The 6 Best DVD and Streaming Releases of July
Evil Dead: Indeed, Evil Dead rains blood (literally): It inhabits every nook and cranny, it’s in between every toe and skin fold, and it oozes out of every orifice in Evil Dead. It is a blood-drenched holocaust, and horror hounds and hoochies who gets their kinks from gore geysers and puncture wounds will be Priapistic for hours. How it managed to avoid an NC-17 is a mystery to me: it comes up to the line, smashes its skull against it, and then slices its jaw off with the cranial shards. It is beautiful. — Dustin Rowles
Admission: It’s an exceedingly predictable film, and despite the presence of both Fey and Rudd, it’s not really a comedy, either. There’s an occasionally amusing moment, but it’d be better described as a light drama, and not a very good one, at that. But it’s not offensive. In fact, if I had to watch a bland, unimaginative movie about two people falling in love through their shared willingness to help a teenager be admitted into Princeton, there’s hardly anyone I’d rather see glide through all those familiar beats than Fey and Rudd, who elevate Admission into an amiable film perfectly suited to in-flight entertainment on cross-country flights. — DR
Dead Man Down: Surprisingly moving, the film goes along at a brisk pace, never lingering long enough for audiences to get bored, and never moving so quickly that we’re entirely lost. It’s also a fairly clean film, gun violence not withstanding, there’s a tiny bit of sex so brief it barely counts, and some swearing but not like Tarantino swearing. The search for vengeance and peace of mind provides remarkably compelling fodder for the story, and Farrell’s commitment to his task is admirable, even as it is a bit terrifying. Only people who believe they have no future act as the two leads do, and through working together towards their nihilistic goals, begin to realize that maybe there can be a life worth living, out there somewhere. Characters who really learn and change are a rarity, especially in such simple, fundamental ways. — Daniel Carlson
42: That’s not to say that 42 is a bad movie. It’s not. It does what it sets out to do. I felt inspired by Robinson. My heart swelled. My emotions soared. I felt angry at the racist caricatures, and 42 does an estimable job of validating our respect and admiration for Jackie Robinson (played ably here by Chadwick Boseman). Maybe it’s an impossible task to ask someone to accurately capture the enormous magnitude of Jackie Robinson’s place in history, and maybe a movie like 42 is the best we can hope for in a Hollywood system dictated by money. But for all its earnestness, and for all the good intentions behind 42, I feel like we deserve better — that Jackie Robinson deserves better — than The Help version of his life. — DR
The End of Love: The film is almost Spartan in its simplicity, focusing on Mark and his three year-old son Isaac (played by Isaac Webber, his actual son). Mark is a struggling actor trying to make it happen in L.A., living broke and semi-desperate as he travels from audition to audition while also having to take sole care of Isaac in the wake of his wife’s death. That’s … pretty much it. The character that Webber has written for himself is a difficult one to come to grips with — he’s part delayed adolescent who wants to still eke some fun out of his existence, yet he clearly loves and cares for his little boy in almost heartbreaking fashion. The consequence of these two often conflicting aspects of his life is that he creates an internal struggle through his own unusual pathos. He lives with friends of his, yet is behind on his rent, he struggles through auditions because he can’t afford childcare and is forced to bring Isaac with him, and he routinely sabotages romantic entanglements with his own distinct air of desperation. His ongoing, awkward encounters with a local single mother, Lydia (Shannon Sossamon), provide another compelling and often-charming aspect of his life. — TK
G.I. Joe: Retaliation: With all of that said, as a critic, I cannot in good conscience recommend G.I. Joe: Retaliation. It’s simply not a good movie. However, unlike the first film which is only watchable from a so-bad-it’s-good standpoint (and even then, not really), this one has an element of genuine fun to it that granted me some occasional slivers of nostalgic joy. And while the screenplay was clearly written as a series of action setpieces with a boneheaded plot lazily slapped around it, those setpieces? Sometimes they work pretty damn well. Mix in a decent effort by Dwayne Johnson and some enjoyably evil villains (particularly Stevenson, who has his menace dialed up to twelve), and I’ll be damned if my inner 11 year-old didn’t feel some twinges of satisfaction and son of a bitch, I even had a bit of fun now and again.
But seriously. You probably shouldn’t see it. — TK