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Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Get Out

“Logan” and “The Great Wall” are also new to Blu-Ray this week.

“Get Out” is a tough movie to write up in a review. While I can’t recommend this movie highly enough, part of the fun is the way the story unfolds and how everything comes together and makes sense, so I don’t want to spoil anything. It’s one of those movies where you see something happen in the beginning, then it’s called back at the end and you say, “Ah-ha—I get it now.”

The movie centers around Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a black photographer living in the city. His white girlfriend is Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). The two travel from the city to the country estate of Rose’s family, where they meet Rose’s dad (Bradley Whitford), mom (Catherine Keener), and brother (Caleb Landry Jones). He also meets their black gardener Walter (Marcus Henderson) and black maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel). Their behavior is a bit strange, to say the least.



All of this discussion about who is black and who is white can make it sound like this movie is full of race-baiting identity politics. That would have been the easy road for this movie to take—and no surprise coming out of Hollywood—but much to my delight and surprise it does not take that lowest of low roads. “Get Out” plays on an entirely different, better level, involving interesting characters, strange, eerie situations, and an amazing story, the details of which I want very badly to write about but know I shouldn’t. The mentioning of race is an aspect of the story, so it must be addressed, but not for the obvious reasons. Not by a long shot. That is part of the beauty and brilliance of this movie.

Plot details aside, a large part of what makes “Get Out” work so well is the direction by  Jordan Peele, who also wrote the screenplay. Peele is already well known for comedy, as one half of the Key and Peele comedy team along with Keegan-Michael Key. While “Get Out” has some funny moments here and there, mostly featuring Chris’s very astute and very forthright friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery), Peele stays on track to craft scenes that are as horrific and suspenseful as possible. He knows how to set a tone and maintain it masterfully.



The best question an audience member to a suspense thriller can ask themselves is “What’s going to happen?” It’s a great feeling, and you know it when you feel it. A scene comes up, and a situation presents itself. You come to realize that something isn’t quite right. You have no idea what is going to happen next. Your mind races with possibilities. You’re practically paralyzed in your chair, lump in your throat, gripping your armrest, eyes wide open and glued to the screen. “Get Out” starts with one of those kinds of scenes, ends with one of those kinds of scenes, and there are countless scenes like it in between. This is one of the most well-crafted thrillers to come by in a long time. It’s a surprising gem of a movie that deserves to be watched and appreciated multiple times. Buy it on Amazon: Get Out [Blu-ray].

Also New This Week

Logan

Finally! It took to the end of Hugh Jackman’s 17 year run as Logan/Wolverine, but fans of the “X-Men” franchise now get what they’ve been clamoring for: An R-rated movie. And boy, does “Logan” ever earn its R rating—co-writer and director James Mangold establishes this right off the bat. The movie comes complete with the same stabs and slashes seen in the previous movies featuring this character, but with one key difference: Blood. Plenty of it is spilled in graphic detail as Logan and companions Charles (Patrick Stewart) and Laura (Dafne Keen) make their way from a hideout in Mexico to a safe haven passage stop in North Dakota while being chased by the dastardly Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and his army of mechanically enhanced mercenaries.

Is the gore necessary? No. The success of the previous movies is a testament to that. Stories are good or bad with or without graphic detail. However, does the splatter and dismemberment add anything to the movie? I’d say yes, it does. There has long been something in the “X-Men” movies with Wolverine that has rang false to me. I know exactly where it started too: The scene in “X2: X-Men United” from 2003 in which Xavier’s school is under assault and Wolverine fights off multiple combatants with some brutal moves using his claws. Watching it in theatres back then, there was something about the…dryness, let’s call it…of the scene that bothered me. I still liked the movie, but felt something was missing. As the movies went on, whether I liked them or not, I always felt that a level of detail (i.e., the blood) was missing whenever Wolverine was in a fight. I finally get that detail in “Logan,” and I have to admit, it’s like a long-awaited dream come true.

