Rush, rush -- hurry, hurry JGL come to us.
One of the summer's most entertaining -- and certainly it's speediest -- action movies, Premium Rush takes off like a rocket in its first scene and doesn't slow down for its perfectly-paced 90-minute runtime. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as NYC bike messenger Wilee (yes, pronounced like the coyote), who goes out for what seems to be a routine delivery that turns into a spirited chase through the Manhattan streets, with a dogged corrupt cop (played in fine, scenery-chewing form by Michael Shannon) nipping at his heels. Co-writer/director David Koepp's script is lean and efficient and he makes great use of actual Big Apple locations, most notably a race through Central Park. But the real star here is the terrific bicycle stunt work, which mostly avoids CGI in favor of real people (including, in some scenes, Gordon-Levitt himself) doing real tricks. Buried and ignored at the end of the summer movie season, Premium Rush deserves to become a cable staple for years to come.
Extras: Two unexceptional EPK-like featurettes, one about the cast and crew and the other devoted to the stunt work.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to read our Q&A with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Koepp
(Note: Premium Rush will be available on Friday, December 21)
The collegiate a cappella scene gets the Glee treatment (only, you know, done right) in this light, fluffy and entirely winning comedy, starring Anna Kendrick as the reluctant newest member of the Bellas, her new university's struggling all-female singing group. Why aren't they hitting all the right notes? Because their leader Aubrey (Anna Camp) is a bit of a control freak who won't let her minions (including her second-in-command Brittany Snow, as well as Rebel Wilson and Alexis Knapp) spread their vocal wings and soar. Although the plot is pretty predictable, the cast and, especially, the music make Pitch Perfect a better-than-average studio comedy. And it's damn sure better than Glee.
Extras: A commentary track with director Jason Moore and co-star/producer Elizabeth Banks, a heaping helping of deleted and alternate scenes (although no alternate musical numbers), an extended gag reel, three behind-the-scenes featurettes and a Starships music video featuring the cast and a galaxy of YouTube users performing the Nicki Minaj hit.
Click here to read our original review
Trouble with the Curve
Despite uniting two of America's favorite pastimes -- baseball and Clint Eastwood movies -- Trouble with the Curve failed to generated much business when it was released in September, only a few weeks after Eastwood's now-infamous appearance at the Republican presidential convention. While that may have played a role in Trouble's box office... well, trouble, the more likely explanation is that audiences saw the trailer and thought the film looked pretty boring and formulaic. And they were right -- it is pretty boring and formulaic, ineffectively mixing the story of Eastwood's strained relationship with his grown daughter (played by Amy Adams in the weakest of her career) with a stridently anti-Moneyball baseball narrative that favors the (failing) eyesight of veteran scouts over number-crunching statisticians, represented by a slimy, smirking villain played by Matthew Lillard. Like a particularly dull baseball game, Trouble with the Curve is a sure-fire cure for insomnia.
Extras: Two featurettes, including a conversation between Eastwood and his longtime collaborator (and this film's director), Rob Lorenz.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see our gallery of Clint Eastwood's grumpiest old men
Resident Evil: Retribution
Nobody was really asking for a remake of Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1990 sci-fi action flick Total Recall, but Hollywood went ahead and made one anyway, handing off the project to Len Wiseman, a special-effects artist-turned-director of such middling franchise pictures as the first Underworld outing and the fourth Die Hard movie. Confirming his status as one of the blandest, least interesting studio filmmakers working today, Wiseman delivers a Recall that's slickly made, competently acted, filled with eye candy (both of the F/X and human variety, the latter in the forms of undeniably attractive leads Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale)... and 100% forgettable. Say what you will about the cheesy, illogical flourishes in the Verhoeven version -- at least that film had personality. You could say the same thing about Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth installment in the apparently endless video game-inspired film series. Retribution is the third installment in the series to be helmed by the other Paul Anderson (W.S. as opposed to Thomas) and while he's still far from a reliable action filmmaker, he has an eye for excess that can be loads of fun in the right context, like, say his underrated version of The Three Musketeers. Retribution lacks the cartoon craziness of that movie (plus the script is horrendous), but unlike Total Recall it at least goes about its digitally-enhanced carnage with a distinct attitude. Plus, as an action heroine, Milla Jovovich kicks Biel and Beckinsale's respective asses any day of the week.
Extras: It may not be a very good movie, but Total Recall does excel in the bonus features department. The copious extras begin with an extended director's cut, plus a commentary track and a Wiseman-hosted series of behind-the-scenes featurettes that can be accessed during the movie. There's also a gag reel, four featurettes and a playable demo of the latest God of War game. Retribution comes with a standard batch of deleted and extended scenes and six featurettes.
