Punch Drunk DVDs: 'Arrival', 'Bleed for This', 'The Edge of Seventeen', and 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk'


Nominated for 8 Oscars, this new scifi thriller from writer/director Denis Villeneuve tells the story of a mysterious alien invasion, and the linguist (Amy Adams) who makes an attempt to connect to the strange new creatures. As humanity prepares for potential interplanetary war, the power of language is pushed to its limits in this stunning and intense film.

We Said: Arrival consistently and strenuously challenges the viewer at every turn. And now the challenge is on other filmmakers to try and live up to the example Arrival has set as one of the best modern pieces of sci-fi we've seen.” Rating: 4 out of 5

The Good: Arrival is hands-down one of the best movies of 2016. It tells a complex and beautiful story that, while fanciful and science fiction-y, is still deeply human and beautiful. The visuals are absolutely incredible, Amy Adams gives one of the greatest performances I’ve seen in a long time, and the film’s ending leaves you awe-struck and wanting to watch it again immediately. Arrival is the very best of what the scifi genre can be.

The Bad: The movie can move a tad slowly, and has a bit of a rough time toward the beginning with grabbing the audience’s attention properly. Having watched the film all the way through, I now understand why it’s paced this way and I ultimately appreciated the unconventional storytelling, but it still does move slow nonetheless.

Overall: Arrival is an intense and beautiful thriller that is equal parts heart-racing and heart-breaking. Definitely check it out if you haven’t. If you have seen it, then you know why you should watch it again!

Based on the life of boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), Bleed for This tells the inspiring story of his comeback to the ring after a near-fatal car-crash threatens to leave him paralyzed.

We Said: “Ultimately, Bleed for This is a flawed movie. The pacing is very weak, and the dialogue is far too on-the-nose and formulaic. The performances, direction, and editing all elevate the movie well above the rather basic script, and turn it into an enjoyable and mostly compelling sports drama. It might not be the most memorable, but it’s certainly a fine enough film overall.” Rating: 3 out of 5

The Good: Everyone in Bleed for This does a good job at portraying their characters as more than just stereotypical sports-movie stock characters. Visually the film is pretty interesting, especially during the fights. The scenes of actual boxing are brilliantly intense, and well worth the build up. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys inspirational sports dramas, this is right up your alley.

The Bad: Most of the movie’s script is incredibly formulaic. No amount of great acting can fully save moments as by-the-numbers as some of the scenes in Bleed for This. The film moves at a million different speeds, with the actual plot kicking in about an hour into the run-time. Ultimately, there is very little to separate Bleed for This from other movies in the genre.

Overall: Bleed for This is perfectly fine for what it is. Fans of these kinds of sports dramas will certainly enjoy it, and it very well might pick up the interest of a few newcomers as well with some of its climactic boxing showdowns. It’s a perfectly enjoyable paint-by-numbers biopic.

Based on the best selling novel of the same name, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk examines the life of young Iraq War veteran Billy Lynn. Through flashback, it tells the story of his harrowing tour, contrasting it with the hero’s-welcome halftime show waiting for him at home.

We Said: “There is much to like in the individual performances, including from newcomer Joe Alwyn, and much to regret in a heavy-handed, message-laden screenplay and curious visual choices by [Director Ang] Lee. […] Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk doesn't take a pro or anti-war stance; its faith resides in our servicemen and women. And so we should also have faith that Ang Lee, who is still a tremendous director by any measure, will rebound from a well-intentioned but disappointing effort.” Rating: 2.5 out of 5

After high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) finds out her best friend is dating her older brother, her awkward-loner phase kicks into overdrive. Relying solely on her teacher (Woody Harrelson) for advice, Nadine navigates the hell of high school, while developing a relationship with an equally shy guy from her school.

We Said: “The writer/director is newcomer Kelly Fremon Craig, who has clearly learned much from [producer James L.] Brooks about how to make a comedy like this work instead of collapsing into a puddle of its own neuroses.” Rating: 4 out of 5