This week: Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson play real-life ghost hunters Lorraine and Ed Warren in the supernatural thriller "The Conjuring," one of the scariest and most profitable films of the year.
Also new this week is Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in the buddy comedy "The Internship," Ryan Gosling reuniting with his "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn for "Only God Forgives" and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy at it again as Jesse and Celine in the romantic sequel "Before Midnight."
Box Office: $137 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 87% Fresh
Storyline: Based on the adventures of real-life paranormal investigators and married couple Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson), "The Conjuring" focuses on one of the Warrens' most extreme cases in the '70s in which Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor), a worried mother of five girls, begs the couple to help rid her family's Rhode Island farmhouse of a demonic presence. Ed and Lorraine are committed to the cause, but once a Perron family member becomes possessed it pushes the Warrens to their physical and mental limits in this chilling ghost story from James Wan, the director of "Saw" and "Insidious."
Extras!: Both the DVD and the Blu-ray contain "Scaring the '@$*%' Out of You," in which Wan shares his secrets of how to scare moviegoers. The Blu-ray contains two exclusives that are essential to fans of this story: "'The Conjuring': Face to Face with Terror" features interviews with the Perron family as they share their memories about the haunted farmhouse, and "A Life in Demonology" visits Lorraine Warren at her home, where you are taken into her haunted occult cellar filled with the unholy relics that are featured in the movie.
We Say: If you're a fan of ghost stories, it doesn't get much better than this. Wan knows how to frighten audiences, and this movie earned an R rating not for blood, guts or language but for "sequences of disturbing violence and terror" — so you know it's seriously scary. With Wan's expert direction and a higher-caliber cast (Farmiga, Wilson and Taylor all sell it) than one might expect in a horror film, "The Conjuring" elevates a genre that has suffered in recent years due to mediocre entries. This is the real deal, and a sequel is already in the works.
Box Office: $45 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 35% Rotten
Storyline: Old-school salesmen Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) talk their way into an internship program at the state-of-the-art Google campus and vie for a handful of job positions along with a bunch of tech-savvy college students who are half their age in this buddy comedy.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain "Any Given Monday" and audio commentary with director Shawn Levy. The Blu-ray also has both the PG-13 and unrated cut of the movie as well as deleted scenes.
We Say: Vaughn and Wilson still have the easygoing chemistry they had in "Wedding Crashers," but this tame tech comedy is a complete system crash. Vaughn and Wilson are portrayed as clueless Gen-Xers who don't know who Professor X from "X-Men" is (really?) while the millennials are all brilliant computer nerds who have never cut loose, drank or gone to a party (check out "Project X," "The Social Network" and "21 & Over" for evidence to the contrary). All the lame attempts at laughs try to milk the generation-gap premise that's full of glitches from the outset.
'Only God Forgives'
Box Office: $779,188
Rotten Tomatoes: 40% Rotten
Storyline: "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn reunites with "Drive" star Ryan Gosling in this gritty thriller set in the seedy underbelly of Bangkok. Julian (Gosling), an American fugitive, runs a Thai boxing club as the front for his drug business. His mother (Kristin Scott Thomas), the head of a vast criminal organization, arrives from the U.S. to collect the body of her favorite son, Billy, who has been killed after savagely murdering a young prostitute. Julian's mother is crazy with rage, but first Julian must confront a mysterious policeman and figurehead of divine justice (Vithaya Pansringarm) who is hell-bent on ridding the corrupt underworld of brothels and fight clubs.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain 12 behind-the-scenes featurettes, director interviews, a film commentary and "The Music of 'Only God Forgives' with Cliff Martinez."
We Say: You can pause almost any frame of "Only God Forgives" and print a striking postcard, but all the pretty pink and blue neon light in the world can't energize a film that is mostly inert. Sure, there are abrupt moments of extreme violence sprinkled throughout the R-rated film, but at only 90 minutes "Only God Forgives" seems to drag due to many scenes of people sitting in rooms just looking at each other while awash in impeccable lighting.
Box Office: $8.1 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 98% Fresh
Storyline: Richard Linklater directs this sequel to 1995's "Before Sunrise" and 2004's "Before Sunset" about the long love affair between American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Frenchwoman Celine (Julie Delpy). It's been 18 years since the two met on a trans-European train and fell in love on the streets of Vienna. Jesse wrote a novel about the experience, which led him to meet Celine again after almost a decade. Now the pair live together in Paris and are the proud parents of two daughters, but their lives are far from perfect: Celine is frustrated at her inability to match Jesse's professional success and considers a change of career while Jesse struggles to connect with his teenage son who is visiting from Chicago.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a commentary track with the director and two leads, "Revisiting Jesse & Celine" and a Q&A with Linklater, Hawke and Delpy.
We Say: There are so many saccharine, Nicholas Sparks-type romance stories carpet-bombing our theaters that you might miss something as extraordinary as this trilogy. Has any other movie series explored a long-term relationship like this with such depth and refreshing honesty over so many years? "Before Midnight" builds on the first two installments and still has the effortless chemistry between Delpy and Hawke, who are utterly convincing as a couple with a complicated back story. The movie feels like a natural extension — and possible conclusion — of the series.