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Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Five Feet Apart

“Captain Marvel” and “Leprechaun Returns” are also new to Blu-Ray this week.

It’s amazing, at least in a hospital such as the one that serves as the setting for “Five Feet Apart,” how many fun and even romantic things there are to do in a hospital. The movie, which takes place almost entirely inside a hospital and follows the blossoming yet forbidden romance between two teens with cystic fibrosis, Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will (Cole Sprouse), shows them meditating in a yoga room, hanging out by the pool, and viewing the city lights from the rooftop. If it wasn’t for the tubes up their noses and the fact that they have to remain a certain distance from each other at all times due to their disease, they could be mistaken for vacationers on a Club Med holiday.

But life for these teens, as well as for their mutual CF-inflicted friend Poe (Moises Arias), is not easy. The disease causes their lungs to fill up with mucus until they eventually drown in their own fluids. There are treatments to help, but the only real solution is a new pair of lungs—but even those only buy another five or so years of life before another transplant is needed.

The reveal of where they are is done brilliantly by director Justin Baldoni. The first scene of the movie shows Stella sitting in a room with her friends, going over what clothes they’re going to bring on a vacation. The room is decorated like a normal teenage girl’s room, and the girls are all jubilant as they chat and throw around swimsuit tops. Stella snacks on fries as she chats with them. It looks like the scene takes place in a teen girl’s bedroom in Suburbia, USA, until the friends leave and the door opens to reveal a hospital wing. We then see more of the room and Stella puts the tubes up her nose. In walks nurse Barb (Kimberly Hébert Gregory) with a cart full of medication and then we know: This is no normal situation.

Richardson is extremely likable as Stella, and right away we care about her character. Stella is very strict and regimented about her health care routine. Will is not. He has a particularly nasty version of CF and is not even eligible for a transplant. This makes him apathetic about following his prescribed routine, which drives OCD control freak Stella crazy. The two come to an understanding, and as to be expected, she teaches him the value of responsibility and taking care of oneself, and he teaches her the value of lightening up and enjoying life more.

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While “Five Feet Apart” many follow a lot of similar beats to other tragic stories—including a very predictable death for anyone who is in tune with how these movies operate—they are done effectively. The story, standard though it may be, hangs on the back drop of a disease we don’t hear too much about in the mainstream. It’s also grounded by solid performances by everyone in the cast. So much so that I’m willing to overlook my question on where Stella got the pool stick that helps her and Will measure the title’s distance. We never see a game room in “Five Feet Apart.” But given everything else that they do have in that hospital, it wouldn’t surprise me if they have a game room too. Rent it.

Also New This Week

Captain Marvel

The worst thing about “Captain Marvel” is, unfortunately, Captain Marvel, played by a wound much, much, much too tight Brie Larsen. She’s horribly conceited and arrogant, dismissing her mentor Yon-Rogg’s (Jude Law) advice to master discipline and self-control. These are character flaws that a better written movie with better character development would have a character overcome. But no, this character is written flatter than Brie Larsen’s posterior in her unflattering costume, and she’s the same stuck up priss at the end as she is at the beginning. She’s also rude, entitled, and destructive, such as when she steals a motorcycle, steals some clothes, and drives recklessly into traffic, or when she destroys an expensive juke box just to prove a point. If I was one of the ones that had my property stolen or destroyed I’d be super upset and regard her as a villain—not a hero.

She’s the worst, but there are some other bad elements to “Captain Marvel,” including in no particular order: the reveal of how Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) lost an eye; the reveal of how the “Avengers” got their name; and the fact that they call their organization “SHIELD” even though one of the running gags in 2008’s “Iron Man,” the movie that started the MCU’s incredible eleven year journey, is that Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), who returns for this movie, has to say the entire name and there is no acronym. There’s also a “wokeness” factor in the movie, such as in Captain Marvel’s flashbacks or some lines of dialogue here and there, that are cringe-worthy and forced, but not enough to detract from the overall enjoyment (as much as can derived) from the film.

To describe everything else as good is a bit bold, but I’d say it’s decent. Jackson’s Nick Fury is a welcome sight, and his origin story, so to speak, as a skeptic who has an awakening is worth watching. The story barely holds together as the plot makes some convoluted maneuvers, but it’s basic enough to follow and probably best to just roll with it. The best part of “Captain Marvel” is the cat, who is equal parts cute, funny, and deadly. The cat alone makes the movie worth it to Stream it.

Leprechaun Returns

“Leprechaun Returns” ignores all of the sequels to the original “Leprechaun” and serves as a direct sequel to the 1993 movie that starred Jennifer Aniston as the heroine and Warwick Davis as the limerick-spouting Leprechaun with a dark sense of humor. I understand doing this with a franchise if the first movie is good and the sequels were all bad. The problem is that the first “Leprechaun” movie is terrible and honestly I thought the third and fifth “Leprechaun” movies weren’t total write-offs. They weren’t particularly good and only marginally better than the first one, sure, but they were at least better in some way. Though that isn’t saying much, especially since the second, sixth, and abysmal fourth entries were just as bad or worse than the first one.

Don’t tell director Steven Kostanski this though, since he seems to think that going back to the same house as the first movie and filling it with co-eds, one of whom is the daughter of the Aniston character from the first movie, played by Taylor Spreitler, is a good idea. Aniston wisely does not return, but actor Mark Holton reprises his role as Ozzie from the first movie. Holton is a far better actor than this movie deserves, but even his skills aren’t enough to elevate this lame horror-comedy above being total dreck. Skip it.

More New Releases: “Captive State,” set in a Chicago neighborhood nearly a decade after an occupation by an extra-terrestrial force, it explores lives on both sides of the conflict--the collaborators and dissidents, starring Vera Farmiga and John Goodman.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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