Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”
After 11 years, director Bryan Singer returns to his mutants for another round of action sequences wrapped around social consciousness. It’s not hard to see that the persecution of mutants is really a veiled storyline about the persecution of everyone deemed as not normal. This is the second time the X-Men have ventured into period-piece territory. Here we have two stories running concurrently – one set in 1973 and one in a Dystopian future. The members of all the previous “X-Men” films make an appearance, but the scenes are dominated by Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult. There are also nice assists along the way by Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Peter Dinklage, and Ellen Page. And Evan Peters as Quicksilver steals every scene he’s in. Like the best superhero movies, it mixes action with humor with characters we care about. Singer re-energizes this saga with his dark mojo and shows this franchise still has claws – worth a watch.
“Million Dollar Arm”
Just in time for the heat of the MLB playoffs comes a movie about the game of Cricket. Actually, it’s about turning Indian Cricket players into Major League Baseball pitchers. Jon Hamm stars as a asshole agent with loyalty as his one redeemable trait. As usual, Hamm is convincing when he plays an asshole. It makes him equally as convincing when he overcomes his asshole-ness. The surprising performance is from Aasif Mandvi of “The Daily Show,” showing real acting skills along with the likes of Hamm, Bill Paxton and Alan Arkin. Quirky Lake Bell was brought in to give the male-dominated cast at least one female member, and her interactions with Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal give the film its heart. It’s a surprisingly predictable film to come from such unconventional filmmakers – Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”) and Thomas McCarthy (“The Visitor” and “The Station Agent”). But as far as feel-good sports film go, there aren’t that many errors – worth a watch.
“A Night in Old Mexico”
Young actor Jeremy Irvine was so impactful in 2011’s “War Horse,” and old actor Robert Duvall is a legend. So when the two of them team up to do a Bill Wittliff script, viewers should feel pretty good about it. Wittliff is the writer who brought you “The Black Stallion” in the ’70s, “Lonesome Dove” in the ’80s. He made Missouri romantic in “Legends of the Fall” in the ’90s, and he attempted to make New England fishermen romantic in “The Perfect Storm” in 2000. This is his first script in 13 years…he should’ve stayed retired. This film just seems like things happening too easily. And when they happen, Irvine overacts to the point of this becoming an unintentional comedy, or Duvall throws out a line about being an old man who doesn’t have long to live anyway. It does start out with a bang, but it devolves into far-fetched stacked on ridiculousness and topped off with terrible performances. Choose to spend a night anywhere else – pass.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge