A terrifying thriller is at the top of the list for entertainment options this week.
“Crisis” Grade 3 stars: The film from writer/director Nicholas Jarecki (“Arbitrage”) features one of the most terrifying villains to come along in years. It’s not terrorists. It is not aliens. It is the medical community.
“Crisis” looks at the devastating impact of the ever-growing opioid epidemic in this country. It is a villain driven by greed, ignorance, fraud and hopelessness. Jarecki looks at all those elements through very different – but parallel – storylines.
The most interesting plot involves Claire Reimann (Evangeline Lilly), a single mother and recovering opioid addict. Her life is destroyed by a tragedy that leads her on a quest for revenge.
This is by far one of the best acting performances by Lilly as she deals with the kind of pain and suffering no one should ever endure. Jarecki weakens the character slightly with a bit of a fantasy ending but overall, Lilly’s work gives the film a solid emotional foundation. This is what a crisis looks like on a very personal level.
Equally as interesting is the storyline that takes more of an academic look at the problem. Gary Oldman plays a college professor and research scientist who discovers a drug he has been testing that’s being touted as being less addictive actually can be more of a danger. Oldman turns in a strong performance playing this man who must decide between the safe and secure life he has been living and one where he puts everything at risk.
The least interesting element is the crime story with Armie Hammer playing a drug enforcement agent trying to end a multi-cartel Fentanyl smuggling operation. There’s nothing wrong with the story but it covers no new ground.
Jarecki’s other two storylines are strong enough to make “Crisis” both a compelling thriller and an important examination of one of the biggest threats this country has ever faced.
“Crisis” is currently available through Video on Demand and will be released on DVD on April 20.
“Arlo the Alligator Boy” Grade 3 ½ stars: The new Netflix film shows how brilliantly very tough topics can be addressed in a more comfortable fashion through animation.
On the surface, this story of a boy who is half human and half alligator looks like a colorful and musical adventure when Arlo decides to go to New York City to find his long lost father. He gets help from a very diverse group of strangers who eventually help Arlo learn the true meaning of family.
Ryan Crego’s film delivers a very loving message about how the differences a person has is what makes them special. Delivering this message through the strong animation and beautiful musical numbers is an excellent way to make an important point.
The film features a strong cast of voice actors but special credit goes to former “American Idol” contestant Michael J. Woodard speaking for Arlo and best-selling artist Mary Lambert as Bertie. The sweetness they bring to the film makes this a move that is easy to love.
New on DVD and Blu-ray
“Willy’s Wonderland”: Night spent at an abandoned fun center by a quiet loner (Nicolas Cage) leads to some very dark secrets.
“NATURE: Pumas – Legends of the Ice Mountains”: Puma mother hunts and teaches her young how to survive in the mountains of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.
“Hercules and the Captive Women”: The 1963 film features Hercules in Atlantis where he faces the evil Queen Antinea.
“Entre Nos”: Woman goes to extreme measures to keep her family together.
“Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space: The Complete Series”: Rock stars Josie and the Pussycats are out of this world.
“Dynasty”: The 1977 martial arts cult film is available for viewing on 3-D TV sets.
“The Penthouse”: A couple’s efforts to help a woman in trouble puts them in danger.
“Some Kind of Heaven”: Documentary that looks at The Villages, America’s largest retirement community – a massive, self-contained utopia located in Central Florida.
“Women Without Men”: A look at the lives of four Iranian women during the summer of the 1953 coup d’tat.
Available on digital platforms
“Nomadland”: An exploration of modern-day van dwelling life on the road starring Frances McDormand. It will be available on Blu-ray starting April 27.
“Brewmance”: Two groups of homebrewers from Long Beach, CA are looking to open their own breweries and bring their beers to the world.
“The Courier”: An unassuming British businessman (Benedict Cumberbatch) becomes entangled in one of the greatest international conflicts in history.