This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Pacific Rim, The Heat, Maniac ...
This week: Two of summer's biggies with Pacific Rim and The Heat; a miserable Maniac remake; and goodbye to The Clone Wars:
► It was never a question whether PACIFIC RIM would deliver spectacle. It was whether director Guillermo Del Toro could put some humanity and genuine drama into the proceedings, setting this apart from so many empty summer blockbusters. He didn’t quite get there – the dialogue and acting was more cornball than we’ve ever seen in a Del Toro film, making this a slight (albeit spectacular looking) disappointment. So, maybe with adjusted expectations on the second go-round we can appreciate this Giant Robots vs. Giant Monsters romp like the cheesy Godzilla flicks it was inspired by. Extras include a Del Toro commentary and prologue.
► What director Paul Feig did to chick flicks with ‘Bridesmaids’ he also does to the clichéd buddy cop movie with THE HEAT. And in both cases, a supremely funny Melissa McCarthy is his best weapon, playing a foul-mouthed tomboy cop thrown together on a case with imported FBI prude Sandra Bullock. The story, needless to say, is by the book – it’s the awesome chemistry of McCarthy and Bullock that carries every minute. Bullock will likely get her Oscar nod for ‘Gravity,’ but McCarthy deserves another one for this, she’s that good here. One of summer’s true bright spots, but seriously … is Fox even trying with that blu-ray cover?
► A terrible remake of an already terrible movie, Franck Khalfoun’s MANIAC foregoes the scuzziness of the 1980 original for an off-putting sheen, which is supposed to make the grisly kills even more shocking. No dice – the limp script combined with a laughable performance by Elijah Wood as the mannequin-obsessed psycho feels like a low-brow horror version of ‘Drive.’ The assorted scalpings, impalings and dismemberings – all seen from the murderer’s perspective – is just a cruel peepshow with no pay-off.
► Star Wars fans insist THE CLONE WARS is the only prequel that matters – an animated TV show with all the heart, action and intelligence that three movies lacked. Season 5 brings Darth Maul face-to-face with Obi-Wan (did he mention that in ‘Phantom Menace’?), the Jedi Council accuses Ahsoka of murder, and the Republic starts acting like a future Empire. Despite new episodes ready to go, this was the final season.
► VIKINGS is History Channel’s answer to ‘Game of Thrones,’ with Travis Fimmel as the Viking chieftain Ragnor who leads raids across the oceans while forces gather against him at home. Some griping about historical inaccuracies, but I’m waiting for the guy who was around in 800 AD to verify everything. This was a huge hit out of the gate and is returning for a 10-episode second season next year.
► In THE COLONY, famine, the flu and climate change has forced what’s left of humanity underground. When one outpost gets a distress call from a nearby settlement, a group led by Laurence Fishburne head out to investigate. Co-star Bill Paxton could have told him that’s always ‘game over’ in movies like this. Limp Canadian-made thriller co-starring Kevin Zegers and Charlotte Sullivan.
► Oliver Stone hasn’t helped his cause lately – it’s become second nature to dismiss him as an out-of-touch whack job who lost his way (dissing the ‘Breaking Bad’ finale pissed even more people off). Which is too bad, because OLIVER STONE’S UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is good stuff, reigning in the conspiracy theories to offer valid reasons America is in the state it’s in. The ten episodes start with World War II, delve into the Cold War and JFK (of course) and wraps up with the Age of Terror. This is pretty much the ‘Ken Burns Baseball’ of U.S. history.
► Made when John Hughes could do absolutely nothing wrong, 1985’s WEIRD SCIENCE gave spank banks around the world Kelly LeBrock as a computer-generated science experiment totally devoted to high school nerds Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith, helping them defeat bullies, become popular and even get laid. At 15, this seemed like the greatest movie ever made. It has also this scene, which my brother and I nearly pissed our pants laughing at.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!