“Skyfall”: Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) directs not only the best Bond movie of Daniel Craig’s tenure but the best 007 outing in decades. When it was publicly announced the renowned dramatist was to head up the next James Bond movie, I had my doubts. Mendes had never directed an action movie and or any film on the scale of “Skyfall” before. The last time an action novice worked on the franchise, it led to the deeply flawed “Quantum of Solace.” Instead turning an uneven misfire, Mendes made a film that returned the series to its cruel and nationalistic roots and made one of the best films of last year. Read my full review here. Also starring Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, and Ralph Fiennes.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, commentary with Mendes, commentary by producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and production designer Dennis Gassner, and fifteen featurettes.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”: Stephen Chbosky adapts his own novel of the same name which follows the high school career of an introverted young man (Logan Lerman) and his two best friends (Emma Watson, Ezra Miller). While the film definitely has its moments, with a best ever performance from Lerman and really solid work from Watson and Miller, the film never quite comes together in the way that it needs too. The pop culture references feel like they belong to a previous generation and it retreats to the generic too often to reach the level of emotional immersion that it’s clearly playing for. Despite its problems, the film is a well-acted portrait of teenage fragility. Also starring Mae Whitman, Johnny Simmons, and Melanie Lynskey.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, commentary with writer/director Stephen Chbosky and cast, deleted scenes, and two featurettes.
“Silent Hill: Revelation”: Michael J. Bassett writes and directs this return to Silent Hill and in process completely eschews everything memorable and interesting about the long running video game and film franchise. I didn’t write a definitive list of the worst movies released last year but if I had, this film would have been near the top of the list. In addition to being one of the worst sequels in modern history, “Silent Hill: Revelation” is a stunning standalone failure. Read my full review here. Starring Adelaide Clemens, Sean Bean, and Carrie-Anne Moss.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, a 3D presentation of the film, and a making of.
“The Man with the Iron Fists”: The RZA co-writes and directs this tribute the martial arts epics of the 1970s. While RZA obviously went to great lengths to evoke the feeling of lurid excitement that comes from watching many of the Shaw Brothers films, he falls short of true replication. As opposed to producer Quentin Tarantino and co-writer Eli Roth, RZA doesn’t bring any innovation to his genre homage. But there’s enough bright spots in the film – eye balls getting punch out and flung directly at the camera and Russell Crowes Clint Eastwood and Ol’ Dirty Bastard imitating performance - to hope that the Wu-Tang Clan leader will get another shot a directing a feature so he can render his palpable love of grindhouse cinema in more coherent fashion. Also starring Rick Yune, Lucy Liu, and David Bautista.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, an unrated presentation of the film, deleted scenes, and three featurettes.
“The Sessions”: John Hawkes and Helen Hunt star in this fact based drama about the life of polio stricken poet Mark O’Brien and his decision to lose his virginity to a sex surrogate. The possibility of watching a movie like this, mid-range Oscar bait, falls to which of side of the trying too hard/trying just hard enough line they fall. In the minus column, the film is an actor’s showcase about a disabled person, it stars Helen Hunt who received an Academy Award nomination for her work, and it has a mildly sensational but ultimately audience pleasing narrative. On the plus side, it stars John Hawke and William H. Macy. Since the two male leads are the film’s only attractive quality, I chose to pass on it and recommend that you do the same. Also starring Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, and Rhea Perlman.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, deleted scenes, and two featurettes.
“Robot & Frank”: Robert Langella stars as an ex-jewel who is given a robot living attendant (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) that he discovers can be ordered to commit thefts. While obvious filmed in the last few years, the film’s incredibly sweet bordering on corny premise and brazenly sappy ending suggest that it was a lost 1980s magic realism movie in the vein of “Big” and “Cocoon”, though not quite as charming as either of those films. If you prefer you ‘80s throwbacks bright and sentimental as opposed to neon lit and violent, this is probably the movie for you. Also starring Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, and Liv Tyler.
Special features: Commentary with director Jake Schreier and writer Christopher D. Ford and a poster gallery.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at email@example.com