Editor’s Notes: The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, The Beauty Inside, & Batman: Bad Blood will be released on their respective formats on February 2nd.
The Lizzie Borden Chronicles
The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (Sony Home Entertainment) is the sequel to Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, a 2014 Lifetime original TV movie, and deals with what happened after Lizzie’s controversial acquittal of her father and stepmother’s horrific murder. Christina Ricci once again portrays Lizzie in this eight-part limited series.
The story picks up in 1893, four months after the accused Fall River, Massachusetts, ax murderer’s acquittal. Lizzie is trying to return to normal life with her sister, Emma (Clea DuVall). Though the women should inherit their father’s wealth, his business partner, William Almy (John Heard), claims that he is owed more than the entire estate is worth. The sisters’ illegitimate half-brother, William (Andrew Howard), is also claiming part of the inheritance. Pinkerton detective Charlie Siring (Cole Hauser) is reinvestigating the double murder, but it’s not initially clear if he is seeking justice or money.
Because there is not enough substance to justify eight installments, there is far too much padding. Attempts are made to show that Lizzie is capable of new and violent murders, but history tells us that she never killed, or was accused of killing, for the rest of her life. Here’s an example of producers’ trying to milk more dollars from a popular TV movie. The attempt to create sensation where historically there never was any becomes transparent and ineffective.
Bonus features on the DVD release include deleted scenes and a gag reel.
The Beauty Inside
The Beauty Inside (Well Go USA) is a Korean film about changing one’s appearance. Woo-jin (Kim Dae-myung) is a young antiques restorer who finds himself in the bed of a one-night stand, suddenly transformed into a fat guy. Such change is nothing new to him, however, since from the moment he turned 18, he wakes up as a different person every day, of both sexes and all races. The only two people aware of this daily occurrence are his mother (Mun Suk) and best pal Song-beck (Lee Dong-hwi).
The gimmick of this comedy is that Woo-jin is played by 21 different actors but retains his straight-male perspective no matter who he becomes and every version of him is a twenty- or thirty-something, handsome Korean. Woo-jin finds his heart touched when he meets Hong Yi-soo (Han Hyo-ju). He staves off the transformation by forcing himself to stay awake for three days straight, and manages to spend much of that time with her, but when sleep finally overcomes him, he awakens to discover a middle-aged man in his reflection. Unwilling to let her go, Woo-jin tries to remain in her life even if she doesn’t recognize him.
Billed as a “body-hopping romantic comedy,” The Beauty Inside is a clever commentary on appearances and how much we are judged by them. However, the film plays it fairly safe in that Woo-jin’s assorted iterations are all good-looking, so we never get a chance to see how someone not blessed with a traditionally attractive appearance would be regarded not only by Hong Yi-soo, but by others as well.
There are no bonus features on the unrated widescreen Blu-ray release. The film is in Korean, with English subtitles.
Batman: Bad Blood
Batman: Bad Blood (Warner Home Video) is an animated feature that reunites the Dark Knight with both Robin and Nightwing. The film marks the debut of Batwoman and Batwing, two characters that have only been seen previously on the printed page.
With Batman missing and presumed dead, it’s up to Dick Grayson (as Batman), Robin, and the new members of the extended Bat family to solve the mystery of the Caped Crusader’s disappearance and save him from his sworn enemies, The Heretic and Talia al Ghul.
Adapting some characters for animation proved more difficult for character designer Phil Bourassa than others. Batwoman made the smoothest transition, since her look in the comics is so striking and elegant. The Heretic was problematic because the character hasn’t figured in a big way in the comics. Bourassa researched the character on the Internet and used that information as a jumping off point, his imagination completing the job.
The film’s animation style is limited, which means only parts of the images have motion, usually the mouths and parts of the body involved in fights. This is a less costly form than the traditional full animation pioneered by Walt Disney in such classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Bambi.
In keeping with Batman’s alias, the images are darker than you’d expect from an animated film. And there is plenty of action, though the storyline is pretty thin. The recent live action Batman movies have been successful largely due to first-rate writing. Here, everything seems derivative and rushed, looking as if everyone was working against the clock to get this on the market as soon as possible.
The PG-13 rated film comes in a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack. Bonus extras include two behind-the-scenes featurettes, two cartoons, and a sneak peak at DC’s next animated movie, Justice League Vs. Teen Titans.