As the world narrowly recovers from a near apocalyptic virus, an infected teenage girl with only a precious few weeks to live must find the strength and bravery to face her fleeting mortality as her father struggles helplessly to protect her from their frightened town and keep the family together. This heartbreaking take on the zombie genre twists expectations and puts a human face on an inexplicable horror.
Vitals: Director: Henry Hobson. Stars: Abigail Breslin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joely Richardson.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 95 min., Scicnece Fiction, Box office gross: $.187 million, Lionsgate.Extras: "Making Maggie" featurette, deleted scene, cast and crew interviews, commentary with director Henry Hobson.
Woman in Gold
The remarkable true story of one woman's journey to reclaim her heritage and seek justice for what happened to her family. Sixty years after she fled Vienna during World War II, an elderly Jewish woman, Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), starts her journey to retrieve family possessions seized by the Nazis, among them Gustav Klimt's famous painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Together with her inexperienced but plucky young lawyer Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), she embarks upon a major battle that takes them all the way to the heart of the Austrian establishment and the U.S. Supreme Court, and forces her to confront difficult truths about the past along the way.
Vitals: Director: Simon Curtis. Stars: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Katie Holmes, Max Irons, Tatiana Maslany, Charles Dance, Frances Fisher, Antje Traue.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 109 min., Drama, Box office gross: $31.424 million, The Weinstein Co..
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart has earned a well-deserved vacation and heads to Las Vegas with his teenage daughter for a security guard expo. But safety never takes a holiday and when Blart stumbles upon a heist he must answer the call and once again, save the day.
Vitals: Director: Andy Fickman. Stars: Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez, Eduardo Verastegui, Daniella Alonso, Neal McDonough, David Henrie, Shirley Knight.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 94 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $68.379 million, Sony.Extras: "Security Force: The Cast of Paul Blart 2" featurette, "How to Make a Movie" featurette. Blu-ray adds photo gallery, six deleted scenes, gag reel, six additional featurettes: "Action Adventure," "Back in the Saddle," "Le Reve" behind the scenes, "No Animals Were Harmed," "Sales Tactics," "Real Cops."
Psychological sci-fi thriller about a breathtaking android (A.I.) whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated -- and more deceptive -- than man could have imagined. After winning a competition to spend a week at the mountain estate of his company's brilliant CEO (Oscar Isaac), programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) arrives to discover he has been chosen to take part in a study of artificial intelligence. Sworn to secrecy and cut off from the outside world, Caleb meets his subject, the beguiling and seductive android Ava (Alicia Vikander) -- and is plunged into an A.I. experiment beyond his wildest dreams when he discovers that her emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated -- and more deceptive -- than the two men could have imagined.
Vitals: Director: Alex Garland. Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac, Corey Johnson, Deborah Rosan.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 108 min., Science Fiction Thriller, Box office gross: $23.587 million, Lionsgate.Extras: "Through the Looking Glass: Creating Ex Machina" five-part featurette, SXSW Q&A with cast and crew, eight behind-the-scenes vignettes. The Blu-ray features DTS:X immersive audio technology, which replicates and conveys the fluid movement of sound to create a richer soundscape than previously possible by moving sound to precisely where the mixer placed it.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Now that his first venture has proven successful, ever-confident Sonny (Dev Patel) is busy juggling plans for a second resort, but it's making more claims on his time than he has available, considering his imminent marriage to the love of his life, Sunaina (Tina Desai). Sonny has his eye on a promising property now that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful has only a single remaining vacancy -- posing a rooming predicament for fresh arrivals Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy) have now joined the Jaipur workforce, and are wondering where their regular dates for Chilla pancakes will lead, while Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are negotiating the tricky waters of an exclusive relationship, as Madge (Celia Imrie) juggles two eligible and very wealthy suitors. Perhaps the only one who may know the answers is newly installed co-manager of the hotel, Muriel (Maggie Smith), the keeper of everyone's secrets. As the demands of a traditional Indian wedding threaten to engulf them all, an unexpected way forward presents itself.
