This week on streaming video, we’ve got just a handful of choices, the biggest of which is Michael Bay’s reboot of a popular franchise. Then we’ve got the follow up to a surprise 2011 hit family movie about a dolphin and a rom-com starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, as well as a couple of choices on Netflix. Read on for details:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The evil Foot Clan has taken control of New York City’s politicians and police force, so it’s up to our sewer-dwelling heroes — along with intrepid TV journalist April O’Neil (Megan Fox) — to save the day.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play

Dolphin Tale 2

Since being rescued and rehabilitated in the first film, Winter is doing just fine, but her companion has recently died. Thus, our heroes — a team comprised of marine biologists and animal rescue staffers — need to find Winter a new companion or she will be removed from the aquarium as required by law.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

What If

Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan star in this dramedy about two friends tiptoeing around a romantic affair.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season One

Critics say Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is sure to please comic book fans, but the strong ensemble and brisk pacing help to make this better-than-average superhero show accessible to non-fanboys as well.

Available now on: Netflix


This stunning black and white drama is the story a young woman on the verge of joining a convent who discovers a dark family secret.

Available now on: Netflix

This week on home video, we’ve got a blockbuster action sequel, another dystopian young adult novel adaptation, and a would-be first installment in a spy franchise starring Pierce Brosnan (no, not that franchise). Then, we’ve got a few smaller films, including a rom-com with Daniel Radcliffe and a couple of holiday comedies, as well as two choices from the Criterion Collection. Read on for details:

The Expendables 3


Both the first and second Expendables were quite profitable, and according to critics, the second one even improved upon the first. The Expendables 3 didn’t make as much money or impress as many people, though. This time around, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) recruits a younger crew to apprehend an Expendables founder-turned-arms dealer (Mel Gibson), but when they’re captured during the operation, he must enlist the services of the disbanded veteran Expendables to free them. Harrison Ford, Kelsey Grammer, and Antonio Banderas join Kellan Lutz and a few other athletic young stars, but critics found this installment least exciting of all, especially considering all the talent involved. The announced Expendables 4 and 5 will give them a couple more chances to get it right, though, and failing that, there’s always the female-driven Expendabelles.

The Giver


Despite the fact that The Giver was based on a popular, award-winning dystopian young adult novel, helmed by a veteran director (Phillip Noyce), and populated by no less than two celebrated Academy Award-winning actors (Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges), the film underperformed quite dramatically. The story revolves around a seemingly utopian community devoid of emotion and all knowledge of the past, save for one individual — the Receiver of Memory — whose responsibility it is to help his society avoid repeating historical mistakes. When a young man is chosen as the next Receiver, he decides everyone should have the same knowledge. While critics gave The Giver credit for its visual flourishes and for exploring its source material’s thought-provoking ideas, most also felt it merely touched on those ideas and, furthermore, left any compelling drama by the wayside.

The November Man


If only every aging leading man could find the late-career success that Liam Neeson has earned in the action genre? Pierce Brosnan steps into somewhat familiar shoes as ex-CIA agent Peter Devereaux, a retired operative pulled back into action for “one last mission,” complete with a femme fatale (Olga Kurylenko, a former Bond girl herself), only to discover there is a mole in the agency who wants him dead. Based on a novel by Bill Granger, The November Man seemed to have been aimed at beginning another spy thriller franchise, but critics mostly grew weary of the film’s reliance on shopworn genre clichés, which earned it a paltry 34 percent on the Tomatometer. That said, a sequel is coming, whether we want it or not.

Also available this week:

  • What If (69 percent), starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in a romantic comedy about med school dropout who makes an instant connection with an animator, and the two begin to fall for each other.
  • Almost a year after its theatrical release, we get Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (19 percent), wherein the feisty matriarch accompanies a friend on a surprise visit to her daughter in a rural town.
  • A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (18 percent), starring Robin Williams (in one of his final film roles) and Joel McHale in a holiday road comedy about an estranged father and son who set out to retrieve the son’s forgotten Christmas gifts.
  • And lastly, two choices from the Criterion Collection: a new Blu-ray of Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960 masterpiece L’Avventura (97 percent); and Les Blank: Always for Pleasure, a collection of the documentary filmmaker’s eclectic filmography that contains 14 films and 8 short films.
This week at the movies, we’ve got heroes in a half shell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, starring Megan Fox and Will Arnett), deadly twisters (Into The Storm, starring Richard Armitage and Sarah Wayne Callies), dueling restaurateurs (The Hundred-Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren and Manish Dayal), and dancers in Vegas (Step Up All In, starring Ryan Guzman and Briana Evigan). What do the critics have to say?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have proven to be enduring big-screen stars, despite the fact that none of the films starring the pizza-loving reptiles have earned much critical respect. And critics say the fifth time isn’t the charm — the Michael Bay-produced franchise reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles offers up a few decent action scenes but lacks the giddy mischievousness that accounts for the Turtles’ continuing popularity. The evil Foot Clan has taken control of New York City’s politicians and police force, so it’s up to our sewer-dwelling heroes — along with intrepid TV journalist April O’Neil (Megan Fox) — to save the day. The pundits say Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is pretty generic stuff, with little to differentiate its heroes from the protagonists of other summer blockbusters.

