This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Pompeii, The Monuments Men...
This week: Lava-flowin' with Pompeii, Nazi-fightin' with Clooney, and shark-jumpin' with The Fonz.
► You can gripe about the factual inaccuracies of POMPEII all you want, but let’s face it – this shit happened in 79 AD. No one’s around to say otherwise. Director Paul W.S. Anderson goes the ‘Gladiator’ route with star Kit Harrington (‘Game of Thrones’) before the volcano erupts and things get all ‘Titanic.’ If you’re here for the carnage, it’s a tedious wait getting there, but things perk up once the lava flows. Kiefer Sutherland and Emily Browning are among the doomed.
► George Clooney’s THE MONUMENTS MEN can’t fully commit to comedy or drama, and ends up being a noble but scattered mess. It’s based on the true story of a misfit World War II platoon assembled to retrieve the priceless art the Nazis pilfered from their conquests before they’re all destroyed. A really cool footnote to the war and a rallying cry for people to stress the importance of culture in our lives – these guys risked their lives to save it, and not all of them survived. Clooney’s killer cast here includes Matt Damon (of course), Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett and Hugh Bonneville.
► The Luc Besson touch of death continues with 3 DAYS TO KILL, which he wrote and produced and adds to his decade-long list of misfires. Kevin Costner is a CIA agent dying of cancer who chooses to spend his last days bonding with his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). Until he accepts a deal to kill a weapons dealer in exchange for a drug that could extend his life. Bad enough it was dumped in theatres in February, it then got crushed by ‘The Lego Movie.’
► The original ABOUT LAST NIGHT was unfairly maligned as another Brat Pack movie when it was actually one of the decade’s best-written romantic comedies, based on a David Mamet play. The remake…not so much. Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant lead the mostly black cast through a modernized version, but apart from another stand-out performance from Hart (that dude will be batting clean-up soon), it’s a workable but unremarkable rom-com. Better than most, mind you.
► Sad to say, VAMPIRE ACADEMY is exactly what it sounds like: ‘Harry Potter’ meets ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ Based on a book series, but more based on every studio’s obsession with finding the next ‘Twilight’ or ‘Hunger Games’ series. Basically, anyone who wrote a successful fantasy book aimed at teens in the last 10 years is holding a winning lottery ticket, because they’ll make a movie out of every last one of them until something clicks. This one bombed, so don’t expect the next one in the six-part series soon.
► Considering its popularity in North America, you might assume ‘Downton Abbey’ is the biggest thing on British TV. You would be wrong – the period drama CALL THE MIDWIFE regularly beats it in the ratings, and it’s only a matter of time before it scores big over here. Set in east London during the 1950s, it follows a group of nuns and midwives coping with their miserable conditions in the Poplar district, where people can’t stop popping out kids. Season 3 finds the ladies dealing with a polio outbreak, more infighting, and the move to a new convent. Eight episodes plus the Christmas special.
► HAPPY DAYS had reached its zenith by Season 5 (1977/78), which could only mean one thing: Time to jump the shark. Literally. This is the friggin’ season Fonz water skis over a shark, giving birth to the phrase which indicates a once great show has started the downward spiral. It was certainly the case here, as the plots got further away from the ‘American Graffiti’-inspired charm of those early episodes (this is the season Richie meets the alien Mork, who would get a spin-off show the next year). On the plus side, this is also the season Chachi and Leather Tuscadaro are introduced. Fans have been waiting ridiculously long for this – Season 4 came out six years ago.
► And that’s a wrap on The CW’s NIKITA after four seasons of decent intrigue and Maggie Q’s killer legs. The final season, just six episodes, has Nikita going rogue after she was framed for the U.S. president’s murder. Old friends (and baddies) return for the big finish against former Division head Amanda (Melinda Clarke). The show never took off in the U.S. (the highest it ever got in the ratings was #135) but built a pretty good following in France and the UK.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!