Rental Central

Tom Doty Times Columnist

April 4, 2014

Two big theatrical releases shared shelf space with a pair of European crime dramas and offered quality entertainment for renters this week.

“47 Ronin” — Big dumb action movies are even better when they have multiple influences, like this effort from last summer. The film balances swordplay, epic battles and sorcery. The film plays like a Kinji Fukasaku epic filtered through an installment of “The Matrix.” Keanu Reeves stars and plays an adopted warrior who joins the displaced warriors of an assassinated Shogun on a quest for revenge. Turns out their prey has an army and a ton of bad magic to throw at them. Spectacular fights and just enough plot to hang them on.

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” — Will Ferrell is back as the arrogant and dimwitted news man who puts himself ahead of his stories. This time out, he is fired and must rebuild his stature by actually learning how to report the news. He has ample help from his cronies, but their antics aren’t much more adept than his. Funny stuff, with the whole cast returning, which includes Steve Carrel and Paul Rudd.

“Broadchurch” — The rugged English coastline makes for a proper setting for a murder mystery in this series from the BBC. Olivia Colman stars as a young female detective who returns from vacation to find her small town at the center of a huge story. A young boy has been murdered, and it threatens to tear the community into pieces. She also finds a new man at the department who has managed to snag her promotion and the murder investigation. Great stuff, with former “Doctor Who” David Tennant as the new policeman.

“Meet Him and Die” — Spaghetti gangster flicks don’t get much better than this twisty yarn. The film opens with a thief getting nabbed when trying to rob a jewelry store. He winds up in prison and is befriended by an aging con. The pair escape and plot a job together, but there is something else going on here and to give away more would be truly criminal. Ray Lovelock stars as the thief and the cast includes American Martin Balsam (“Psycho”) and Sweden’s Elke Sommer.