BLOGS

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, March 6, 2012

by Ethan Alter March 6, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dig it, you dancing queens.

Footloose
Kick off your Sunday shoes everyone! The better-than-you-might-expect remake of the '80s teen classic soft-shoes its way onto DVD, where it'll make for a Family Movie Night option that should appeal to both hipper-than-thou kids and their nostalgia-addled parents. Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough take over roles originated by Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer as dancing fish-out-of-water Ren and rebellious daughter of a preacher man Ariel, respectively. Although incoming director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) crunkifies some of the music and dancing, this new Footloose remains surprisingly faithful to the old, right down to its almost scene-for-scene recreation of the immortal "Let's Hear it For the Boy" montage. Footloose 2.0 isn't a great work of cinematic art, but as unnecessary remakes go, it's totally adequate.
Extras: A commentary track from Brewer, who also sticks around to comment on a handful of deleted scenes, plus three making-of featurettes and a trio of music videos.
Click hear to read our original review

Immortals
Tarsem Singh gets his Greek mythology on with this tale of gods and monsters based (extremely) loosely on the legend of Theseus, played here by the new Superman, Henry Cavill. As with most Tarsem-helmed features, the striking costume and production design is almost worth the price of admission. Unfortunately, you also have to contend with repetitive action sequences (although the slow-motion decapitations are pretty cool... the first time, at least), horrendous dialogue and bland performances from everyone not named Mickey Rourke, who happily chews the scenery as evil King Hyperion. It's a shame he's not the hero of the movie instead the stiff-as-his-washboard-abs Cavill.
Extras: A batch of deleted scenes, including an alternate beginning and ending, two featurettes and a graphic novel.
Click hear to read our original review

Jack and Jill
Bad movies are a dime a dozen, but then there are genuinely horrifying works of cinematic garbage like Adam Sandler's latest alleged "comedy." Sure, we knew it was going to stink when the first trailers hit the Web, but somehow the finished product managed to sink below our basement-level expectations. Sandler stars as successful advertising director Jack (a job that allows the filmmakers to cram as much product placement as possible into every frame) and Jack's terrifying twin sister Jill, a shrieking harridan from the Bronx. But hands down the scariest performance in the movie comes from Al Pacino, who plays... Al Pacino. The closing scene, in which Pacino shills for Dunkin' Donuts with a rap that namechecks some of his most famous screen characters, is more frightening that any horror movie we saw last year.
Extras: Deleted scenes, a blooper reel (of course, some might argue that the entire movie is a blooper reel) and four featurettes, including one that's little more than an extended ad for Royal Caribbean cruise lines.
Click hear to read our original review

Like Crazy
A hit at 2011's Sundance Film Festival, this small-scale romantic drama never found a wide audience during its theatrical release last fall, who may have stayed away expecting another twee indie romance. That's certainly what we expected going in, but we're happy to report that the movie caught us completely off guard. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones play a young guy and a girl who spend one crazy romantic summer together and make a spur-of-the-moment decision that will affect their futures in ways they can't even begin to comprehend. In performances that were largely improvised, Yelchin and Jones create a vivid, believable portrait of a couple that experiences both the power and limitations of love. The final shot is one of the most effectively ambivalent endings to a big-screen romance since The Graduate.
Extras: A filmmaker commentary track and a batch of deleted and alternate scenes.

