This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: The Hangover Part III, The Purge, After Earth ...
This week: One last road trip with the Wolf Pack, the grim aftertaste of After Earth, and horror goodies galore:
► It didn’t much matter that THE HANGOVER PART III was considerably better than Part 2, the damage was done. Apparently feeling burned last time watching the exact same movie as the first, audiences stayed away … at least in North America. For some reason, all three ‘Hangover’ movies are a goldmine overseas, and this one was no different, making $112 million here but another $235 million worldwide. The concept has worn thin by now, but Part III redeems things a bit by going darker and putting even more emphasis on Ken Jeong as the psychotic Chow. The chemistry between Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis gets back to the first film’s level, so at least things end on a relatively high note. Extras include the cast’s recollections on working with kids and animals, and mock auditions to replace Galifiankis.
► Give John Carpenter a movie like THE PURGE 30 years ago, and it would likely be a classic today. As it is, this high-concept, low-execution thriller was still a surprise hit on opening weekend, but will anyone speak fondly of it in six months, much less six years? In the year 2022, the government allows everyone to go crazy for one day of the year. Murder, rape, illegal downloading …. everything’s fair game for 24 hours. Home security salesman Ethan Hawke fortifies his home, but when his dumbass daughter lets a beaten-up stranger into their home, the crazies want in.
► You’d have to be Ray Charles not to see what a disaster AFTER EARTH was headed for. Strike 1: Will Smith acting alongside his kid Jaden feels like a Major League hitter talking the coach into letting his son on the team. Strike 2. Smith’s ties to Scientology had people looking for things in the script, even if they weren’t there. Strike 3 to 11: M. Night Shayamalan. Even with Sony’s strange move to downplay Shyamalan’s name during promotion, his painful, exasperating slump continues. Add it up and you’ve got the Summer of 2013’s whipping boy.
► Still waiting for CURSE OF CHUCKY to hit theatres? Sorry, this one heads straight to Blu-ray, DVD and VOD, which isn’t a bad thing this time – director Don Mancini brings the franchise back to its somewhat nasty roots, once again making Chucky a creepy doll instead of a wise-cracking cartoon. It doesn’t ignore the previous few films, it just hits reset on tone. Fiona Dourif (Brad’s daughter) is a paraplegic who receives the doll in the mail one day. When the usual mayhem ensues, she discovers the doll is linked to her family in tragic ways. A cool cameo at the end brings the franchise full circle.
► Serial killers. Demon possession. Mad scientists. Aliens. Forest creatures. Drunken nuns. About the only thing missing from AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM was Ian McShane in a Santa suit and … wait, it had that too. Though a huge improvement over the spotty first season, this is utter overkill, as if the producers are afraid to stick with one theme for an entire year. Jessica Lange is once again the best reason to watch as an abusive nun overseeing a mental institution overrun by supernatural shenanigans. Decadent and occasionally twisted, but still not that scary.
► Of all the follow-ups Joss Whedon could have made to ‘The Avengers,’ who had a black and white Shakespeare movie in the pool? This loosey-goosey take on MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING was filmed at his home in California over 12 days, and stars Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof for one of Shakespeare’s more joyful plays (no stabbings!) about two couples – one hopelessly in love, the other with a disdain for the whole thing. Whedon didn’t just direct, produce and adapt it for the screen, he composed the score.
► Remember to laugh next time you hear a definitive version of THE EXORCIST is coming out. Three years after the director’s cut and theatrical cut made their blu-ray debuts, the 40th anniversary edition of the greatest horror film ever made includes two new (and pretty cool) features: William Peter Blatty revisiting the place he wrote the book and where key scenes of the film were shot, and footage of the priest Blatty met at Georgetown University whose exorcism of a young boy in 1949 inspired Blatty’s novel. All other commentaries and features (including the great The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist) are from previous editions. So, this is the best version of ‘The Exorcist’ you can own until the next one.
► The CW’s 90210 reboot suffered the same fate as most teen shows: Once they leave high school, everyone loses interest. College? Jobs? Responsibilities? Please, that’s what parents are for (‘Gossip Girl’ suffered the same fate). For its fifth and final season - until it’s inevitably brought back in ten years – the West Beverly brats head in different directions after graduation while dealing with cancer, babies and comas. Until next time you crazy kids.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!