Captain America: Civil War (Walt Disney, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, VOD) is an Avengers movie in everything but name. It’s got Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) as team captains picking sides in the hero-vs.-hero fight over government oversight of the self-appointed world policemen. Thor is MIA but everyone else, from Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) to Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and War Machine (Don Cheadle), is caught up in the crisis. In fact, the film ups the ante on the two official Avengers movies to date. It introduces Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) to the Marvel Comics Universe, invites newcomer Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) to the party, and even reintroduces Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in a scene as wittily self-aware as it is admirably efficient. If anything, the film is in danger of getting swamped by the cornucopia of colorful suits, splashy powers, and clashing characters. They should be handing out programs like in a baseball game.
The basic storyline is taken right out of the Marvel Comics. Iron Man, who has long since revealed to the world that Tony Stark is the man in the suit, is sympathetic to a request for all heroes to register with the American government. Captain America, still recovering from Hydra’s infiltration of the highest levels of government and takeover of the most powerful military weapons, isn’t so sure. Refusal to register isn’t an option so half of the world’s greatest heroes are suddenly renegades and the other half are tasked with rounding them up. There’s a villain somewhere behind it all, of course, but ultimately it’s a family feud on an epic scale. The inevitable showdown erupts in an airport scrap where Cap’s rebel supporters and shell-head’s patriot squad collide in an open-air cage match. It’s nirvana for comic book mavens, one zippy, color-blasted action splash page after, accompanied by booming sound effects and word-balloon quips between tarmac-crumbling body blows.
Don’t expect anything so neat as closure before the closing credits. This is Phase Three in the new MCU paradigm, the big screen equivalent of a continuing comic book series, and the story is destined to play out over the next few issues.
Can you enjoy the film without investing in the larger project? Probably. Joe and Anthony Russo (who directed the earlier Captain America: Winter Soldier, which introduced even more story threads picked up in this film’s dense plot weave) are actually quite adept at this kind of big team juggling. They pick up on the banter and group dynamics that kept Joss Whedon’s Avengers movies from getting lost in the clutter and are careful to keep the plot moving as neatly as possible given the demands of more than a dozen heroes. But would you want to see it out of context? Probably not. The Marvel Comics movies, at least the big team-up films like this, are all part of a long-running story and this chapter moves the narrative ahead just a little more. It’s the character touches that make it fun: Downey’s Tony Stark flirting with a younger-than-expected Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) while recruiting teenage Peter Parker, a hint of romance between the intense but alienated Scarlet Witch and the thoroughly logical touched-by-magic cyborg Vision, which gets complicated by their conflicting allegiances, and Paul Rudd bringing his Ant-Man impudence and playfulness to the team sport smackdown. For the uninitiated, it’s likely just a lot of colorful noise. For the fans, that’s entertainment.
On DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D, with all the supplements on the Blu-ray editions. There’s filmmaker commentary with directors Anthony and Joe Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the two-part, 45-minute making-of documentary ” United We Stand, Divided We Fall—The Making of Captain America: Civil War,” two additional featurettes, deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, and a sneak preview of the upcoming Doctor Strange.
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War [DVD]
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War [Blu-ray]
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War (3D Blu-ray+Blu-ray+Digital HD]
Money Monster (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD) makes a show of channeling anger at Wall Street, which seems to emerge with a profit even when everyone else loses their retirement savings, and the frustration for the failure of the media circus that passes for journalism to hold it accountable into a modern plugged-in thriller.
It has George Clooney playing a glibly charismatic and blithely arrogant Lee Gates, a financial news show host in the Jim Cramer mode only with more show-biz glitz and silly stunts, and Julia Roberts as his long-suffering producer Patty Fenn, the ballast keeping his show steady and moving forward while he improvises on the fly. Jack O’Connell, an intense young Irish actor making his play for American movie stardom, puts on an overworked Noo-Yawk bark as angry young man Kyle, a not-too-bright working class slob who storms the stage with a gun, puts Lee in a bomb vest, and threatens to blow him to the next cable tier if the network cuts the feed. He lost everything when Ibis, a financial investment fund that Lee touted with his usual hyperbolic praise, lost $800 million due to a software glitch, a story that the entire world takes at face value.