It’s not all blood and berserker rages though. “Logan” follows the story of an older, alcoholic Logan who has disappeared from society. It’s easily Jackman’s best performance as the character. There are many touching, tender moments amidst all of the violence and chaos, and the movie does a good job at exploring who Logan is as well as his relationship with Charles. Logan is responsible for caring for Charles, whose health is also failing, and some of the best scenes in the movie are between Logan and Charles alone together.

Logan drives a limousine and carts spoiled rich people around to various events. In one unusual twist in the opening scene of “Logan,” he gets in a fight with a gang of cholos and takes a bullet so his car doesn’t get damaged. Right then and there, decades of movie tradition is turned on its head. How many movies feature the hero hiding behind a car to protect himself from bullets? Here we have the hero shielding his car from bullets. It’s a little reversal, but I couldn’t help but smile. After the fight, we find out that Logan’s regenerative abilities are not what they used to be, making his sacrifice even more profound.


If “Logan” has one down fall, it’s the seemingly endless supply of enemies for Logan and company to fight. Armies of mercenaries/soldiers seem to be the go-to for movie villains nowadays, but it’s getting to the point of oversaturation and fatigue for me. Can’t Hollywood screenwriters think of anything else? I get that we need to see our heroes triumph over the odds being stacked against them, but if the heroes are never really challenged, then the odds aren’t really against them. All we wind up with are scenes that showcase a hero’s abilities and provide us with some stunts and special effects to gawk at. I’m at the point where I need more than that.

One thing that might have saved “Logan” from wearing me out is if the enemy army had a plan. I mean come on, they know what they’re up against. As Pierce even points out about a character in one scene, there’s no point in shooting because she can heal. In spite of this knowledge, their plan just seems to be to rush in with guns. We can see how that works out. It’s no fun watching a team get beat if at least half the reason they’re losing is because they beat themselves. Watching this movie and rooting for the bad guys—if that’s your thing—is like being a Mets fan: They could actually win a few if they strategized and played right. Instead they just show up and get trounced at every turn.

None of this severely detracts from the enjoyment of “Logan,” and this is certainly the best of the three stand-alone movies to feature this character. However, it does knock the movie down a peg and takes what could have been great and makes it good.

“Logan” also gets a bit meta in that it creates a world in which “X-Men” comics, based on the exploits of the characters in the previous movies, exist. It’s never touched upon, but I can’t help but wonder what the “real-life” six foot tall Logan thinks about being portrayed in the comics as only 5’3” tall. He probably doesn’t care, but it would have been a fun thing to address for the fans who have complained about it all these years. Rent it.

The Great Wall

What’s lacking in “Logan” is made up for in “The Great Wall.” The premise is very simple: European mercenaries (circa 10th – 11th century, the movie never explicitly states) William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) travel to China in search of an explosive weapon they know only as “black powder.” They come across the Great Wall of China and help Commander Lin Mae (Tian Jing) and the rest of the forces stationed on the wall fight off a horde of giant lizard creatures who communicate through organic antennas on top of their heads.

What “The Great Wall” gets right—and where “Logan” dropped the ball--is in the strategy to fight the lizards. If the enemy army in “Logan” was in this movie, they’d probably just charge head first into battle. Thankfully, the army in “The Great Wall” is smarter than that. They’re divided into color-coded units, each of which has a purpose. The red unit are the archers. The black unit is infantry. Most interesting is the blue unit, commanded by Lin Mae. It’s comprised of all women, and their role is to bungee down into the swarm of lizards while holding long spears. Their goal is to stab the lizards from above while keeping a safe distance, thus preventing the lizards from climbing up the wall. A quick shot of a pile of empty, bloody bungee rings that used to be around the waists of some of these women is enough to show the danger in what they do.

While “The Great Wall” should not be taken as a history lesson, it’s an entertaining movie that offers up some good thrills and action. It’s also nice to see an army as the good guys in a big Hollywood movie for a change, and as an added bonus, they know how to think as well as how to fight. Rent it.

More New Releases: “The Void,” which starts off as a siege movie a la “Assault on Precinct 13,” only in a hospital, then evolves into a horror movie along the lines of “Hellraiser,” but never quite all gels together; “XX,” a collection of four short horror films written and directed by women; and “Max 2: White House Hero,” with hero dog Max working for the Secret Service.

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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