This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Paranormal Activity 4, Downton Abbey, Hotel Transylvania ...
This week: Paranormal Activity wears out its welcome; Hotel Transylvania is your new babysitter; and the scheming continues at Downtown Abbey.
► There were warning signs with the third one, but with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 the franchise has hit the wall. The same scares, the same set-ups, the exact same flow in all four movies. Worse, this one feels like a useless chapter in the overall story – filler until something (presumably) happens in the fifth movie. It picks up a few years after the second outing, with another suburban family wondering about their weird new neighbors - demon-possessed Katie and her little runt. There’s a twist, though it makes little sense since the ‘found footage’ style is limited in telling us what the hell is going on. Even fans of the series (and I loved the first two) can’t help but notice how stale it’s getting. So what do they do? Promise a spin-off movie in an after-credits scene. So much for being different.
► Get used to HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA being the next big animated franchise. A sequel has already been announced for 2015, and this thing could probably go on forever. Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) runs a resort where monsters can get away from their human oppressors. When a wayward traveler (Andy Samberg) checks in for the night, Drac must keep him away from the other guests. By the numbers kiddie flick, but some of the cameos are cool (hey, there’s the octopus from ‘It Came From Beneath the Sea’).
► The gang at DOWNTON ABBEY are picking up the pieces after World War 1, but the world is changing on them in Season 3. Less money plus more family drama, with a little Shirley MacLaine thrown in to drive Maggie Smith nuts. Oh, and Mr. Bates is still in jail for murder, but with a last name like that we should have seen it coming. If you’re into British soap opera, it doesn’t get much better than this.
► It hasn’t been fun watching Frank Miller transform into a bizarre, bigoted blowhard these past few years. For solace, here’s the second half of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, the long-awaited animated version of his classic comic. It’s easy to forget how groundbreaking it was back in 1986, but the story itself – of an aging Batman brought back to save his city one last time – is timeless and masterful. And now, you finally get to see Batman and Superman throw down.
► Another DIE HARD movie coming out, another ‘Die Hard’ boxed set to accompany it. The same as the last one, except with the perfectly mediocre ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ added to confirm it’s a franchise of diminishing returns. All special features from previous releases return, but the best reason to double dip is the all new bonus disc ‘Decoding Die Hard,’ which has seven featurettes on the series’ cultural impact.
► Did any movie last year seem more obnoxiously hip and self-aware than SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS? Everything about it looked like a throwback to ‘Snatch’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’ with trailers I swore came out in 1997. Convoluted hijinx involving a screenwriter (Colin Farrell) caught up in his best friend’s dognapping scheme in which he steals dogs and collects the reward money, only this time the mutt belongs to a gangster (Woody Harrelson). Mickey Rourke was supposed to be in this, but ended up calling director Martin McDonagh a “jerk-off.” He was clearly warming up for the JoBlo Movie Podcast.
► You know why there’s another ‘Die Hard’ movie on the way? Because Bruce Willis is now making stuff no one’s heard of like THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY, which made a whopping $3.7 million in the U.S. He stars as the dad of your new Superman Henry Cavill, whose family is kidnapped while vacationing in Spain. The equally slumming Sigourney Weaver co-stars.
► $400 buys you 100 classic flicks for the BEST OF WARNER BROS. collection, including all 22 of the studio’s Best Picture winners. The list starts with 1927’s ‘The Jazz Singer’ and goes to 2010’s ‘Inception.’ It totals 55 discs, with two new documentaries on the Warner Bros. lot to go with a postcard series by artist Bill Gold and a 27” by 40” inch poster. There’s also a 50 FILM COLLECTION on Blu-ray. These studio anniversary sets are expensive oddities – most of the titles have been out for years, and it’s doubtful anyone wants every single movie listed. Besides, is anyone into one particular studio any more?
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!