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27 New Releases to Watch at Home This Week on Blu-ray/DVD

By  · Published on February 2nd, 2016

Welcome back to This Week In Discs where we check out tomorrow’s new releases today!

He Never Died

Jack (Henry Rollins) is something of a loner. He eats at the same diner every day, he plays Bingo at the same church every week, and he meets the same immoral hospital intern every few days to buy… something. He has little need for anyone else but that begins to change when two women come into his life. Cara is a waitress at the diner, and while Jack is a man of few words he’s still managed to hit it off with her to some small degree. Andrea’s face is brand new to him, but an angry phone call from an old fling he hasn’t heard from in roughly nineteen years informs him that the girl at his door is his daughter. His life suddenly grows busier and far more complicated, and the trend continues when he finds himself targeted by a series of low-level henchmen for reasons unknown. It’s probably a good thing his body seems to heal from beatings, knife wounds, and bullet holes in an almost instantaneous manner.

Writer/director Jason Krawczyk’s feature debut is a dryly comic and brutally violent gem with a fascinating central character. The truth about Jack is revealed slowly through turns big and small, and the final revelation serves to enhance the character and his situation rather than simply act as some big turning point in the narrative. It’s a tale about criminals, their crimes, and the cost of those infractions with an antihero less interested in redemption than he is in getting a cup of hot tea and a plate of eggplant Parmesan. Rollins’ dry delivery is a perfect match for a man with Jack’s particular past, present, and future and helps create a darkly comic thriller that also serves as a fantastic introduction to a character I hope we see again soon.

[DVD extras: None?]

The Beauty Inside

Kim Woo-jin has had something of an identity crisis since turning eighteen. He wakes up every day in a new body. They range from male to female, young to old, and while they’re normally Korean he’s sometimes surprised to find a white or black face staring back at him in the mirror. Only two people know about his condition as it makes things understandably difficult when it comes to building relationships. One night stands have long since grown old, but he finds his heart stirred when he meets Hong Yi-soo. He forces himself to stay awake for three days straight and manages to spend much of that time with her, but when his tired body finally gives in he wakes to discover a shlumpy, middle-aged man in his reflection. Unable to let her go, Woo-jin tries to stay in her life even if she doesn’t know it’s him and even as it breaks his heart a little more each day.

The film is every bit a magical romance that should appeal to fans of films like Il Mare with its engaging love story and accepted impossibility. It lacks that film’s teased tragedy, but it also doesn’t need it as the loss of love and companionship can be just as compelling. It’s sweet throughout and funny at times, but the overriding feeling is of a romance challenged by life. Doomed or hopeful, it’s always romantic.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Bridge of Spies

It’s 1957, the Cold War is at its chilliest, and the Americans have captured a Soviet spy in New York City. In the interest of presenting the appearance of fair trial, the government “asks” insurance attorney James Donovan (Tom Hanks) to represent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) against the charges. A speedy trial and a foregone conclusion are the order of the day even as the public takes a dim view of Donovan’s efforts to defend a dirty Commie, but history intervenes when American pilot Gary Powers is shot down in his U2 spy plane over the Soviet Union. Once again the kindly, patriotic lawyer is tasked with helping Uncle Sam with little hope of recognition. He has to negotiate a prisoner trade against restrictive odds and threats to his freedom and safety, and to make matters worse he might be getting a cold.

Meticulous production design brings the world of the late ’50s to glorious life both here and abroad. Exquisite period detail creates a believable minutiae while CG-assisted, smartly-captured wide shots complete the illusion of living, breathing societies on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Performances are exemplary with everyone following Hanks’ lead as an affable everyman simply doing his job so he can get back home to his own bed and pillow. Grand ideas are massaged into visible themes and edits designed to discourage accusations of too much subtlety. It’s Steven Spielberg as entertainer with only the thinnest veneer of importance in place to grey out the brightness of the sun, and make no mistake, this is an immensely entertaining film.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

All Hallows Eve 2

A woman alone on Halloween night receives a VHS tape from a masked stranger, and on it she finds several short horror films. As she watches though she’s unwittingly opening the door to an unspeakable evil. This low budget anthology opens with its strongest entry ‐ it stars Helen Rogers as a babysitter forced to do a tracheotomy on a child, so of course I love it ‐ and the remainder are a mixed bag of the okay and the uninteresting. The connecting story is slight too making for a less memorable film overall, but genre fans might find at least a few worthwhile beats along the way.

