Friday, December 11, 2015

DVD Outlook: December 2015

December is finally here to close out the 2015 calendar year. And while that usually means a massive wave of heavy-hitting end of the year releases will find their way into movie theaters nationwide, it typically spells disaster for the DVD and Video-On-Demand outlook (November's List). In all honesty, you should really backtrack my suggestions for a few months in order to find more top-quality options. However, if you're in desperate need for something new, I'll do my best to point you in the right direction.

Ant-Man - 2 and a half stars out of 4 - (Read my full review here)

Marvel has managed to carve out a worldwide following as their ever-expanding universe co-exists between big screen adaptations and all of their beloved television series. This past summer, Marvel added a new superhero to their ranks with Peyton Reed's Ant-Man. Paul Rudd stars as con-man, Scott Lang, who's recruited by Dr. Hank Pym to stop a former protege from selling the secrets to his body-shrinking suit. Pym's creation allows a human to transform into the size of an insect all while gaining a reverse proportional amount of strength in the process. Pym recognizes the dangers of his creation if placed in the wrong hands and he needs Lang's help to make sure that never happens. In typical Marvel fashion, the formulaic approach of frequent humor and impressive action sequences flow wildly throughout the script. Yet, a signature issue prevalent throughout all of Marvel's recent offerings is a weak villain, and Ant-Man can't seem to escape that obstacle. Paul Rudd is solid in the title role and Ant-Man is worthy enough to warrant a watch, but sappy dramatics and a weak antagonist lower the film's ceiling. (December 8th)

Mistress America - 2 and a half stars out of 4 - (Read my rapid review here)

Noah Baumbach is a stellar indie writer/director who continues to church out films at a wildly rapid rate. I envision him as a modern day Woody Allen whose mind must be racing with ideas at all times. And like Allen, Baumbach's films succeed thanks to witty and genuine dialogue draped over simple, yet very human, stories. His most recent 2015 release (yeah, he's delivered more than one title this year), Mistress America, re-teams Baumbach with his regular leading lady, Greta Gerwig. Aspiring short-story author and lonely college freshman, Tracy (Lola Kirke), is having trouble adjusting to her new life in the Empire State. Following the suggestion of her recently engaged mother, Tracy seeks out her soon-to-be sister in law, Brooke (Gerwig), for some friendship. The two meet and hit it off as Tracy becomes fascinated by Brooke's upbeat and often delusional views of the world. And unbeknownst to Brooke, Tracy begins to use her as a main character in her latest story. Mistress America delivers a plethora of quotable one-liners that flow past the lips of Gerwig with such blistering ease. Although Baumbach's simplistic stories hamper his films from breaking through elevated barries, it never stops them from being an entertaining and enjoyable experience. (December 1st)

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - No rating or review available

With December's undeniably weak crop of titles, I had to dig deep for a well-reviewed film that I haven't yet seen myself. I will admit that I wasn't a big fan of the massively praised 4th installment to the Mission: Impossible franchise, yet critics were just as impressed with this past summer's Rogue Nation. Tom Cruise returns once again as Ethan Hunt, an undercover agent of the legendary IMF unit. But when CIA chief Alan Hundley (Alec Baldwin) persuades a Senate commitee to abandon the secret team of agents, Hunt and his team must go after a deviant organization known as The Syndicate without the backing of the U.S. government. Daring stunts headline this action-packed return to the franchise. Comedian Simon Pegg consistently delivers valuable complementary humor that helps the Mission: Impossible series to revel in its continued success. (December 15th)

Honorable Mention: The foul-mouthed sequel, Ted 2 (12/15), and geriatric comedy, A Walk in the Woods (12/29), starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte were two films that left plenty to be desired. Other notable releases this month that I haven't seen include the well-received documentary, Amy (12/1), which chronicles the life and addiction of late singer Amy Winehouse, as well as the kid's flick spin-off, Minions (12/8). Horror fans have a pair of intriguing selections with Eli Roth's Knock Knock (12/8) starring Keanu Reeves and the foreign hit, Goodnight Mommy (12/1), which has become a rampantly discussed scary movie for hardcore fans of the genre.

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