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“Kill Switch” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.  

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” provides all of the action and special effects spectacle promised in the trailer. It also refuses to settle to be just another superhero movie. Along with the action comes a much deeper theme of family, and the importance of those bonds. If that’s too much to handle, then also know that it comes with a huge heaping dose of some of the most hysterically funny moments I’ve seen on screen in a long time. Seriously, most comedies out there wish they were this funny.

The movie kicks off with a perfect mix of action and comedy to set the tone. Baby Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) dances around to a selection off of Peter Quill/Starlord’s (Chris Pratt) “Awesome Mix Vol. 2”—an audio cassette tape near and dear to Peter because it’s his only connection to his home planet of Earth and a reminder of his deceased mother. While Groot gets his groove on, Starlord, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) fight off a very thick skinned inter-dimensional alien who wants to steal some precious batteries from a race who call themselves the Sovereign.

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Like its protagonist, this drama never finds it way. 

Is it worth $10? No  

“The farthest distance in the world is between how it is and how you thought it was going to be,” Cynthia Nixon’s Judith says in the middle of “The Only Living Boy in New York,” and darn if that’s not true about the movie itself.

It has a great cast. A wonderful director in Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”). A story ripe with possibilities. And yet the movie is an off-putting, depressing tale about malcontents who hate what New York City has become, but don’t do anything to make it better. Webb also shows so little regard for mass appeal that it’s hard to believe he made the first two “The Amazing Spider-Man” movies. The limited target demo here – New York social elites and those aspiring to be one – will likely (ironically) find the film’s pretentiousness a tad off-putting, making it hard to say what audience will connect with this misbegotten narrative.

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Fun heist movie is a delightful way to end the summer. 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

Steven Soderbergh has directed many types of films with great success (he won an Oscar for “Traffic” in 2000), but it’s clear he has an affinity for heist movies (he made “Oceans 11” and its two lesser sequels). Yet it’s still odd to see him on the big screen with “Logan Lucky,” about a robbery during a Nascar race, for a number of reasons.

For one, you may recall Soderbergh announced his retirement from feature film directing in 2013. This didn’t last – few thought it would – but it is true that this is his first feature since then (he’s been quite busy with “The Knick” on Cinemax).

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Chilly murder mystery features solid performances and a decent story until it starts to lag in the end. 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

The Wind River Indian Reservation is a terrible place to call home. In “Wind River,” all the locals hate it. It’s cold, isolated, unforgiving and horribly dull. It’s also, through the eyes of writer/director Taylor Sheridan, a pretty effective setting for a murder mystery.

Jeremy Renner stars as Corey Lambert, a hunter/tracker in this remote and frigid Wyoming territory. When working in the vast mountainside he discovers the body of Natalie (Kelsey Asbille), a local teen whose father (Gil Birmingham) is an old friend of Corey’s. With the well-meaning tribal police, led by its chief (Graham Greene), of little help, F.B.I. Agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) enlists Corey’s assistance to find out who raped and murdered Natalie.

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“How to be a Latin Lover” is also new to Blu-Ray this week. 

In spite of the name, the “Alien” movies have always been more about the people than the alien. This is true for the first movie and holds true right through to the most recent entry, “Alien Covenant.”

The “Alien” movies have also always been strikingly egalitarian. There is always a mix of races and genders in the crew, but the beauty part is that when push comes to shove, none of that really matters in these movies. Everyone is human, and anyone can be a hero or a coward. As the lone survivor in 1979’s “Alien,” Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) showed that a woman with bravery and ingenuity can defeat the alien. This can be contrasted most sharply with Covenant crew member Faris (Amy Seimetz), who is cowardly and winds up getting herself and fellow crew member Karine (Carmen Ejogo) killed because of her nervous bumbling with a shotgun. If Faris had been in Ripley’s place, the 1979 movie would have been an hour long.

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It’s the only animated movie I’ve ever seen that makes you feel bad for existing. 

Is it worth $10? No 

“The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature” is not just atrocious, it’s insulting to the human race. Literally. The only decent humans in the film are the cops in the end; everyone else seems to come straight from hell.

Somewhere I feel like the filmmakers are laughing at the poor schleps who pay money to see their species get endlessly derided for 91 minutes. It’s so egregious that even man’s best friend, a dog, sides with life in the wild over the safety of domesticity.

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“Snatched” is also new to Blu-Ray this week. 

