I Want My DVD: Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Here's one person who wasn't entertained by 21 Jump Street

After getting booted off of Moneyball mere days before the movie was supposed to go before cameras, Steven Soderbergh wasted little time putting himself back to work, developing this lean action thriller with screenwriter Lem Dobbs as a star vehicle for gutsy, gorgeous MMA fighter, Gina Carano. Employing the same fractured narrative that he and Dobbs used to such memorable effect on The Limey (one of Soderbergh's very best movies), Haywire jumps around in time as it follows the efforts of black-ops agent Mallory Kane (Carano) to discover who framed her for a recent mission gone wrong. Her quest pits her against a variety of male opponents -- including Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor and Channing Tatum -- whose asses she thoroughly demolishes. Although Carano is a limited dramatic actress, she's obviously got a strong physical presence and the fight sequences themselves are a blast to watch. More of an escapist lark for Soderbergh than one of his carefully crafted character pieces, Haywire is designed to entertain in the moment rather than linger in the memory.
Extras: A glimpse at Carano training for the film and a featurette about Haywire's star-studded male cast. Sadly, there's no commentary track, which means we don't get a repeat of the epic Soderbergh and Dobbs verbal throwdown that graced The Limey disc. Maybe the duo realized it's impossible to top a classic.
Click here to read our original review

New Year's Eve
If you thought Valentine's Day was bad, just wait until you take a gander at New Year's Eve, Garry Marshall's latest all-star ensemble "comedy" following a bunch of individual rom-com stories that play out over the course of one extra-long holiday. As New York counts down the hours and minutes until New Year's Eve, depressed slacker Ashton Kutcher and perky backup singer Lea Michele bond while stuck in an elevator, expectant parents Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers attempt to give birth to the New Year's first baby, caterer Katherine Heigl squabbles with her rock star ex-boyfriend Jon Bon Jovi and errand boy Zac Efron attempts to fulfill the bucket list of Michelle Pfeiffer's middle-aged shut-in. There's more -- much more -- but none of it is any good. Good thing most of the actors in this movie have day jobs, because they wouldn't book more gigs based on their work here.
Extras: A Marshall-anchored commentary track, deleted scenes, a ten-minute gag reel and three featurettes.
Click here to read our original review

Joyful Noise
Because someone somewhere apparently demanded it, Joyful Noise pairs up Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton for the very first time. The singers/actresses play gospel singers with a choir at a small-town Georgia church that regularly competes (but never triumphs) in the annual Joyful Noise singing competition. After Parton's choir leader husband (played briefly by Kris Kristofferson) kicks the bucket, Latifah takes over the group and attempts to guide them to victory while also keeping a close eye on her 16-year-old daughter (Keke Palmer) who is falling for Parton's rebellious grandson (Jeremy Jordan). While Joyful Noise boasts some strong musical numbers (Palmer's rendition of "Man in the Mirror" is actually quite lovely) and a progressive attitude towards race and religion (the fact that Jordan and Palmer are an interracial couple is thankfully never made into an issue or even a narrative obstacle), the film is needlessly overlong at 118 minutes and suffers from too many contrived, sentimental subplots. The next time Parton and Latifah get together, we'd root for more music and less melodrama.
Extras: A deleted scene and extended musical numbers, a live performance by Parton and Latifah at a real-life gospel competition and four featurettes about the making of the movie.

Men in Black Blu-ray
Men in Black II Blu-ray
With Men in Black III arriving at the end of the month, here's a chance to catch up on what previously happened to everyone's favorite alien-hunting government agency. The 1997 original remains a goofy, high-spirited sci-fi comedy that benefits from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones's combustible chemistry and a straightforward story that makes room for some well-executed, effects-heavy set-pieces. Unfortunately, the F/X took over the proceedings in the overly busy 2002 sequel, which found Smith and Jones facing off against early 21st century pop culture relic Lara Flynn Boyle (remember her?). Rumors of script troubles and production stoppages have us concerned that MIB III will repeat the mistakes of the second film, but we can't deny that we're looking forward to seeing more of Josh Brolin's spot-on Tommy Lee Jones impression.
Extras: Both discs come with audio commentaries, deleted and extended scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes and perhaps the rarest thing of all... a Will Smith music video.

Also on DVD:
Madonna's sophomore effort as a director, W.E., compared and contrasted the story of a fictional modern-day love affair with the romance between American divorcée Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII of England, a story that was partially told in last year's Oscar champ, The King's Speech. How can you tell the two movies apart? Easy, W.E. is the one that did not win a ton of Oscars. Mimic 3-Film Set collects the fascinating director's cut of Guillermo Del Toro's 1997 creature feature with the two direct-to-DVD sequels that continued the franchise sans Del Toro's involvement. Speaking of direct-to-DVD sequels, Flicka: Country Pride is the third installment in the horse-and-his-girl series based on the seminal children's novel, My Friend Flicka. Turning to classic releases, Robert Redford's atmospheric Western Jeremiah Johnson turns up on Blu-ray this week, along with the Rock Hudson/Doris Day romantic comedy Pillow Talk. But for moviegoers of a certain generation, the only new-to-high-def classic that matters this week is Clueless, Amy Heckerling's iconic 1995 high-school adaptation of Emma that (briefly) made Alicia Silverstone a super-star. Extras include a trivia game and a guide to the film's fashions, but the best bonus feature is marveling at how young Paul Rudd and Donald Faison look.

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