Regular life may still be at a halt, but at least the releases keep coming! First up this week is Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie reprises her role from 2016’s Suicide Squad as the Joker’s now-former main squeeze Harley Quinn. After an emotional break up with the Joker, Harley is free and causing chaos. When crime boss Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) puts out a contract on a young girl named Cass (Ella Jay Basco) who has something he wants, Harley joins fellow outlaws Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and renegade police detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to protect the girl and take Roman down.
While many panned 2016’s Suicide Squad, I really enjoyed it with the highlight of course being Robbie’s crazy and infectious Harley Quinn. For Birds of Prey Robbie is definitely let loose to explore the character more deeply while also amping up the crazy factor, and she does it well. Add to that the great supporting cast including an off the wall performance by Ewan McGregor and you have a really fun action comedy with some great character moments and some spectacular action sequences. And hyenas. You get a really cool hyena. Perfect escapism for quarantine, check out Birds of Prey.
Next up this week is a new film from Blumhouse Productions, a horror reimagining of the classic television show Fantasy Island. Melanie Cole (Lucy Hale), Gwen Olsen (Maggie Q), Patrick (Austin Stowell) and brothers and best bros J.D. (Ryan Hansen) and Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) have all won contests for a free trip to Fantasy Island, a resort where wishes are granted by their venerable host, Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña). But no sooner do they arrive than they begin to find out that getting your wishes granted sometimes come with some unexpected strings attached. Now before their dreams turn into nightmares they must find out the mystery of the island if they are ever to escape with their lives.
Blumhouse is a fantastic studio that has created some of the most memorable horror films of the past decade, and many times they do it within the scope of a PG-13 rating so that horror can be enjoyed by an ever expanding audience. Fantasy Island is an inventive and fun ride in the vein of the Final Destination series where the characters must figure out the puzzles of the island and find out something about themselves in the process. Great looking set pieces, a solid cast, some great jumps and scares and the perfect injection of humor makes Fantasy Island a great getaway.
Lastly this week is a very unique new thriller called Vivarium. Tom and Gemma (Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots) are starting to think about settling down and are out looking at starter homes. They visit a real estate office for a new neighborhood called Yonder and the odd behaving agent takes them to a strange cookie cutter suburb to look at a house. Once there the agent disappears and when Tom and Gemma try to drive home, they find themselves lost in the labyrinthine streets, constantly ending up back at the same house. Frustrated and bewildered, they soon find a package on the doorstep with a baby and the message ‘Raise the child and be released.’ Stranded for months, Tom and Gemma raise the fast growing and bizarre child while always looking for a way out of Yonder, wondering if they will ever escape their suburban nightmare.
Vivarium is a really great and original sci fi thriller that is unlike anything I have seen before. Eisenberg and Poots are excellent and the production design of the bizarre neighborhood is dizzying and brilliant. The progression of the story is reminiscent of classic fare like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits and really engages you throughout the runtime all the way to the paradoxical ending. For something very different but thoroughly entertaining, check out Vivarium.
Also of note this week is the new family adventure film Call of the Wild starring Harrison Ford, the new drama The Photograph starring Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield and a new Criterion Collection edition of the classic Steve McQueen film The Great Escape.
Until next week movie lovers, stay safe!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday May 12, 2020
An Ideal Place to Kill (1971)*
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Blood Tide (1982)*
Bubble Guppies: The Great Guppy Games!
Church of The Damned
Equation to an Unknown
Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema II
Gordon Of Ghost City
Howl's Moving Castle (2004) Steelbook
I Am That Man
Idle Hands (1999)* - Collector's Edition
Jekyll & Hyde
Lucifer: The Complete Fourth Season
Ponyo (2008) Steelbook
Samurai Marathon 1855
Shadow Play (1986)*
The Ballad of Don Lewis
The Barbara Stanwyck Collection*
The Call of the Wild
The Great Escape (1963) - Criterion Collection
The Traitor a.k.a. Il traditore (2019)*
Vampire Hunter D (1985)*
What the Waters Left Behind
Whatever May Come
WWE: WrestleMania 36
*Catalog Blu-ray debut