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I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 17, 2013

by Ethan Alter December 17, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Matt Damon in spaaaaaace!

Elysium
Heading into 2013 Neill Blomkamp's follow-up to District 9 topped many a list of the most anticipated summer blockbusters. A mere four months later, and Elysium is now currently topping many a list of the most disappointing films of 2013. There's no question that it's something of a comedown after Blomkamp's Oscar-nominated debut, a movie that skillfully mixed action movie spectacle with a timely, politically-tinged story. Elysium strains to repeat the same formula, but the allegory (which in this case involves illegal immigration and the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots) is forced and clunky here, with an unconvincing story that casts Matt Damon as a futuristic factory worker who labors to reach the titular spacebound resort for the wealthy in order to access their superior healing technology. At least Blomkamp's flair for action is still very much in effect, with several thrilling set-pieces, including a well-choreographed junkyard assault and Damon's climactic battle with a crazed Sharlto Copley (almost as weird here as he is in Spike Lee's Oldboy remake). So yes, Elysium isn't quite the movie we hoped it would be. But the film it is also isn't a total failure.
Extras: An extended scene and a wealth of making-of featurettes.
Click here to read our original review

Prisoners
The prison metaphors are abundant and annoying throughout this overpraised, overlong crime drama, which strains for profundity and comes up empty at every turn. After their children disappear on Thanksgiving Day, two families (one led by Hugh Jackman, the other by Terrence Howard) confront the very real possibility that they'll never see the girls again, particularly when the police investigation (headed up by Jake Gyllenhaal) fails to turn up any hard leads. So Jackman -- a metaphorical prisoner to his own grief -- decides to resort to vigilante justice, turning the current prime suspect (Paul Dano) into a literal prisoner, before falling ass-backwards into the actual solution, which in true episodic procedural fashion reveals that the Very Special Guest Star did it. Despite the best efforts of its cast (well, some of them anyway… I have no idea what Gyllenhaal thought he was doing) sitting through all two-and-half hours of Prisoners feels like being locked in a jail cell.
Extras: Two featurettes.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see the cast's other movie prisons

The Family
Two decades ago, the thought of a Luc Besson/Robert De Niro collaboration would have been thrilling. But neither man has exactly been at the top of their game recently, so it's not too much of a surprise that The Family -- an action comedy that sends mob pigeon De Niro and his clan (including wife Michelle Pfeiffer, daughter Dianna Agron and son John D'Leo) on a Witness Protection-sponsored trip to the French countryside -- is distinctly second-rate. Although there are a few isolated elements here that work (De Niro's character commenting on the authenticity of Goodfellas for example, or Agron and D'Leo using their Mafia training to basically seize control of their school), the whole thing fails to congeal into anything satisfying or even especially funny. It's like the pilot for a sitcom that the network wisely decided not to order to series.
Extras: A pair of featurettes.
Click here to read our original review

The Lone Ranger
Kick-Ass 2
Two summer dogs get their day on DVD, starting with Gore Verbinski's exorbitantly-budgeted version of The Lone Ranger, which tried to bring the Western hero kicking and screaming into the present day. Well, kind of. One of the problems with the movie is that Johnny Depp's Tonto actually takes precedence given that Depp is a bigger brand name than the Ranger himself, played by Armie Hammer. While there's probably an interesting movie that could be made from Tonto's perspective (with an actual Native American actor in the role to boot), this really isn't it, as Verbinski instead lavishes his dough on frenetic, overcrowded set-pieces occasionally interrupted by a dull origin story. (The only sequence that's remotely involving is the climactic train chase, which recaptures some of the appealing cartoony-ness seen in the first Pirates of the Caribbean outing.) It's worth noting that The Lone Ranger does have its defenders… unlike Kick-Ass 2, which was written off by critics and audiences alike as an unnecessary follow-up to Matthew Vaughn's 2010 ultra-violent spoof of superhero movies and the comic books that birthed them. Whatever humor there was in the premise of an inexperienced kid suiting up as a vigilante and getting beaten up on a regular basis is long gone this time around, and incoming director Jeff Wadlow attempts to compensate for that by upping the shock value at the expense of wit. Not even Chloe Grace Moretz's child solider Hit Girl can fight her way out of the tedium that is Kick-Ass 2.
Extras: The Lone Ranger comes with deleted scenes, bloopers, and three featurettes, while Kick-Ass 2 features an alternate opening, extended scenes, a commentary track with the cast and six featurettes.
Click here to read our original review of The Lone Ranger
Click here to read our original review of Kick-Ass 2

Also on DVD:
The clock on One Direction's fame may be ticking, but they're still relevant enough to make the extended promotional video One Direction: This Is Us (directed by Morgan Spurlock, believe it or not) into a stocking stuffer for any tweenage pop music fan. Kick-Ass 2 may not be 2013's Least Necessary Sequel, considering the fact that somebody went and made Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. It wasn't even trying to be a comedy and yet Paranormal Activity 4 is still funnier than the awful spoof Ghost Team One. The Sundance hit Ain't Them Bodies Saints didn't become an awards season favorite on par with Beasts of the Southern Wild, but it is appearing on more than a few Top 10 lists. And finally, Blu-ray versions of all four Indiana Jones movies, starting with Raiders of the Lost Ark, are now available for purchase separately after having been initially released only in box-set form, a cruel way to force people to own Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

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.

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