New on DVD: ‘Thor’ Big Hit; ‘Christmas’ Dickens of a Tale on DVD

Tribune News Service
Saturday, March 03, 2018

A major Marvel Comics film and a twisted tale of Charles Dickens are among the new DVD releases for March 6.

Thor: Ragnarok, 3½ stars: The somberness that has been a foundation to bring Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to the big screen in both Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013) is gone with this film. Whether it be from a writing form of whiplash created by the massive success of the comedy-heavy Marvel productions of Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool or the unbridled direction of Taika Waititi, Thor Ragnarok is the funniest films in the franchise and most of the other comic book movies to come from the studio.

Thor: Ragnarok is packed from the opening sequence to the secret scene credits at the end.

Waititi manages to dodge and weave his way from moments of such high-impact action that you shouldn’t be surprised if you end up with a bloody nose to quieter moments that bank as much on laughs as landed punches. Mix in a stunning new villain in Hela as portrayed with wicked abandon by multiple Oscar winner Cate Blanchett with enough big action scenes to fill a half dozen movies and Thor: Ragnarok rocks.

Wonder Wheel, 3 ½ stars: Woody Allen’s latest production is a compelling modern Greek tragedy full of characters flawed to the point of self-destruction played out against a backdrop that flows from nostalgic realism to stage-like appearance. It is the best and most emotionally complex work from Allen since his 2013 Oscar-nominated Blue Jasmine.

There’s a complexity to the characters that ebbs and flows like the surf off the Coney Island amusement park that serves as the locale starting from the welcoming role of Mickey (Justin Timberlake) as the narrator of the prologue that explains the drama to come in typical Greek tragedy fashion playing out in three distinct threads.

The Man Who Invented Christmas, 3 stars: Dan Stevens, who has already showed a great acting range through his work in the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast and the thought-provoking The Ticket, takes on the role of Dickens. It’s a demanding part as the character goes from an international celebrity to a man wrestling with soul-wrenching demons. The story suggests Charles Dickens had such a vivid imagination that his characters would spring to life as soon as he found the proper name for them.

Stevens handles every challenge thrown at him, even when Dickens appears to be on the verge of madness as he allows himself to be judged by the characters that he’s fashioned in his mind. There’s an energy to the way Stevens plays the role that makes even the film’s darkest moment when Dickens faces his darkest fears feel alive.

And it all leads to the writing of one of Dickens’s greatest tales.

Also New

Lady Bird: High school senior (Saoirse Ronan) wants to go to college in New York to get away from her California home.

Novitiate: Catholic nuns come to terms with changes in the Church during the mid-’60s.

The Breadwinner: A young girl pretends to be a boy in order to help her family. Oscar nominee for Best Animated film.

Curse of the Mayans: Evil alien is released from an underwater prison.

Gintama: Young samurai finds work where he can in a world where aliens have taken over feudal Tokyo.

The Strangers: Collector’s edition of the 2008 horror film includes the unrated version.

The Good Fight: Season One: Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) is forced to put off retiring and join a new firm in the series that aired online at CBS All Access.

The Sandman: Young girl brings an evil to life when she falls asleep.

Aliens Ate My Homework: Two middle schoolers must save the world after extraterrestrials invade Earth.

Newton’s Law: Suburban solicitor (Claudia Karvan) attempts to return to her career in the legal world.

Con Man: Film is based on the real story of Barry Jay Minkow, who went to prison in 1988 for one of the world’s largest investment and accounting frauds through a Ponzi scheme. James Caan stars.

Scorched Earth: Bounty hunter tries to keep the peace in a dystopian world.

The Paris Opera: Documentary offers a behind the scenes look at a drama-filled season at the Paris Opera.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Ninth Season: Larry David is back to follow his dreams of a big idea that elicits promising feedback from a number of prospective investors.

The Clapper: Ed Helms stars in this story of man who works as an audience member for infomercials.

New on Digital HD

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: Four people are pulled inside a video game and must find a way out before they lose all their lives. Will be available on DVD and Blu-ray March 20.

The Swindlers: Con men set out to swindle a scam artist.