New movies on Blu-ray and DVD this week are led by a true story, “Deepwater Horizon.”
“Deepwater Horizon” (Summit, 2016, PG-13, featurettes). Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russell head the excellent cast in this re-creation of the 2010 disaster at the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig site in the Gulf of Mexico. The depiction of a string of failures triggered by human error is easy to follow, even if your understanding of how oil rigs work is limited (as is mine). But the emphasis here is actually on the heroics of workers trying to save each other as fires build and oil spills, which makes for gripping human drama.
Director Peter Berg’s approach is less than subtle, and if we don’t get into a lot of character depth, we certainly understand these people and their motivations, making it an easy path to sympathize with their plight as the suspense builds to a fever pitch.
Among the cast, John Malkovich stands out as the de facto villain of the piece, but everyone is in top form, with Wahlberg representing the everyman and Russell as the veteran whose warning voice of reason is ultimately ignored.
“The Birth of a Nation” (Fox, 2016, R for violence and nudity, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, shooting script, photo gallery). The title here purposely invokes D.W. Griffith’s 1915 racist silent epic as an ironic beginning to the true story of Nat Turner, a literate slave who led a rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831. Nate Parker wrote, directed and stars as Turner, who was encouraged to preach to other slaves as a means of keeping them in line, but, after witnessing their appalling treatment, he instead felt prompted to incite a revolt. This one’s didactic but nonetheless compelling.
“The Man Who Skied Down Everest” (Film Detective, 1975). This is the exciting, vivid Blu-ray debut of the beautifully photographed documentary that chronicles champion Japanese skier Yuichiro Miura’s attempt to ski some 6,600 feet down a 40-degree run on Everest’s South Col face. It is the winner of the 1975 Academy Award for best documentary.
“Jerry Maguire: 20th Anniversary Edition” (TriStar, 1996; R for violence, sex, nudity, language; deleted/extended scenes, audio/visual commentaries, featurettes, rehearsals, faux commercial, music video, photo gallery, trailer). Tom Cruise had two massive movie successes in 1996, “Mission: Impossible,” which landed at No. 3 on the year-end box-office hit list, and this comedy-drama, which came in at No. 4. Cruise is a workaholic sports agent, Renée Zellweger is the woman who teaches him how to commit and Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. is the jock who wants him to “Show me the money!” The film is uneven but enormously popular, and this Blu-ray set includes bonus features galore for fans.
“Lost & Found” (Sony, 2017, PG, deleted scenes, featurette). A teenager (Justin Kelly) and his younger brother are shipped off to an island to stay with their down-on-his-luck uncle (Jason Patric). They soon learn that their grandfather, who mysteriously disappeared, left a fortune somewhere on the island and, after stumbling upon some clues, the boys go on a treasure hunt. Cary Elwes co-stars in this OK family friendly adventure.
“Apple of My Eye” (Sony, 2017, PG, deleted scenes, featurette, bloopers). A young aspiring steeplechase horsewoman (Avery Arendes) loses her sight after a riding accident. When she fails to connect with guide dogs, the head trainer (Burt Reynolds) fixes her up with a service horse, a miniature that helps her adjust to life without sight. Amy Smart and Liam McIntyre co-star as the girl’s parents in this inspirational comedy-drama.
“Max Steel” (Universal, 2016, PG-13, featurettes). This superhero kids film was adapted from the Mattel toy line, providing an origin story that explains how 16-year-old Max McGrath (Ben Winchell) bonds with a techno-organic alien named Steel, allowing the two to become one as Max Steel. Naturally, they must use their power to save the universe.
“The Accountant” (Warner, 2016, R for violence and language, featurettes). This is a strange, wrong-headed, big-budget thriller starring Ben Affleck as an autistic math genius who works as a forensic accountant for mobsters and is also a crack shot with a secret arsenal at his disposal. It is effectively directed with an A-list cast (Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, John Lithgow, Jean Smart), but the script throws logic out the window, while trivializing autism.
“The People vs. Fritz Bauer” (Cohen, 2016, R for sex, deleted scenes, in English and in German, Yiddish and Spanish, with English subtitles, featurette, trailer, eight-page booklet). In 1957 Germany, Attorney General Fritz Bauer receives evidence suggesting that fugitive war criminal Adolf Eichmann is hiding in Buenos Aires. But because Bauer has been unsuccessful in bringing other Third Reich operatives to justice, he calls upon the Israeli secret service, which pits him against the German government. This is a fascinating, well-constructed true story.
“Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box Limited Edition Trilogy” (MVD, 1987-92, four discs, three films, alternate version of “Hellraiser III,” audio commentaries, documentary, featurettes, image galleries, trailers/TV spots, short films, art cards, 200-page booklet on the franchise, 20-page booklet on the first film). Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser” is a gruesome, gory horror flick about a puzzle box that opens a door to an alternate universe and unleashes the demon called Pinhead and his Cenobite followers. Barker didn’t participate in subsequent films, but the first two sequels, “Hellbound: Hellraiser II” and “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth,” are also in this Blu-ray set. (There are nine films in the franchise.)