Sci-fi film ‘Equals’ is a dystopian fantasy worth watch­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LIVING - By Amy Longs­dorf For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Even if you’re burnt out on dystopian fan­tasies, check out “Equals” (2016, Lionsgate, PG-13, $20), a vis­ual stun­ner of a thriller which works beau­ti­fully thanks to di­rec­tor Drake Dore­mus’ de­ci­sion to hinge the ac­tion on a love story.

Kris­ten Ste­wart and Ni­cholas Hoult star as il­lus­tra­tors who are at­tracted to each other but, ac­cord­ing to the rules of their fu­tur­is­tic so­ci­ety, for­bid­den to cou­ple. When an in­oc­u­la­tion is in­vented to “cure” peo­ple of their emo­tions, Ste­wart and Hoult plot an es­cape.

De­spite an overly somber tone, “Equals” pulls off the neat trick of com­bin­ing ro­mance with white-

knuckle sus­pense. Check it out. Ex­tras: com­men­taries and fea­turettes.

Also New To DVD

The Con­jur­ing 2 (2016, Warner, R, $30): The En­field Haunt­ing, or Eng­land’s Ami­tyville, might have been the ba­sis for a tightly-plot­ted hor­ror thriller. In­stead, di­rec­tor James Wan stretches the thin tale out for a very long, 134 min­utes. Al­most an hour passes, in fact, be­fore para­nor­mal sleuths Ed (Pa­trick Wil­son) and Lor­raine War­ren (Vera Farmiga) show up in the U.K. to help a sin­gle mother (Frances O’Connor) rid her home of ma­li­cious spir­its. Still, the sec­ond half picks up steam as the War­rens hun­ker down for a bat­tle with a gen­uinely scary de­mon. Ex­tras: deleted scenes and fea­turettes.

Pop­star: Never Stop Never Stop­ping (2016,

Univer­sal, R, $30): In this lively though onenote mock­u­men­tary, Andy Sam­berg stars as Con­ner4Real, a rap­per fac­ing a quar­ter-life cri­sis af­ter his sec­ond al­bum tanks. Un­like “Zoolan­der” which re­lied on a spy story to move the plot along, “Pop­star” is the sim­ple saga of Con­ner patch­ing things up with his for­mer band­mates (Akiva Schaf­fer, Jorma Tac­cone, who also di­rected). If you don’t mind a bit of rep­e­ti­tion, in­di­vid­ual se­quences pro­vide plenty of laughs and the all-star cameos (Justin Tim­ber­lake, Mariah Carey, Ringo Starr) are fun. Ex­tras: deleted scenes, gag reel, fea­turettes and com­men­taries by Sam­berg, Schaf­fer and Tac­cone.

The Dark­ness (2016, Univer­sal, PG-13, $22):

A lesser ef­fort from the usu­ally re­li­able pro­ducer Ja­son Blum (“In­sid­i­ous”), this medi­ocre out­ing cen­ters on an autis­tic teenager named Michael (“Gotham’s” David Ma­zouz) who col­lects five mys­te­ri­ous stones on a Grand Canyon va­ca­tion. The ar­ti­facts turn out to be haunted by evil spir­its who wreck havoc on Michael’s fam­ily (Radha Mitchell, Kevin Ba­con). The ghosts are also sup­posed to bring out the evil im­pulses, or “the dark­ness,” in their own­ers but this theme barely reg­is­ters thanks to the in­ept plot­ting. Ex­tras: deleted scenes.

Seven Miles From Ala­ca­traz (1942, Warner Ar­chive, un­rated, $20):

In this crispytwo con­victs ef­fi­cient (JamesB­movie, Craig, Frank Jenks) break out of Al­ca­traz and take refuge in a nearby light­house which, un­be­knownst to them, is home to a Nazi spy ring. At first, the out­laws think only of them­selves but, even­tu­ally, all of the Nazi talk about “the master race” turns the thugs into pa­tri­ots. The film con­cludes with a nail-bit­ing fight to the death be­tween Craig and one of the bad guys on the light­house’s three lev­els. Shot with­out the ben­e­fit of spe­cial ef­fects, the bat­tle puts most mod­ern cin­e­matic dust-ups to shame with its au­then­tic­ity and fe­roc­ity. Ex­tras: none.

