This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Dredd, Frankenweenie, Game Change ...
► It sucks to see such a gritty, fan-pleasing action flick like DREDD fail, but who were we kidding? It’s an obscure comic character, we only see star Karl Urban from the chin down, and the terrible Stallone version from the ‘90s hangs over it like a turd-shaped cloud. All that aside, it’s an effective, hyper violent throwback to the original comic, with Urban and a psychic sidekick sealed inside a massive housing complex by a scarfaced drug lord (Lena Headey), with 100 floors of scumbags looking to take them out. Dark and extremely bloody (ever seen a woman’s face splat against the pavement in slo-mo?), it’s worth seeing what everyone skipped in theatres.
► Tim Burton took some knocks in 2012, but none of them were for FRANKENWEENIE, his stop motion homage not just to ‘Frankenstein,’ but his own ‘Nightmare Before Christmas.’ This is the Burton of 20 years ago before everything got too Johnny Deppy. Based on his own short film from 1984, it’s really the consummate Burton movie – an outsider loses his beloved dog, then brings him back to life in his makeshift lab. Put the ‘Ice Age’ crap away and make your kids watch this – it’ll stick with them a lot longer.
► The greatest performance of 2012? I’m giving the nod to Julianne Moore in GAME CHANGE, truly astounding as Sarah Palin in this wry look at the Republican Party’s shot-in-the-dark move to win the 2008 election. At first, Palin’s charm and family values make them look brilliant. Then she starts to talk. If anything, this HBO movie earns Palin some sympathy – she seemed like a decent woman put in an impossible position. This was a real life ‘Pygmalion.’ Great support as well from Ed Harris as John McCain.
► Other than a check to cash between Hunger Games movies, why would Jennifer Lawrence bother with HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET? Its tedious story and hollow thrills must have been obvious in the script, so what gives? Along with her mom (Elizabeth Shue), she moves into a neighborhood where a murder took place next door years ago (the yawns are starting already), and the killer’s brother still lives there. Cue same movie you’ve seen a dozen times.
► Hope you really liked Season 1 of the great EPISODES, because if you want Season 2 … you’re getting it again. Filed under ‘What the Fuh …?,” Showtime has opted to package the second season with the first, which is great if you didn’t already buy it. A kick in the sack if you did. Either way, this is one of the best comedy shows on TV no one talks about with Matt LeBlanc playing himself as a pampered asshole ruining the Americanized version of a hit British sitcom. To no surprise, this is a bigger hit in the UK than over here.
► Where did it go wrong for you, Kristen Bell? I thought you would tear it up after ‘Veronica Mars,’ instead you’re making stuff like HIT & RUN. Stuff that would be the back-end of a drive-in double feature back in the day. You should be making movies with Damon and Pitt by now, not … uh, Tom Arnold and Dax Sheppard (who also wrote it). Bradley Cooper also stars, though you’d never know it from the Blu-ray cover.
► ARCHER is rarely mentioned among the funniest shows on TV – or even among the best animated shows on TV – but it holds its own thanks to the brilliant voice work by H. Jon Benjamin as self-obsessed spy Sterling Archer and some of the quickest one-liners this side of ‘Arrested Development.’ Season 3 finds our hero captured by pirates, face-to-face with Burt Reynolds, and once again in trouble because of his sex life.
► Before heading to that big oil field in the sky, Larry Hagman had one more brilliant run at one of TV’s most iconic characters, JR Ewing. Hagman is so good in the return of DALLAS, he makes the rest of the cast optional. Nice as it is to see Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy back, Hagman is clearly the only reason to watch. And his death is sadly the reason to stop watching – ‘Dallas’ without JR is pointless.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!