This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Magic Mike XXL, Insidious Chapter 3

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

This Week: The needless bulge of Magic Mike XXL, the documentary that punked Scientology, and a third serving of Insidious.

► One of the summer’s biggest misfires, MAGIC MIKE XXL is missing two big pieces from the first movie: Matthew McConaughey and director Steven Soderbergh. Without them, this thing has no reason to exist, save for endless male stripper dance routines that make it seem more like a softcore ‘Glee’ episode. It’s not quite terrible – Channing Tatum gives one of those appealingly goofy performances so much better than what’s around him – but it was the summer’s most needless sequel in so many ways. Whereas the first film had some grit and a ‘Saturday Night Fever’ vibe to its story (it was hardly just a chick flick), this one’s laughably empty: The guys reunite and hit the road to do one last show at a male stripper convention. It’s a movie proud to be merely eye candy, and unlike the first it’ll be forgotten 10 minutes after you’re done watching. Extras include – ugh – extended versions of already marathon dance scenes.

► As we all know, the key to saving any franchise is…prequel! So back we go with INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3, checking in with spiritual medium Elise (Lin Shaye) before the events of the first film. She helps a teenaged girl try to reach her recently deceased mother, which nudges a demon that torments them both. Shaye continues to be the saving grace, and she gets some good moments here, but this series seemed to check out midway through the second film. And there’s no James Wan directing this time.

► Alex Gibney's potent HBO documentary GOING CLEAR might just be the year's scariest movie. Probing Scientology from its bizarre origins to its present day status as a tax exempt religion, it's both infuriating and terrifying. Gibney gets former members to spill some secrets, and creepy footage shows church members harassing them at their home. Most people will watch this for the celebrity dirt – and man, do John Travolta and Tom Cruise come off looking bad – but the most haunting stories are the families separated from each other because one of them is a 'repressive' personality. Gibney wants the IRS to revoke the church's tax-exempt status, and says he has enough material for a sequel.

► After the success of ‘Gone Girl,’ all eyes turned to author Gillian Flynn’s other two thrillers, with DARK PLACES the better of the two. But despite a cast which includes Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz and Christina Hendricks, it had poisonous word of mouth and went straight to video-on-demand in August. Theron plays the survivor of a family massacre who testified against her brother. Years later, an amateur group of homicide solvers convince her she may have gotten it wrong, but it’ll take diving into her grim family history to fix it. Nowhere near the crowdpleaser ‘Gone Girl’ was, it was still a gripping novel. Something went wrong in translation.

► Sure, it’s a bit over-the-top with its sentiment, but you’d have to be The Joker not to get the feels from BATKID BEGINS. Dana Nachman’s documentary revisits that summer day in 2013 when thousands of people in San Francisco helped five-year-old cancer survivor Miles Scott live his dream to be Batman’s sidekick. It was the biggest Make-a-Wish project ever staged and resonated around the world. Prepare for itchy eyes.

► After two seasons of plundering and backstabbing, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) finds himself king to opens season 3 of VIKINGS Naturally, the head that wears the crown…has lots of headaches. He just wants to return to farming, but his men are itching for battle. Tensions surface with the ruler of Wessex, and an invasion of Paris is planned. The History Channel series doesn’t have the free reign or brilliant source material as its obvious inspiration ‘Game of Thrones,’ but it doles out just enough pleasures to keep your interest.

► Nearly 20 years after ‘King Kong,’ the same director, producer and writer made a more kid friendly giant ape movie in MIGHTY JOE YOUNG. It was a surprising flop, but over the years has become renowned for its stop motion animation, which won an Oscar for Visual Effects. Willis O’Brien got the credit, but it was his young assistant named Ray Harryhausen who did most of the legwork. The Kong-lite plot finds a woman and her 12-foot-tall pet ape leaving Africa to start a nite club act in Hollywood. After a few weeks, things go wrong and the court orders the ape destroyed, and plans are underway to sneak him out of the country. Blu-ray extras include commentary from Harryhausen and a featurette on the effects.

► Robert Kirkman produces the apocalyptic drama AIR, and he’s brought Norman Reedus with him. In full Daryl mode, he stars alongside Djimon Hounsou as two maintenance workers whose job is to look after scientists in cryogenic sleep until the atmosphere is clear of the chemical weapons mishap which wiped out most of the planet. But when one of their sleeping chambers malfunctions they’re forced to make some tough choices (like maybe tossing one of the scientists).

Also out this week:





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