Vitals: Director: John Madden. Stars: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Bill Nighy, Richard Gere, David Strathairn, Tina Desai, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, Tamsin Greig, Celia Imrie.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 122 min., Comedy-Drama, Box office gross: $32.4 million, Fox.Extras: "Story," "Cast," "Returning to the Marigold Hotel," "Blossoming Relationships," "The Marigold Wedding," "Filming in India" featurettes; gallery.
For 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), the fall should be about school, boys and weekends at the lake. Yet, after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter she suddenly finds herself plagued by nightmarish visions; she can't shake the sensation that someone, or something, is following
her. As the threat closes in, Jay and her friends must somehow escape the horrors that are only a few steps behind. A critically acclaimed breakout movie and one of the highest grossing independent films of the year so far.
Vitals: Director: David Robert Mitchell. Stars: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Loren Bass, Bailey Spry, Daniel Zovatto.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 97 min., Horror, Box office gross: $14.527 million, Radius-TWC/Anchor Bay.Extras: Critics' commentary hosted by Nerdist's Scott Weinberg and featuring Eric D. Snider (MovieBS), Britt Hayes (Screencrush), Samuel D. Zimmerman (Shock Till You Drop), Alison Nastasi (Flavorwire) and Eric Vespe (Ain't It Cool News); "A Conversation With Film Composer Disasterpeace" featurette, poster art gallery.
What We Do in the Shadows
"What We Do in the Shadows" is definitely the sleeper hit of the year, crossing over from horror cultists to mainstream moviegoers. The wacky film -- imagine, if you will, a cross between "Borak" and "The Adams Family," only much, much better -- is a New Zealand indie outing by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, creators of the HBO hit series "Flight of the Conchords." It's at once a very, very funny send-up of vampire films as well as a self-referential satire of the whole horror cult genre. The film -- a mockumentary (in which the camera crew wear garlic and crucifixes) follows an unhip quartet of vampire friends as they go about their nightly routines -- paying bills, doing the dishes, hunting for fresh blood. Though they're centuries old, none of them have kept up with the latest trends in technology or fashion, and the gags mount as the ageless vampires have difficulty maneuvering through 21st Century Wellington. And problems arise when they "turn" a young hipster, who has his own views on how a vampire should live. It's all outrageous and hilarious. Vitals: Director: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi. Stars: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford, Ben Fransham.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 85 min., Horror Comedy, Box office gross: $2.176 million, The Orchard/Paramount.Blu-ray extras: Commentary by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, "Behind the Shadows," 12 hilarious deleted scenes, video extras, interviews, promo videos, poster gallery.
Russell Crowe stars as Australian farmer Joshua Connor, who, in 1919, goes in search of his three missing sons, last known to have fought against the Turks in the bloody Battle of Gallipoli. Arriving in Istanbul, he is thrust into a vastly different world, where he encounters others who have suffered their own losses in the conflict: Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), a strikingly beautiful but guarded hotelier and single mother; her young, spirited son, Orhan (Dylan Georgiades), who finds a friend in Connor; and Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan), a Turkish officer who fought against Connorís boys and who may be this fatherís only hope. With seemingly insurmountable obstacles in his path, Connor must travel across the battle-scarred Turkish landscape to find the truth ... and his own peace. Crowe's directorial debut.
Vitals: Director: Russell Crowe. Stars: Russell Crowe Olga Kurylenko, Yilmaz Erdogan, Cem Yilmaz, Jai Courtney, Ryan Corr, James Fraser, Ben OíToole, Jacqueline McKenzie, Isabel Lucas.
2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 111 min., Drama, Box office gross: $4.196 million, Warner.Blu-ray extras: "The Making of The Water Diviner," "The Battle of Gallipoli" featurette.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a
Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a
Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center),
and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.