Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DVD Roundup - 10/4

Fast Five (2011) - Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, The Rock, Jordana Brewster
After breaking Dom (Diesel) out of prison, Brian (Walker) and Mia (Brewster) head to Brazil where they take a job stealing from a local cartel leader while being chased by a hardcore government agent (The Rock). The key to Fast Five and the rest of the films in this series, essentially, is to get busy livin' or get busy dyin'. Nothing that happens in this film could ever happen in real life. If you acknowledge that going in and you'll find this to be an insanely fun action film; try to bring realism to the table and you'll be wasting two hours of your life. I'm a fan of this series as a whole and this is the best of the bunch. Incredible tongue-in-cheek fun.

In Home Viewing Recommendation: Fast Five is one of the best ridiculous action films of the last few years but make no mistake: it is completely and totally ridiculous. Know what to expect before you buy or rent.

Scream 4 (2011) - Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette
Ten years after the latest round of Ghostface killings, Sidney (Campbell) returns home on a book tour just in time for a repeat of the horrible crimes that wrecked her teenage years. I have to hand it to Wes Craven and the rest of the people behind Scream 4: if you're going to make a sequel to a film ten years after it was last relevant, this is the way to do it. The original cast was brought back, some fresh new faces were added, and more critics than I would have thought provided decent reviews. I'm still not sure that this was completely necessary but it made a stink-load of money so you can bet Scream 5 will make its way to theaters shortly.

IHVR: Fans of horror movies or late twentysomethings (like me) who want to relive their own teenage years could probably do worse than this.

Buck (2011) - Buck Brannaman, Robert Redford
A documentary that examines the methods of the real-life horse whisperer Buck Brannaman. Buck received very positive reviews (88% on Rotten Tomatoes) but didn't find much of an audience (as documentaries are prone to doing). I'm not a fan of horse movies but you could probably talk me into watching this.

IHVR: A lot of documentaries find their way to Netflix Instant so I wouldn't spend any extra money to see Buck but it could be worth a look.

Friday Night Lights: The Complete Series (2006-2011) - Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Taylor Kitsch
I'm only about half-way through the Friday Night Lights series and I feel like I failed myself, my family, and my country by not watching it while it was on the air. This coming-of-age football show might very well be the best network drama of the decade (and quite possibly more than that). The characters are magnificent and it really bums me out that I wasn't smart enough to buy in from the beginning. I'm going to go lash myself with a belt now.

IHVR: All five seasons of FNL are on Netflix Instant so you can (and should) catch up there but the extras and special content could make this worth purchasing regardless.

Boy Meets World: Season 7 (2000) - Ben Savage, Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong
There's no question that I talk about Boy Meets World more than anyone in the world who was not actively involved in the series' production but I can't help it. I loved BMW when I was a kid and I love it still so deal with it. Also, there is no question that Mr. Feeney (William Daniels) is the greatest teacher character in the history of American television. BOOM.

IHVR: Yes, this final season is ridiculous and a classic example of when the actor's in a kid's show get too old for their target market but as a whole, BMW holds up surprisingly well.

Lie to Me: Season 3 (2011) - Tim Roth, Kelly Williams, Brendan Hines
If you never watched Lie to Me while it was still on the air at Fox, that's okay, because neither did anyone else. It only made it through three seasons because it was on during the summer/replacement show and really, does anyone even care about those ratings? It's a crime procedural that features a facial and body language expert (Roth) who "reads people" in order to solve FBI cases. I agree with you, it's a dumb premise or at least something that should be reserved for Friday nights on CBS. What makes LTM a worthwhile endeavor is Roth who is just awesome in everything he does, this being no exception. I watched the first two seasons pretty much only because of Roth and I was never disappointed.

IHVR: I probably wouldn't spend my money to buy or rent this season but the first two seasons are on Netflix Instant and if this go-round winds up on that service as well, it's worth a look.

New to Blu Pick of the Week
The Lion King (1994) - Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones
It almost seems a little weird that my Pick of the Week is a film that just spent two weeks dominating the box office but that's the way of re-releases. My second favorite Disney film of all-time, The Lion King is a modern classic aided by an outstanding soundtrack. There are approximately 27 different editions of this film hitting shelves today but I'll probably just stick with the standard Disney Blu-Ray-DVD Combo Pack. Can't wait to see this film again.

Pulp Fiction (1994) - John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman
I'm of the INCREDIBLY unpopular opinion that Pulp Fiction is a bit overrated. It's good; very good, even. But it would not make my "Pantheon of Great films" were I to create such a list. Now, this must be noted under two conditions: 1. I'm biased against Pulp Fiction because it often comes up in conversation as a potential "best movie ever" while I vehemently argue that this title unquestionably belongs to The Shawshank Redemption. 2. I'm biased against Pulp Fiction because I hate John Travolta with the passion of almost any genocidal dictator and I refuse to accept a film that features him to be considered anything above the level of "good." I'm nothing if not ruled by exceptionally opinionated and stubborn.

Jackie Brown (1997) - Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Bridget Fonda
Would be my pick for "worst Tarantino film." That is all.

Space Jam (1996) - Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny
Is Space Jam a good movie? No. But is it a fun movie? Well...sort of. Truth be told, Space Jam is pretty lame and pointless but as a basketball junkie, I have a soft spot in my heart that won't allow me to throw this film down at the bottom of the list in the "Also New" category.

The Walking Dead: Season 1 (2010) - Andrew Lincoln, John Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies
There are exactly three zombie-related pieces of pop culture that attract my interest: Zombieland, the book World War Z, and The Walking Dead. Simply put, this is just good television. How great, you ask? I watched this series in standard definition (because AMC doesn't have an HD channel on my cable package), something I have taken a harsh stance against since HD came into my life a couple of years ago. The second season will debut shortly and this is a great chance to catch up.

Almost Famous: The Bootleg Cut (2000) - Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup
The only reason I didn't pick Almost Famous as my Pick of the Week is that it technically came out on Blu-Ray at the beginning of the year as a Best Buy exclusive. In my mind, this is a criminally under-seen and under-appreciated film that definitely holds a place on my top 10 list and should be considered the greatest rock movie of all time. It is perfect. It's also one of the rare films that is actually better as a director's cut than a theatrical cut. If you haven't seen this film then I hate you. Okay, that was too harsh. How about, please go see this film now.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) - Johnny Depp, Charlie Highmore, Helena Bonham Carter
Like most of you, I accept that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is the superior film in the battle of chocolate factories. But setting aside for the moment the supremacy of Gene Wilder, Charlie is quirky, fun, and well put together. It is, of course, super Tim Burton-y but for me, that works in this film whereas it fails in others (The Corpse Bride).

Also New
Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) - Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Dailey (Blu Ray)
Life is Beautiful (1997) - Roberto Benigni (Blu Ray)
The Cider House Rules (1999) - Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, Michael Caine (Blu Ray)
African Cats (2011) - Samuel L. Jackson
Submarine (2010) - Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins
The League: Season 2 (2010) - Mark Duplass, Nick Kroll
In Treatment: Season 3 (2010) - Gabriel Bryne
Bored to Death: Season 2 (2010) - Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis, Ted Danson


  1. Okay, I just have to ask. What's the point of a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack? When we buy one, we give the DVD to someone. Surely that can't be what most people do. So what's the point?

  2. In my mind the point is to ween people off of DVD and onto Blu Ray. There are lots of people who might not have a BR player now or might have one BR player and multiple DVD players but who don't want to buy a dying technology. I'm actually a big fan of the combo packs not because I use the DVD but because the more people that embrace BR, the better in terms of getting more older movies released on Blu-Ray.


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