It’s directed by Jodie Foster, who treats the whole thing as a technical exercise—how to generate energy in a hostage drama stuck on a single set and broadcast around the world—but never gives it the kind of immediacy or relevance to make it matter. Lee’s rant is offers nothing new—in the wake of The Big Short, it’s hardly even timely—and the script is a bait-and-switch. Money Monster tries to channel Network and Dog Day Afternoon, attacking the “system” with a sense of righteous outrage and then letting it off the hook as Lee and Patty play detective to find the real crook, the one bad apple whose shenanigans and cover-ups left his company’s investors holding the bag.
What’s left is a glitzy hostage thriller with Clooney playing both hostage and host and Roberts stage managing behind-the-scenes. If they can’t give the theme any weight they sure know how to hold the screen. Money Monster hasn’t anything to say, meaningful or not, about how the financial system works (or, more importantly, fails), but like Lee’s own financial song-and-dance show, it manages to entertain.
Love & Friendship (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD) – Whit Stillman directs and scripts this adaptation of the Jane Austen novella “Lady Susan,” a satirical, witty, and wickedly funny period piece starring Kate Beckinsale as the scheming, self-involved widow Lady Susan Vernon. It turns out Austen and Stillman are a great match; he’s been making comedies of manners in an American vein since Metropolitan and his dry wit and sharp observations of social interactions bring out the satirical edges of Austen’s work. And Beckinsale, a veteran of both Austen (in the 1996 TV movie Emma) and Stillman (The Last Days of Disco), marries the sensibilities beautifully as she laces her offhanded insults with venom. Tom Bennett is a cheerfully clueless society idiot with money that she eyes as a match for her daughter (Morfydd Clark) and he brings the film close to slapstick with such good-natured earnestness that he pulls it off. Chloë Sevigny (also from The Last Days of Disco) is Susan’s American friend and confidante and just as mercenary. It’s a gem.
Blu-ray and DVD, with a featurette.
The Bodyguard (Well Go, Blu-ray, DVD), originally titled My Beloved Bodyguard, is directed by Hong Kong martial arts legend Sammo Hung, who stars as a retired special agent in a small town who is roused back into action when mobsters threaten the life of a young girl (Jacqueline Chan) that he’s kind of adopted since her dad (Andy Lau) is degenerate gambler and drunk. He’s also suffering from dementia, slowly losing all of his memories and unable to even recall the names of his neighbors. It’s terribly sentimental but also kind of sweet and Hung is marvelous as both the slow, shuffling, soft-spoken old man and the fighting dynamo who snaps into action out sheer muscle memory. It’s Sammo’s first film as a director in almost twenty years and he gets a little help from his friends: Lau is also a producer Sammo’s old buddies Dean Shek, Karl Maka, Tsui Hark, and Yuen Biao all have small roles.
In Cantonese with English subtitles, with a collection of short promotional featurettes with behind-the-scenes footage.
Also new and notable:
All the Way (HBO, Blu-ray, DVD) – Bryan Cranston reprises his Tony Award winning role as Lyndon B. Johnson in the HBO original adaptation of the Broadway play, which focuses on his efforts to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 after the death of President John F, Kennedy. It was nominated for eight Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Television Film and nods for director Jay Roach and actor Cranston and Melissa Leo. Includes two featurettes and an Ultraviolet Digital copy of the film.
Godzilla 1984: The Return of Godzilla (Section 23, Blu-ray, DVD) marks the American debut of the original Japanese version of the Godzilla revival, which ignored decades of sequels and played out as a direct sequel to the 1954 original. It was cut, dubbed, and altered with new footage for the American release, which brought back Raymond Burr to reprise his role. This one has no Burr and offers a darker version than the film seen in the U.S. Just as in the original. It is, needless to say, in Japanese with English subtitles.
Aliens: 30th Anniversary Edition (Fox, Blu-ray) – James Cameron trades the haunted house mood of Ridley Scott’s original Alien for war film camaraderie and action movie energy in his muscular sequel. It’s Earth versus an army of the acid-dripping creatures, with only Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) returning from the original. It features both the original 1986 theatrical version and the extended 1991 special edition, both of which have been on DVD and Blu-ray in numerous editions and incarnations. It has commentary and all the supplements of previous releases, plus a new featurette, a booklet and postcards, and an Ultraviolet Digital HD copy of the film.
Raising Cain: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory, Blu-ray) is truly a collector’s edition. Along with Blu-ray debut of one of Brian De Palma’s most polarizing films, it includes a “fan” recut version that reorders the film to De Palma’s original plan that the director praised and insisted be included as a “Director’s Cut” supplement. It is indeed a more interesting film and will be enlightening to any fan of De Palma’s cinematic ingenuity. Also includes new interviews and a video essay. Review to follow.
