Features and Columns · Movies

Our Pick of the Week Goes to the Moon! Or Does It…

By  · Published on January 2nd, 2017

Operation Avalanche Explores the “Truth” Behind Stanley Kubrick’s Trip to the Moon

Welcome to this week in home video! Be sure to click the title to buy any of the titles from Amazon and help support FSR in the process!

Pick of the Week

Operation Avalanche

What is it? A pair of CIA agents working in the A/V department make a plan to infiltrate NASA in order to discover the identity of a presumed Russian mole.

Why buy it? Matt Johnson’s The Dirties remains one of the rare found footage films that is both non-horror and fantastic, and his follow-up is an even more ambitious creation. It retains the ff aspect but moves the action to a period piece exploring the government’s possible faking of the moon landing. It’s funny, smart, and features a very cool car chase to boot. The filmmakers’ efforts begin simply but the deeper they go the more dangerous the truth becomes. Johnson does great work blending historical footage and his own, and the film’s fated look helps sell the exciting illusion even more. Suspenseful, fascinating, and frequently funny, the film is a smart look at conspiracy theories big and small.

[DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, commentaries]

Operation Avalanche [DVD]

The Best

Err, happy new year!

The Rest

Blair Witch

What is it? Some friends head into the woods with a camera and a dream.

Why see it? Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett’s film is a direct sequel to the original, but aside from a strong production design and the name itself it does very little to stand apart from the found footage crowd. It’s an uninspired experience for too much of its running time, but that would be an acceptable price to pay if the end result was frightening or scary. Sadly, aside from one highly claustrophobic sequence and a briefly unnerving glimpse of “something” this is a movie devoid of scares. Shaky-cam and loud sound cues don’t help, and jump scares that depend on a friendly face popping into frame out of nowhere ‐ an impressive ninja-like feat seeing as the sounds of these people moving quick through a forest are the only sounds the cameras repeatedly fail to pick up ‐ grow tiresome from the first of many such instances.

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

Bones ‐ The Complete Eleventh Season

What is it? A forensic anthropologist and an FBI agent walk into a bar, and then they solve the mystery of the dead guy inside.

Why see it? As procedurals go this long-running show has found success mixing science and humor with its episodic crime and punishment. It’s easy on the brain and almost immediately forgettable, but there’s fun to be had across the season. The biggest joy though comes in a crossover episode with Fox’s Sleepy Hollow. Crossovers in general are a lost art, so it’s great seeing a new one ‐ especially one that blends “reality” with the supernatural shenanigans of Ichabod Crane.

[DVD extras: Gag reel, deleted scenes]


What is it? The true story of a Holocaust-denying historian who brought a libel suit against a professor who called him a liar.

Why see it? It seems ridiculous that a case like this would hit the courts in 2000, but the world has only gotten worse since. The message here is an incredibly important one regarding the propagation of opinion and false news as every bit as important as actual facts. People should watch this for that alone, but unfortunately the film deliver the theme with such overall blandness. The courtroom scenes never crackle, and even the normally-reliable Rachel Weisz fumbles with a character who’s more annoying than inspiring.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

Girls ‐ The Complete Fifth Season

What is it? These girls are probably going to be women soon.

Why see it? One of HBO’s more controversial series returns for its final season later this year, and Girls’ penultimate run of episodes shows these women are still worthy of our interest. They’re still every bit as frustrating too of course, and perhaps not-surprisingly, the male characters continue to be given the more engaging and entertaining dialogue and story arcs. It’s odd, but it’s been the case since season two.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes]

Jackie Chan Presents Amnesia

What is it? A man wakes up with face-blindness and is forced to reconstruct how it happened and why some very bad people are after his fanny pack.

Why skip it? Jackie Chan’s late ’90s action/comedy Who Am I? is a fun and exciting romp, but this Chan-produced reboot lacks both of those characteristics. It’s devoid of charisma ‐ one of Chan’s greatest strengths ‐ and the action is similarly underwhelming. Gone are his big stunts and wickedly entertaining fight scenes, and in their place are CG, tepid action beats, and fights that present themselves as far cooler than they are. Skip it and just watch Chan’s film instead.

[DVD extras: None]

The Monkey King 2

What is it? Five centuries after the Monkey King was trapped beneath a magical mountain he’s released to cause more havoc in the name of good.

Why see it? Donnie Yen portrayed the Monkey King in the first film, but here he’s replaced by Aaron Kwok (who also starred previously but as a different character). It doesn’t really affect the experience though because not only is the King covered in fur but the vast majority of the film’s action is of the CG variety. Sometimes it’s wholly CG, sometimes it’s heavily enhanced with CG, but either way it prevents viewers from growing attached to the performers. Viewing the movie as a big cartoon is probably the best way to approach it.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

Sleepy Hollow ‐ The Complete Third Season

What is it? Ichabod Crane and his FBI partner continue their fight against evil.

Why see it? Tom Mison has great fun portraying a walking anachronism with his Ichabod being alive in modern day, and his antics remain some of the show’s best bits. The actual stories are a mixed bag, but for better or worse this season went heavy on the “monster of the week” formula as opposed to sticking with its previous focus of an ongoing narrative. It’s fun.

[DVD extras: Gag reel, deleted scenes]

Also Out This Week:

2 Lava 2 Lantula, The Hollow, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, Run the Tide

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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.