‘Wick’ works, ‘Dracula’ has little bite
Keanu Reeves’ comeback and a new twist on an old story are among new DVD releases Feb. 3.
“John Wick,” Grade B: Keanu Reeves turns in one of his most intense performances playing the retired contract killer.
Once he’s forced back to work, the only thing that can stop him from getting total revenge is running out of bullets. Reeves brings just the right amount of killing tenacity, tempered by a five-year absence from the job, to make Wick formidable yet slightly vulnerable.
The screenplay by Derek Kolstad is loaded with leaps of logic. They aren’t as blatant because director Chad Stahelski never lets the action slow down. This is a film built on body counts.
“Dracula Untold,” Grade C: The film is entertaining, just not memorable. It eventually will become the kind of heavily repeated feature film that cable channels use to fill weekend afternoons when there’s nothing original to air.
Since the direction is so mundane, the film needed its actors to turn in compelling performances. Luke Evans has neither the charisma nor the muscle to make Vlad the same kind of captivating character that Dracula has been in past productions.
Sarah Gadon’s work as Vlad’s wife is so colorless that she often blends into the scenery.
“Dear White People,” Grade B: Director/writer Justin Simien looks at race issues on an Ivy League college campus during the Obama era.
Despite the tendency to want to believe that society is crawling out from under the ugly shadow of bigotry, “Dear White People” offers a reminder that in many ways racism has become more abhorrent because it’s done in such a subversive manner.
“The Best of Me Grade,” Grade B-: A pair of former high school sweethearts reunite after many years when they return to visit their small hometown.
No one has ever accused Nicholas Sparks of being subtle when it comes to layering on the emotional levels in his writing. That’s fine as long as the sentimentality doesn’t become so heavy it becomes crushing. “The Best of Me” suffers that fate.
“Ouija,” Grade F: The scariest thing about the new horror film is that you might get crushed under its pile of cliches or fall out of your seat from boredom.
From the blonde who becomes the first fodder for the creature in a cursed house to the insistence all efforts to stop the spirit can only be done in the dead of night, the makers of this release wouldn’t recognize an original idea if it was spelled out on a Ouija board.
Should you go see this movie? Do whatever you have to do to move the planchette to say “NO.
Also new on DVD Feb. 3:
• “Wonder Years Season 2”: Contains 17 episodes of the TV series that fondly looks back at the ‘80s.
• “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic”: Documentary that examines the legacy of the comedian.
• “Anzac Girls”: Based on the true story of five Australian and New Zealand nurses during World War I.
• “Demon’s Rock”: Residents of a quiet town must deal with a evil that comes through a portal.
• “Exists”: Five friends find terror on the back roads of Texas.
• “Boys”: Mischa Kamp’s award-winning story of two track stars finding their first love.
• “Pom Poko“: Film about the clash between modern civilization and the natural world.
• “The Reagans: The Legacy Endures”: Documentary about the 40th President.
• “Coffee Town”: Efforts are made to save a favorite coffee shop.
• “Leslie Charteris: The Saint, Set 2”: Simon Dutton plays Simon Templar.
• “Starry Eyes”: Aspiring actress gets role to die for.
• “Hector and the Search for Happiness”: Psychiatrist is frustrated he can’t give his patients real happiness. Simon Pegg stars.
• “Starred Up”: Teen fights for his life after being transferred to an adult prison facility.
• “Tales from Earthsea”: Based on the “Earthsea ” fantasy book series.
• “Video Games: The Movie”: Chronicle of the rise of the video game industry.
• “Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard”: Small band of young adults are trained to protect their city.
• “ABCs of Death 2”: The film features 26 chapters of scares.
• “The Overnighters”: Struggling Americans hit the road in hopes of finding a new start.
• “Care Bears: Share Your Care”: Bears have their usual feelings switch by the Feeling Flu.
• “Foyle’s War”: The final season of the series starring Michael Kitchen .