Rais­ing Cain (1992, Shout Fac­tory, R, $20): Af­ter “Bon­fire of the Van­i­ties” flopped, Brian DePalma re­turned to his hor­ror movie roots for this pre­pos­ter­ous yet wildly en­ter­tain­ing thriller. John Lith­gow stars as a

child psy­chol­o­gist who, af­ter catch­ing his wife (Lolita Davi­dovich) cheat­ing with an old lover (Steven Bauer), un­der­goes a men­tal col­lapse. Cue the mur­ders, the kid­nap­pings and mul­ti­pleper­son­al­ity weird­ness. In a bold move, DePalma melts down the bar­ri­ers be­tween dream and re­al­ity so the whole pic­ture has a woozy, jar­ring qual­ity. Some­thing of a riff on “Psy­cho,” this un­der­val­ued out­ing, now on Blu-ray, is DePalma at his most dar­ing and daz­zling.

Ex­tras: both the the­atri­cal and di­rec­tor’s cut of the film and fea­turettes.

Night Train To Mu­nich (1940, Cri­te­rion, un­rated, $30): The great film­maker Carol Reed (“The Third Man”) is at his most Hitch­cock­ian in this lit­tle­seen es­pi­onage thriller that makes a de­li­cious cock­tail out of light com­edy, nail­bit­ing sus­pense and killer ac­tion scenes. Rex Harrison stars as a Bri­tish un­der­cover agent who poses as a Nazi to help a Czech sci­en­tist and his daugh­ter (Mar­garet Lockwood) es­cape from Ger­many into the Swiss Alps. Reed paces the movie like a fast-mov­ing lo­co­mo­tive yet he makes time for a de­light­ful flir­ta­tion be­tween Lockwood and Harrison as well as a darker re­la­tion­ship be­tween Lockwood and a Ger­man spy (Paul Hen­reid). Now on Blu-ray, it’s es­sen­tial view­ing. Ex­tras: fea­turettes. Ele­men­tary: The Fourth Sea­son (2016, Paramount, un­rated, $55): In­ves­ti­gate for your­self the shock waves that Sher­lock Holmes’s un­pre­dictable fa­ther (“Fringe’s” John Noble) sends through the se­ries af­ter he ar­rives in the Big Ap­ple for an ex­tended visit. Once again, Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) teams up with Dr. Joan Wat­son (Lucy Liu) to solve a se­ries of twisty crimes. The six disc

set in­cludes 24 episodes. Ex­tras: gag reel, fea­turettes and deleted scenes.

In­spec­tor Lewis: Se­ries 8 (2015, PBS, un­rated, $30): For the last sea­son of the pop­u­lar “In­spec­tor Morse” spin-off, Ox­ford de­tec­tives Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Hath­away (Lau­rence Fox) must solve fresh mys­ter­ies, in­clud­ing the mur­der of an avant­garde artist and the death of a wom­an­izer dec­i­mated by a let­ter bomb. On the per­sonal front, the de­tec­tives are also deal­ing with fam­ily ties, re­tire­ment is­sues and a new boss (Steve Tous­saint). Ex­tras: none.

The Knick: The Com­plete Sec­ond Sea­son (2016, HBO, un­rated, $25): With the lat­est batch of episodes, the co­caine-ad­dicted sur­geon John Thack­ery (Clive Owen) de­serves to join the list of TV’s most flawed yet com­pelling anti-he­roes. At the out­set of the su­perb sopho­more sea­son, Thack­ery re­turns to the Knicker­bocker Hos­pi­tal where, as he tries to kick his habit, he tends to those on the fringes of so­ci­ety. Un­der the di­rec­tion of Steven Soder­bergh, Owen is par­tic­u­larly splen­did, es­pe­cially when he’s shar­ing scenes with the ter­rific An­dré Hol­land, the Knick’s only African-Amer­i­can physi­cian. Ex­tras: fea­turettes.

Ni­cholas Hoult (“Si­las”) stars in Lionsgate Home En­ter­tain­ment’s EQUALS.

Kris­ten Ste­wart (“Nia”) stars in Lionsgate Home En­ter­tain­ment’s EQUALS.

Lionsgate Home En­ter­tain­ment’s EQUALS.

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