Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017) — PICK

Samson (2017) — PICK


If Infinity War doesn’t have enough testosterone for you, there’s plenty more on recent home-video releases. Fox is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original Die Hard with new 4K/Blu-ray editions — and they’ve given Gladiator and Braveheart the same treatment.

For fans of faith-based film, Pureflix brings the Bible’s own strongman to the screen in Samson, starring Taylor James, who has the most superheroesque physique of any screen Samson I’ve ever seen.

Pureflix predictably sanitizes the story with regard to sexual content; less so the PG-13 violence. While I have misgivings around the film’s saber-rattling militarism and other liberties, it’s a pretty-okay movie that will make a lot of viewers happy.

Looking for counterprogramming to all this screen machismo? Consider Mary and the Witch’s Flower, the gorgeous animated debut film of Japan’s Studio Ponoc, about a young girl who discovers a magical flower that gives magical powers for a single night.

The work of Studio Ghibli veterans, Mary and the Witch’s Flower is deeply influenced by Hayao Miyazaki, especially in the first act. The filmmakers haven’t recaptured Miyazaki’s magic, but it’s lovely and pleasant.

 

Caveat Spectator: Mary and the Witch’s Flower: Action and menace; fantasy magic. Kids and up. Samson: Much action violence; brief torture; mild womanizing theme. Older kids and up.