Click here to read our original review of Total Recall
Click here to see what movies the Total Recall cast might want to forget
Click here to learn how to tell the Resident Evil movies apart from the Underworld series
(Note: Resident Evil: Retrubtion will be released on Friday, December 21)
Two of the more high-profile films to premiere at the 2012 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, Arbitrage and The Words both found their way into general theatrical release in the early fall. A solid, adult-oriented legal thriller that, once upon a time, would absolutely have been funded by a major studio, Arbitrage gave Richard Gere his best role in ages as a Wall Street bigwig whose comfortable life is upended by a car accident that kills his mistress. Now, he has to try and keep his family in the dark, while also keeping the story out of the newspapers lest it affect the sale of his company. Smartly written by director Nicholas Jarecki, Arbitrage builds to a shaky third act, but the performances and the plotting are compelling enough to carry you along. One could quibble about whether Arbitrage really belonged at Sundance considering its movie-star packed cast and made-for-Hollywood plot, but there's no question that The Words had no business being there, except as a way to get two photogenic movie stars (Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana) to walk the red carpet. This laughably bad literary drama casts Cooper (who has since partially redeemed himself for this fiasco with his justly celebrated turn in Silver Linings Playbook) as a frustrated novelist who puts his name on an unpublished manuscript and goes on to achieve fame and fortune... until the original author (Jeremy Irons, in a hammy cameo) comes calling. It's an intriguing premise executed in an entirely flat and ineffective way, especially when writer/directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal try to introduce multiple layers of reality into the proceedings. There are many words to describe The Words... but none of them good.
Extras: Arbitrage comes with a commentary by Jarecki, deleted scenes (with optional director commentary) and two featurettes. The Words includes four making-of featurettes and a commentary track consisting of Cooper saying "I'm sorry" over and over again. (Okay, not really.)
Click here to read our original review of The Words
Click here to read our original coverage of Arbitrage from Sundance
Click here to see what other Sundance 2012 films made it into theaters this year
(Note: Arbitrage will be available on Friday, December 21 and The Words will be available on Monday, December 24)
Between 21 Jump Street, The Vow and Magic Mike, it was a big year for Channing Tatum. But all that attention failed to rub off on this Tatum-produced ensemble comedy, in which a group of high school friends gather for their ten-year reunion and discover the various ways that they have (and haven't) changed. I know what you're thinking... didn't American Reunion do this storyline already? Yes, but here's the big difference: 10 Years is actually good. Not great, mind you, but fairly well done for what it is. Credit has to go to the cast that Tatum helped assemble, which includes Rosario Dawson as his former flame (Tatum's real-life wife and former Step Up co-star, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, plays his current girlfriend in the movie) and Chris Pratt, Justin Long and Scott Porter as some of his old chums. (Additional comic ringers include Aubrey Plaza, Ari Graynor and Brian Geraghty.) Amongst Tatum's 2012 output, we'd rank 10 Years behind Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street, but well ahead of The Vow.
Extras: Absolutely nada, which is a shame. A commentary track with all these folks in the same room would be a blast.
Also on DVD:
Remember when the first live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie (now making its high-def debut) came out and people got all huffy about the violence? And thanks to those complaints, we got saddled with The Secret of the Ooze for the follow-up. We'll stick with Casey Jones and his hockey stick, thanks very much. A largely forgotten entry in the filmography of Stephen Frears and Woody Harrelson, the 1998 Western The Hi-Lo Country turns up on DVD for critical re-evaluation. Turning to new releases, stand-up comic Mike Birbiglia successfully turned his one man show into the funny, low-key feature film, Sleepwalk With Me. Another Sundance dud, Josh Radnor's sophomore effort as a director Liberal Arts finds him trying and resolutely failing to become the next Woody Allen. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is the third entry in the surprisingly lucrative kiddie franchise. Matthew McConaughey won raves for his performance in the William Friedkin-directed indie crime movie Killer Joe. The snowbound thriller The Frozen finds a girlfriend and boyfriend getting stranded in the wilderness and stalked by some kind of hunter whose most favorite game is... man! Best Worst Movie director Michael Stephenson profiles a trio of families specializing in the art of home-haunting in the enjoyable documentary, The American Scream. And finally, Orlando Bloom trades his elf ears for a stethoscope in The Good Doctor, playing a physician whose attraction to a patient leads him to make some questionable medical choices.
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