OnVideo January Video Reviews

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OnVideo: January's Top Movies


photo for Annabelle Prequel to "The Conjuring," about Annabelle, the doll capable of unspeakable evil that exists locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut -- visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month. John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia -- a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia's delight with Annabelle doesn't last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now ... Annabelle. Extras: "The Curse of Annabelle." Blu-ray adds "Bloody Tears of Possession," "Dolls of the Demon," "A Demonic Process," deleted scenes.

Director:. Stars: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodard. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 99 min., Horror, Box office gross: $37.134 million, Warner. Available: 01/20.

two stars goback


photo for Boyhood Filmed over 12 years with the same cast during short periods, "Boyhood" is a groundbreaking cinematic experience covering 12 years in the life of a family, as seen through the eyes of Mason, who with his sister Samantha, are taken on an emotional journey through the years, from childhood to adulthood (5 to 18). Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's "Yellow" to Arcade Fire's "Deep Blue." "Boyhood" is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. Blu-ray extras: "The 12 Year Project" featurette, Q&A with Richard Linklater and the cast.

Director: Richard Linklater. Stars: Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, Ellar Coltrane. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 165 min., Drama, Box office gross: $23.016 million, Paramount. Available: 01/06.

three stars goback


photo for The Boxtrolls Quirky, mischievous and good-hearted, the Boxtrolls are unique creatures who have lovingly raised a human boy named Eggs in a fantastical charming cavern below the bustling streets of Cheesebridge. But when the evil Archibald Snatcher schemes to capture Eggs' family, it's up to Eggs and his feisty new friend Winnie to save the Boxtrolls. Extras: "Dare to Be Square: Behind the Scenes of The Boxtrolls" five-part documentary; five featurettes: "The Nature of Creation," "Trolls Right Off the Tongue," "Allergic to Easy," "Let's Dance" and "On the Shoulders of Giants"; commentary with directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable; preliminary animatic sequences.

Director: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi. Stars: Voices of Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Toni Collette, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Simon Pegg. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 96 min., Animated, Box office gross: $17.275 million, Universal. Available: 01/20.

two stars goback


photo for The Drop Crime drama follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) through a covert scheme of funneling cash to local gangsters -- money drops -- in the underworld of Brooklyn bars. Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), Bob finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood's past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living -- no matter the cost. Extras: Featurettes: "Keeping it Real," "Making of The Drop," "Making Brooklyn Your Own," "Rocco the Dog," "Character Profile: James Gandolfini"; deleted scenes; commentary by director Michael R. Roskam and screenwriter Dennis Lehane.

Director: Michael R. Roskam. Stars: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 106 min., Drama, Box office gross: $9.641 million, Fox. Available: 01/20.

two stars goback


photo for Fury April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and its five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany. Extras: "Blood Brothers" featurette. Blu-ray adds More than 50 minutes of deleted & extended scenes; photo gallery; three featurettes: "Director’s Combat Journal," "Armored Warriors: The Real Men Inside the Shermans" and "Taming the Beast: How to Drive, Fire, & Shoot Inside a 30-Ton Tank."

Director: David Ayer. Stars: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Michael Pena, Jason Isaacs, Scott Eastwood, Brad William Henke, Jim Parrack, Xavier Samuel. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 134 min., Action Drama, Box office gross: $83.580 million, Sony. Available: 01/27.

two stars goback


photo for Based on the incredible life story of the Godfather of Soul, this biodrama takes a fearless look inside the music, moves and moods of James Brown, taking audiences on the journey from his impoverished childhood to his evolution into one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.

Director: Tate Taylor. Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, Craig Robinson, Keith Robinson, Lennie James, Tika Sumpter, Jill Scott, Dan Aykroyd. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 139 min., Drama, Box office gross: $30.703 million, Universal. Extras: "Long Journey to the Screen" behind-the-scenes featurette, "Chadwick Boseman: Meet Mr. James Brown," "The Get On Up Family," "Tate Taylor's Master Class," commentary with director-producer Tate Taylor. Blu-ray adds "On Stage with the Hardest Working Man" comparison between the film's depiction of Brown with the real thing using archival footage, "The Founding Father of Funk" featurette, deleted/extended/alternate Scenes, full song performances, extended song performances. Available: 01/06.

three stars goback


photo for Gone Girl Based upon the best seller by Gillian Flynn, this well-done-if-middle-of-the-road-thriller-with-twists by director David Fincher ("Seven," "Zodiac," "The Social Network") unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick's portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife? Blu-ray Extras: Commentary by director David Fincher, "Amazing Amy Tattle Tale" comic book.

