Picks of the week
(R, 132 minutes, Sony): This bloody World War II action film takes its name from the nickname of a Sherman tank, emblazoned on its barrel. But the real action takes place inside the battered vehicle, among members of its tight-knit crew.
Set in 1945, during the Allies’ final push into Germany, “Fury” is a tale whose message can be summed up as follows: “Ideals are peaceful; history is violent.” But the better and more hard-hitting story centers on the man who delivers that nihilistic assessment, the battle-scarred tank commander known as Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), a kind of damaged, tough-but-tender father figure.
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As rendered by filmmaker David Ayer (“End of Watch”), the combat narrative in “Fury” makes for the more familiar of two competing story lines. Although filmed with a visceral beauty, as well as pulse-quickening drama, the movie is only passably interesting as a war movie. The complex dynamic between Wardaddy and his men is far more fascinating.
Contains intense violence, grisly images and pervasive obscenity. Extras: A “Blood Brothers” featurette. On Blu-ray: About an hour of deleted and extended scenes; three featurettes, including a director’s journal, the real soldiers inside the Shermans and “Taming the Beast: How to Drive, Fire, & Shoot Inside a 30-Ton Tank.”
(R, 141 minutes, Warner): “The Judge,” a courtroom procedural tucked into the folds of a family melodrama, feels like one of its own characters, a onetime champ who could have made it to the big leagues, had his potential not been squandered by someone else’s poor choices.
The movie certainly has casting on its side, as heavyweights Robert Downey Jr. (playing predatory Chicago defense attorney Hank Palmer) and Robert Duvall (his estranged father) trade punches in a mutual game of rope-a-dope that approaches heights of poetry.
“The Judge” also possesses its share of astringent humor, the most welcome of which comes by way of Vera Farmiga, who plays Hank’s bleach-blond high school girlfriend with tartly funny throwaway lines. Dax Shepard is also appealing as a slightly dim local lawyer.
Contains profanity, including some sexual references. Extras: A “Getting Deep With Dax Shepard” featurette. On Blu-ray: Commentary by director David Dobkin, “Inside The Judge” featurette and deleted scenes
(PG-13, 83 minutes, Sony): A low-budget, low-impact attempt to rewrite the Book of Revelation as a horror flick, beginning at the hotel wedding of Skylar (Alexa Vega) and Dan (Bryan Dechart). The bride’s devout Christian parents would have preferred a church, but Skylar’s not the truest of believers.
The reception has barely started when the end times begin. The souls of the faithful are transported – or “raptured” – to heaven, leaving a disconcerting array of corpses. Then come the fires, storms, demons and loud noises. The movie relies on the instinctual human fear of death, but its message is that dying is a promotion. So why do those in the dwindling wedding party mourn the ones they’ve lost?
Contains intense sequences of terror, violence and destruction throughout, and thematic elements. Extras include a deleted scene and a making-of featurette.