A movie based on a toy is far better than one that uses a theme park attraction as the basis when it comes to new DVD and Blu-ray releases.
“Barbie” Grade B-: The film starts strong with a tongue-in-cheek look at Barbieland through the perfect plastic silhouette of the blonde plastic doll with arched feet who has been around since 1959. Margot Robby took on the task of playing the iconic character and as she did with the role of Harley Quinn managed to find the perfect balance of staying true to the original doll but also giving the role her own fun flourishes.
An overwhelming optimism by Barbie begins to fade as she starts having weird thoughts about life and death.
Director Greta Gerwig’s lack of clear direction also leaves the film in a weird limbo of who will be the core audience. The film has a PG-13 rating because of some mild language and a very clinical description of how Barbie and Ken are not anatomically correct. There are a lot of innuendos – double ones according to Barbie – that helped earn the film its rating.
But, the movie does not feel like it was made for those 13 and younger because of the jokes made at Barbie’s expense. So much of the material is based on Barbie’s history, how many jokes land will be proportional to the age of the moviegoer.
“Haunted Mansion” Grade C: The new “Haunted Mansion” does surpass the previous attempt by being just barely more than mediocre. The story completely misses the mark, the casting is unimaginative and the script ends up being neither funny nor scary.
If it wasn’t for the stunning production design by Darren Gilford, this latest attempt to build a movie around a Disney Park ride would have been far closer to its forgettable predecessor.
“Golda” Grade B: Helen Mirren has dramatically raised the odds of her winning a second Oscar with her transformative performance as Golda Meir in “Golda.” The film has some general problems from a heavy-footed pacing to a lack of historical context but that never fully distracts from the most memorable performance in Mirren’s illustrious career.
“Golda” offers a snapshot look at Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (Helen Mirren) as she faces a war that could lead to her country’s complete destruction. The conflict comes at a time when Israel is still trying to establish itself in the world order. Failure to turn back enemies attacking from two sides would end those efforts.
Don’t be misled by this film taking place during the 19 days of the Yom Kippur War. That is just the backdrop to a biopic elevated by a performance by Mirren that at this point makes her the undisputed leader to pick up the Oscar for Best Actress in early 2024.
Also new on DVD and Blu-ray
“The Hill”: A young man does not let his medical issues stop him from trying to become a professional baseball player. Dennis Quaid stars.
“The Last Voyage of the Demeter”: Film chronicles the doomed journey of a merchant ship ferrying 50 mysterious wooden crates from Carpathia to London.
“Three Days in Malay”: Small group of dedicated soldiers must defend an airfield for three days against the Japanese assault during the fight for Malay in WWII.
“Night Court”: The NBC series is an updated version of the courtroom comedy.
“Shortcomings”: Ben spends his time obsessing over unavailable blonde women when he’s not managing an art house movie theater as his day job.
“Rabbit Hole: Season One”: Keifer Sutherland stars as a man who must stay one step ahead of an enemy he can’t fully identify.
“Landfill”: A little girl begins to see the ghost of another girl her age shortly after finding a necklace at a landfill.
“Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match”: The fourth animated film in the franchise sees Johnny Cage in 1980s Hollywood on a mission to become a famous actor.
“The Walking Dead: The Complete Collection”: Set follows the survivors of the walker apocalypse as they fight the dead and fear the living.
“Titans: The Complete Fourth Season”: Young superheroes continue their dark battles against evil.
“The Unknown Country”: Young woman hits the road in an effort to find herself.
“Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part Two”: The Justice League and Team RWBY team up to take on Grimm, who has arrived on earth with even more powers.
“Passion”: Film examines the exposed-nerve confessions and unrequited attachments among a group of thirtysomethings.
Available through digital platforms
“Shaky Shivers”: Lucy becomes convinced that she will transform into a fearsome werewolf after being bitten by a mysterious animal.