[DVD extras: None]

Batman: Bad Blood

Batman is missing and presumed dead after facing off against a trio of dastardly villains, and an unlikely team forms in his absence. Nightwing and Robin take up his mantle and are soon joined by Batwoman and Batwing. Together they bring the fight to the malicious threat that is Heretic while searching for the truth behind Batman’s disappearance. This animated DC adventure is easily better than any of the non-Nolan feature film and tells a suitably exciting story filled with action and surprising amounts of character drama. This is my first animated film in the Batman universe, and it’s actually made me excited for the upcoming Justice League vs Teen Titans. Fans should keep an eye out for the limited edition versions of this release as they’re numbered and feature a character figurine.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, bonus cartoons]

Big Stone Gap

Ave Maria (Ashley Judd) is a key member of the small town of Big Stone Gap, but as she turns 40 years old she realizes her focus on the town has left her without a family of her own. She’s secretly hoping her friend (Patrick Wilson) will make a romantic move, but when a secret from the past bubbles up into the present she’s forced to start making some moves of her own. The cast is fun with people like Anthony LaPaglia, Jane Krakowski, Jenna Elfman, and Whoopi Goldberg making for an appealing ensemble, and the story works well as lightweight entertainment. It’s absolutely nothing more than that though, so don’t expect to give the film a second thought once the credits roll.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Q&A, interviews, featurettes]

Bleeding Heart

A young woman (Jessica Biel) takes it upon herself to help out a prostitute (Zosia Mamet) who she believes to be her sister. This is a small drama about the desire and need to help others that focuses on female bonding with its sex worker, abusive boyfriend, sisterly love, and more, and that’s okay, but it moves along at such an obvious pace and path to an ending that feels equally predestined. Biel is quite good here ‐ she rarely gets credit for being a solid actress ‐ but the serious weight sitting atop it all drags the drama down.

[DVD extras: None?]

Extraordinary Tales

Five of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales ‐ “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Facts In the Case of M. Valdemar,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Masque of the Red Death” ‐ come to gorgeous life though eerie and captivating animation. Director Raul Garcia combines strikingly artistic animation with the voice talents of people like Christopher Lee (his final role), Julian Sands, Roger Corman, and others. The connecting tissue between them features a crow engaged in conversation with death itself, with the bird acting as a surrogate for Poe himself. Fans of the macabre will find much to enjoy here as familiar tales get an artistic makeover.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary]

Falling Skies: The Complete Fifth Season

The alien invasion of Earth has left humankind in ruins, but now, after years of oppression and combat, the war is coming to an end. TNT’s epic sci-fi series ‐ think a grittier, less jumpsuit-oriented V ‐ has always focused on the human resistance and their battle against an invading force bent on enslavement and experimentation, and while the tide has shifted a bit during its run the aliens have eternally had the upper hand. That ends this season, and that makes for a more exciting show. Noah Wyle continues to give it his all, and his dedication combined with some top-notch effects work (practical and digital) help make these final ten episodes a smooth and exciting watch.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Freeheld

Det. Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) is a decorated officer who falls in love with a mechanic (Ellen Page) before being diagnosed with an inoperable illness. The pair’s love is pure, but that doesn’t prevent the local officials from declaring a same-sex relationship invalid when it comes to Hester’s pension. So begins a legal fight destined to have nationwide consequences. This true story is undeniably powerful in its own right, and the film’s final third hits some very emotional beats, but much of the build-up feels fairly rote and familiar. That said, the cast ‐ which also includes Michael Shannon and Steve Carell ‐ offer compelling turns.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, original documentary short, commentary]

