This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Flight, Alex Cross, Here Comes the Boom ...
► Even if it’s not one of his best, FLIGHT puts Denzel Washington in the discussion of greatest actors of all time – he’s simply amazing in a movie which wouldn’t be half as effective without him. He plays an alcoholic pilot who ends up saving 96 people during an emergency landing after his plane malfunctions. Six people still died, however, and when tests reveal there was booze in his system, he’s the target of an investigation. Director Robert Zemeckis, for his first live-action movie since ‘Cast Away,’ uncorks another horrific crash sequence early on, then lets Washington carry the entire movie with a performance that recalls Nicolas Cage in ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ – there are moments you practically beg him to put down the bottle. In a year without ‘Lincoln,’ Washington would be a lock for Best Actor later this month. Just another day at the office.
► Tired of making movies for undemanding moms, Tyler Perry wants to be an action star in ALEX CROSS. He plays a Detroit detective up against a contract killer (a freakily-ripped Matthew Fox). Based on the James Patterson books, with Perry playing the same character Morgan Freeman played in ‘Along Came a Spider’ and ‘Kiss the Girls.’ Directed by Rob Cohen, who has been in a prolonged funk since ‘The Fast and the Furious’ 12 years ago.
► What’s this, a Kevin James movie critics didn’t unanimously bash? The big lug got some long overdue love with HERE COMES THE BOOM, about a beaten-down high school teacher who fights back against budget cuts by moonlighting as an MMA fighter. No doubt, James has made some limp movies, but the dude was funny as hell on ‘The King of Queens’ and this is his best stuff since.
► If you’re keeping track, this ‘Diamond Edition’ will be the third DVD release of PETER PAN, and the first on Blu-ray. As always, hardcore Disney purists will find something to gripe about here (apparently, they’re sticklers on the absence of film grain), but there’s little doubt Disney’s restoration here is breathtaking, even if it’s not the exact same film seen in 1953. Should movies continue to look better or should they be ‘restored’ to their original appearance? Whatever … Tinkerbell is still hot.
► If COUGAR TOWN’s only reason to exist is to be Abed’s favourite show on ‘Community,’ I’m fine with that. It’s when I actually try watching it the problems start. You only really appreciate how good the writers were on ‘Friends’ when you see the dismal shows the cast have made since, and this is one of the worst (and one of the most successful, for some reason). Season 3 was the last on ABC before all this mediocrity jumped to TBS.
► By all accounts, CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER was one of the year’s gold star romantic comedies. But we’re now in an awkward era where even critically acclaimed movies with familiar stars open in just a few cities, then vanish. Rashida Jones (who also co-wrote the script) and Andy Samberg star as a married couple who decide to separate in order to remain friends. She is a success, he is not, and it isn’t long before their arrangement starts getting weird. Jones is a delight in just about everything.
► Even though ‘Law & Order’ tied GUNSMOKE as the longest-running scripted drama on TV, it never came close to its record 635 episodes. It’s going to take Paramount forever to put them all on DVD, especially if they keep dividing seasons in half like they’ve done since the second. Here’s the back half of Season 7 (17 episodes), when the show expanded to an hour and fell to #3 in the ratings after four years at #1.
► SIDE BY SIDE is a discussion on the future of film in the digital age, with your host … Keanu Reeves. Among the key topics: How do you preserve digital movies when most all of the file formats are already obsolete. Major directors join the discussion – James Cameron is pro-digital, Christopher Nolan prefers film. Other interviews include George Lucas, David Fincher, Danny Boyle and Steven Soderbergh.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!