Well, it’s starting to feel like Fall. We’ve got a ton more TV-on-DVD releases this week, and the Halloween-themed titles are starting to hit shelves as well! Here’s the breakdown:
Draft Day –
There’s a lot to like about this football themed movie, but it doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts. Kevin Costner is terrific as always, I like Denis Leary in it quite a bit, and, well, it’s about football. But the movie never raises above standard sports movies cliches to become something really unique or different. It’s an enjoyable enough watch, but it does make you wish there was a bit more to it. And can we please stop casting Jennifer Garner in things?
This monstrous (pardon the pun) 21-disc box set includes every Universal Monster Movie made between 1931 and 1956. It has all the classics; Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, and a lot of lesser-seen films, like The Invisible Man’s Revenge and She-Wolf of London. Available separately are themed box sets of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Wolf Man, which collect all of the films in each of those series, and a number of the films available separately on Blu-ray for the first time. This is some pretty sweet stuff!
Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler star in this send-up of romantic comedies that is also in and of itself a romantic comedy. It’s funny, charming, and smart, and also works on its own as a romantic comedy and not just a parody. Way better than crap like Date Movie, this isn’t the kind of parody that just makes jokes about other movies; rather, it takes tropes from the movies we know and love and plays them out knowingly. It’s a lot of fun, and worth seeking out.
As much as I love the classic Transformers cartoon, for my money, there will never be another Transformers show that tops Beast Machines. The second fully-CGI series, this one picks up after the so-so Beast Wars and takes the characters back to Cybertron. From thee, it’s a whirlwind two-season run of episodes that include ruminations on identity, revenge, betrayal, philosophy, and so much more. It’s easily the most intelligent Transformers show to ever grace the screen, and I am glad to see it out on DVD in a complete series set so more fans can discover how brilliant it is.
This makes the second film I’ve seen by comic book artist-turned filmmaker Kaare Andrews. The third film in the Cabin Fever series, it shares some of the issues with Andrews’s first film, Altitude. It starts off really strong, and then loses its way as it goes. Part of that is the Cabin Fever aesthetic: a reliance on an overabundance of unnecessary gore. Still, Sean Astin brings a sense of gravity to the film that’s missing from the awful second film, and its his presence that really makes the film worth watching.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a new movie based on an R.L. Stine book, but this one should have fans of the author’s excited. This family-friendly Halloween tale stars teen favorites Bella Thorne (Shake It Up!, Good Luck Charlie), Madison Pettis (Lab Rats, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3) and Ryan Ochoa (Pair of Kings) as kids who have to stop an evil ghost on Halloween night. I wouldn’t recommend it for really young ids, but for households with tweens or kids in that age range, this will make for a fun family movie night.
Also available on Blu-ray and DVD this week:
- The CW’s newest vampire-themed hit comes to disc with The Originals: Season 1, a spin-off of their other hit vampire show, The Vampire Diaries. Get caught up now before Season Two starts.
- Based on a video game of the same name, Heavenly Sword is a CGI-animated fantasy epic that stars the voices of Anna Torv, Alfred Molina and Thomas Jane. Not for kids, this is one of those movies that will probably go over better with fans of the game than casual viewers.
- Jesse Eisenberg stars with Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgard in the suspense thriller Night Moves, which has an ecological theme to it but is mostly driven by characters who might be taking their struggle against environmental damage a bit too far. Interesting stuff, with some great performances.
- Johnny Depp features heavily in the documentary For No Good Reason, which sheds light on artist Ralph Steadman, whose work is closely tied with Hunter S. Thompson. Other celebrity luminaries also weigh in, such as Terry Gilliam, Richard E. Grant, and Tim Robbins.
- Wes Craven’s classic horror movie The People Under the Stairs makes its Blu-ray debut. This is a bit of an odd movie, but it’s classic Craven horror and it’s one of his more overlooked films. Worth a revisit on Blu-ray.
- Leave The World Behind is a documentary about the electronic band Swedish House Mafia, which I assure you is way more popular then you ever realized. This music doc follows the band on their final tour, a 50-city jaunt across the world in which every show was sold out. It’s pretty fascinating stuff, regardless of how you feel about the music.
- Another year, another season of Grey’s Anatomy. This is a show that I once watched regularly, but now have relegated to DVD-only viewing. It’s not that the show is bad, it just falls slightly outside of my “cup of tea” range. I like the show quite a bit, but I just don’t have the time in my TV viewing schedule to fit it in on a weekly basis. So at the end of the day, you know what you’re getting with Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Tenth Season.
- Moms’ Night Out is a new rated-PG comedy starring Sarah Drew, Patricia Heaton, and Sean Astin. It’s meant to be a family friendly comedy, but I know that younger family members will find it all that funny. However, moms will probably really enjoy it. Be aware, however, that there is a faith-based bent to the movie, and the packaging doesn’t make that clear, so make sure that’s your kind of thing.
- Chicago Fire: Season Two is very much a typical Dick Wolf show, but I can see why it’s so popular. Compelling story lines, lots of soap opera plots, solid action sequences, an attractive cast… it’s got a little something for everyone.
- In fact, it’s so popular, there’s already a spin-off. Chicago P.D.: Season One hews even closer to Dick Wolf’s typical territory, but I do like this show, mostly because elf the cast. Jason Beghe has been a favorite character actor of mine for a while now, and it’s good to see Sophia Bush back in a hit show. Plus, Elias Koteas is always awesome, so I’m in.
