Fresh on Blu-ray: ‘xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE’ and ‘THE SPACE BETWEEN US’

It’s a light week for home entertainment releases, especially considering that we’re choosing not to review FIFTY SHADES DARKER.

So, let’s look at what else we got.

xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE
Rated PG-13, 106 minutes.
Director: D.J. Caruso
Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika PadukoneKris WuRuby RoseTony JaaNina DobrevToni Collette and Samuel L. Jackson

Vin Diesel is out of his mind, but his movies make a ton of cheddar so all is forgiven. His films live in a fantasy land and Diesel is the chief architect. His latest film to hit blu-ray, xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, is Diesel’s return to a franchise that underperformed at the box office and only has a second life due to the massive international success of the FAST & FURIOUS franchise.

Look, the movie has no discernible plot, doesn’t subscribe to any sort of filmic logic and lacks thematic elements that make a cohesive motion picture, but the absurdity makes it impossible to look away. Director D.J. Caruso (DISTURBIA) allows the film to fully rely on set pieces that are actually wildly fun to watch. However, quips from the titular character such as “The things I’ll do for my country,” as he approaches a scantily clad woman. This eye-rolling behavior is pretty gross, yet so strange to watch because Diesel, who is pushing 50, takes himself too seriously. Aside from the fact he makes a lot of dough, this is pretty sad.

As mentioned, the set pieces work well due to the likes of the international cast including the great Donnie Yen (ROGUE ONE), Ruby Rose (JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2), and Tony Jaa (ONG BAK). Not to mention its comically easy to tell Samuel L. Jackson, who has a very small role.

RETURN OF XANDER CAGE is a movie you have to see to believe. It’s so bad, it’s good — if you’re a fan of a new age of action film that neglects plot and just gives the people what they want. The movie can basically be summed up by this quote by Jackson’s character, Augustus Gibbons, “Let me simplify it for you. Kick some ass, get the girl and try to look dope while you do it.” — James Cole Clay

Grade: D+

Related Article(s): Theatrical Review: ‘XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE’ is everything you hoped it would be (by Courtney Howard)

Extras: The Paramount release includes over an hour of special features, including behind-the-scene featurettes such Diesel’s return to the franchise, the cast, shooting on location, stunt work and a gag reel.

THE SPACE BETWEEN US
Rated PG-13, 120 minutes.
Director: Peter Chelsom
Cast: Asa ButterfieldBritt RobertsonCarla Gugino, Gary Oldman and BD Wong

This stupid interplanetary adventure had a lot of promise. The concept is a unique premise to explore on film: A boy (Asa Butterfield) born on Mars longs to live a normal life on Earth, but cannot because his body won’t allow him to. With this, there are so many different directions you could take it. Regrettably, the movie misses every opportunity in its path and instead aims its narrative at Twilight-loving tweens.

Much of what happens in THE SPACE BETWEEN US is coincidental. It’s a hard movie to take seriously when it takes place roughly 16 years in the future and everything looks relatively as it does in 2017, except for laptops that are clear (because, I guess, privacy doesn’t matter anyone) and cars that drive themselves (because we really are heading into that WALL-E-like future).

Not to mention how every time the love interest (Britt Robertson) comes on screen an indie pop song has to come on to make you feel like you’re having a good time. Unfortunately for the film, the rest insults your intelligence and makes you want to groan.

While there are a few moments sprinkled throughout that tap into the more fascinating elements of the film, such as what makes us human, THE SPACE BETWEEN US is like driving a boat in a low gear through a sea full of sap.— Preston Barta

Grade: D

Related Articles: Down to Earth – ‘THE SPACE BETWEEN US’ actor Asa Butterfield on the importance of human connection (by Preston Barta) and Theatrical Review: ‘THE SPACE BETWEEN US’ – In space, no one can hear you groan (by Courtney Howard)

Extras: The Universal release includes a digital download of the film, a DVD copy, an alternate ending, deleted scenes, a featurette about love and a feature commentary with director Peter Chelsom.

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