‘42’ hits home run, ‘Bullet’ shoots self in foot and ‘Evil’ dies on DVD

Among the movies that became available Tuesday, July 16 on Blu-ray and DVD at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley are a historical sports drama about Jackie Robinson, an actioner based in a French graphic novel and a remake of a classic horror flick.

42

Chadwick Boseman plays Jackie Robinson who makes history in 1946 when he signs with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford). (PG-13 – 100 minutes)

Since Jackie Robinson is one of the greatest baseball players of all time, it is only fitting that “42” – a new drama about his world-altering first minor league season – is one of the greatest films about baseball released in recent memory. In a time when movies like “Moneyball” forget to appeal to all audiences and instead cater solely to sports junkies, writer/director Brian Helgeland’s flick is far-reaching. Anchored by an extraordinary performance by a nearly unrecognizable Harrison Ford, this motion pictures possesses the emotional depth necessary to vitalize viewers regardless of their grasp on the game. (Thumbs Up!)

Bullet to the Head

Sylvester Stallone plays a career hitman who enters into an unlikely alliance with a by-the-book detective (Sung Kang) to bring down the ruthless killer of their respective partners. Christian Slater and Jason Momoa also star. (R – 91 minutes)

“Bullet to the Head” is a gravely gritty crime thriller with reverberating sound effects. Having said that, its episodic nature grows old extremely quickly thereby making the film feel like it goes on forever in spite of its somewhat short runtime. Director Walter Hill’s new movie, which is based on Alexis Nolent’s French graphic novel of the same title, cycles through a pattern in which its stars Sylvester Stallone and Sung Kang track down a bad guy, beat him to a bloody pulp, put a bullet in his head and end up pointing their guns at each other. Rinse. Repeat. (Thumbs Down!)

The End of Love

Mark Webber plays a struggling actor who kindles a relationship with a single mother (Shannyn Sossamon) and begins to realize that he can no longer remain in denial about the real-life consequences his choices have on his own son. (NR – 90 minutes)

“The End of Love” may be one of the most incredibly intimate motion pictures you will ever witness, exhibiting – with unparalleled honesty – the deeply emotional bond between a parent and their child. That honesty is due in part to actor Mark Webber co-starring with his own real-life son but also because he, in writing and directing the new drama, used his own challenging childhood experiences as inspiration. Having said that, the project is sometimes even so intimate that it feels more like a home movie than a feature film and has all of the format’s momentum and resolution – or lack thereof. (Thumbs Down!)

Erased

Aaron Eckhart plays an ex-CIA agent who discovers that he and his daughter have been marked for termination as part of a wide-reaching international conspiracy. A dangerous game of cat-and-mouse ensues as he tries to outsmart his hunters and uncover the truth. (R – 104 minutes)

After a first act that delivers all of the excitement, intrigue and unabashed fun of “Taken” and “Unknown,” the new thriller “Erased” eventually tries to imitate entertainment that is more intellectually stimulating. In the process of doing so, the motion picture becomes convoluted, confusing and lackluster while never really feeling very genuine in its efforts to motivate the mental muscle. Star Aaron Eckhart has a decent turn at being an action star and a few exchanges are exhilarating enough to amuse you while watching the movie but as soon as the end credits roll the experience will have been erased from your memory. (Thumbs Down!)

Evil Dead

Five friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival. (R – 90 minutes)

It is never a good idea to make a promise as audacious as “the most terrifying movie you will ever experience” on your motion picture’s poster. In doing so, TriStar Pictures has robbed “Evil Dead” – writer/director Fede Alvarez’s update of Sam Raimi’s horror classic – of the opportunity to have praise over its spectacular special effects (all of which are practical as opposed to computer-generated, by the way) sit in the spotlight. Instead, criticism over its distinct lack of scares as a result of its razor-thin story and star Jane Levy’s habitually heinous performance take center stage. (Thumbs Down!)

The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure

Three siblings set out to find five magical golden balloons in time for their friend’s surprise birthday party. With the help and support of many extraordinary new friends whom they meet along the way, the Oogieloves use creative thinking, teamwork and enthusiasm to rescue these one-of-a-kind balloons in time for the big celebration. (G – 88 minutes)

“The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure” leaves viewers longing for “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” – the television series starring Paul Reubens that had a similarly interactive spirit but was just as enjoyable for adults as it was for kids. Unlike that aforementioned 80’s gem, the new feature-length film created by Kenn Viselman (the mastermind behind the Teletubbies) is strictly for children – those of preschool-age and below, to be exact. In other words, its target audience is spectacularly small, posing a problem for parents who have multiple kids in various age groups. Then again, that target audience is sure to find the film vibrantly entertaining. (Thumbs Up!)

Solomon Kane

James Purefoy plays a 16th century killing machine who, after finding his spirituality after an encounter with the Devil’s Reaper (Ian Whyte), embarks on a mission to take down the overload (Samuel Roukin), whose human raiders are ravaging England. (R – 104 minutes)

While watching “Solomon Kane,” one cannot help but expect to see star James Purefoy break character for a moment, turn to the camera and say with a smile, “Just kidding!” prompting the motion picture to drop its gloom and doom tone and finally become fun. Writer/director Michael J. Bassett‘s new fantasy-fueled adventure flick, which is based around the world first imagined by “Conan” creator Robert E. Howard, is simply too solemn to be even remotely entertaining. The set-pieces are spectacular and the atmosphere is astounding but the self-serious story is certain to put viewers to sleep well before the action kicks in. (Thumbs Down!)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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