This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: John Dies at the End, The Bible, Marvel Universe: Phase One ...
This week: John Dies at the End serves up some crazy; Marvel assembles a new boxed ... er, briefcase set; and The Killing tries making amends.
► Don Coscarelli’s gonzo spirit is the perfect match for JOHN DIES AT THE END, based on the comically creepy David Wong novel about a weird sauce which opens the mind to a Lovecraftian alternate dimension, and the two slacker buds recruited to save the world. I think. To be honest, I loved Wong’s book dearly but it was a whole lot of craziness to absorb. While Coscarelli’s movie includes a lot of the highlights (meat monster!), fans will gripe about what was left out, and there’s lots. The opening scene makes no sense without further elaboration, and I’m afraid the whole movie will be incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t read the book. A future cult classic, perhaps, but hardly the zany good time of Coscarelli’s ‘Bubba Ho-Tep.’
► So after watching ‘The Ten Commandments,’ Mark Burnett – producer of ‘Survivor’ – got all inspired by God and stuff to make the ten-part mini-series THE BIBLE for The History Channel. I’d have rather seen him make Jeff Probst part the sea during a water challenge, but the ratings for this have been stellar, even with Satan played by a drop-dead Obama lookalike. Not buying the excuses … you’re telling me no one during filming didn’t at least once say “Hey, that dude looks like the president!” Alas, Jesus does not find a hidden immunity idol in this version – he still gets crucified.
► You may have all the Phase I Marvel blu-rays, but do you have the glowing Cosmic Cube in a S.H.I.E.L.D. briefcase? No you do not, which is why you will fork over $150 to buy the same bloody movies to get said gizmo in MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE: PHASE ONE – AVENGERS ASSEMBLED. Maybe I’m getting too old for this crap, but come on … how much real estate on your shelf do you have for gimmicky stuff like this? It’s meant to be a showpiece, but for who? Your cat? If you even remotely like these movies you own them all already, so you’re buying a pretend briefcase and a cube-shaped knick knack. Some earlybirds are reporting a sneak preview of ‘Ant Man’ as well, but if you’re spending $150 for a preview of ‘Ant Man’ … we’ve already lost you.
► THE KILLING couldn’t possibly have screwed its viewers worse than how it ended Season 1. To the point I’m shocked even a fraction of them came back for Season 2, with the promise they’ll really find the killer this time. Honest. They did, but ratings dropped sharply even as critics grudgingly admitted the show got better. After AMC cancelled the show in July, it was revived in January in a deal with Netflix. Season 3 starts in May.
► Takashi Shimizu’s original ‘Ju-on’ – the made-for-TV version, not the film – single-handedly kickstarted my Japanese horror obsession about a decade ago. He has never topped it, but his freaky movies ever since have placed him among the genre’s greats. TORMENTED finds a young boy who cruelly beats a rabbit to death one day. After seeing a 3-D movie in which a stuffed rabbit floats off the screen, he’s tormented by what appears to be a ghost wearing a bunny costume. Stick with them, and Shimizu’s movies always deliver a chill or two by the end.
► HBO flick HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN tells the tale of legendary war correspondent Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman) and her romance with Ernest Hemingway (Clive Owen). While covering the Spanish Civil War, they’re both forced to share a single room after a bombing raid. Hanky panky ensues. After dumping his wife for her, Gellhorn divorced him five years later. It inspired him to write ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls.’ We all win.
► Hitler didn’t have kids (because, wow, that would suck for them), but Chanoch Ze’evi’s documentary HITLER’S CHILDREN wonders … what about the other guys? Evil Nazi bastards Hermann Goring, Heinrich Himmler and Hans Frank all had descendants, and they’ve had to live with their sordid family names. In the case of Goring’s great-niece Bettina, living in exile, she chose to get sterilized so the name (and family genes) end with her. Fascinating look at the burden of your family tree.
► Tom Hanks’ directorial debut THAT THING YOU DO! Was dismissed in theatres back in 1996, but has endured as one of the decade’s best and sweetest musicals. Musical in the sense that it’s about music – one-hit ‘60s pop band The Wonders and the bitterness which eventually tore them apart. Great performances by Liv Tyler and Steve Zahn here. It’s interesting how Johnathon Schaech’s Jimmy is branded the villain for wanting the band to get serious, but he was the one who saw rock’s future past bubblegum.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!