A monster horror movie box set AND a blockbuster comedy? You know it’s going to be a good week. Here’s what’s available on disc this week:
Halloween: The Complete Collection Limited Deluxe Edition –
Quite possibly my favorite box set ever. This massive deluxe 15-disc collection (also available in a standard 10-disc edition) not only includes EVERY Halloween movie ever all in one place for the first time, but it also includes a number of bonus films. You get the extended television editions of Halloween and Halloween II (the originals), the unrated editions of Rob Zombie’s remakes (even though I don’t like them, it’s good to see them included as part of the complete set), and — most exciting — the infamous never-before-available Producer’s Cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, which changes the film significantly from the version that was released and is considered by many to be one of the weakest films in the franchise. On top of that, you get a 40-page book, amazing artwork in all-black Blu-ray cases, and even a new cover illustration by the master poster artist himself, Drew Struzan. Honestly, as a huge fan of the Halloween franchise, this box set is pretty much a dream come true.
Even though I still find Seth Rogen pretty annoying, I enjoyed Neighbors quite a bit. It’s far from a great movie, but it made me laugh pretty consistently throughout it. The star of the show is actually Rose Byrne, who I’m a huge fan of anyway, but she really gets to cut loose here. Zac Efron and Dave Franco are both terrific as well as the main frat boys, and The Mindy Project‘s Ike Barenholtz also comes close to stealing the show. My biggest complaint about the movie is that it needed a good editing. There are bits that go on way too long, and the excessive swearing between Rogen and Byrne actually takes away from some of their funnier scenes. Still, I laughed and had a pretty good time with the movie, so it’s worth checking out.
Guy Pearce is typically excellent and intense in The Rover, a taut action/drama/suspense film that takes place in Australia ten years after the collapse of the world’s economy. But the real revelation here is Robert Pattinson, who plays a half-wit with a southern drawl and a bad haircut. His entire body transforms to inhabit the role, and he will absolutely blow you away. He’s literally unrecognizable; it’s one of those performances that can only be described as transformative. If you’ve formed your opinion of Pattinson’s acting abilities solely from the Twilight movies, The Rover will absolutely make you rethink him completely. I was completely enthralled every time he was on screen. Oh yeah, and the movie itself is pretty damned good.
There is a really good movie buried somewhere in The Signal, but it just couldn’t make its way to the surface. The story of a couple of hacker kids who follow a mysterious signal and end up in a government experimental facility, the film borrows heavily from movies like Dark City. But the pacing is slow, the film gets weird, and the ending that’s supposed to be breathtaking is more like head scratching. The film is shot amazingly well with grogeous cinematography, and there is a key action sequence towards the end that is pretty spectacular, but the film just never gets where it wants to go. It might be worth a watch, as I’m sure some people will love it, but I wanted to like it more.
I’m glad to see Key & Peele grow to become something of a comedy juggernaut. Using the Jimmy Fallon strategy of really utilizing viral media to its fullest, this is a show that is funniest in small doses, but that’s not a criticism. I discovered almost all of their best sketches online, but now you have the chance to go back and see some of their less noteworthy ones, many of which are still very funny. With the entire third season collected into one nice set (and on Blu-ray no less!), this is a definite must-have for comedy fans!
The 100 is one of my favorite new genre shows of last season. While not a huge hit for the CW, it earned enough buzz to bring it back for another season. It’s a great mash-up of The Lord of the Flies, Battlestar Galactica, and After Earth, set in the distant future where Earth is potentially uninhabitable. 100 under-18 “criminal” kids are sent to the Earth’s surface to see if it’s a viable place to sustain what remains of humanity. The show has a few moments of suspect dialogue and acting, but overall it’s quite solid. And the show takes some chances. There’s a shocking moment in the first episode, but if what happens at the end of the third episode doesn’t take you completely by surprise and have you hooked, you’re watching something different than I am. Really fun stuff.
