This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Exodus: Gods & Kings, Annie, Top Five

This Week: Gettin’ biblical with Ridley Scott’s Exodus, dusting off a new Annie, and Chris Rock digs deep for Top Five.

► Back in the dark ages of my childhood, my ass would go numb every Easter sitting in front of the TV watching ‘The Ten Commandments.’ I didn’t have a clue what was going on, I just needed to see Charlton Heston part the Red Sea. And just like that one, Ridley Scott’s EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS makes you wait until nearly the end for the money shot. The rest feels like a long, dry walk through the desert to get to the Promised Land. Christian Bale is Moses, Joel Edgerton is Ramesses II, and Ridley Scott is officially in the worst slump of his career. Deluxe Edition has commentary, a historical guide, deleted scenes, and a look at Moses throughout history.

► I’m not sure what the expectations were for a new ANNIE set in modern day New York, but this misbegotten musical must have missed all of them. Trying hard to be hip, while also appeasing the old, it lacks the cheesy charm of both the stage version and the 1982 movie (neither of which are great, mind you). Quvenzhane Wallis is the new orphan, Jamie Foxx is the mayoral candidate who takes her in, and Rose Byrne pretty much steals the movie as mommy figure Grace. Some antiquated musicals should never leave the museum.

► Chris Rock almost atones for two ‘Grown Ups’ movies with TOP FIVE, his personal and poignant flick about a comedian trying to escape the shadow of his biggest success – a trilogy of shit movies about a cop in a bear costume. With the public rejecting his attempt at serious acting in a movie about a Haitian revolutionary, his life is dissected by a New York Times reporter (Rosario Dawson), who has issues of her own. A roll call of comics in the supporting cast includes Kevin Hart, Rick Shapiro, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Jones and Jerry Seinfeld.

► You can’t run. You can’t hide. The Madagascar franchise will find you. It follows! For the spin-off THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, we see the origins of the little sidekicks before they confront an octopus (voiced by John Malkovich) who used to be popular at the Central Park Zoo until they came along. Floundered at the North American box office ($82.7 million) but as always with the Madagascar series, raked it in everywhere else ($275.3 million).

► Tomm Moore’s Oscar-nominated SONG OF THE SEA is based on a Celtic myth about two kids living with their grieving father in a lighthouse. Years after their mother died, the six-year-old girl Saoirse has yet to utter a single word, but finds a way to communicate via a shell flute. That’s when she discovers she isn’t quite human. It’s jarring to see how ‘old school’ traditional animation looks now, but this is as beautiful to look at as any CGI feature in recent years.

► Not to be cynical, but will Halo ever make an actual movie that isn’t just a promotional tool for the next video game? Even Ridley Scott’s name attached to HALO: NIGHTFALL doesn’t hide what this really is – a lead-in to the upcoming ‘Halo 5’ game. Mike Colter plays a Spartan named Locke investigating terrorist activity on a colony world, where they’re confronted with a disease which only kills humans. Its origins come from a Halo ring, and of course the Covenant are on their way. Digital miniseries available on the Halo website and the Master Chief Collection game for Xbox One.

► Of the five gonzo movies Werner Herzog made with Klaus Kinski, AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD was the first and arguably the most insane. It’s a movie made on the brink of madness, as Herzog pushed his cast and crew to the edge while filming in the Peruvian rainforest. Kinski is the 16th-century leader of an army of conquistadors who travel the Amazon searching for El Dorado. The ensuing descent into darkness provided plenty inspiration for ‘Apocalypse Now.’ In case you’re wondering, yes, this is the flick Herzog allegedly threatened to shoot Kinski and then himself if he left the set. An early, deranged classic from the guy Francois Truffaut once called “the most important film director alive.”

► The thriller SOMETHING WICKED was the last film Brittany Murphy completed before she died in Dec., 2009. Just a hunch, but the fact it was finally released five years later must mean it’s fantastic. The Murph plays a psychiatrist treating a bride-to-be (Shantel VanSanten) who is crushed by grief after her parents are killed in an accident. Oh, and ghosts. Those too. I love that the only blurb it could muster for the DVD cover is “Brittany Murphy’s Final Movie” – Entertainment Weekly.

Also out this week:





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