54
Reindeer Games: The Director's Cut
Late-'90s Miramax was a strange place, one where prestige pictures like The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love existed alongside modestly budgeted, so-so genre pictures like the coming-of-age story 54 and the twisty thriller Reindeer Games. Set in '70s era New York, 54 tells the story of the legendary Manhattan nightclub Studio 54 through the eyes of ambitious bartender Shane (Ryan Phillippe), who befriends the club's eccentric owner Steve Rubell (Mike Myers, in a surprisingly strong dramatic performance). It's not an especially good movie -- the studio reportedly forced writer/director Mark Christopher to do extensive reshoots and other post-production triage and it shows -- but the film does work as a fun time capsule of its era (the '90s, not the '70s) with such Miramax house talent as Neve Campbell, Salma Hayek and Heather Matarazzo popping up in small roles. Released in 2000, Reindeer Games is another example of a not-great movie elevated by its cast, which includes Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Gary Sinise and Donal Logue. The final feature film directed by John Frankenheimer (who died in 2002), Reindeer Games boasts a story that can best be described as utterly daffy, but the action sequences crackle in typical Frankenheimer fashion and Theron is ridiculously gorgeous as the requisite femme fatale. While this director's cut doesn't really fix any of the movie's deep flaws, at least Harvey "Scissorhands" Weinstein gave Frankenheimer the chance to put together his preferred version of the film, which is more than he allowed Christopher. (Although the original cut of 54 has apparently screened at a few festivals. Maybe we'll get that version will be a Blu-ray release one day as well?)
Extras: 54 only includes a music video, while Reindeer Games offers a Frankenheimer commentary track, a featurette and alternate scenes from the theatrical cut.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
We slightly prefer Monty Python's Life of Brien to be honest, but there's no question that this medieval comedy is the Holy Grail of Monty Python's big-screen career, in terms of box-office success and pop culture longevity. Just try to find someone who doesn't immediately recognize the lines "It's just a flesh wound!" and "We are the knights who say... Ni!" (Well, anyone over the age of 25 anyway.) A famously cruddy looking film, Holy Grail's visuals haven't been suddenly rendered immaculate by the high-def conversion for this Blu-ray edition, but the low-fi production values still complement the movie quite well. And c'mon folks, we're talking about Monty Python and the Holy Grail here. There's no excuse for not owning this comedy classic in as many formats as possible.
Extras: Most of the bonus features have been ported over from the earlier two-disc special edition, but the Blu-ray does boast three new exclusive extras, including a Second Screen Experience, lost animations from Terry Gilliam and outtakes and extended scenes introduced by Terry Jones.

Also on DVD:
It got lost amidst the usual end-of-year logjam, but Pedro Almodóvar's latest film, The Skin I Live In was a return to form after the lackluster Broken Embraces. Reuniting with Antonio Banderas for the first time in a long while, the Spanish director concocted a creepy, yet strangely beautiful psychological thriller exploring sexual identity and revenge. One of the many terrific documentaries overlooked by the Oscar doc committee this year, Asif Kapadia's Senna is a gripping account of the life and times of Formula One racing champion, Ayrton Senna. You don't have to follow the sport to get caught up in Senna's story. Three new movies premiere direct-to-DVD this week, starting with the sequel nobody asked for Tooth Fairy 2, with Larry the Cable Guy taking over the wings, tights and tooth fetish from Dwayne Johnson. B-movie action movie mainstays Steve Austin and Danny Trejo get their shared moment in the spotlight in Recoil playing a vengeance-driven ass-kicker and a bad-to-the-bone crime boss respectively. Jason Lee, Selma Blair, Amy Smart and Giovanni Ribisi are among the semi-major names that appear in Columbus Circle, a chamber room thriller set in a Manhattan high-rise. To mark their 100th anniversary this year, Universal continues to re-release some of their classics in handsome new editions. This week's batch includes the superb 1963 mystery Charade with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, Preston Sturges's 1941 masterpiece Sullivan's Travels, the 1936 screwball comedy My Man Godfrey, and a pair of Best Picture winners receiving a Blu-ray upgrade: Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter and Sidney Pollack's Out of Africa. Not to be outdone in quality, if not quantity, Paramount is putting out a handsome high-def disc of Hitchcock's 1955 French Riviera-set exercise in suspense, To Catch a Thief. And finally, for those interested in classics of a different sort, Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space finally makes the leap to Blu-ray. It truly is the future... the place where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.

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