Summer tentpoles hit home entertainment

Dope From Trailer

What’s new on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming services

With Avengers, Tomorrowland and San Andreas hitting the small screen in October, now everyone can get a sniff of the dogs of summer


By Katherine Monk


Me and Earl Box Art

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

4/5 Stars

Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler.

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon emerged as the breakout director of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival thanks to this touching and cinematically vibrant exploration of high school life that pushes the dramatic needle into the red zone. Unlike other teen traumas that pivot on locker room taunts, mean girls and backstabbing bad apples, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl takes all that generic teen angst and throws it against the brick wall of mortality. Greg (Thomas Mann) is an ordinary high school senior looking to make it to graduation without getting noticed, but when his mother (Connie Britton) asks him to befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke) after she’s diagnosed with cancer, he’s forced to engage with others in a profound way. Without spoiling the ending, it’s safe to say Greg is transformed by his friendship with the “Dying Girl” in the title, but not in the way you might imagine. A film that finds humour and a great deal of mental comfort food in the very act of making a movie, Gomez-Rejon’s feature isn’t just a delicately crafted and beautifully acted piece of drama, it’s a melancholy love letter to our indefatigable desire to recreate the world, and give everything a happy ending.

Special features: Deleted scenes with optional commentary from Gomez-Rejon.

To read The Ex-Press interview with Gomez-Rejon, click here.

To read The Ex-Press theatrical review, click here.



box art - going clearGoing Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

4/5 Stars

Directed by: Alex Gibney

Starring: Lawrence Wright, Mike Rinder, Marty Rathbun, Paul Haggis, Jason Beghe.

Everything about this movie is creepy, and not in the traditionally cool, thrill-seeker sense. The creep factor here is the old, musty variety that comes from old furniture and plastic flowers, funeral homes and yellow-toothed youth pastors, and it all stems directly from L. Ron Hubbard’s ghostly presence in the film through archival material. Director Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, The Armstrong Lie) knew what he was doing when he put Scientology and its founder front and centre: by placing these waxy figures in the spotlight, they start to melt like some Nazi who opened the ark of the covenant. If that sounds a little over-the-top, you haven’t been to a Scientology convention. Secretive, exclusive and prone to gaudy shows of gold-plated pomp, the organization looks ridiculous from the outside, but when you hear the testimony of former members such as Paul Haggis – who quit when the group tried to re-educate his lesbian daughter – it’s terrifying, which seems to be the way Scientology leader David Miscavige likes it best. Fear is a useful tool for the ambitious, and if there’s one thing this documentary does extremely well, it’s conveying the ambient paranoia behind the blue walls of the church’s Hollywood headquarters. An eye opening film that answers all the tough questions, from how Scientology bullied the IRS into giving it tax-free status, to the depth of John Travolta and Tom Cruise’s involvement, Going Clear will leave you feeling a little oily.

Special features: None.

To read The Ex-Press theatrical review, click here.


box art - dopeDope

4/5 stars

Directed by: Rick Famuyiwa

Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Kimberly Elise, Zoe Kravitz, Forest Whitaker

If you’re a fan of classic ‘80s hip-hop, you might want to skip Straight Outta Compton and check out Rick Famuyiwa’s ode to Inglewood instead. A coming-of-age movie set against the bullet-riddled backdrop of urban America, Dope deals with the same issues as all the post-apocalyptic young adult novels and every heavy-hearted hormonal romance: Finding your own way in life and accepting the responsibilities of adulthood. For Malcolm (Shameik Moore), a smart kid with good grades, a nice friend and a band called Awreeoh (Oreo), the future should look bright. But he’s black, and he’s from Inglewood, which means his chances of getting into an Ivy League school are close to nil. But that doesn’t stop him from trying. And for Malcolm, it seems the only way he’s going to get an interview is by selling a backpack full of drugs. What? For some people who watched this film at Sundance, the idea of succeeding through drug sales was a huge problem. But they missed the point. Famuyiwa’s film is a dark, funny and entertaining satire that takes a buzz saw to the concept of an open and accessible economic ladder.

Special features: Dope is Different, Dope Music.


avengersAvengers: Age of Ultron

2/5 stars

Directed by: Joss Whedon

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Elizabeth Olsen, Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders

If superheroes are entertainment candy, then the Avengers franchise is a stuffed piñata and Joss Whedon is the kid with the stick. Featuring Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America and a walk-in closet full of other spandex outfits, Age of Ultron was designed to be a crowning jewel, the big cherry on top of one of the most profitable movie series in history – but it was more like the beige goop at the bottom of your sundae. An indistinguishable mash of half-developed characters and thin storylines, Age of Ultron pits all the good guys against a collage of evil in the form of a powerful robot hacked from Tony Stark’s own core. Ultron is supposed to be the shadow side of the Avengers, and while Whedon does his best to sculpt some human drama from all this virtual metal, there’s just too much going on at any given moment to give it shape, depth or feeling.

Special features: Deleted scenes, making-of featurettes, gag reel, audio commentary.

To read The Ex-Press theatrical review, click here.


box art - san andreasSan Andreas

3/5 stars

Directed by: Brad Peyton

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario

Maybe the thrill of watching our cities crumble to dust and fall into the ocean has worn thin. Or maybe, it’s all a little too close now to be entertaining, but San Andreas was supposed to kick off the summer movie season with a reading on the Richter scale – yet recorded little more than a tremor. You can’t fault the Rock for the failure. As emergency rescue pilot Ray Gaines, Johnson looks perfectly comfortable in the cockpit and flies this action movie in every direction – from tense rescue situations to family drama. The big problem is scope and believability because Ray seems to be the only rescuer in the entire state of California. He’s needed everywhere at once, but he still finds time and enough gas in the tank to fly from Los Angeles to San Francisco to rescue his own family. Without believable risk or feeling, there’s no real tension. There is, however, plenty of top-notch devastation, which makes San Andreas a pleasant distraction of a disaster movie, and perfect home entertainment for those who live in seismically active zones.

Special features: Commentary by director Brad Peyton, The Real Fault Line, Dwayne Johnson to the Rescue, scoring the quake, deleted scenes, gag reel, stunt reel and UltraViolet content.

To read The Ex-Press theatrical review, click here.


box art - tomorrowlandTomorrowland


Directed by: Brad Bird

Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy

Okay. I was the odd gal out on this one. I liked Tomorrowland. Sure, it had some big problems and cast George Clooney as a curmudgeon in a cardigan, but if you ask me, this was one of the bravest films to ever come out of the Mouse House. The Walt Disney Company is built on plastic and make-believe, so to see such a dystopian vision served up on kiddie plates was nothing short of a revelation. More impressive still, Disney refers to itself – going so far as to show us a Tomorrowland in disrepair. In this universe, there are no theme parks, per se, but there is a place where all the talented dreamers are given the tools and support they need to make the world shiny, bright and happy. The only problem is somewhere along the way, people like the curmudgeon lost hope, and without hope – there is no happy tomorrow, only a lingering sense of doom. For kids’ stuff, it’s kind of dark, but that’s what makes Tomorrowland memorable and courageous, as well as a box-office bomb.

Special features: Remembering the Future, Casting Tomorrowland, Brad Bird Production Diaries, deleted scenes, Blast from the Past commercial, The World of Science Hour, Animated Short, four Easter eggs.

To read The Ex-Press theatrical review, click here.





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