OnVideo: SEPTEMBER's Top Movies
THE AGE OF ADALINEThis romantic melodrama opened on the cusp of the May summer releases and was soon buried by "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Pitch Perfect 2," yet the moderately budgeted film did surprisingly well at the boxoffice. The story, assisted by an omnipotent narrator, revolves around Adaline (Blake Lively), a 29-year-old widow who survives a near-death experience in 1935 and (thanks to a confluence of freezing temperatures and accidental electric shock) from that day on never grows older. She guards her secret and her heart for eight decades, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret ... except her daughter (Ellen Burstyn), who is now older than her mother. Every decade Adaline changes her name and identity and moves on to a new life. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) -- just before Adaline is about to leave San Francisco to move to Oregon -- re-ignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker) threatens to uncover the truth, Adaline makes a life-altering decision. Though sentimental and unbelievable (despite the narrator's scientific explanation), "Adaline" is about as charming as any film can be. The talented Lively is a pleasure to watch, and her acting chops keep you interested in her character and the story line. Kudos also to Ford, who plays a sympathetic older man in contrast to the generally crusty, wise-ass roles he's been taking lately. Lovely cinematography, syrupy music, sappy ending: A breath of fresh air in a market of over indulgent sex, violence, drugs and rock 'n' roll. For the romantic in you. Vitals: Director: Lee Toland Krieger. Stars: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Kathy Baker, Ellen Burstyn. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min., Romantic Drama, Box office gross: $41.451 million, Lionsgate. Extras: Audio commentary with director Lee Toland Krieger, "A Love Story for the Ages" featurette, "Style Throughout the Ages" featurette, "Discovering Young Harrison Ford: Anthony Ingruber, An Online Sensation" featurette, deleted scenes. Available: 09/08.
CINDERELLAAn elaborate but traditional telling of the Cinderella story. The story of "Cinderella" follows the fortunes of young Ella (Lily James) whose merchant father remarries following the death of her mother. Eager to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her daughters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera) into the family home. But, when Ella's father unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother's dying words and to "have courage and be kind." She will not give in to despair nor despise those who mistreat her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an apprentice at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella's hopes of once again encountering the charming Kit (Richard Madden). Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand, and a kindly beggar woman (Helena Bonham Carter) steps forward and -- armed with a pumpkin and a few mice -- changes Cinderella's life forever. Vitals: Director: Kenneth Branagh. Stars: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Madden, Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera, Hayley Atwell, Derek Jacobi, Stellan Skarsgard, Ben Chaplin. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 105 min., Family/Drama/Adventure, Box office gross: $199.288 million, Disney. Extras: "Frozen Fever" short with the characters from "Frozen": It's Anna's birthday, and Elsa and Kristoff are determined to give her the best celebration ever -- but when Elsa catches a cold, her powers may put more than just the party at risk; "Ella's Furry Friends": Discover how the movie's animal stars honed their memorable performances. Blu-ray adds "A Fairy Tale Comes to Life" behind-the-scenes featurette with cast and crew; "Costume Test Fun"; "Staging the Ball"; alternate opening: Ella's childhood. Available: 09/15.
ENTOURAGE THE MOVIEWhile hanging with pals Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), movie star Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) gets a phone call from Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), his former agent, who now runs a major studio. Ari offers Vince the leading role in his first production, but the actor insists on also directing the film. Things get out of hand when the $100 million flick goes over budget, leaving Ari, Vince and the boys at the mercy of the cutthroat world of Hollywood. Vitals: Director: Doug Ellin. Stars: Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven, Billy Bob Thornton, Haley Joel Osment. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 106 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $32.297 million, Warner. Extras: Deleted scene. Blu-ray adds "The Gang -- Still Rockin' It," "Hollywood, Baby!" "The Making of Hyde," deleted scenes, gag reel, "Meet the Newest Member of Entourage," "Lucas Ellin is Jonah Gold." Available: 09/29.
FURIOUS 7Dominic Torretto and his crew thought they left the criminal mercenary life behind. They defeated an international terrorist named Owen Shaw and went their seperate ways. But now, Shaw's brother, Deckard Shaw is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde, and a shady government official called "Mr. Nobody" are both competing to steal a computer terrorism program called God's Eye, that can turn any technological device into a weapon. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God's Eye program while caught in a power struggle between terrorist and the United States government. Facing their greatest threat yet in places as far away as Abu Dhabi, Tokyo and the Dominican Republic, and as familiar as the Los Angeles streets they call home, the crew must come together once again as a team, and as a family, to protect their own. "Furious 7" also bids a touching farewell to Paul Walker, an integral member of the Fast family. Vitals: Director: James Wan. Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Elsa Pataky, Lucas Black, Jason Statham, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ronda Rousey, Kurt Russell. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 138 min., Action Thriller, Box office gross: $351.032 million, Universal. Extras: "Back to the Starting Line": Producer Neal Moritz, Chris Morgan and the cast join franchise newcomer director James Wan as they look back at how far the franchise has come bring the latest installment to life; "Race Wars": "Furious 7" brings the crew back to Race Wars, the iconic, fictional racing event from the very first film. Vin Diesel and a couple hundred friends are back for a full-throttle celebration of all things Fast with special guest-star Iggy Azalea, behind-the-scenes footage of the cars, the sweat and the girls; "Snatch and Grab": A behind-the-scenes look at shooting one of the premier action sequences in the franchise’s history; "Making of Fast & Furious Supercharged Ride." The Extended Edition Blu-ray adds deleted scenes; "The Cars of Furious": The car coordinator and his team join the cast and filmmakers for a closer look at the film’s spectacular cars; "Flying Cars": People jump out of planes all the time, but not while sitting behind the wheel of a car. This featurette shows how the Extras: team pulled off this jaw-dropping sequence; "Tower Jumps": A look at how one of the most exciting stunt sequences of the film, the Abu Dhabi tower jumps, became a reality; "Inside the Fight": A combination of fight training footage and interviews takes viewers inside the fierce hand-to-hand fights; "Talking Fast": Director James Wan and the cast break down the movie's most memorable moments and chat about how the Fast franchise has evolved over the years; "See You Again" official music video by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth. Available: 09/15.
