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I Want My DVD: Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Wake up, Bruce. It's time to let Die Hard die.

A Good Day to Die Hard
John McClane will apparently never die -- hard or otherwise -- but the latest and least of his adventures suggests he should. Reconceived as a father/son action picture, A Good Day to Die Hard sends New Jersey's top cop (played once again by Bruce Willis, not even pretending to give a damn anymore) off to Russia to spring his son (Jai Courtney) from jail time, only to discover that Junior is actually with the CIA and in the midst of an operation designed to spirit a political prisoner to safety in the U.S. (Although the fact that McClane repeatedly insists "I'm on vacation" during the course of the movie makes one wonder if the whole plot was rewritten in the editing room.) What follows are a series of interchangeable, explosion-heavy action sequences overseen by director and action hack extraordinaire John Moore, who excels at crafting set-pieces of maximum noise and minimum sense. Nobody is having any fun in the making of this naked cash-grab, least of all Willis, who is as visibly bored with the franchise as the audience is by this point. It's a good thing that viewers voted with their wallets and sent McClane off to an early retirement; the last thing Die Hard fans need is another sequel as bad as A Good Day....
Extras: A commentary track with Moore, seven deleted scenes, a multi-part documentary chronicling the making of this mess, additional featurettes, pre-visualizations and storyboards.
Click here to read our original review

Identity Thief
Millions of moviegoers can't be wrong. Except in the case of Identity Thief, which cleared $100 million at the box office despite being horrendous in just about every respect. Certainly, the way director Seth Gordon squanders the talents of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy is worthy of a lengthy stint in movie jail. Then again, they seem willing participants in this crime against comedy, falling back on the same ol' schtick as a straitlaced corporate type and the con artist who steals his identity respectively. To clear his good name, Bateman tracks down McCarthy (who needs to give her Bridesmaids persona a rest, like, yesterday) and the two hit the highway Midnight Run-style, with various enemies in pursuit. Casually misogynistic, relentlessly dumb and willing to take the low road at every turn, Identity Thief is 2013's answer to the equally terrible comedy hit Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Don't be surprised to see a crossover sequel any day now... one that'll make $200 million.
Extras: Alternate takes, a gag reel and three featurettes.
Click here to read our original review

Warm Bodies
If you don't mind the enormous liberties taken with the traditional depiction of the walking dead, it may be possible to enjoy the modest charms of this zombie romantic comedy, which casts Nicholas Hoult as a braineater who falls in love with an ordinary human, played by Teresa Palmer. Personally, I found the movie's tweaks to zombie lore at best silly (like zombies narrating their own lives) and at worst nonsensical (like zombies downloading human memories via their brain eating), to the point where I just couldn't take Warm Bodies seriously. The plodding pace and frequent gaps in narrative logic that crop up as the movie careens towards its unconvincing climax don't help matters. Ultimately, this felt like a great idea for a trailer... not so much a feature film.
Extras: A commentary track with the two stars and director Jonathan Levine, deleted scenes with optional commentary, a gag reel, multiple featurettes and Palmer's home movies filmed on the set.
Click here to read our original review

Mad Max Trilogy
Clint Eastwood Collection
If Mel Gibson's entire filmography was about to go up in smoke and you could only save one picture for posterity, the obvious choice would be 1982's The Road Warrior, the middle chapter in George Miller's post-apocalyptic trilogy of films centered around former cop-turned-hard travelling hero, Max Rockatansky a.k.a. Mad Max. More confident than its predecessor, 1979s' Mad Max, and less overblown than the final chapter (at least until the fourth film, Fury Road, finally gets released), 1985's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (which Miller only directed the action sequences for, while George Ogilvie worked with the actors), The Road Warrior is a lean, mean action movie machine with killer stunts, memorable villains and an (anti) hero at his most charismatic. The Road Warrior may be the jewel in the crown of this three-movie set from Warner Bros., but it's nice to have all three installments together to chart the evolution of the franchise from no-budget Aussie indie to blockbuster spectacle. Warner Bros. is also celebrating the work of another action hero this week, releasing twenty of Clint Eastwood's major and minor efforts as an actor and director in one box set. Skipping over his spaghetti western days, the set cuts right to Dirty Harry and beyond, making room for hits like Sudden Impact and Unforgiven, so-so entertainments like Firefox and Space Cowboys and outright duds like Hereafter and Trouble with the Curve. Hey, when you've had a career as long and varied as Eastwood's, you're gonna have to take the good with the bad.
Extras: The Mad Max set includes featurettes and commentary tracks on the first two films and nothing on Thunderdome (not even a Tina Turner music-only track), while the Clint Eastwood Collection comes with two feature-length documentaries about the acting/directing icon.

Also on DVD:
WWE star Randy Orton takes over from John Cena in the direct-to-DVD action sequel, 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded. An all-star cast of B-list celebrity voices (including Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara and Brendan Fraser) picked up a nice paycheck by spending a few hours in the recording booth for the kiddie cartoon, Escape From Planet Earth. Celebrity photographer Deborah Anderson interviewed a squadron of porn stars for her glossy documentary/pictorial Aroused, but doesn't so much expose and shatter stereotypes of adult film actors as reinforce them. A chess-themed variation of the spelling bee documentary Spellbound, Brooklyn Castle follows a Brooklyn public school renowned for its world-class chess team. Underappreciated upon its initial release (though the film is admittedly not without its problems), the Alec Baldwin-starring movie version of the vintage pulp hero The Shadow will hopefully be judged more kindly in its extras-light Blu-ray edition. Finally, the five-disc Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection set collects Blu-ray editions of some of the Master of Suspense's defining works, including Psycho, Rear Window and the new Greatest Movie of All Time (according to Sight & Sound), Vertigo.

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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