Into The Storm


Plenty of movies prioritize special effects over human behavior. However, critics say Into The Storm is a particularly dispiriting example; this found footage nature thriller features amazing CGI cyclones that completely overwhelm the actors’ attempts to create believable, relatable characters. When a series of tornadoes ravage a small town, disparate bands of storm chasers rush to the scene to document the devastation. It turns out, however, that the storms were just the prelude to something more ominous. The pundits say Into the Storm suffers from a thin script that borrows shamelessly from Twister without approaching that movie’s goofy charm. (Nevertheless, check out our interviews with the stars.)

The Hundred-Foot Journey


Today’s special: a lightly-cooked feel-good culture-clash comedy. Critics say The Hundred-Foot Journey is a reasonably tasty cinematic dish, even if it’s not particularly nourishing; its fine cast and scenic locales add spice to otherwise bland ingredients. Escaping political turmoil in India, the Kadam family moves to a small town in France and starts a restaurant. However, they immediately run afoul of Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), a local practitioner of French cuisine. Will she eventually discover that she has more in common with her new neighbors than she initially suspected? The pundits say The Hundred-Foot Journey looks terrific, and its heart is in the right place, but there’s almost nothing here that you haven’t tasted before. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which count down Mirren’s best-reviewed films, and watch our video interviews with Mirren and co-stars Charlotte Le Bon and Manish Daya.)

Step Up All In


At this point, know what you’re getting from a Step Up movie: dazzling dance sequences occasionally interrupted by ham-fisted plotting. That said, critics say Step Up All In is more successful than most, thanks to stunning choreography that almost makes up for an inherently silly story. This time out, the stars from previous installments convene in Las Vegas to compete in an epic dance-off. The pundits say Step Up All In is predictable fluff as usual, but if you’re in the market for hot people and hot grooves, you could do far worse than this. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a list of noteworthy dance movies, and watch our interviews with Boseman and co-stars Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, and Jill Scott.)

Also opening this week in limited release:


Zoe Kazan‘s accomplishments include films such as Me and Orson Welles, Fracture, and Revolutionary Road, as well as Ruby Sparks, which also marked her writing debut.

When asked about her Five Favorite Films, she said, “That is so hard. I feel like, to make a list of five favorite films, it would take twenty years.” This week, she stars alongside Daniel Radcliffe in What If, an indie dramedy about the instant chemistry between two people and the friendship that bonds them. But first, read on for Zoe Kazan’s Five Favorite Films.

Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963; 93% Tomatometer)

Contempt would definitely be on there. I’ll start by pitching that one out. I just think Contempt is one of the most perfect movies ever made. Just the blend of dark comedy and tragedy and the acting in it; the way it’s shot, I mean everything about it. I think I saw that movie for the first time maybe at twenty-two? And it just had my mind blown. It felt like I had never seen anything remotely like that before.

Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946; 94% Tomatometer)

I’m going to put Hitchcock’s Notorious on there — the Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant film — because I think that was one of the first films that I saw as a child where I felt like, “Ok, that’s my favorite movie.” I thought it was the most romantic movie I had ever seen. It’s impeccably written, impeccably constructed, and her performance in it, I think, is really peerless actually. She’s so simple and detailed. It’s a kind of perfect spy movie. I really love that genre and I think she’s incredible in it. I actually think she’s a really under-rated actress.

The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960; 93% Tomatometer)

I’m going to put The Apartment on there. Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon. You know, Billy Wilder is just one of my favorite filmmakers ever. That movie is one that has grown with me. That’s another movie that I definitely saw as a child and have felt differently about as I’ve gotten older. Its really about two lonely people and it’s so sweet and so funny, and the score — I think it’s the Charles Williams orchestra that does the score on that. I’m not going to get that right, but the score is just so, so beautiful. I feel like I can just hear the refrain of that and cry. I think it’s really a perfect movie.

Murmur of the Heart (Louis Malle, 1971; 90% Tomatometer)

I’m going to go with Murmur of the Heart, the Louis Malle film. That’s one that I’ve seen in the last couple years that has become a new favorite. It’s about a little boy growing up and his love for his mother and the complication of being a child and becoming an adult and living in that liminal space. That movie really broke my heart and surprised me in just one hundred ways.

Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993; 97% Tomatometer)

I think that film is just one of the funniest movies ever made. The writing is impeccable. I don’t even think any other comedy has come close to being that smart and original and meaningful and funny. Bill Murray is just insanely good in that part and doing the same thing over and over again, but making every [scene] new. Tracking his progress in that film as he becomes a better person, it’s such detailed work. And we don’t often acknowledge comedy acting in awards or other things. I really think his performance in that is completely brilliant — everything about it. Even down to the stupid song that they sing on that little green in the center of the movie and the Sonny & Cher song that plays every time his alarm clock goes off. Every touch to it is clever and poignant. I genuinely think I’ve seen that film more than any other movie. That movie’s high on my list.

What If opens in limited release this week.

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