The film that earned Leonardo DiCaprio his Oscar earlier this year is now on Blu-ray and DVD.
“The Revenant” (Fox, 2015, R for violence and language, 44-minute making-of documentary). After being horribly mauled by a bear, mountain man Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is left for dead by companions who know full well he’s still alive. So Glass musters what life he has left, recovers some of his strength, receives help from unexpected sources and eventually sets out for revenge.
This grueling but riveting semifactual action-drama is set in 1823 in unorganized territory that would eventually become the Dakotas. The film and its cast were nominated for a combined 12 Oscars and won three — best director (Alejandro G. Inarritu), best actor (DiCaprio) and best cinematographer (Emmanuel Lubezki), all of them well deserved. It is wonderfully cinematic in a way we don’t often see anymore, and as a result, it might lose something on home screens.
We could complain about how the screenplay toys with history (heck, it doesn’t even jibe with the well-researched but admittedly embellished book on which it’s based) or about Oscar nominee Tom Hardy as the chief villain, whose dialogue is often so mumbled that it’s incomprehensible. But when a movie is this edge-of-your-seat thrilling, that just seems like quibbling.
“The Lady in the Van” (Sony Classics, 2015, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). This is an amusing odd-couple comedy-drama (billed as “a mostly true story”) about a homeless woman (Maggie Smith) who lives in her filthy van and coerces a passive playwright (Alex Jennings) into letting her park it in his driveway for a few days — which turns into 15 years. It was written by Alan Bennett and filmed in his neighborhood and in his home, where these incidents actually occurred. It is never quite as fulfilling as you’d like, but it gets juice from Smith’s winning, all-out performance.
“Ip Man 3” (Well Go, 2016, PG-13, in both Cantonese with English subtitles and in English, featurettes). Donnie Yen returns for another highly entertaining entry in the Ip Man franchise about the real-life Wing Chun martial-arts grandmaster that mentored Bruce Lee. Set in the late 1950s, the plot has Ip going up against thugs led by an American developer (Mike Tyson yes, that Mike Tyson) who is intent on taking over the city. Yen is in top form, and the film is loaded with terrific fight sequences.
“Norm of the North” (Lionsgate, 2016, PG, deleted scenes, featurettes, sing-along, trivia game). This is a so-so animated feature with an environmental message about an anthropomorphic polar bear that travels to New York City so he can confront a human developer planning to ruin his Arctic home by filling it with luxury homes. Voice cast includes Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Loretta Devine, Bill Nighy and Gabriel Iglesias.
“The Forest” (Universal, 2016, PG-13, audio commentary, featurette, storyboards, photo galleries). Natalie Dormer (“The Hunger Games”) goes searching for her missing twin sister, who disappeared in the Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, a destination sought out by people intent on committing suicide. Dormer tries hard, but the interesting premise never reaches its potential, settling instead for less-than-scary horror tropes.
“Misconduct” (Lionsgate, 2016; R for language, violence, sex, nudity; deleted scenes, featurette, trailers). Straight-to-video thrillers like to rope in big stars (in this case, scenery-chewers Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins) so they can rope in curious fans (like me). But, of course, they are supporting players in this tale of a workaholic attorney (Josh Duhamel) who receives incriminating evidence against a drug mogul. Julia Stiles and Malin Akerman co-star.
“The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun” (Magnolia, 2016, not rated, in French with English subtitles, featurettes, trailer). After dropping off her boss and his wife at the airport, a secretary (Freya Mavor) takes their Thunderbird for a joyride to the seashore and meets strangers who claim to know her. Then a body is discovered in the trunk of the car. This stylish French psychological thriller is based on a novel and in 1970, there was another film version then starring Samantha Eggar.
“Earthrise” (MVD, 2016, not rated). This ambitious sci-fi yarn is set in a future where Earth is dying and generations have been relocated to Mars. Three young astronauts are chosen to go to Earth for the first time for a reclamation project. It's a claustrophobic psychological thriller set aboard a spaceship that is undone by a low budget and fidgety editing.
“Flight 7500” (Lionsgate, 2016, PG-13, featurette). On an overnight flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo, passengers become nervous as a supernatural entity invades the cabin. The result is a bland “Twilight Zone”-type tale that has an easily discerned twist and less-than-likable characters. Amy Smart and Leslie Bibb are among the ensemble cast.
“Standoff” (Lionsgate, 2016, R for violence and language, featurette). A 12-year-old girl witnesses a murder and is threatened by the killer (Laurence Fishburne), but a troubled veteran steps in to help. This by-the-numbers thriller was predestined to skip theaters and go straight to video.Comment on this story
“What Lola Wants” (Anchor Bay, 2016; R for violence, sex, language; featurettes). The 16-year-old title character (Sophie Lowe), daughter of a wealthy Hollywood couple, fakes her own kidnapping and then meets a boy (Beau Knapp) in a New Mexico diner and they head out together. But he’s not as benign as he seems. Charles S. Dutton and Robert Taylor (TV’s “Longmire”) co-star.
“Convict” (MVD, 2016, not rated). This Australian prison movie is overly familiar with its story of a military veteran (George Basha) convicted of manslaughter after protecting his fiancee, then sent to a corrupt prison with a sadistic warden.