I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMSA widow and former songstress discovers that life can begin anew at any age. After the death of her beloved dog, Carol (Blythe Danner) finds the everyday activities that have given her life structure -- her regular bridge game, gardening, a glass of wine or two -- have lost their luster. With the support of three loyal girlfriends (June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, and Mary Kay Place), Carol decides to embrace the world, embarking on an unlikely friendship with her pool maintenance man (Martin Starr), pursuing a new love interest (Sam Elliott), and reconnecting with her daughter (Malin Akerman). Vitals: Director:. Stars: Blythe Danner, Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, Malin Akerman, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 92 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $6.938 million, Universal. Available: 09/01.
LOVE & MERCYBehind the fun fun fun of The Beach Boys was the fascinating and genius singer/songwriter Brian Wilson, whose success came at an extraordinary personal cost. "Love & Mercy" presents an unconventional portrait of the iconic Wilson -- portrayed by two actors, Paul Dano in the '60s, at the peak of The Beach Boys' fame, and John Cusack in the '80s, as Brian reclaims his life after a mental breakdown -- and examines his musical brilliance, personal voyage and ultimate salvation. Vitals: Director: Bill Pohlad. Stars: Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks, John Cusack, Kenny Wormald, Joanna Going, Jake Abel, Dee Wallace. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 122 min., Drama, Box office gross: $11.790 million, Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate. Extras: "A California Story: Creating the Look of Love & Mercy" featurette, "A-Side/B-Side: Portraying the Life of Brian Wilson" featurette, deleted scenes, audio commentary with director-producer Bill Pohlad and executive producer/co-writer Oren Moverman. Available: 09/15.
MAD MAX: FURY ROADYears after the collapse of civilization, the tyrannical Immortan Joe enslaves apocalypse survivors inside the desert fortress the Citadel. When the warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) leads the despot's five wives in a daring escape, she forges an alliance with Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), a loner and former captive. Fortified in the massive, armored truck the War Rig, they try to outrun the ruthless warlord and his henchmen in a deadly high-speed chase through the Wasteland. A reimagining/sequel of the classics "Mad Max" and "The Road Warrior"(two films that set the standard for post-apocalyptic landscapes and wastelands) by the man who made them both: George Miller. It's a breathtaking non-stop thrill ride mostly devoid of storyline except for the mad rush to freedom against impossible odds by Max, Furiosa and the wives. It's violent, outrageous, and crazy -- just what a Mad Max movie ought to be. And by making Furiosa the strong central protagonist of the outing, the film sets new standards for Hollywood heroes. The only real shortcoming: the almost indecipherable Aussie accents for the first 20 minutes of the film. Hugh Keays-Byrne, who plays Immortan Joe here, played the Toecutter in the original "Max." And more than 80% of the effects seen in the film are real (not CGI): stunts, make-up and sets. Sit back and enjoy. Vitals: Director: George Miller. Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Nathan Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Keough, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, Josh Helman, Jennifer Hagan, iOTA, John Howard, Richard Carter, Megan Gale, Angus Sampson, Joy Smithers, Gillian Jones, Melissa Jaffer and Melita Jurisic. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Action, Box office gross: $151.104 million, Warner. Extras: "Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road," "Mad Max: Fury on Four Wheels," "The Road Warriors: Max and Furiosa," "The Tools of the Wasteland," "The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome," and "Fury Road: Crash & Smash" featurettes; deleted scenes. Available: 09/01.
PITCH PERFECT 2It's been three years since the Barden Bellas became the first all-female group to win a national title. All seems well until a botched Lincoln Center performance for the president leads to a scandal that strips them of their performing duties, causing internal tension and strife. With the world championships on the horizon in Copenhagen, Denmark, the women must get their act together for their one and only shot at redemption. Vitals: Director: Elizabeth Banks. Stars: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Ester Dean, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Hailee Steinfeld, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, Katey Sagal. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $183.560 million, Universal. Extras: Extended musical performances, deleted/extended/alternate scenes, "The Bellas Are Back," gag reel, commentary with director-producer Elizabeth Banks and producers Paul Brooks and Max Handelman. Blu-ray adds bonus song performed by the Treblemakers, Das Sound Machine finale breakdown, line-aca-rama, Green Bay rap, "Elizabeth Banks' Directorial Debut" featurette, "Aca-Camp," "The Making of the Riff-Off," "The World Championships of A Cappella," "Snoop is in the House," "Residual Heat Internship", "An Aca-Love Story: Bumper and Fat Amy," "Legacy: Hailee Steinfeld." Available: 09/22.
POLTERGEISTRemake of the classic 1982 film about a family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces. When the terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and hold the youngest daughter captive, the family must come together to rescue her before she disappears forever. Vitals: Director: Gil Kenan. Stars: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, Saxon Sharbino, Jane Adams, Kennedi Clements, Nicholas Braun. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 94 min., Horror, Box office gross: $47.296 million, Fox. Available: 09/29.
SPYSusan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency's most dangerous missions. But when her partner (Jude Law) falls off the grid and another top agent (Jason Statham) is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global disaster. Vitals: Director: Paul Feig. Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Allison Janney, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Serafinowicz, Morena Baccarin, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Comedy Action, Box office gross: $110.213 million, Fox. Available: 09/29.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.
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September 1, 2015