“Wonder Woman” tops a list of first-rate new DVDs being released Sept. 19.
“Wonder Woman”; 3.5 stars: It’s taken years, but there has finally been another good movie made based on one of the costumed characters from the world of DC Comics.
Give Gal Gadot most of the credit because her performance as Wonder Woman is less of an exercise in theatrics and more an example of what happens when a performer takes on the role like a second skin. That was crucial in making the movie work because the script by Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs takes Wonder Woman from the rebelliousness of her life among the Amazons to an emotionally staggered veteran of war who comes to realize that mankind has a world of problems.
The script is far from perfect as the story bogs down several times for long explanations about Wonder Woman’s origins and the nature of man. At least 20 minutes of setting up the character could have been handled easily with a few lines of dialogue. This would have moved the production along to what is the heart of the film — the impressive action sequences.
This is a Wonder-ful effort.
“The Big Sick”; 3.5 stars: The story penned by Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley”) and his wife Emily V. Gordon (“The Meltdown with Jonathan and Kumail”) based on their real-life courtship is one of the sweetest and funniest love stories of the year.
Director Michael Showalter uses the same great skill at bringing together different worlds that he showed in “Hello My Name is Doris.” In that film, the bullet points were mostly to do with aging. In “The Big Sick,” Showalter tackles other issues, such as dealing with family when it comes to the collision of differences.
Kumail wants to believe that the troubles he’s having at home are particular to his background but learns through Emily’s parents that those issues are shared by people around the world. Showalter makes some very serious points without tearing apart the tapestry of the romance.
Part of the reason his performance is so good is Zoe Kazan, one of the most under-rated actors working in films. Just as she did in the 2012 feature “Ruby Sparks,” Kazan shows an incredible ability to play a character that’s equally strong and vulnerable.
“The Hero”; 3 stars: All Sam Elliott had to do was look to his own life for inspiration to become the film’s central figure. He mixes elements of his long and storied career with the powerful script by director Brett Haley (“I’ll See You In My Dreams”) and co-writer Marc Basch to give the role a deep, dramatic soul. In the process, the film reaches beyond being merely a tale of an aging actor facing monumental changes to become a tale relatable to anyone who has reached the point in their life where they are being judged by career achievements.
“The Hero” shows that sometimes the most heroic thing a person can do is live life.
“The Bad Batch”; 2.5 stars: This post-apocalyptic tale of survival is an intriguing example of abstract filmmaking that has oozed from the mind of novice feature film director-writer Ana Lily Amirpour (“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”).
She doesn’t following traditional paths of linear storytelling or coherent imagery. Instead, she splatters the screen with a concoction of ideas, people and events that force the viewer to analyze these elements in regards to what is happening and draw their own conclusions of where it is all going. If Amirpour was a trail guide, she would not point you down a set path but drop crumbs you would have to find and follow.
ALSO NEW ON DVD SEPT. 19
“Arrow: The Complete Fifth Season”: Oliver Queen/Arrow (Stephen Amell) and his team face the major threat of the Vigilante in this CW series.
“The Heart Guy”: Australian medical dramedy starring Rodger Corser.
“Glory”: A heroic act brings only problems in this film from directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov.
“Code Black: Season Two”: CBS series that’s a high energy look at a Los Angeles emergency room that is always working at maximum capacity.
“Lethal Weapon: Season 1”: Fox series starring Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford based on the popular film franchise.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Series 20th Anniversary Edition DVD Boxed Set”: All of the 144 episodes of adventures of the vampire slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her friends are in this boxed set.
“Hana-Bi”: Beleaguered police detective (Takeshi Kitano) tries to set things right in a world gone wrong.
“Certain Women”: Lives of several women come together in a small Montana town. Lara Dern stars.
“Starship Troopers: Traitors of Mars”: Casper Van Dien stars in the latest offering in this series about the men and women who battle giant space bugs.
“Timeless”: NBC series about a group of time travelers.
“Firefly 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Boxed Set”: Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and the crew of Serenity to tackle any job, legal or not.
“Ransom”: CBS series that follows one of the world’s best negotiators who has trouble keeping his own house in order.
“Madam Secretary: Season Three”: Tea Leoni stars in the CBS drama that offers a look at the world of White House politics.
”Bates Motel: Season Five”: Check in to the creepy motel for the final episodes of the cable series.
“Modern Family: Season 8”: These episodes of the ABC comedy end with a big graduation day. Ed O’Neill stars.
“Cartels”: DEA team must protect the leader of a violent drug carter. Steven Seagal stars.
“The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends: The Complete Collection”: The 10-disc set includes the greatest moments from the show’s 30-year run.