It’s another light slate of releases this week, with a just few titles of any kind out, noteworthy or otherwise. Here’s the full breakdown:
Home – Dreamworks Animation’s big hit of the year so far is a charming, funny fish-out-of-water sci-fi comedy. The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons plays Oh, a bungling but good-hearted alien whose race has taken over Earth (benevolently, though.) And even with Rihanna playing the other lead role (and after seeing Battleship, I think we can all agree that she should never act again), the film works and it works well. My kids loved it, I enjoyed it, and it’s the kind of movie that stands up to repeat viewings. It’s not the best of the best, but it’s definitely worth watching.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters – This latest premiere movie from the DC Comics Animated Universe is a neat new twist on the superheroes we know and love. Basically an “Elseworlds” type of story, we see Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman from an alternate world, and things are as different as can be. As with most DC animated films, at some point this one just devolves into a huge blow-out battle that never seems to end. That said, though, it’s fun super-hero action and it’s even more fun to see these alternate versions of heroes we know and love.
The Water Diviner – Russell Crowe directs and stars in this film about a widower who sets out to find the bodies of his three sons who died in combat in the Battle of Gallipolli during World War I. Based on a true story, the film is probably best classified as a drama, but there are moments of action, humor, and romance as well. Crowe is a deft hand behind the camera, capturing excellent performances and also presenting gorgeous cinematography. I don’t know why this film didn’t get a wider release, but I really enjoyed it. It’s nice to be reminded that Russell Crowe can be a great actor when he wants to be, and now we know he can be a pretty good director, too.
Helix: Season 2 – SyFy’s latest hit show didn’t land with nearly as much buzz as some of their more high-profile outings of late, but I really dig Helix. A virus-gone-wild-in-arctic-research-station show in Season 1, Season 2 moves the show to a new locale and introduces new characters to help the survivors of Season 1’s outbreak. The show is much more serious and dark fare than much of SyFy’s output, but with the always-excellent Billy Campbell leading a cast of unknowns, this viral horror series packs a punch. What I like about this show is that every time you wonder how they’re going to keep the show going (can’t they just find a cure already?) they come up with a new way to keep it interesting. This is one worth checking out.
Also available on Blu-ray & DVD this week:
- Comet – This charming and unique romance stars Justin Long and Emmy Rossum. The story of a romance between a guy and a girl, the film unfolds over six years but jumps back in forth in time periods (and maybe parallel universes?) Visually sumptuous and with charm to spare, Comet is perfect for fans of its clear inspiration, 500 Days of Summer. This one is worth seeking out; it’s not your traditional romance.
- White God – This fascinating and moving Hungarian fantasy drama is unlike anything I’ve seen before. What begins as the tale of a girl and her dog who are separated and try to find each other turns into an allegory on race and co-existence and culminate sin a dog uprising. Yes, you read that right, a dog uprising. Even though it’s in Hungarian, the lead actress is terrific, as is the lead dog, believe it or not. Not for everyone, but an interesting film for people who like this kind of fare.
- Ghost Town – Another cult classic horror film from Shout Factory’s Scream Factory imprint, Ghost Town is a rare find in the horror world: a western horror film. Okay, it’s not a true western, seeing as how it takes place in present day (well, 1980s present day), but set in a ghost town and featuring ghosts of inhabitants of the wild west, the Western influences are clear to see. It’s not a great film, but it’s a fun cheesy horror flick.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXXIII – This latest collection brings us four new riffed-upon movies: Daddy-O, Earth Vs. The Spider, Teen-Age Crime Wave, and Agent For H.A.R.M. As always, there really isn’t anything here that you won’t find on many other MST3K releases out there, although I do like these box sets over the single movie releases. You get four movies, copious extras, and plenty of laughs. Hard to argue with that.
- 3 Hearts – Charlotte Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve star in this romantic drama that reminds me of a Shakespearean tragedy. In it, we follow two people who meet and fall in love in one night, and then are swept up in life and miss out on a second meeting. When the man unknowingly ends up marrying the woman’s sister… well, you can imagine that there’s some melodrama to follow. Punctuated by terrific performances, this isn’t necessarily my kind of movie, but it’s well-made and fans of the genre will enjoy it.
- Mama’s Family: Mama’s Favories, Season Six – I don’t know how much demand there is for Mama’s Family on DVD, but the studio seems to think there’s a lot. Despite the fact that Season Six is already available as an affordable season set, now we have Mama’s Favorites: Season Six, which is like a best-of collection for the season. I don’t quite get it, but if you want to own some of the show and not all of it, now’s your chance.
- Life on the Reef – This excellent documentary spends a year (boiled down to an hour-long program) on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. We get to see everything from sharks to turtles to people, and the footage is amazing. Even better, the special itself is interesting from start to finish. With amazing wildlife, beautiful imagery, and an engaging narrative, this is a worthwhile documentary for nature fans and ocean lovers alike.
- Ancient Roads From Christ to Constantine – If you’re in the mood for a six-hour journey through the beginnings of Christianity, have I got the DVD for you. Now, I will say that this is really geared more for people who have an interest in the subject matter, but I was thoroughly impressed with the level of detail that went into it. This isn’t just a cursory glance at Christianity; it delves deep into its roots and really gets to the stories you probably didn’t know about. A worthwhile purchase for people interested in the history of Christianity.
- The Homefront – This moving documentary looks at a different side of the war on terror: the lives of the families of the people in the military. We see what it’s like to have a home life as a soldier, and what those families go through when a soldier is deployed. Filled with intimate character portraits and emotional moments, this is a more human look at an issue that affects us all.