This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: The Wolverine, The Smurfs 2, Mortal Instruments …

This week: The redemption of Wolverine, a second serving of Smurfs, and maybe the greatest tearjerker ever turns 30.

► It was a given THE WOLVERINE would be better than the first solo outing – it would take the likes of Friedberg and Seltzer to make a worse movie. What’s surprising is how different this felt from the usual superhero fare, a fairly adult story about a guy who just happens to have superhuman healing powers. In fact, Wolvie – played by Hugh Jackman for the sixth time (cameos included) – wants rid of his powers for the most part, making this almost an anti-superhero movie. This is the closest Jackman has come to nailing the character, drawing a lot from Frank Miller’s ninja-themed mini-series from the ‘80s. Things don’t get all comic booky until the end when he throws down with the Silver Samurai, but until then this passes as a solid drama. The unrated blu-ray takes things further with stronger language and blood. A satisfying flick in every way.

► Confession time – I’ve never given a crap about The Smurfs, I don’t have a kid to run this stuff by, and not even the combined might of Neil Patrick Harris and Katy Perry will convince me to watch two seconds of THE SMURFS 2. It doesn’t help that Sofia Vergara’s scenes were cut, likely because too many Smurfs were distracted. So here you go, kids – go torment your parents by putting this on a continuous loop. At least The Smurfs 3 isn’t such a sure thing after this underwhelmed in theatres.

► Look, you can’t just declare yourself the next ‘Twilight’ franchise. You have to go out and earn that distinction by being a special breed of shitty. THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES is the latest pretender to the throne, and seemed to have all the necessities: Based on young adult novels, bland cast, emo overload, etc. Audiences weren’t biting. This didn’t even make what a ‘Twilight’ movie pulls in on opening weekend. Next?

► Season 16 of THE SIMPSONS brings us to 2004, kicking off with a Treehouse of Horror which spoofs ‘The Dead Zone’ and ‘Fantastic Voyage’ before the usual hit and miss of the next 20 episodes. The highlights are typically great, though, including ‘Midnight RX’ with Homer and his dad smuggling prescription drugs from Canada, and ‘There’s Something About Marrying,’ with Homer becoming a minister after Springfield legalizes gay marriage (this is the one Patty comes out of the closet). A middling season by Simpsons standards, but still plenty to like.

► Of all the desperate rip-offs of ‘Alien’ that spawned in the early ‘80s, few were as obvious or bad as SATURN 3. But 12-year-old me didn’t care because you got a millisecond glimpse of Farrah Fawcett’s boob, which in those pre-internet days was like finding a $100 bill on the ground. Unfortunately you also got Harvey Keitel fighting a nude Kirk Douglas, and a robot villain so lame even Johnny Five laughs at him. God bless Shout! Factory for dusting off the ‘80s, but this cheese hasn’t improved after 33 years.

► It has been 30 years and I still cannot get through TERMS OF ENDEARMENT without losing it. I’m impervious to most tearjerkers (unless they involve a dog … damn you, ‘Marley & Me’), but James L. Brooks’ classic has an effect that renders me a soggy mess by the end. Some of it has to do with cancer, and seeing it at a particularly sensitive time, but most of it has to do with the brilliant writing and one of the greatest casts of the ‘80s. Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine deservedly won Oscars, Debra Winger was never better, and that ‘goodbye’ scene in the hospital is still devastating. Damn, I wish Brooks still made movies like this.

► You’ll laugh, then cry, then kinda laugh again. That’s THE HANGOVER TRILOGY for you, a threesome that hits nearly every high and low before wrapping on a somewhat redemptive note. Redemptive because ‘Hangover II’ is one of the more miserable comedies of the past 10 years, a bizarro version of the classic original that felt like it was punishing us for liking it. Director Todd Phillips righted the ship for the third, but fans felt too burned to care by this point and it was a non-event this summer. Too bad, because it brings the funny back and gives comical closure to the Wolf Pack. Includes a documentary on all three films.

► In DRINKING BUDDIES, Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson are co-workers at craft brewery in Chicago who want to bone each other, despite being off the market – he’s with Anna Kendrick, she’s with Ron Livingston. Clearly the only thing to do is get everyone together and add alcohol. An under-the-radar little comedy from director Joe Swanberg, who made one of the segments in the first ‘V/H/S’ movie.

Also out this week:






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