This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: The Lego Movie, House of Cards ...
This week: The awesome fun of 'The Lego Movie,' 'House Cards' stacks the deck with Season 2, and Wes Anderson checks back in with The Grand Budapest Hotel.'
► We are well into June and nothing has dethroned THE LEGO MOVIE yet as the year’s biggest hit (‘Winter Soldier’ came close). Here was a summer movie which opened in February, an awesomely detailed and entertaining flick which conjured the same sort of thrill you got watching the first ‘Toy Story’ movie – you forgot animated movies could be this good and different. Chris Pratt voices the Lego construction worker tasked with leading the resistance against a terrorist who wants to superglue the Lego world into a permanent frozen state. A total blast, and oh those cameos. Lego or not, it’s cool to see Batman and Han Solo in the same scene.
► ‘Orange is the New Black’ gets all the attention and magazine covers, but HOUSE OF CARDS is really Netflix’s crown jewel – a Machiavellian look at U.S. politics which gets even darker in Season 2. That much is obvious in the first episode, which erases any doubt that new vice president Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is one ruthless bastard. Spacey brilliantly walks the line again, sort of the Vic Mackey of Washington, but it’s co-star Robin Wright as his equally venomous wife which pushes the show into greatness.
► Even if you’re left cold by Wes Anderson’s movies (raises his hand meekly), you can’t deny they are beautiful to look at. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL is another painting come to life, tripping through the years to tell the tale of a European hotel and the quirky family drama within its walls. Part mystery, part comedy, Anderson’s off-putting style long passed the notion of ‘acquired taste.’ If you haven’t acquired it by now, this isn’t the movie to start. Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Adrien Brody and Anderson’s old standby Bill Murray star.
► I come from an era where TEEN WOLF meant a wolfy Michael J. Fox kicking ass at basketball and some weird dude zipping his pants up in the background. But MTV went fishing for another ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ and came back with this – a mostly serious fantasy drama about a social outcast (Tyler Posey) adjusting to high school life after being bitten by a werewolf. Surprisingly good reviews, and ratings went on a tear in Season 3. Season 4 starts June 23.
► Criterion gives the floor this week to Peter Weir’s PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, his eerie 1975 mystery about several schoolgirls and their teacher who disappear during a class trip to the geological rock formation in 1900. Blu-ray carries over the features from Criterion’s 1998 DVD, with a new bonus on the making of the film and the 1971 Weir comedy ‘Homesdale.’ One of the enduring classics from a director who has made just four movies in 21 years.
► The extremes of Elizabeth Banks’ career could make you dizzy – for every ‘Hunger Games,’ she does a ‘Movie 43.’ This year, she voiced Lucy in ‘The Lego Movie,’ and starred in the appropriately titled WALK OF SHAME. In this misbegotten waste of her time, she stars as an aspiring news anchor who has a big job interview if she can only make it across town by 5 p.m. The problem is, she’s in a strange part of town after a night of partying with no phone, money or car. James Marsden and Gillian Jacobs co-star.
► The original ‘Joy Ride’ was a perfectly fine thriller Fox insisted on smearing with a wretched direct-to-DVD sequel. There’s even less prestige with JOY RIDE 3: ROADKILL, in which psychotic truck driver Rusty Nail messes with a bunch of street racers heading to Canada. Once again, Ted Levine, whose creepy voice was the best part of the first film, is nowhere to be heard.
► How many of us owe our love of film to the lowly VHS? Sure, the cinema is where our fondest memories lay, but back in the early ‘80s, VHS gave us something we’d never had before – choice. The documentary ADJUST YOUR TRACKING captures that glorious time when we were no longer bound by what the TV stations offered, and the culture of devoted tapeheads who still cling to the long obsolete format. Unlike vinyl, though, I can’t foresee a VHS resurgence soon. Because no one EVER said ‘This blu-ray looks nice, but it’s no videotape.’
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!