From Dusk til Dawn: Season Two

The Gecko Brothers, Seth and Richie, are still split and traveling with a woman by their side. Both are also still neck deep in the world of crime, bloodletting, and supernatural shenanigans. Seth is still on the road with Kate, running small heists along the way, while Richie has been targeting various cartel elements. The El Rey network’s most popular series ‐ a spin-off from the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino film ‐ is a more criminally-minded True Blood in some ways as it mixes modern elements with vampire violence, but it’s far less varied in its characters and monsters. It works though as engaging entertainment for genre fans who like their criminal elements to have bite.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes]

Hellions

Dora is a high school senior more focused on spending time with her boyfriend than with her school books, but she finds something new to worry about though when she discovers she’s four weeks pregnant. Upset, confused, and struggling to decide what to do and who to tell, she finds herself alone at home when things take a dark turn. A trick ‘r treater in a creepy burlap sack mask appears on her doorstep, and he’s soon joined by other diminutive, costumed nightmares, all of whom seem intent on gaining access to Dora’s home and innards. Bruce McDonald’s (Pontypool) return to horror starts off well with attractive photography and a lively, pouty lead performance, and the menace hanging in the air is kept intriguingly low-key. Once the little creepers appear the film takes a turn into the more dream-like, and that uncertainty hurts any hope of drama or terror. The strength of the setup and creature design make this worth a watch for genre fans, but don’t expect it to join your annual Halloween rotation.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Home Invasion

A woman (Natasha Henstridge) and her stepson find their home under siege one night when three masked strangers (including Scott Adkins) enter the home in search of an unspecified treasure within. A raging storm, a damaged draw bridge, and a fourth armed gunman keep the police at bay leaving only a home security agent (Jason Patric) as her ally. This isn’t a bad movie, but it plays almost more like a feature-length advertisement for home security companies than a real thriller. That’s mostly a joke, but it really does put much of the weight on Patric’s security agent as the remote hero of the film. There’s not really much in the way of narrative twists or turns either as what you see is what you get.

[DVD extras: None]

The Keeping Room

The Civil War is winding down, but the violence continues. A pair of Northern soldiers (Sam Worthington, Kyle Solleer), celebrating with a victory lap comprised of murder, rape, and robbery, come across a pair of sisters (Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld) and their female slave (a fantastic Muna Otaru), but their assault doesn’t quite go as planned. The women fight back. Billed as something of a feminist western, this is a strongly acted, beautifully shot film that falters entirely due to its script. Character action (and inaction) frustrates rather than engages, and it becomes a less than ideal siege thriller. The end result is an okay film that fails to fulfill the promise of its high caliber cast and cache.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, booklet]

The Last Witch Hunter

Kaulder (Vin Diesel) is a warrior trying to rid his 14th century world of witches, but when he and his men corner the Witch Queen in her tree fort her defeat leaves him cursed to walk the Earth as an immortal. Centuries later he’s still fighting the good fight, but now he’s based in New York City and aided by a faction of the Catholic Church called the Axe and Cross. In addition to keeping him in luxury and hidden from more traditional authorities, they also provide him with a handler. The 36th Dolan (Michael Caine) passes the torch to the 37th (Elijah Wood) and dies that night from foul play, and soon Kaulder discovers the powers working against him are also working to resurrect his greatest foe, the Witch Queen. Diesel has a certain, starchy charisma throughout the film, but his strongest work here is in the Middle Ages sequences as he wears the beard, furs, and active aggression of the time period well. Modern times see him behaving a bit less successfully as he’s tasked with displaying more expressions and emotions than he’s capable of, but thankfully director Breck Eisner (The Crazies) keeps things moving and visually interesting enough to hold our interest. It’s passable entertainment thanks to some solid effects and a handful of laughs, but audiences will find the spell is broken well before the credits end.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, short films, commentary, deleted scenes]

