'Baby Driver' leads the list of recent DVD releases

“Baby Driver”

3.5 stars

Edgar Wright has never met a film genre he couldn’t transform. He took the slow-walking world of zombies and infused it with high energy comedy to create “Shawn of the Dead.” The right turn he made in what appears to be a sleepy village cop movie with “Hot Fuzz” created cinematic whiplash.

Now, the director/writer has tackled the rather driven into the ground genre of fast cars with “Baby Driver.” It starts out looking to be nothing more than a fast story of furious thugs, but Wright quickly turns it into a blend of “Reservoir Dogs” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

As with all of Wright’s work, all you have to do is give his twisted sense of filmmaking a few moments and the beauty of contradictions becomes a thing of beauty.

“The Beguiled

1.5 stars

Director Don Siegel adapted the novel by Thomas Cullinan into a 1971 feature set during the Civil War, full of sexual tension created by a wounded Union soldier (Clint Eastwood) being given sanctuary at a girls’ boarding school. The film mixed passion and betrayal in such dark quantities that at times it played more like a psychological thriller or horror movie.

Director Sofia Coppola has adapted Cullinan’s novel for her own vision of “The Beguiled.” Her take on this story of a Union soldier (Colin Farrell) befriended by the females at a boarding school (now set in Virginia) follows the same plot.

The difference between this updated look and the work done by Siegel is that Coppola fails to create any of the tension that made the original so haunting. Compared to the original, Coppola’s version looks more like a junior college production of “The Beguiled.”

“Drawn Together: The Complete Collection”

2.5 stars

Anyone who has spent sleepless nights wondering what could have been bleeped and blocked during the original telecast of the animated cable series can now see and hear all. Television’s first animated reality show, which brings together eight cartoon archetypes – ranging from a naive princess prone to singing to a sexually ambiguous anime hero – is now available in an uncensored set.

It includes all three seasons of the irreverent parody series plus the 2010 feature film “The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!” plus bonus features such as deleted scenes, audio commentary, karaoke sing-a-longs and interviews.

The series is animated but it is definitely NOT for children as the humor is crass, sophomoric, immature and funny.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming”

2.5 stars

Instead of making this a tale of Spider-Man driven by the overwhelming guilt Peter feels because of the death of his Uncle Ben, the latest Spider-Man is more like a 14-year-old with an expensive toy. This isn’t a spectacular tale of how he learns to channel his feelings into positive energy but more about breaking dates, missing Spanish quizzes, letting down friends and being a social outcast. There’s so much time spent with Peter out of the suit that the movie could have been titled “Peter Parker: Homecoming.”

The film has the obligatory Easter eggs for the true believers who love Marvel Comics, and it does a great job of connecting the dots between the character and the Marvel Universe-based productions that have dominated the box office. Mix that with some good action sequences and a solid villain and “Spider-man: Homecoming” can be counted as a win for Marvel.

It’s a win by a narrow margin.

“Step”

3 stars

Any documentary that shows how young people are being given a chance to better themselves through special programs comes through as both inspirational and depressing. Those behind such programs can never receive enough praise for the work being done in communities across the country. This is tainted with a sense of melancholy that it takes special programs for such change to happen. Children should always be a priority, but they aren’t, and that’s when programs like the one spotlighted in “Step” by director Amanda Lipitz try to fill the void.

The director tells the stories of how the young women are dealing with college applications while being part of a competitive step dance program.

There are minor problems with the film that aren’t unexpected with a new filmmaker. Lipitz’s passion to show what can happen when women of all generations focus on one goal is a tale that should be shouted on every street corner. She succeeds, but it just should be shouted with a few more details. That was the one area where the director needed to step up.

“The Good Place”

3 stars

This NBC comedy starring Kristen Bell as a woman who believes she has died and gotten into “the good place” by mistake would be a fun watch even without the huge reveal in the last episode. Ted Danson is wickedly funny as the string puller in this world.

 

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