‘Cruise’ faces rough waters; ‘Candyman’ tasty treat

Rick's Reviews

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt star in the new DVD release “Jungle Cruise.” (Photo courtesy of Disney)

A film based on a theme park attraction and the latest addition to a horror film franchise are among new entertainment options on DVD and Blu-ray this week.

“The Jungle Cruise” Grade 2 stars: The latest adaptation of one of the Disney theme park attractions into a movie, is not anywhere as good as the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” offering. But, it is nowhere as bad as “The Haunted Mansion” (a very low bar in the cinema world).

The new theme ride film finds its mediocrity in a story that is at times painfully familiar and at other times overly complicated. The only thing that keeps the film from slipping into the failed category is the star power provided by Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.

Adding to the ills are action sequences that look like outtakes from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Mummy.” This includes half-rotted conquistadors who instead of avoiding sunlight like rotting pirates, can’t venture too far from the river.

Director Juame Collet-Serra (“The Shallows”) adds to the familiarity by staging all of the action scenes with a very standard beat. He relies more on the special effects used to create all of the creatures to create the action tension that finds a more clever way to stage the sequences.

The bar was not very high for “Jungle Cruise” as its inspiration is a theme park ride that is very hokey. Cast and crew of the film do just enough to match that journey but never add anything to the trip. That doesn’t make the movie bad but it certainly doesn’t make it good.

“Candyman”Grade 3 ½ stars: Most horror films only care about how many buckets of blood are used to depict endless gore or how high the body count can get. This approach can leave viewers shocked but rarely awed.

That’s why both the original “Candyman” in 1992 and this new offering in the franchise are a cut above the rest. This production is more rooted in intelligent storytelling and hypnotic imagery than depending on worn out horror clichés and over-used terror tropes.

Director Nia DaCosta shows a solid visual skill for building terror. She shows no fear by using non-traditional shots such as a killing that is seen through an apartment window from across the street. The most creative visuals are the use of paper shadow puppets to fill in some of the story. It is a clever way to provide flashbacks.

DaCosta’s direction is solid but the story has the DNA of producer Jordan Peele all over it as he was also one of the writers. Peele has established himself as one of the current leading masters of horror with projects like “Get Out” and “Us” and he continues that scary streak with the latest version of “Candyman.”

If you couple the solid lineage of the film with smart directing and an intelligent script the result is the new “Candyman” is as smart as it is scary.

Also new on DVD and Blu-ray as of Nov. 26

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”: A look at the rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker (Jessica Chastain).

“The Lost Leonardo”: The inside story behind the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold at $450 million.

“Never Back Down: Revolt”: An amateur fighter (Olivia Popica) is lured by a trafficking syndicate specializing in elite underground fighting where her captor (Michael Bisping) forces her to fight or face certain death.

“Future Boy Conan: The Complete Series”: The 4-disc set contains all 26 episodes of the show and a 16-page booklet featuring character artwork. 

“Wildland”: Teen must deal with the toxic nature of her new family.

“Ema”: Young woman embarks on an odyssey of liberation and self-discovery as she dances and seduces her way into a daring new life.

“Yakuza Princess”: Orphan discovers she is the heiress to half of the Yakuza crime syndicate.

“Cryptozoo”: Animated feature following cryptozookeepers through a richly-drawn hallucinatory world as they struggle to capture a baku, a legendary dream-eating hybrid creature.

“Wife of a Spy”: Amateur filmmaker is determined to chronicle the horrors of World War II.

“Our Ladies”: A group of Catholic school girls In 1990s Scotland get an opportunity to go into Edinburgh for a choir competition, but they’re more interested in drinking, partying and hooking up.

“Curiosa”: Woman enters a world of passion and desire played out in front of the camera.

Available through digital platforms

“Little Girl”: Portrait of 7-year-old Sasha who has always known that she is a girl.

“Broken Law”: Dave Connolly is a respected member of the Garda but his loyalty gets tested by his ex-convict brother Joe who is in desperate need of his help.

“Ace and the Christmas Miracle”: Kindhearted con man Tony gets a chance to change his life when he is hired to kidnap a horse.

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