting on performances for each other; unfortunately, the manner in which “Mistress America” explores that theme also makes it a movie where moments of authenticity are scarce.” – Rebecca Keegan (Los Angeles Times)

“Ms. Kirke is skillful and appealing as Tracy, but Ms. Gerwig’s performance is a comic diamond, and not in the rough. Her timing is flawless, her delivery is droll.” – Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal)

My take:

Noah Baumbach has a unique vision as a filmmaker that speaks to a specific audience. In my opinion, the Woody Allen fans of this generation. His New York hipster storytelling is intimate and personal. You can hear Baumbach’s voice throughout the dialogue, where sometimes it can be profound while other times pretentious. Mistress America definitely comes across as his standard issue hipster fare, targeted to a very specific audience. But what I get most out of Baumbach’s storytelling is at least he is trying to say something compared to many of the empty films we typically get. RENT IT!

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Ten Thousand Saints (Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini) [Limited] Rated R [113 min] – Set in the 1980s, a teenager from Vermont moves to New York City to live with his father in East Village. Starring Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, and Emily Mortimer

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 60% • Audience – 88%

Their reviews:

“A very fine film, full of quietly impressive performances and young characters who register as authentic.” – Neil Genzlinger (New York Times)

“Heart-warming, funny, and real, which means at times it can be desperately sad, this is a fantastic new development for Springer Berman and Pulcini. This one’s going to go far.” – Katie Walsh (The Playlist)

My take:

Steinfeld and Butterfield had decent chemistry in Ender’s Game together, and it’s nice to see them in something less chaotic to showcase more of their talent. Based solely on the trailer and the reviews, the plot looks OK and it’s earned mostly positive reviews. But something about the film feels like it could get muddled down or the direction won’t be as sharp based on the run time for such a small story. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

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Final Girl (Tyler Shields) [Limited] Rated R [90 min] – A man teaches a young woman how to become a complete weapon. 13 years later, at 18 she will approach a group of sadistic teens who killed blonde women for unknown reasons. The hunting season begins. Starring Abigail Breslin, Wes Bentley, Logan Huffman, Alexander Ludwig

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 43% • Audience – 20%

Their reviews:

“This patchy, underwritten thriller could almost pass for a critique of any number of genre forebears in which the mere presence of a hot, ass-kicking female avenger is meant to seem subversive.” – Justin Chang (Variety)

“Breslin, whose recent resume hasn’t lived up to her Oscar nomination for “Little Miss Sunshine,” needs to find something worthy of her talents. An Oscar nominee shouldn’t even watch ‘Final Girl,’ much less star in it.” – Joe Neumaier (New York Daily News)

My take:

I like the concept, however, Final Girl looks really cheap and too campy. The dialogue is harsh to listen to and I don’t think the movie brings anything new to the table. Intent can only get you so far, but if you can’t capture it on film there’s very little point. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

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People Places Things (2015) – [Limited]Certificate R 85 min   –   ComedyMetascore: 68/100 (14 reviews)Will Henry is a newly single graphic novelist balancing parenting his young twin daughters and a classroom full of students while exploring and navigating the rich complexities of new love and letting go of the woman who left him.Director: James C. StrouseStars: Jemaine Clement, Regina Hall, Jessica Williams, Stephanie Allynne

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 74% • Audience – 87%

Their reviews:

“Rampant cutesiness, improbable spontaneous decisions, indie-movie clichés, and the occasional decent one-liner.” – Mike D’Angelo (AV Club)

“To say that People, Places, Things is a lovely experience makes it sound less challenging than it is. It provides a range of emotion, all of which it earns.” – Neil Miller (Film School Rejects)

My take:

This looks kind of cute. From the reviews, People Places Things sounds a little messy, but has the right kind of heart that won’t feel like an entire waste of effort. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

Although Rogue Nation has a strong following, I don’t think it has enough supporters to carry itself into first place for the third weekend in a row. Both wide releases make strong cases to earn that top spot. U.N.C.L.E. has two chiseled chinned leading men with a beautiful supporting cast, while Straight Outta Compton holds dear a special history to many fans. On the other side of the coin, U.N.C.L.E. is your typical action/spy adventure with some wit, but not enough to satisfy to make a strong case for top dollars. We’ve seen it all before. And Straight Outta Compton has a long run time with an R rating, limiting the availability for audiences to enjoy. Both movies bring nostalgia with them, but the one that will win is the story that holds the most relevance to today’s culture. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:

Winner: Straight Outta Compton

Movie synopses courtesy of IMDb.com and Tomatometer Scores from Rotten Tomatoes