BLOGS

Movies Without Pity

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, September 17, 2013

by admin September 17, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's a zombie world and we just live in it.

World War Z
Going into the summer movie season, the zombie disaster movie World War Z was shaping up to be a real-world disaster. Budget overruns, last-minute reshoots (including the entire third act) and rumors that the movie's star, Brad Pitt, and director, Marc Forster, had stopped speaking to each other earmarked the adaptation of the Max Brooks bestseller as the zombie movie version of Ishtar. But when the summer smoke cleared, World War Z stood as one of the season's surprise success stories, grossing more than $500 million worldwide ($200 million of which came from the U.S. alone) and faring better than many expected with critics. It's hard to completely overlook the behind-the-scenes drama, which is all too evident in the way the film more or less functions as three standalone acts united only by Pitt's presence as a crisis management expert who previously had a vaguely established connection to the United Nations. The good news is that each act is enjoyable on its own terms. Act 1, for example, effectively depicts the collapse of society instigated by outbreak of the zombie plague instead of fast-forwarding ahead to after the apocalypse. Act 2, meanwhile, offers up two of the movie's best set-pieces: a mass attack on Jerusalem with the walking dead pouring over a towering wall followed by a terrifying zombie rampage in the confines of an airplane in mid-flight. And then comes the heavily reworked Act 3, which shrinks the global scale of the previous two acts to a remote medical research facility where Pitt has to navigate past various obstacles to find a cure to zombification -- a sequence that owes as much to video games as it does to George Romero classics. The commercial and (modest) creative success of World War Z proves that you should never underestimate the appeal of zombies. Pitt, too, I suppose, but mainly zombies.
Extras: An unrated version of the film as well as several behind-the-scenes featurettes. Sadly, there's no sign of the original third act -- a mega zombie vs. humans battle on the streets of Moscow.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see Pitt's most zombified performances

The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola is frequently (and, in my opinion, unfairly) tagged with sympathizing too much with the first-world problems of the rich and famous, which may be why she went overboard on judging the vapid teenagers at the center of her ripped-from-the-headlines drama about a crew of L.A. high-schoolers who treated the homes of famous celebrities as their personal playgrounds and shopping malls. Based on a Vanity Fair article that detailed the real-life case, The Bling Ring is openly contemptuous of its five-person team of amateur thieves (whose ranks include Emma Watson, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien and Israel Broussard) from practically the first scene, and Coppola remains generally horrified by the characters throughout. If the movie is lacking the complexity and nuance that distinguishes the director's best work, she's still in full command of her lyrical, dreamy visual style. The Bling Ring boasts a number of hypnotic sequences, the best of which is an extended, one-take shot of a home invasion filmed from the hill overlooking the house. Moments like this prove that Coppola remains one of America's pre-eminent film artists -- she just proved unable to penetrate beyond the glossy surface of this particular story.
Extras: Three featurettes, including a detailed look at how Paris Hilton's house became a crime scene.

Disconnect
In a movie that really should be called Can I Haz Internetz?, writer Andrew Stern and director Henry-Alex Rubin cannily cherry-pick some of the very real consequences that can accompany being careless online for excessive, exploitative melodrama in the vein of Crash. Identity theft, teenage prostitution and Facebook bullies are the three main topics touched upon here in a trio of storylines that occasionally (and randomly) intersect. Hence, Jason Bateman plays the distant father of a kid who attempts suicide after being humiliated in a Catfishing scheme; Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgard are the couple whose personal information is swiped; and Andrea Riseborogh is the journalist who exposes an online teen sex ring, but is more interested in covering her own ass than protecting her informant. Pitched at the most hyperbolic level, Disconnect is designed to freak out Luddites of a certain age who take smug pride in not having a Twitter handle or Facebook page (largely because they don't know how to use a computer) while younger generation will just roll their eyes and Tweet nasty things during the protracted two-hour runtime.
Extras: A commentary track with Rubin and two featurettes.

Day of the Dead
As a summer blockbuster, World War Z is fun and all, but if you want to see what a truly great zombie movie looks like, George Romero's Day of the Dead is now available on Blu-ray for the first time. The third installment in Romero's pioneering zombie series, Day was released in 1985, seven years after Dawn of the Dead. That stone-cold classic was a tough act to follow and, indeed, the third Dead is probably the lesser of Romero's original trilogy that started with 1968's Night of the Living Dead. Nevertheless, viewed on its own terms, there's plenty to like here, from Romero's blunt, but effective satire of the military industrial complex -- instead of a shopping mall, the film unfolds in an underground bunker filled with a combustible mix of scientists and soldiers -- and the character of Bub, a zombie guinea pig who the audience actually comes to feel sympathy (instead of merely revulsion) for. And, as usual with Romero, there's plenty of excellent R-rated zombie gore (as opposed to the PG-13 rated massacres in World War Z), manufactured by effects legend Tom Savini. No question about it, Day is (almost) as good as zombie movies get.
Extras: A Romero-anchored commentary track , an all-new retrospective documentary, vintage behind-the-scenes footage, photo galleries and original trailers and TV teasers.

Also on DVD:
Indie darling Brit Marling goes mainstream (kinda) in the thriller The East, also starring Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgård as operatives in an underground activist group that takes direct action against major corporations. The unlikely duo of Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler headline the buddy road trip movie/survival story Scenic Route, in which two travelers get stranded in the desert and are forced to fight forces more serious and deadly than the elements. Stop the presses! Showgirls 2: Penny's From Heaven, the sequel nobody asked for (least of all Elizabeth Berkley) is on DVD at last. The direct-to-DVD thriller Suddenly remakes the 1954 Frank Sinatra film about a presidential assassination attempt with B-list actors Ray Liotta, Dominic Purcell and Michael Paré subbing in for Ol' Blue Eyes. Finally, Richard Linklater's feature filmmaking debut Slacker gets the Criterion Blu-ray treatment, with extras ranging from three commentary tracks and casting tapes to home movies and alternate takes. Guess we know what Kevin Smith -- who has always credited Slacker with being the impetus behind his own filmmaking career -- is getting for Christmas this year…

Think you've got game? Prove it! Check out Games Without Pity, our new area featuring trivia, puzzle, card, strategy, action and word games -- all free to play and guaranteed to help pass the time until your next show starts.

Comments

SHARE THE SNARK

X

Get the most of your experience.
Share the Snark!

See content relevant to you based on what your friends are reading and watching.

Share your activity with your friends to Facebook's News Feed, Timeline and Ticker.

Stay in Control: Delete any item from your activity that you choose not to share.

MOST RECENT POSTS

BLOG ARCHIVES

Movies Without Pity

March 2014

16 ENTRIES

February 2014

22 ENTRIES

January 2014

21 ENTRIES

December 2013

25 ENTRIES

November 2013

21 ENTRIES

October 2013

26 ENTRIES

September 2013

16 ENTRIES

August 2013

22 ENTRIES

July 2013

22 ENTRIES

June 2013

21 ENTRIES

May 2013

22 ENTRIES

April 2013

19 ENTRIES

March 2013

28 ENTRIES

February 2013

16 ENTRIES

January 2013

16 ENTRIES

December 2012

21 ENTRIES

November 2012

19 ENTRIES

October 2012

23 ENTRIES

September 2012

20 ENTRIES

August 2012

23 ENTRIES

July 2012

20 ENTRIES

June 2012

29 ENTRIES

May 2012

26 ENTRIES

April 2012

27 ENTRIES

March 2012

33 ENTRIES

February 2012

26 ENTRIES

January 2012

26 ENTRIES

The Latest Activity On TwOP