Tenebrae (Synapse, Blu-ray, DVD) – Dario Argento’s 1982 giallo stars Anthony Franciosa as an American crime author in Italy who turns detective when a serial killer start recreating his fictional crimes in real life. Previously on DVD, the Blu-ray debut features the original Italian cut remastered from the original camera negative and includes commentary, a documentary on the history of giallo, and alternate footage from the American version.
The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD), an early, landmark giallo from Riccardo Fredo (under the name Robert Hampton) starring Barbara Steele (whose voice is dubbed) and Robert Flemyng, makes its American disc debut on a terrific-looking disc. No supplements and it’s the shorter, English-dubbed American cut only, but it’s essential for fans of giallo and Barbara Steele.
Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (Kino Classics, Blu-ray) is Fritz Lang’s first underworld epic featuring Norbert Jacques’ literary villain Dr. Mabuse, the hypnotist, master of disguise, and criminal genius. Rudolf Klein-Rogge plays the ruthless crime boss in the silent film, which was originally released as two separate films. The 1922 silent film makes its Blu-ray debut with a score by Aljoscha Zimmerman and German intertitles with optional English subtitles, and include the 52-minute documentary “The Story Behind Dr. Mabuse.”
The Captive (1915) (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD), an early feature from Cecil B. DeMille starring the great Blanche Sweet, makes its home video debut on Blu-ray and DVD from Olive. Though the packaging claims it was thought lost, it was actually discovered in the Paramount Vault in 1970 and was subsequently preserved by the Library of Congress. Still, it’s never been on home video in any form so this is the first chance most audiences have to see the film. No supplements.
Road House (1948) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray) is a terrific little film noir with Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde, and Richard Widmark and it features commentary by film noir historians Eddie Muller and Kim Morgan. Review to come.
Road House: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray)—the Patrick Swayze bar bouncer film—is reviewed on Cinephiled here.
Classics and Cult:
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD)
Night Train to Munich (Criterion, Blu-ray)
The Iron Giant: Signature Edition (Warner, Blu-ray)
Transformers: The Movie (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray)
Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection (Universal, Blu-ray)
The Wolf Man: Complete Legacy Collection (Universal, Blu-ray)
Hammer Horror 8-Film Collection (Universal, Blu-ray)
Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray)
Love Me or Leave Me (Warner Archive, Blu-ray)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray)
Haunted Honeymoon (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Daddy Long Legs (Kin Lorber, Blu-ray)
TV on disc:
American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson (Fox, Blu-ray, DVD)
Limitless: Season One (Paramount, DVD)
Quantico: The Complete First Season (ABC, DVD)
The Flash: The Complete Second Season (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD)
Supernatural: The Complete Eleventh Season (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Ninth Season (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD)
South Park: The Complete Nineteenth Season (Paramount, Blu-ray, DVD)
Rectify: The Complete Third Season (Anchor Bay, DVD)
Empire: Season Two (Fox, DVD)
Longmire: The Complete Fourth Season (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – The Seventeenth Year (Universal, DVD)
Scorpion: Season Two (Paramount, DVD)
Hawaii Five-0: The Sixth Season (Paramount, DVD)
Chicago P.D.: Season Three (Paramount, DVD)
Madame Secretary: Season Two (Paramount, DVD)
CSI Cyber: The Final Season (Paramount, DVD)
Friday the 13th: The Complete Series (Paramount, DVD)
Tales from the Darkside: The Complete Series (Paramount, DVD)
Suspects: Series Three & Four (Acorn, DVD)
Foyle’s War Revisited (Acorn, DVD)
David Suchet: Being Poirot (Acorn, DVD)
More new releases:
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD)
The Conjuring 2 (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD)
De Palma (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD)
Now You See Me 2 (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD)
The Meddler (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD)
Equals (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD)
Genius (Summit, DVD, VOD)
The Darkness (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD)
A Bigger Splash (Fox, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD)
Marauders (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD)
King Jack (Well Go, DVD)
The Measure of a Man (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Standing Tall (Cohen, Blu-ray, DVD)
Tale of Tales (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray, DVD)
Compadres (Lionsgate, DVD)
Centerstage: On Pointe (Sony, DVD)
Sweethearts of the Gridiron (Well Go, DVD)
Fishes ‘n Loaves: Heaven Sent (Lionsgate, DVD)
Hard Target 2 (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD)
Honey 3: Dare to Dance (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD)