Out This Week: Still Alice, Mortdecai, Rawhide, Broadchurch, Batman, & More!

StillAlice

No major blockbusters this week, but some different kinds of movies and a lot of Television releases. Here’s the full breakdown:

Still Alice – I feel like the universe is back in balance again. Up until Julianne Moore won the Oscar this year for her performance in Still Alice, she had no Oscars at all. And Reese Witherspoon had one. Reese. Witherspoon. Has. An. Oscar. Let that sink in for a minute. Reese Witherspoon had an Oscar for years, and Julianne Moore — one of the greatest living actresses — did not. Thank the movie gods this role came along then. Here, Moore plays a woman dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a sobering and powerful movie, and even if I didn’t overall love the film itself, I was absolutely blown away by her performance. As always. This isn’t the kind of movie you’re going to invite friends over to watch, but it’s worth seeing just for ore’s performance.

MortdecaiMortdecai – I really, really, really wanted to love Mortdecai. I thought the trailer was funny and quirky, I like Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow (and especially Ewan McGregor), and I can really get into offbeat movies. And while Mortdecai’s heart was in the right place, the final result wasn’t equal to the sum of its parts. The film was more lightly amusing than actually funny, and while there’s nothing to really dislike, there’s nothing to really fall in love with either. It’s a fun distraction but little more than that. Too bad.

A1uvNMPSRSL._SL1500_Rawhide: The Complete Series – Is there a more iconic western show in the history of television than Rawhide? I don’t think so. Some could argue that Gunsmoke might make the cut, but even then, Rawhide is still one of the most revered and well-loved westerns of all time. While I’ve never been a huge fan of westerns in general, you can’t deny the quality of this historic series. There are a lot of things that make Rawhide work, but I think the fact the show has a very strong actor in a breakout lead role lends to its enduring popularity. Of course, Rawhide’s lead would go on to become one of the most popular actors ever, which makes watching the young Clint Eastwood so fun; it’s his presence alone that gives Rawhide the edge over Gunsmoke for me. I find Eastwood to be a magnetic actor, and his presence in this show is a huge bonus. This massive box set includes all eight seasons on a whopping 59 discs, all packaged in a gorgeous box. If you’re a fan of the show or westerns or classic Hollywood TV, check this out!

91Yz0CtdP8L._SL1500_Broadchurch 2 – I watched Broadchurch mostly because it had David Tennant (the former Doctor Who) in the starring role. By about five minutes into the first episode, I was completely hooked. By twenty minutes in, I had tears streaming from my eyes, and some seven hours later, I finally finished watching the whole saga, completely blown away. Seriously, Broadchurch is some of the best television I’ve ever seen. Dramatic, heartbreaking, intense, disturbing, well written and brilliantly acted, this show is like The Killing mixed with Twin Peaks, and it’s every bit as amazing as that sounds. Now, the second season picks up right after the first one ends, with the killer revealed in the last episode now on trial for his or her crimes. The mystery is different this time, but the she is every bit as addictive and compelling as it was last season. If you try one movie or TV show based on a blind recommendation this year, make it Broadchurch. You’ll thank me for it later.

81ieXQEhzjL._SL1500_Power: Season One – I’ve seen the adds for this urban ganglord drama series on Starz, and while I wasn’t champing at the bit to watch it, I thought I’d give it a try. And it’s not a bad show, for the most part. But I have kind of a fundamental problem with it; in the very first episode, our main character — the charismatic leader of a huge drug operation who wants to go straight while everyone else in his life pressures him not to — murders a rival gangs informant. Just shoots him in the head. For my money, that mass it kind of hard to root for the character to have a happy ending when he’s, at heart, not a good guy. Still, it is a solid drama and a compelling show, so fans of things like The Wire and The Shield will probably enjoy it quite a bit.

81pjfma9PiL._SL1500_The Cobbler – I have no idea what inspired this train wreck of a movie. Adam Sandler plays a cobbler who discovers the power to look like any of his customers by wearing their shoes. While tooling around as other people, he gets involved with criminals, greedy landowners, and more. And with a supporting cast that includes Dan Stevens (one of my favorite current actors, who’s horrible in this), Dustin Hoffman, and Steve Buscemi, the film should have been at least enjoyable. But it’s completely toothless. It’s not funny enough to be a comedy, not deep enough to be a drama. Instead, it just falls flat. Sabdler’s actually not bad in it, playing a regular guy rather than a comedic role, but the movie is just dull, limp, and lifeless.

9159EQm2ETL._SL1500_Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts – I’m not entirely sure what to make of this movie. Unlike the superb DC Universe animated ivies, this one is geared for a younger audience. And I have no problem with that, but I don’t know which Batman this is supposed to be. He looks different than any other animated incarnation; did we really need another new version of Batman in animated form? Plus, the villains in this one — The Animalitia, made up of Grodd, Man-Bat, Penhuin, Cheetah, etc. — just aren’t very interesting. But I guess I can see how kids would like it. My son was pretty engrossed by it. So that should tell you something.

91wQYnqizVL._SL1500_Tracers – Taylor Lautner and The 100‘s Marie Avgeropoulos star in this parkour action film, which isn’t as bad as it should be. It’s a pretty typical story; a rough-upbringing kid falls in with the wrong crowd, but he’s good at heart and falls for the girl. And while the dialogue and acting are nothing to write home about, it’s hard to deny that some of the many parkour action sequences are pretty damned exciting. This is far from what I’d call a great film, but if you want something that’s just mindless fun for 90 minutes, this is at least an action movie with a good amount of actual action in it. Not bad.

Also available on Blu-ray & DVD this week:

  • The Drownsman starts off a as a kind of cool horror flick about a man/creature that uses water to kill his victims; both drowning them in it and transporting them through it in a supernatural fashion. And the film is basically well-put-together, but about halfway through it turns into just a repetitive mash of girls getting transported through eater, thinking they kill the bad guy, and then him popping up again and starting all over again. I’ve seen worse slasher flicks, but I’ve seen better, too, and I was hoping for more.
  • Speaking of hoping for more, I love the concept of These Final Hours, an Australian end-of-the-world flick about a man who gets sidetracked from his mission to find his girlfriend before the literal end of the world (only 12 hours away thanks to an impending meteor) when he ends up helping a 12-year-old girl find her father. Unfortunately, the film is more drama than thriller — not that that’s a bad thing per se, but not what I was hoping or — but more importantly, it’s a little on the slow side. I did love the ending, though.
  • Though it only lasted two seasons, The Colbys is still a fondly remembered spin-off of Dynasty by that show’s fans. The Colbys: The Complete Series collects both seasons in their entirety into a 12-disc box set that brings us all the backstabbing, betrothing, and big hair you can handle. And with a cast that includes Charlton Heston, John James, Katharine Ross, Emma Samms, Maxwell Caulfield, Tracy Scoggins, Ricardo Montalban, and Barbara Stanwyck, it’s hard to not want to go back and immerse yourself in this soapily-fun world once again. File under: guilty pleasure.
  • With segments that include Elvis Presley and The Beatles, The Best of the Ed Sullivan Show is a pretty awesome 6-disc set that showcases some of the most famous and popular people ever to grace Sullivan’s stage. This set collects several themed episode discs, which include: Unforgettable Performances, 50th Anniversary Special, The All-Star Comedy Special, World s Greatest Novelty Acts, Amazing Animal Acts, and Bonus Interviews.
  • Mister Ed: The Final Season wraps up the show’s run on DVD for those folks who don’t have the huge Complete Series box set. I watched Mister Ed on occasion in reruns when I was a kid (’50s and ’60s TV shows were big in reruns back in the ’80s), but only occasionally. I liked the show, but it wasn’t a favorite of mine. What’s interesting to me is how the show actually holds up surprisingly well. It’s a different style of humor from what we expect out of today’s sitcoms, but I’d be lying if some of the corny jokes and more innocent stylings of humor didn’t make me laugh as I was watching the show. This is a fun show that will spark off some strong nostalgia for adults who are kids of all ages.
  • Okay, let me get this out of the way first: I like Unforgettable. It’s a perfectly fine show. BUT. This is a show we’ve seen a million times before. It’s a melange of a number of other procedurals that have been on TV for the past ten years. There are bits of Castle, The Mentalist, Without a Trace, SVU, Numb3rs, Monk, and many others thrown into the mix. If you like these kinds of procedural shows, you will enjoy Unforgettable: Season Three, without a doubt. There’s just nothing original about it at all.
  • I love disaster flicks more than any human should, but I’m getting tired of these super-low-budget ones. The problem is that they just aren’t very good. At least with the big budget ones you can get past the bad acting and poor writing by reveling in the awesome special effects. Movies like Icetastrophe offer nothing like that. And with no known actors in the cast, there’s just not much to keep your interest here.
  • Hot on the heels of the recently released complete series sets of StingrayCaptain Scarlet and The Mysterons, and Fireball XL5, we now get Supercar: The Complete Series. This one is just like most Gerry Anderson shows in that it’s all about super agents with a super special vehicle. Here we have a flying car, basically, and it’s filled with Anderson’s patented Supermarionette techniques and all the cheesy goodness you can handle. If you’re not already a fan, these episodes can be kind of hard to watch, but for those who love Anderson’s style of television, this full-series collection is all a fan can ask for.
  • The eight-disc set of Science Fiction Theatre presents the entire series of the cult sci-fi anthology show that ran from 1955 to 1957. I had never seen (or even heard of) this show before, but I had fun going back and watching it. It’s not at the same level as something like The Twilight Zone, but you can see some similarities in there. Pus, with a bunch of recognizable faces gust starring such as Vincent Price, DeForest Kelley, Barbara Hale, Gene Barry, Edmund Gwenn, Beverly Garland, Basil Rathbone, and June Lockhart, it’s a fun show to go back and experience for the first time.
  • Okay, so the seventies isn’t exactly my favorite era of music. In fact, it’s probably my least favorite. But even I have to admit that Midnight Special is chock full of awesome! This new DVD set includes more music than you can shake a record player at, and the collection of talent here is astounding. And while there are some lesser-know artists in here, you’d be surprised how many of the artists in this set have stood the test of time. This really is a must have for fans of any music, but especially music from the ’70s.
  • There are reality shows about everything, so why not fish tank guys? Tanked: Season 2 follows two partners as they travel around the country creating the most elaborate and exotic aquarium set-ups anywhere to be seen. And while I don’t generally go for reality fare, it is pretty interesting to watch what types of crazy stuff people want to have in their houses or offices. For fans of HGTV fare as much as Animal Planet shows.
  • As a Transformers fan from my own childhood, Rescue Bots: Roll to the Rescue doesn’t really do a whole lot for me. It’s simple, kid-friendly animation that plays out a lot like Batman: The Brave and the Bold or Marvel Superhero Squad Show, only with Transformers instead of superheroes. And instead of fighting evil, these Rescue Bots do things like put out fires and stop floods. So far, so boring. But my kids like it a lot so Transformers Rescue Bots: Return Of The Heroes was a welcome DVD in my house. My guess is it will be in yours, too.
  • I don’t watch a lot of anime, and shows like Slam Dunk: Season 1, Vol. 1 are a good example of why. If you look at the cover art and read the description of this animated series from Japan, it sounds like it could be kind of a cool high school drama in animated form. Instead, it’s the same kind of over-the-top silliness, ridiculous characters, and stupid situations I’ve come to expect from “comedy” anime. I had a really hard time sitting through this, but maybe anime fans will like it better.
  • After last year’s Magic School Bus: The Complete Series collected the entire series into one massive box set, Scholastic has now started releasing single-season sets of the show, which is great for parents on a budget who can’t swing a big box set. This latest release, The Magic School Bus: Season 2 features more episodes that all focus on learning. The Magic School Bus is a fun and educational kids series that is hand-drawn and still has a nice mid-90s feel to it. And who can complain about that?
  • Digimon Tamers: Volume 2 is the latest collection of not-Pokemon(?) cartoons for kids who like that kind of thing, of which there seem to be many. I watch these shows and I can’t make heads or tails of it, but the ids do sure seem to love ’em/ Continue your or your kids’ collections with this latest volume.
  • Just in time for Jurassic World, why not have a kids-themed, Dove Seal approved, Hallmark movie style take on it? Well, if that’s what you’re looking for, Dinosaur Island is just what you need. More Land of the Lost than Jurassic Park, this is clearly aimed squarely at the really young set. It’s pretty terrible for adults, but kids will enjoy it. Maybe.
  • 20th Century Fox brings us a new Strawberry Shortcake DVD release this month, Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Best in Show. Like the last fully-CGI Strawberry Shortcake release, this one is as wholesome as they come, concerned mostly with themes of friendship, helping, caring, and the like, as well as… well, dogs. It’s a perfectly decent little show that little girls should enjoy; I know mine sure did. There’s music, bright colors, and a positive vibe that flows through the whole program, so there’s not much for parents to complain about.