One of the main duties of fantasy is to give the audience something they’ve never seen before. This is easier said than done given the mind-numbing amount of sword clanking and spell conjuring seen in so many movies since the turn of the century. So I have to hand it to co-writer/director Guy Ritchie: The opening moments of “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” begin with colossal size elephants with glowing red-orange eyes—possessed by evil mage Mordred (Rob Knighton)—ransacking the fabled city of Camelot. Definitely a new one.

Camelot is getting decimated, but they have an ace up their sleeve. King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) wields the powerful sword Excalibur. After making is way on to the back of the gargantuan elephant that Mordred is riding—and being a total jerk to a perfectly innocent white horse in the process—Uther defeats Mordred and saves the last bastion of mortals from being overrun by mages.

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A harrowing drama somewhat undercut by oversimplification and too much story. 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

A convoy of armored vehicles drives through debris-strewn streets, past burning buildings, overturned cars. There’s a glint high up in a window. A soldier notices. “Sniper!” He fires his mounted machine gun, leaving a gaping hole in the building. Is this a scene from a war-torn country, the Middle-East maybe? No, this happened 50 years ago, here in the United States, in Detroit.

Director Kathryn Bigelow’s (“The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty”) new movie is about the Detroit Riots that lasted 5 days and left 43 dead. Three of those deaths occurred in the Algiers Motel, at the hands of police. It’s a sprawling tale that begins with the inciting incident, follows several characters caught up in the resulting chaos, and then slowly narrows its focus and characters as they end up in that motel.

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One-dimensional thriller has some decent moments but not enough to make it worth your time. 

Is it worth $10? No 

Halle Berry needs a hit. Not an “X-Men” type hit that she reaps benefits from as part of the ensemble, a legit box office hit based on her star power alone. “The Call” (2013) was successful ($52 million gross on a $13 million budget), but hardly a monster smash. Will “Kidnap” finally be the movie that reasserts her power as an A-list star?

Probably not. It’s too one-dimensional, for one, and predictable for another. It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s also not something that will generate the type of word-of-mouth needed to become a hit. Don’t be surprised if, after the box office tally for “Kidnap” is unspectacular when compared to its $21 million budget, Berry finds it harder to get a green light for one of her star-driven projects.

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“Going in Style” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.

The best way to tackle writer-director Nacho Vigalondo’s “Colossal,” one of the most inspired and original movies I’ve seen in a long time, is to set up the premise. In it, New York City party girl Gloria (Anne Hathaway) breaks up with her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) and is forced to move back to her old hometown, into her parents’ abandoned house. Shortly after she returns, a monster returns after 25 years of dormancy and attacks the city of Seoul, South Korea. She soon realizes that this is not a coincidence—she and the monster are connected.

For a premise that lends itself to comedy and satire, “Colossal” is surprisingly serious and straightforward. Sure, there are funny moments. That’s to be expected when a funny and charming actress like Hathaway is involved. Jason Sudeikis, known as a comedian, plays Oscar, a former classmate of Gloria’s whom she reconnects with after she moves back. One would expect a certain level of silliness and buffoonery given the casting of Sudeikis in the role, but there is none of that. Sudeikis fleshes out his character in a well-rounded, straightforward way, and turns in one of the best performances I’ve seen from him to date.

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Recent Articles

Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
“Kill Switch” is also new to Blu-Ray this ...
The Only Living Boy in New York *1/2
Like its protagonist, this drama never ...
Logan Lucky ***
Fun heist movie is a delightful way to end ...
Wind River **1/2
Chilly murder mystery features solid ...
Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Alien: Covenant
“How to be a Latin Lover” is also new to ...
The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature *
It’s the only animated movie I’ve ever seen that ...
Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
“Snatched” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.  ...

Best Movie In Theaters Now: Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan is in expert form in this dramatization of the important WWII battle.  

Is it worth $10? Yes 

Dunkirk, France, 1940. Roughly 400,000 Allied soldiers are trapped on the beach of this northern enclave, surrounded and dominated by German firepower. The only hope for survival is evacuation, and that becomes less likely by the hour.

In a Hollywood story, these underdog Allies would fight their way out. But writer/director Christopher Nolan (the “Dark Knight” trilogy) isn’t interested in a Hollywood story. Instead, “Dunkirk” focuses on the sometimes heroic, sometimes selfish, and always-brave actions of individuals on land, at sea and in the air, and how each contributed to the evacuation of more than 330,000 men.

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