This SyFy hit is a cool mash-up of other great science fiction shows, like Deep Space Nine, Alien Nation, and Babylon 5, and it’s really found its footing as it’s on. Taking place in Earth’s future, the show focuses on the town of Defiance, where humans and several other alien species try to co-exist peacefully, only successful some of the time. The show is heavy on make-up, special effects, and common sci-fi themes, but it’s all overshadowed by good characters and great actors. Grant Bowler and Julie Benz (arguably the leads in what is an ensemble cast) are two of my favorite TV actors, and it’s great to see them at the helm of this cool show. This is a science fiction show that REALLY feels like science fiction, which is a rarity these days. If you miss some of the best sci-fi that was on in the ’90s, then check this show out for sure.
Also available this week on Blu-ray and DVD:
- I’m not huge into anime, as in I don’t regularly follow it, but I do like watching it sometimes. Ghost in the Shell: 25th Anniversary Edition celebrates what is probably one of the most popular and famous anime franchises in the world. The animation here is breathtaking (what else would you expect from Ghost In The Shell?), and the action is always tense, plus the whole film looks beautiful in high definition.
- Susan Sarandon stars in The Calling, a tense, enjoyable little thriller that feels kind of like Fargo is the humor was removed and a vicious killer was inserted. I mean that as a compliment; Sarandon is terrific as a small-won police office, and the central storyline is compelling stuff. Worth tracking down.
- Firestorm is a new action film starring Asian superstar Andy Lau. The film is kind of like Heat on steroids, but it’s a pretty good ride throughout. The ending action sequence is pretty spectacular, and there are some good character moments and solid acting throughout. A nice find for action movie fans.
- Starring Elizabeth Olsen and Dakota Fanning, Very Good Girls is a simple drama about two girls who fall for the same guy. What makes the film enjoyable are the terrific performance by Olsen and the stellar supporting cast, which includes Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Barkin, Clark Gregg, and Demi Moore. The film isn’t complex, but for this kind of drama, it’s one of the better ones I’ve seen recently.
- Created by Grey’s Anatomy’s Shonda Rhimes, Scandal: Season Three takes the interpersonal dynamics and romances of Grey’s and transplants them to mystery and politic-filled Washington DC. The show features all of Rhimes’ trademarks: strong female characters, sharp dialogue, and compelling story lines. It’s also a little bit bat$#!& crazy, and that’s a good thing. Seriously, this is a show that revels in soap opera drama to the nth degree, and it clearly decided early on that no storyline or plot twist was too crazy to make it to the screen. Every week it’s secrets, scandals, political machinations, infidelity, intrigue, and more plot twists than you can count. It’s also a pretty good amount of fun.
- I really wanted to love Nashville: Season Two, because I love Connie Britton and Hayden Panattiere. Every time I see an ad for the show, I’m struck by the fact that I’m not watching a show with these two talented and beautiful women in the lead roles. Unfortunately, the show just doesn’t do it for me. It’s pure soap opera material, just set in the Nashville country music scene. I gave it a good number of episodes, too, but I just could never get that interested in the characters or their story arcs. Shame.
- The CW’s hit period romance show Reign: Season 1 comes to DVD just before season two launches on the network. The show is driven by its three young, attractive, and talented leads, plus the hint of supernatural that pops up occasionally gives it a bit of mystery. I’m not sure how well the show will play outside of its target audience of teenage girls, but it seems to be doing well for the network.
- The massively popular anime/manga sensation hits Blu-ray and DVD with Attack on Titan, Part 2. If you haven’t heard of this incredibly massive franchise by now, you will soon. Now you can continue watching the mayhem with this two-disc set that collects the next batch of episodes in the hit series. I think the show is very original and lots of fun, so I’m enjoying entering this world.
- The Criterion Collection releases a new Blu-ray edition of Roman Polanski’s Macbeth. As always the film features restored and remastered sound and picture, as well as copious bonus features. I’ve never been a Shakespeare fan, but this is something of a classic.