Man Up

Jack (Simon Pegg) mistakes Nancy (Lake Bell) for his blind date, but rather than point out the error she goes along with it. Her own love life has been a bit rocky as of late so she’s decided to take a chance here, but it’s not long before things backfire and threaten to hut her heart yet again. This is a sweetly humorous and pleasantly harmless romantic comedy that finds heart and laughs amid the two leads’ chemistry. It’s no rom-com classic, but fans of the actors and rom-coms in general will be more than satisfied. Bell in particular is quite good and affecting as a woman ready to give up on love.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Gag reel, interviews, featurette]

Martyrs

A young woman named Lucy who survived abduction and abuse as a child returns to evil’s grasp when she tracks down those responsible with the goal of making them pay. Her friend Anna joins her as moral support and learns too late that the nightmares of Lucy’s childhood were as real as she claimed. That’s right, the long-threatened American remake of the French classic has finally been released, and they screw it up just as we all knew they would. The first forty minutes or so is an almost beat for beat remake, but somehow it manages to fail at capturing the emotion and terror on display in the original. After that it takes a few turns of its own, and it doesn’t take a genus to predict just where and how it goes horribly wrong. Here’s a hint… the making-of featurette opens with two members of the cast and crew referring to the film as a story of revenge. So, uh, yeah. Anyway, from there it proceeds to miss the point in epic fashion.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

Our Brand Is Crisis

Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) was once a top political strategist, but she left that life behind years ago. She’s recruited though by a team hoping to get a certain candidate elected president in Bolivia, and she says yes because it gives her another shot at beating her nemesis (Billy Bob Thornton). Anthony Mackie, Ann Dowd, Joaquim de Almeida, and Scoot McNairy co-star in this perfectly okay dramedy, and while it’s far from sharp political satire it still manages some commentary along the way. Bullock is fiery and manages a few laughs, and it’s always good seeing Almeida play a character who isn’t trying to blow up Americans.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

The Piper

A man and his son wander into a small village in the weeks following the Korean War with a promise to rid their rural homestead of rats in exchange for cash money he needs to cure his boy’s illness. He follows through on his end, but the villagers double cross him and take everything he cares about in the process. Big mistake. Huge! This Korean chiller takes its story cues from the popular legend but sees the tale head in some very dark directions. There’s a slow build to the drama and terror here before the horror is unleashed in the third act, and it’s only hurt by the inevitable nature of the turn it all takes. The CG rats look quite good, and some late bloodletting is sufficiently gory too.

[DVD extras: None]

The Rise of the Krays

Reggie and Ronnie Kray were violent punks in their younger days, but as they grew into adulthood they became crime lords known for holding London in an icy reign of terror. They quickly attracted the interest of both the authorities and competing gangsters, and it wasn’t long before their greed and ambition became their downfall. The UK’s Sunday Sport declared this “the best British gangster film ever made,” and while that’s an utterly insane claim they’re correct in that this is in fact a British gangster film. It’s also the rare Kray brothers film to feature the duo as fraternal twins instead of identical. It features all the smack talk, brawls, and nasty behavior you’d expect, but the obvious budgetary restraints prevent it from ever feeling like we’re experiencing the whole of ’60s London.

[DVD extras: Deleted scenes]

Rock the Kasbah

Richie Lanz (Bill Murray) is a has-been music manager who once worked with some of rock’s greatest artists, and he sees an opportunity to get back on top again when he discovers an unknown singer in an Afghanistan cave. Chaos ensues as he attempts to do right by both himself and this young talent. Barry Levinson’s latest is loaded with recognizable onscreen talent including Bruce Willis, Danny McBride, Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, and Scott Caan, but it’s such a flat experience. The drama is flat, the humor is ineffective, and Murray seems like he’s wavering between not caring at all and trying way too hard. It’s meant to be an uplifting story, but it accomplishes nothing of the sort.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]

