Neal McDonough, Tim Blake Nelson & Sam Hazeldine shine in their new films

Entertainment

Neal McDonough’s performance in “Apex” elevates the film. (Photo courtesy of RLJE Films)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (OPINION) — The work of very talented actors are featured in three new movies available through digital platforms this week.

“Apex” Grade 2 ½ stars: Without Neal McDonough, this action movie would have barely risen above the mediocre level. He is such a good actor that even the mundane gets better.

His latest turn at helping improve a film is “Apex.” The film – available Nov. 12 through On Demand and other digital platforms – has McDonough portraying Rainsford, a ruthless hunter of humans. He and his five hunting buddies finally meet a worthy prey in ex-cop Thomas Malone (Bruce Willis) serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. He is offered a chance at freedom if he can survive a deadly game of Apex.

Willis comes across as tired and bored while McDonough provides enough energy for both of them.

“Old Henry” Grade 3 stars: Tim Blake Nelson takes advantage of finally being cast in a movie where he doesn’t have to be loud or over the top. His latest role is a man of few words who only becomes a person of action as a last resort.

He stars in the Western about a widowed farmer and his son living in the Oklahoma Territory in 1906 who get caught up in a battle over stolen money. The film looks like a standard Western but there is a smart twist to the tale.

That twist only works because Nelson brings a performance worthy of Oscar attention.

 “The War Below” Grade 3/12 stars: This film is based on the true story of working class miners who were rejected from serving in the war. They are recruited by Colonel “Hellfire Jack” Norton-Griffiths (Tom Goodman-Hill) to take on the task of digging a tunnel underneath from the allied trenches to the German enemy lines in hopes of successfully setting off bombs and saving the allied war effort.  

The film looks at a handful of heroes but it is the work of British actor Sam Hazeldine, who plays William Hawkin, that stands out in the crowd. He brings a quiet dignity and determination to the role of one of the patriotic miners that serves as the emotional anchor for the film.

New on DVD and Blu-ray as of Nov. 9

“Reminiscence” Grade 3 stars: First-time feature film director/writer Lisa Joy has quietly woven together a love story with a dystopian vision and wrapped it in a cautionary tale. The fact the pacing is a little slow crashes against the traditional summer offering where fast action and big explosions are the norm.

It is OK to be a little methodical when the story survives on such a heavy romantic beat. The chemistry first exposed in “The Greatest Showman” between Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson expands into a heart-touching formula.

At its heart, “Reminiscence” is a time travel movie but it isn’t hampered with all the pitfalls those types of movies end up facing.

“Batman: Year One”: The animated film based on 1987 DC titles from Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli depicts young Bruce Wayne’s return toGotham City in his first attempts to fight injustice as a costumed superhero.

“A Gift from Bob”: Street musician gets a very special holiday present.

“Tina”: An intimate look at the legendary queen of rock and roll.

“Emily in Paris: Season One”: Lily Collins stars in this tale of a young woman who moves to Paris for work but finds a new life.

“The Emperor’s Sword”: Deranged rebel seizes power and stages a massacre during his search for a deadly sword, leaving only one survivor. 

“Snowpiercer: The Complete Second Season”: Survivors of the revolution are trying to pick up the pieces and maintain a fragile peace with Layton (Daveed Diggs) emerging as the train’s leader.

“Surviving Supercon”: The film shines a light on the behind the scenes of the independent comic and pop culture conventions.

Available through digital platforms

“Violet”: Violet Calder (Olivia Munn) realizes that she can no longer ignore the daily barrage of self-criticisms (voiced by Justin Theroux) that clouds her life and looks for a new path to follow. 

“Stratton Castle: Tale of Jessie Golden Heart”: This film based on a true story explores the forbidden passion that transcends the social classes of 1800’s Scotland.

“See You Next Christmas”: Two people who meet each year at a holiday party begin to suspect they should be together.

“Two Yellow Lines”: A father and daughter reconnect during a trip through the wilderness.

“Hard Luck Love Song”: Charismatic troubadour hustles pool in dive bars, lives out of cheap motels and makes bad decisions.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.