This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: The Great Gatsby, The Walking Dead, Pain & Gain ...
This week: Getting a grip on this new Gatsby, The Rock gets pumped for Pain & Gain, and some backlash against The Walking Dead backlash:
► How do you adapt possibly the greatest book ever written in 2013? With 3D and Lana Del Ray on the soundtrack, of course. What worked wonderfully for Baz Lurhmann with ‘Moulin Rouge’ feels tacky and over-the-top with THE GREAT GATSBY, though there’s a sad truth behind it all – would anyone have cared about this movie without all the flaire? Would it have an opening weekend of $51 million? Doubtful, but I’d have loved to see this cast -Leo DiCaprio, Isla Fisher, Carey Mulligan – in a version that got to the humanity in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book rather than another facefull of Luhrmann’s opulence.
► Even during its (by far) best season, THE WALKING DEAD couldn’t win. Not fast enough. Not enough Daryl. The Governor ain’t like the comic, wah, wah … for God’s sake, we have a cinema-quality show about zombies that more often than not delivers the goods every week, and it’s the object of more scorn and bitching than anything else on TV. Season 3 brought the long-awaited prison locale, and no sooner did Rick and Co. get the iconic story underway than every single detail was nitpicked by an eternally unsatisfied fanbase. Dear internet: You really suck sometimes. Season 3 had Michonne. It had the return of Merle. It had David Morrissey giving us a different but equally disturbed Governor. It had the gutwrenching death of a major character. It rocked, but apparently this show will never be good enough.
► Michael Bay puts the robots away for PAIN & GAIN, and got some of the best reviews of his career. Based on a true story published in the Miami New Times, it follows a group of roided-up gym trainers (Mark Whalberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie) who kidnap a rich gym member (Tony Shalhoub) who survives their attempt to kill him after they get his money. The violence gets grotesque after awhile – this one earns that R rating.
► Jax deals with the burden of leadership in Season 5 of SONS OF ANARCHY, and it doesn’t get worse than having to choose which member of SamCrow has to die while in prison to atone for Tig’s screw-up last season. The ensuing gut punch is one of the series’ best episodes, but extremely tough to watch for longtime fans. Even better is the season-long chess match between Jax and mobster Pope (Harold Perrineau). Not so good – Clay feels like baggage this season without the gavel, and Tara is making her bid for dumbest character on TV.
► Back in the early ‘80s, Larry Cohen’s Q: THE WINGED SERPENT was one of the first movies to find its audience on VHS (it made a whopping $255,000 at the box office), spawning a shitload of horror/sci-fi movies with home video in mind. Unlike most of those, ‘Q’ was actually well-made cheese, with David Carradine and Richard Roundtree hunting an Aztec dragon resurrected in New York. The stop motion effects are fun to revisit and that Boris Vallejo cover is still gorgeous.
► CBS, like most everyone, loves BBC’s ‘Sherlock.’ They wanted to adapt it into a U.S. version, and when they couldn’t get permission, they just did it anyway. Public domain characters rock! ELEMENTARY is the inferior result, with Jonny Lee Miller as a modern day Holmes and Lucy Liu as his sidekick Watson, not only helping him solve crimes in New York but keeping him off the junk. Season 2 starts Sept. 26.
► Long before it was a dismal Mel Brooks movie, TO BE OR NOT TO BE was a comic milestone for Jack Benny and the final screen appearance by Carole Lombard, who died in a plane crash two months before its release. They play husband-and-wife in a Polish theatre company during the Nazi occupation. They eventually get caught in a convoluted plot to escape to England. Maligned upon its release (America had just entered the war), it has gained prestige over the years. The Criterion blu-ray includes commentary by film historian David Kalat.
► For all the buzz it somehow still gets, GREY’S ANATOMY is hardly a ratings champ – it finished 26th last season, a long ways from Season 2 when it was #5. But you know what ABC cares about? Actual revenues, and in that category it was the fifth highest money-making show at $2.75 million per half hour. It’s still a juggernaut and isn’t going away soon. Season 9 explores the aftermath of the plane crash which killed Lexie Grey (re: the reason your girlfriend was sobbing in the other room).
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!