The Sin Seer

Rose is something of a psychic, gifted with the ability to see the truth within a person, and while it caused her pain as a child she uses it now as a private investigator on cases the police have failed to crack. She finds her toughest case yet after teaming up with a new partner (Isaiah Washington), and she’s surprised to discover that the culprit she’s after might just share a secret from her own past. This is an original feature, but it feels very much like an intro to an established pair of mystery novel detectives ‐ that’s a good thing, and in theory the kind of thing that should support a series of films. Washington and Lisa Arrindell Anderson have chemistry, and with a better script I’d welcome a sequel. As a one-off this entry is fine ‐ generic at times and a tad obvious ‐ but fine for folks looking for a thriller they haven’t seen yet.

[DVD extras: None]

Suffragette

Strong women fight for what’s right in the early 1900’s. There’s no doubt this was an important time in our history and a major step forward for society as a whole, but the story, at least as its being told here, isn’t really all that engaging. It’s due to no fault of the cast ‐ including Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson ‐ as they all do engaging, convincing work, but the struggle, at least as presented here, lacks much in the way of real weight or urgency. It’s an okay film about an important subject.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary]

Truth

Dan Rather (Robert Redford) and 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) reported a story leading up to the 2004 presidential election that made waves around the world, but the repercussions reached some unexpected places. The story quickly took a backseat to issues of documentation and conspiracy theories. The film has the misfortune of coming out in the same decade as Spotlight making it feel like a far less attractive and intelligent sibling, but even on its own merits it stumbles a bit by playing things a bit too on the nose. Still, it’s a strong ensemble cast, and they all give solid performances.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, Q&A]

Uncaged

Jack never knew his real family and has instead spent his life raised by relatives, but when he turns eighteen the tragedy of his past takes a backseat to the mystery of his present. After a stranger visits him in the night he begins experiencing nocturnal blackouts and waking up naked in the woods. It turns out he carries one of his family’s hairier genetic traits, and soon the blood starts flowing. As werewolf tales go ‐ and while unconventional this most certainly is a werewolf tale ‐ this one makes some interesting choices along the way. The budget is no friend to the effects or caliber of actors, but they’re acceptable sacrifices for something a bit different from the norm.

[DVD extras: Commentary, outtakes]

The World of Kanako

Akikazu was once a detective, a father, and a husband, but he was forced to leave it all behind thanks to his aggressively self-destructive personality. When his daughter Kanako goes missing he immerses himself back into the criminal element and his own depravity. Tetsuya Nakashima’s latest is a dark and twisted thriller, but unlike his equally damaged Confessions it lacks anything resembling smarts, wit, or humanity. There’s no one here for us to attach ourselves to ‐ we like no one, no one engages us as being all that interesting ‐ and instead the film simply unfurls a steady stream of terrible people acting terribly. It’s visually engaging, highly stylish, and creatively executed, but damn is it a pit of misery, cruelty, and despair.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, interviews, booklet, poster]

Zombie Fight Club

Zombies! The infestation begins in one apartment building, but soon it spreads throughout the city and beyond. Things get worse from there as cruel survivors take control and begin pitting slaves against zombies in battles to the death. Zombie actions films promise a fun combination of fight scenes and gore, and this Chinese import delivers well enough on both fronts. It also throws in plenty of T&A teasing ‐ one scene featuring four naked women goes well out of its way to avoid actually showing any nudity ‐ both in between and during the carnage. Disappointingly, the movie also fills the screen with CG blood, which is odd and unnecessary seeing as there’s plenty of practical red stuff on display already. It’s not a good movie, and you’ll care not one bit about the characters or story but it works as a ninety minute diversion for genre fans.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

2 Rabbits, American Hero, Anger of the Dead, Badge of Honor, A Ballerina’s Tale, Born to Win, Breathe, Curve, Fight to the Finish, For Better or Worse, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, Meadowland, My Boyfriends’ Dogs, Shelter, Show Me a Hero

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.