This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Riddick, Carrie, You're Next ...
This week: Carrie and Riddick make awkward returns; You're Next is a horror keeper; and Oprah Nation takes The Butler to the bank.
► The long-awaited and quickly discarded RIDDICK shows why movie hyperbole can be so tiresome. For years, we supposedly wanted a Riddick movie that didn’t drop a deuce like ‘The Chronicles of Riddick.’ We wanted a return to the ‘Pitch Black’ universe. We wanted Vin Diesel back in the role that made him a star. So this virtual remake of ‘Pitch Black’ comes out and…no one gave a shit. Like, at all. So how much did we really want it? Diesel does his thing again, but it’s less fun and certainly more cheesy than last time. At least there’s closure.
► Between ‘Kick-Ass 2’ and the CARRIE remake, Chloe Grace Moretz must have figured 2013 would be her break-out year. It’ll have to wait. Both were duds, but this new version of the Stephen King classic was the bigger disappointment. For the same reason most every remake of an iconic ‘70s movie fails – because visionary directors like Brian DePalma weren’t beholden to CGI and generic scripts. DePalma’s film has a weird vibe that still makes it watchable nearly 40 years later. New ‘Carrie’ smooths the edges and sticks to basics, making it a lifeless – albeit faithful – version of the book. It is the definition of needless remake. But King stuff like ‘It’ and ‘The Stand?’ Those need remakes.
► It’s not like Adam Wingard’s YOU’RE NEXT did anything particularly new or groundbreaking. It just did it with more competence than most horror films, boasting a tense (and often funny) script to get scares out of familiar surroundings. A family gathers for a reunion at a remote estate. Guys in animal masks with crossbows start picking them off. Lots of screaming and bleeding ensues, but the fun is in the details here. It all has an early John Carpenter vibe. Wingard and writer Simon Barrett are worth keeping tabs on.
► It’s not ‘The Butler,’ folks, it’s LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER. Now before you assume it’s an ego out of control, it seems The Weinstein Company had to slap Daniels’ name above the title (at 75% the size of The Butler) because Warner already owned a short film by that name. With that bullshit out of the way, this is the movie that came out of nowhere over the summer to rack up $161 million worldwide, based on the true story of a former cotton plantation worker (Forest Whitaker) eventually hired to work as a butler in the White House during the Eisenhower administration. I’m guessing half that box office came from Oprah Winfrey playing his wife. Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden and Liev Schrieber play the various presidents during his tenure.
► One of the most beloved movies of 2013, Ryan Coogler’s FRUITVALE STATION depicts the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan in a star-making performance), a 22-year-old university grad who was shot and killed by Bay Area Rapid Transit police on New Year’s Day, 2009. It follows Grant’s day leading up to the shooting, and his resolve to turn his life around in the new year. Won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance last year. This one will leave you a mess.
► Amy Poehler and Adam Scott clearly can't get enough of each other. The 'Parks and Recreation' couple are it again in A.D.O.D. (Adult Children Of Divorce), in which Scott plays a man who unwittingly took part in a study about children of divorce years ago, and is sought for a follow-up study as an adult. When his divorced parents are reunited for his brother's wedding, things go off the rails quick. Script is co-written by 'The Daily Show's Ben Karlin. Richard Jenkins, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and the all-encompassing Jane Lynch co-star.
► In ENOUGH SAID, his second last movie, James Gandolfini starts dating divorced masseuse Julia Louis-Dreyfus after meeting at a party. Unbeknownst to him, she later befriends his ex-wife (Catherine Keener) and hears her complain about her former husband. Nicole Holofcener’s little rom-com made plenty of Ten Best of the Year lists, and earned Gandolfini some post-mortem nominations.
► The documentary 20 FEET FROM STARDOM finally gives the spotlight to the back-up singers - and in some cases, lead vocalists – on some of the greatest records ever made. Singers like Darlene Love, only now getting the recognition denied for decades as Phil Spector’s background girl, and Merry Clayton, whose incredible vocals on ‘Gimme Shelter’ made it a classic but never led to solo success for her.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!