Movies Without Pity
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 Yet another reason why you should never, ever agree to go vacation at a cabin in the woods.

Evil Dead
It was only a matter of time until the Hollywood Horror Remake train arrived at Evil Dead Station, so here's the 21st century version of Sam Raimi's 1981 no-budget gorefest that nobody really asked for, but showed up to see anyway. And as mostly unnecessary updated versions of horror favorites go, it's... fine. Neither an enjoyable movie in its own right like Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead nor an abject disaster like John Moore's The Omen, this new Evil Dead -- produced by Raimi and his favorite leading man, Bruce Campbell, and directed by Fede Alvarez -- offers more sophisticated production values and bloodletting (all of which is practical, rather than digitally-assisted by the way) than its predecessor, but also lacks the resourcefulness and sense of anything-goes brio that made the original such an out-of-nowhere surprise. The first half -- which features lots of belabored set-up and bland acting -- is particularly slow-going, unironically trotting out all the cabin-in-the-woods clich├ęs that Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's Cabin in the Woods so effectively skewered. And while the pacing improves when the blood and limbs start flying, there's a pronounced lack of danger to the proceedings. Raimi's Evil Dead stands as a kind of outsider art, taking risks (like the infamous tree rape sequence, that even the director now think maybe went too far) a major studio production like this simply can't or won't. That's why it'll still be the one horror fans watch years from now, while the remake is remembered as a footnote.
Extras: A commentary track with Alvarez and members of the movie's cast, four featurettes and behind-the-scenes footage featuring cast rehearsals and additional Campbell clowning.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see other Sam Raimi properties that need a reboot

While it's not entirely fair to Brian Helgeland's version of color-barrier breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson's life story, I spent the majority of 42 wishing that I was watching the Robinson biopic that Spike Lee spent years trying to make. Lee's film would almost certainly have been more provocative -- and therefore probably less commercial -- than the film Helgeland made, which presents its subject in mostly glowing terms. Not that Robinson isn't worthy of such hero worship: the stoicism and skill he displayed on and off the field under enormous public pressure would impress even Superman. And, in fact, 42 is very much a comic-book version of Robinson's life, resembling one of those illustrated biographies that teach schoolkids about famous people and events. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as the film does help young viewers in particular understand in clear, understandable terms why Jackie Robinson was such a transformative figure in baseball history. But those hoping for a fuller account of his experiences in the Major Leagues will likely be disappointed by the movie's lack of nuance and soft-peddling of the racial politics of that era, not to mention the so-so baseball action. In the end, 42 feels like the warm-up to the more honest Robinson biopic that has yet to be made.
Extras: Two making-of featurettes and a brief biographical documentary.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see which movie ballplayers we'd nominate to the Hall of Fame

Bullet to the Head
Dumped into theaters in February after a lengthy stint on the studio shelf, Sylvester Stallone's first team-up with '80s action maestro Walter Hill is an agreeably retro slam-bang thriller that's dumb as a bag of hammers, but eminently proficient at dishing out gunplay and body blows. Stallone plays a veteran New Orleans-based hitman who is targeted for assassination by his employers and promptly goes to war with them -- and their hired killer (Jason Momoa, who gives great snarl) -- with the aid of visiting D.C. cop (Sung Kang) in town for nebulous reasons. Less wink-wink-nudge-nudge in its throwback appeal than Stallone's Expendables franchise, Bullet plays it down, dirty and decidedly un-P.C. Thirty years ago, it would have been released under the Cannon Films banner and made a crazy amount of money. Today, it's only of interest to people with a nostalgic fondness for that long-vanished era of monosyllabic, muscle-bound action heroes.
Extras: A lone featurette devoted to Stallone's fight training sessions.
Click here to read our original review

Solomon Kane
The latest attempt to extend the comic book boom to older, pulpier heroes -- think John Carter and The Shadow rather than Batman and Spider-Man -- this British-made period piece revives the Puritan warrior created by Robert E. Howard (who also dreamed up a certain barbarian whose name rhymes with Flowman) in the late 1920s. James Purefoy plays Solomon, once a scion of a 16th century noble family who decides to pursue life as an outlaw instead, until an encounter with the Devil himself leads him to take a vow of pacifism lest he lose his soul. But that vow is challenged when a sorcerer kidnaps a young woman whose family was kind enough to take Solomon in, and the reluctant soldier is forced to unsheathe his swords once more. Even when forced to spend an entire movie grimacing, Purefoy is a likable, charismatic actor, but he's restricted from injecting any sense of fun into this tedious, too-dour adventure picture. (At least Taylor Kitsch's John Carter got to smile every now and then during his trip to Mars.) Instead of reviving Solomon Kane for another generation, this film is guaranteed to keep him relegated to the yellowing pages of vintage pulp fiction.
Extras: A commentary track with Purefoy and director Michael J. Bassett plus additional interviews with both, a single deleted scene, original concept art and two behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Also on DVD:
Aaron Eckhart gets his Jason Bourne on in the derivative Euro-thrillerErased. The rock doc An Affair of the Heart explores the life, times and songs of Rick "Jessie's Girl" Springfield. Criterion dusts of Peter Brooks' 1963 version of the classic William Golding novel, Lord of the Flies for a Blu-ray release that includes a commentary track from Brook, audio recordings of Golding reading from his book and a wealth of other material. Finally, Ralph Bakshi's follow-up to X-rated '70s cartoon Fritz the Cat Heavy Traffic scores a high-def release. Just don't confuse it for a kids' movie, no matter what the brightly cartoonish cover promises.

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