This week’s releases on home video: Belle, Blended, Brick Mansions, and Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.
Running Time: 104 mins.
OFRB Rating: PG (mature themes)
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon, Tom Felton, James Norton, Sam Reid, Miranda Richardson, and Matthew Goode
Verdict: If there’s something worth seeing here, it’s Mbatha-Raw’s electrifying performance as Belle, the illegitimate, mixed-raced daughter of 18th-century British nobility. Most of the rest of the movie is cobbled together through plot scraps and character outlines done better in other movies, but Mbatha-Raw’s startling debut is powerful enough that Belle can’t be easily dismissed. (3 stars out of 5)
Running Time: 117 mins.
OFRB Rating: PG (language)
Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Bella Thorne, Wendi-McLendon-Covey, Kevin Nealon, Jessica Lowe, Terry Crews, Joel McHale, and Shaquille O’Neal
Verdict: It’s faint praise to say Blended is the best Adam Sandler movie in five years, but when those years gave the world Grown-Ups, Just Go with It, Zookeeper, Jack and Jill, That’s My Boy, and Grown-Ups 2, it’s not hard to improve. There are occasional moments of mild amusement in Sandler’s third rom-com with Barrymore, but they’re too quickly ruined by Sandler’s usual penchant for urine, flatulence, and groin injuries. (1½ stars out of 5)
Running Time: 90 mins.
OFRB Rating: PG (violence, language)
Starring: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Catalina Denis, and Gouchy Boy
Verdict: In the last role he completed before his death, Walker does nothing here that he didn’t previously do better in movies like Joy Ride, Running Scared, and the Fast & Furious franchise. Brick Mansions is a bad remake, but much more crucially, it’s just a bad film in its own right. Its script is a retrace of something that worked once before, but director Camille Delamarre’s affinity for slow-mo, aversion to shots longer than a few seconds, and all-around inexperience leaves the final product a muddled, broken mess. (1 star out of 5)
LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN
Running Time: 88 mins.
OFRB Rating: G
Starring: Lea Michele, Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, Kelsey Grammer, Martin Short, Bernadette Peters, Hugh Dancy, Oliver Platt, Megan Hilty, and Patrick Stewart
Verdict: Mostly forgettable and largely bland. Beyond a few songs that aren’t bad in a sub-Disney way, this sequel to The Wizard of Oz lacks the daring of Return to Oz and the visual effects of Oz the Great and Powerful. (Seriously, the animation would still look stiff and low-budget in 1998.) Not completely atrocious, but ultimately, what the point? (1½ stars out of 5)