This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: The Hobbit, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables ...
This week: Back to Middle Earth with The Hobbit, Oscar runners-up Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty, and the painful hilarity of This is 40.
► There was pretty much zero chance THE HOBBIT could ever live up to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, for the simple fact the source material isn’t anywhere near as epic or emotional. How do you go back to Middle Earth after all we’ve been through? Peter Jackson tries, and if you can put the inevitable comparisons aside, it’s another fun, visually potent trip to a world we all know and love. The adventure this time follows a young Bilbo (Martin Freeman) as he joins a group of misplaced dwarves seeking to reclaim their mountainous home from a gold-greedy dragon named Smaug. Along the way, they confront trolls, orcs and goblins. Best of all is Gollum, who loses a prized piece of jewelry to Bilbo. With lowered expectations, seeing Gandalf, Elrond and (very briefly) Frodo again will give you the warm and fuzzies. But as always, expect a longer director’s cut Blu-ray down the road.
► A superior movie in every way to her Oscar-winning ‘The Hurt Locker,’ Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY was given a raw deal at this year’s Oscars. In time, though, this will be remembered as one of the great post 9/11 movies for its stark realism and flawless final 30 minutes, when we’re holding our breath as a Navy Seal team raids Osama Bin Laden’s compound in the dead of night. There’s no music or cheap effects, just the real-time dread of getting in and getting out before everything goes to hell. It may have been last year’s most riveting moment of cinema, and it’s too bad political squeamishness has become the focal point of this amazing movie. No director’s commentary on the blu-ray, unfortunately – I’d love to hear the velvet-voiced Bigelow tell her critics to get bent.
► Was it just me, or was there an over-abundance of guys admitting they wept during LES MISERABLES? It got weird after awhile. “I don’t usually cry at movies, dude, but when that Anne Hathaway started … I was bawling!” Gentlemen, it’s time to grab the Kleenex (for non-porn reasons) and find out for yourselves. Though that Oscar for Hathaway is a sign itchy eyes are imminent. This isn’t the first movie version of the epic musical, and it certainly won’t be the last. Bonus features include stars Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried discussing singing live, and a look at the barricade sequence.
► If THIS IS 40 isn’t Judd Apatow’s finest movie, it’s damn close – a warm and extremely telling movie about one generation slowly letting the next take over, and all the insecurities it entails. It’s also one of the most bang-on relationship comedies of the past decade, as Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann have their own unique midlife crisis. Along the way there’s so much to love, from Graham Parker’s surprising role to an on-going gag about the ending to ‘Lost.’ There are some directors you just follow blindly, and from that first episode of ‘Freaks and Geeks’ Apatow has never disappointed.
► Pushing ‘Bridesmaids’ to its utmost, unlikeable extreme, BACHELORETTE gathers three miserable women (Kisten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan) who destroy their friend’s wedding dress the night before she’s getting married. Received some of last year’s most vicious reviews. Produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
► Criterion’s weekly gift is a biggie: Terrence Malick’s hugely influential 1973 classic BADLANDS, a less audience-friendly ‘Bonnie & Clyde.’ Inspired by an actual killing spree in 1958, Martin Sheen stars as an outcast who kills the father of his girlfriend (Sissy Spacek) then flees into the woods and eventually across South Dakota racking up a body count. ‘Natural Born Killers’ was essentially a gonzo remake. No Malick commentary, but a new making-of documentary fills the void.
► Us Canadians have a perverse sense of pride over PORKY’S. When adjusted for inflation, it is still the most successful film this country ever produced. From the day it opened in 1982 it has been like the crude uncle we’re embarrassed to admit we like. Yes, the sequels suck, but Bob Clark’s low-brow original with its howling Kim Cattrall, Ms. Balbricker, and weenies in the shower hole was an adolescent rite of passage in the ‘80s.
► Snooki go bye bye. Finally. The sixth and final season of JERSEY SHORE is your last chance to bash the coma-inducing stupidity of these talentless meatheads and thank them - once again - for lowering the standards of television to Honey Boo Boo. It doesn’t matter what they do this last season as long as they friggin’ leave, but if you need the particulars: Snooki is pregnant, Mike comes back from rehab, Vinny ponders a threesome, and in the final episode, someone puts their balls on The Situation’s birthday cake. So long, scumbags.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!