Director: David Fincher. Stars: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Neil Patrick Harris, Emily Ratajkowski, Sela Ward, Missi Pyle. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 149 min., Mystery Drama, Box office gross: $163.249 million, Fox. Available: 01/13.

three stars goback


photo for The Judge "The Judge" is a straight-ahead, old-fashioned, well-written and well-acted melodrama about a snarky, hotshot big city lawyer (Robert Downey Jr.) who returns to his small Indiana town for his mother's funeral and ends up defending his stern, know-it-all, son-of-a-bitch estranged father (who happens to be the town judge) from a hit-and-run murder charge. Downey is perfect as the cocky Chicago lawyer (he's a toned-down Tony Stark) and Robert Duvall doesn't have to stretch much as the father who barks orders in place of giving love. Vincent D'Onofrio is cast against type as Downey's less-than-courageous older brother and Vera Farmiga (who one can never get enough of) is radiant as Downey's high school sweetheart with a 20 year torch. It's predicable and a little long -- but ever so enjoyable -- gulp -- adult fare. Extras: "Getting Deep With Dax Shepard" featurette. Blu-ray adds commentary by director David Dobkin, "Inside The Judge" featurette, deleted scenes.

Director: David Dobkin. Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard, Leighton Meester, Ken Howard, Emma Tremblay, Balthazar Getty, David Krumholtz, Sarah Lancaster, Grace Zabriskie, Denis O'Hare. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 141 min., Drama, Box office gross: $46.212 million, Warner. Available: 01/27.

two stars goback



photo for Love Is Strange Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) take advantage of New York's new marriage laws and tie the knot after being together for 39 years. Unfortunately, the Catholic school where George teaches does not approve and they reluctantly fire him, forcing the couple to split up while they sell their apartment and look for cheaper housing. George moves in with two friends (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez) while Ben ends up across town with his nephew (Darren Burrows), his wife (Marisa Tomei) and their teenage son with whom Ben shares a bunk bed. While struggling with the pain of separation, Ben and George are further challenged by the intergenerational tensions and capricious family dynamics of their new living arrangements. Extras: Commentary with John Lithgow, Alfred Molina and director Ira Sachs; LA Film Fest Q&A with Lithgow, Molina, Cheyenne Jackson and Sachs; "What is Love: Making of Love Is Strange."

Director: Ira Sachs. Stars: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Cheyenne Jackson, Manny Perez, Darren Burrows, Marisa Tomei, Charlie Tahan. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 94 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.833 million, Sony. Available: 01/06.

three stars goback


photo for Lucy From "La Femme Nikita" and "Leon: The Professional" to "The Fifth Element," writer-director Luc Besson has created some of the toughest, most memorable female action heroes in cinematic history. Now, Besson directs an action-thriller that tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors. Scarlett Johansson stars as Lucy, a woman altered by a dangerous drug that allows her to use 100% of her brain, transforming into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic. Extras: "Cerebral Capacity – The True Science of Lucy" featurette. Blu-ray adds "The Evolution of Lucy" featurette.

Director: Luc Besson. Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-Sik, Amr Waked. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 90 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $125.480 million, Universal. Available: 01/20.

three stars goback


photo for No Good Deed Terri (Taraji P. Henson) is a devoted wife and mother of two, living an ideal suburban life in Atlanta when Colin (Idris Elba), a charming but dangerous escaped convict, shows up at her door claiming car trouble. Terri offers her phone to help him but soon learns that no good deed goes unpunished as she finds herself fighting for survival when he invades her home and terrorizes her family. Extras: "Making a Thriller" featurette. Blu-ray adds "The Thrill of a Good Fight" and "Good Samaritan" featurettes.

Director: Sam Miller. Stars: Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo, Henry Simmons, Mirage Moonschein. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 84 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $46.532 million, Sony. Available: 01/06.

two stars goback


photo for A Walk Among the Tombstones An ex-NYPD cop and recovering alcoholic haunted by regrets, Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) has a lot to make up for. When a series of kidnappings targeting the wives of drug dealers escalates to grisly murder, Scudder reluctantly agrees to help a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens) and his brother (Boyd Holbrook) hunt the two men down and bring them to bloody justice. An unlicensed private detective, Matt gets help from his former colleague (Ruth Wilson) and a homeless 17 year-old artist, TJ (Brian "Astro" Bradley). Operating just outside the law to track down the monsters responsible, Scudder stops just short of becoming one himself. Extras: "A Look Behind the Tombstones" featurette. Blu-ray adds "Matt Scudder: Private Eye" page-to-screen featurette.

Director: Scott Frank. Stars: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Boyd Holbrook, Sebastian Roche, Brian "Astro" Bradley, David Harbour, Adam David Thompson. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 114 min., Crime Drama, Box office gross: $20.830 million, Universal. Available: 01/13.

two stars goback

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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January 1, 2015
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