- With the upcoming movie on the horizon, the time was perfect for The Best of The Equalizer to hit DVD. This is a show that lasted five seasons, but until now, only the first season has been available on DVD. I expected the show to have aged horribly, but it actually holds up rather well, with some good action scenes, great performances by Edward Woodward, and more humor than I remember. This compilation DVD collects five episodes of the series, which is a nice sampling, but doesn’t really give you enough of what made the show so good.
- Midsomer Murders, Series 10 & 11 is yet another mystery show (man, those Brits sure do like their cop shows!), this time based on a series of novels by Caroline Graham. The lead in this show is Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (played excellently by John Nettles), and while this is a police procedural, it’s a bit more Murder She Wrote than CSI, as Barnaby’s family sometimes get involved in solving crimes, and the show eschews gritty visuals for a more down-home feel. Terrific stuff!
- Two: The Story of Roman & Nyro is a moving and terrific documentary about the legendary songwriter Desmond Child (Living on a Prayer, I Hate Myself For Loving You, about a million other hits) and his partner Curtis, and their journey to have a child through a surrogate mom. It’s filled with humor, emotion, and passion, and it really is a terrific little film.
- Bonanza: The Official Seventh Season – Volumes 1 & 2 continues the release of this popular western on DVD. There have been a number of scattered episodes of this show released via independent studios over the years, but most of those collections have been quick, dirty, cheap cash-ins with no real merit to them. These two volumes collect the entire seventh season. Watch Hoss, Adam, and Little Joe help Ben Cartwright battle cattle thieves and old west injustice in all of its original glory. The show is dated, but it’s also classic. If you’re a fan, you’ll want to keep your collection going.
- Asian superstar Donnie Yen stars in 14 Blades, a remake of a 1980s action film. As with most remakes (and period action pieces), this one doesn’t feel terribly inspired. Fans of Yen’s will probably want to check it out, but that’s about it.
- John Malkovich stars in the pirate drama Crossbones: Season 1, a show with excellent production vaues, especially considering it aired on network television. Malkovich is fun as a pirate and the show is somewhat enjoyable to watch, even if it isn’t a true home run.
- The 1979 film version of Dracula makes its Blu-ray debut this week. Starring Frank Langella as Dracula and Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing, how could you NOT want to check this movie out?
- Thomas Haden Church stars in Whitewash, a noir-ish psychological thriller about a snow plow operator who accidentally kills a man, tries to cover it up, and starts to fall prey to his own mind and paranoia. A slower moving film, but an interesting one.
- Ugh. Asian horror films. They’re really not my thing anymore. Baby Blues is about a couple who’s expecting twins and only one baby survives the delivery. You can guess where things go after that. Fans of J-horror will probably like it, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
- Keeley Hawes stars in Line of Duty: Series 2, a critically acclaimed British series about a cop under investigation for corruption. Dark, intense, and well-acted, this is one to check out for sure.
- Mill Creek brings us a few new classic TV-on-DVD collections with SOAP: Seasons 1 & 2, Benson: Seasons 1 & 2, and What’s Happening!: Seasons 1 & 2. Okay, What’s Happening hasn’t really held up all that well, but SOAP is still a classic, and Benson remains one of my favorite shows from my childhood. It’s great to go back and revisit them all, especially at Mill Creek’s bargain prices.
- Out of the Clear Blue Sky is a new documentary about September 11th, but this one focuses on Cantor Fitzgerald, a huge company that lost over 600 employees on 9/11, over two-thirds of their workforce. This film focuses on the effect on their company and what happened afterwards. Interesting stuff.
- Richard Lewis: Bundle of Nerves isn’t just a stand-up special, it’s a collection of films. Containing his HBO special Magical Misery Tour, the NBC special Diary of a Young Comic, the theatrical feature Drunksand, and a a brand new documentary House of a Lifetime, this is a must-have for fans of Lewis’s.
- Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure is a fun little cartoon on PBS that my kids really enjoy. It mostly follows a family of dinosaurs (mostly Pteranodons, but with one young adopted T-Rex thrown in for good measure) in prehistoric times, with a dinosaur train that takes them all overt the land for new adventures. As with most PBS kids shows, the series mixes positive lessons about family, friends, sharing, behavior, etc. with a good dose of humor and adventure. And of course, this disc has a Halloween theme!
- Citizen Koch is a somewhat depressing and somewhat dry documentary about the Tea Party, billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, and political stuff that you have to have an interest in to really enjoy this film. Not that understanding this stuff isn’t important, but I suspect the only people who will want to watch this movie are those who understand it already.
- Available on Blu-ray or DVD, Nature: Fabulous Frogs is a terrific nature documentary from David Attenborough and his crew at the BBC. Featuring the usual amazing footage you’d expect from the filmmakers who brought us Planet Earth, this is better than you’d expect it to be.
- History Detectives: Special Investigations is out this week, featuring the usual look at historical mysteries using modern techniques. This installment explores these questions: What was behind the sinking of the SS Sultana, one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history, at the end of the American Civil War? Who was behind the Austin Servant Girl Murders of the 1880s? What led to the mysterious vanishing of big band leader Glenn Miller during World War II? Who killed Jimmy Hoffa – and why? Fascinating stuff!