- Setting the standards that the next three decades of law shows would have to live up to, one of TV’s most popular legal dramas returns to DVD with LA Law: Season Three. Before LA Law, most legal shows were more Perry Mason than anything with any real character or heart to it. (Nothing against Perry Mason, by the way; I’m a fan.) LA Law was the first major show to explore the messy personal lives of a firm’s lawyers, and make the characters as interesting as the cases. If you’re a fan of The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Public, Franklin & Bash, Eli Stone, Drop Dead Diva, or any of the other dozens of law shows that have aired since the 90s, you owe a debt of gratitude to LA Law.
- For those times when you’re in search of a polish-drama about a young girl facing an existential and identity crisis right before becoming a nun, Ida is the film you’re looking for. All kidding aside, Pawel Pawlikowski’s moving drama is a gorgeously-shot, emotional experience that will impress viewers who like foreign films.
- What do you do when you’re in fifth grade and you find out your older brother is a serial killer? Dark horror film Found tackles that question, and the answer will shock some people and thrill others. Either way, you’ll have an opinion on this film.
- Despite a horribly bad title, WER succeeds as a low budget werewolf film, largely due to Criminal Minds’ AJ Cook in the lead role. I like the idea of combining a legal thriller with a scientific new look at an old legend, and the result is a pretty solid little film.
- State Trooper: The Complete Series marks the first time the 1950s TV series’ three seasons have been collected in one set. Starring Rod Cameron, Robert Armstrong, and Don Haggerty, the show also boasts guest stars like Michael Landon, Craig Stevens, Denver Pyle, Claude Akins, Lee Van Cleef, Richard Farnsworth and Deforest Kelley and many others. Dated, but a great collection for those who remember the show fondly.
- A sci-fi/Asian action mash-up with echoes of Cube in it, Game of Assassins stars the unlikely cast of Dustin Nguyen (21 Jump Street), Bai Ling, and Jude Ciccolella (24), among others. The film is a pretty cool little thriller in which a group of outsiders find themselves trapped in what they think is an underground incinerator, nay to find themselves tested as they try to make their way out.
- From documentary filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, who crafted the nine-hour holocaust film Shoah, The Last of the Unjust is a film about Benjamin Murmelstein, the last President of the Jewish Council in the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia, the only Elder of the Jews not to have been killed during World War II. Like most of Lanzmann’s films, this one pulls no punches but is extremely insightful and deep.
- Rise Up Black Man is an effective (if a bit overlong) drama about two young African-American men trying to determine what paths they’ll take in life after college. With ruminations on religion, friendship, relationships, and money, the film has something to offer beyond simple melodrama.
- My Name Is A By Anonymous is based on the horrific true crime of a fifteen-year old girl who murdered her 9-year old neighbor in 2009. The film tells the story slowly, and rather than gong for cheap thrills, tries to make real people out of the characters, even if not all of the people are ones you’re going to like. When the film is over, you’ll be moved and disturbed. And not necessarily in that order.
- More well known in its native UK than in the US, Postman Pat is a British stop-motion animated series that’s been around for over 30 years. Now, he finally gets a movie in Postman Pat: The Movie. Aimed squarely at the pre-school set, this fun adventure is bright, colorful, and enjoyable. The little ones will like it and the parents won’t hate it, like Barney. And that’s a win for any parent of a pre-schooler.
- Kathleen Quinlan stars in After, a drama set in upstate New York (!) that is reminiscent of Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm. At turns emotionally charged and subtly understated, the film is a drama through and through, but it’s a well-made one.
- Guess How Much I love You: Autumn’s Here is the next release of the Little Nutbrown Hare cartoon, based on the popular children’s book series. I’m a huge fan of the original Guess How Much I Love You book, and these adventures are fun and charming for kids.
- Law & Order SVU: The Fifteenth Year
- Mama’s Family: Season 5