Mark Wahlberg brings maximum pain to DVD this week in the critically-punished Max Payne, although new horror titles Saw V and Repo! The Genetic Opera didn’t fare much better on the Tomatometer. DVD shoppers will also find intriguing options in the kid adventure City of Ember, William H. Macy’s Hollywood satire The Deal, a tenth-anniversary Powerpuff Girls box set, and Peter Jackson’s King Kong on Blu-ray!
Mark Wahlberg takes it to the streets in this adaptation of Rockstar Games’ third person shooter game, a cop on the hunt for those responsible for his family’s murder and bent on finding out who’s been putting a hallucinogenic drug on the market. Could they be one and the same? Director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines, The Omen) did himself no favors with Max Payne‘s over-stylized, yet dull direction; perhaps his biggest mistake was casting pint-sized actress Mila Kunis as a deadly femme fatale. The Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray include both the theatrical and an unrated cut, plus an animated graphic novel, filmmaker commentary, and an hour-long production featurette that dives into the making of Max Payne — in other words, more special features than you probably want.
Watch a clip from the making-of featurette below.
Next: Saw V
At this point in the extremely popular Saw movie franchise, even diehard fans must recognize one fact; the torture-porn adventures of Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his minions are getting worse by each passing sequel. Saw V, out this week, is the worst-reviewed Saw film at 15 percent on the Tomatometer. (The first Saw, at 46 percent, remains the best of the bunch.) But if you’re inclined to pick up Saw V regardless, you’ll probably delight in the Unrated Director’s Cut; skip the lackluster commentary tracks by first time director David Hackl and the film’s four producers and go straight to the featurettes on the real stars of Saw V: the pendulum trap, the coffin trap, and the cube trap. Enjoy, sicko.
Next: Darren Bousman’s Repo! The Genetic Opera
If you were wondering whatever happened to Saw II, III and IV director Darren Lynn Bousman, here’s your answer: Repo! The Genetic Opera. Based on a play by Darren Smith and Terence Zdunich, the goth rock opera follows the saga of a teenager named Shiloh (Alexa Vega) who discovers her connections to a famous opera singer (Sarah Brightman), a shady corporation that finances — and repossesses — organ transplants, and even the head Repo Man of said company, who may or may not be her own father (Anthony Stewart Head). Lionsgate unceremoniously dumped Repo! into limited release last November; support Bousman and writer/co-star Zdunich by giving Repo! a go on DVD.
Next: City of Ember
As the subterranean denizens of the City of Ember fall under threat of permanent darkness — and, accordingly, death — two kids, Lina (Saoirse Ronan) and Doon (Harry Treadaway) must race against the clock to decipher age-old clues hidden within the city. In adapting Jeanne Duprau’s novel of the same name, director Gil Kenan (Monster House) delivers smart entertainment for family audiences (and doesn’t pander to kids, like many preteen flicks) but has trouble crafting exciting action sequences and navigating plot holes. Sadly, no additional City of Ember bonus features accompany the disc.
Next: The Express
As far as inspirational sports movies go, you could do much worse than The Express. Based on the true story of Ernie Davis, the first black athlete to win football’s Heisman Trophy, this period flick set in the 1950s and ’60s delivers a solid, touching tale — and a standout performance by Dennis Quaid as Syracuse University coach Ben Schwartzalder. A comprehensive bonus menu includes filmmaker commentary, making-of featurettes, and a look at the real-life legacy of Ernie Davis, who died tragically just before his NFL debut.
Despite boasting a stellar voice cast (John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Eddie Izzard, Molly Shannon), Igor came and went as one of the more forgettable animated films of 2008. Its premise was intriguing — a lowly scientists’ assistant named Igor (Cusack) realizes his dream of becoming a mad scientist himself — but, as many animated movies tend to do, failed to find balance between kid-pleasing animation and adult-engaging wit. Instead, you get an oddly dark adventure with quips that miss the mark. A few bonus features and commentary also come with the feature.
Next: The Deal
The excellent William H. Macy scripted and stars in The Deal, one of those inside-Hollywood indies that come of impassioned and/or struggling filmmakers (see The TV Set, The Player). Based on Peter Lefcourt’s novel of the same name, the satire follows suicidal film producer Charlie Berns (Macy) who takes one last stab at movie making by turning a sober biopic of Englishman Benjamin Disraeli into a Mid East actioner, filmed in South Africa. LL Cool J plays Berns’ star, a Jewish African-American rapper-turned-actor who gets kidnapped during filming; Meg Ryan shows up as a film exec who gets conned into Berns’ bed. .
Next: Moonlight The Complete Series
Since 2008 was the year of the vampire, why not add another romance-tinged vamp property to your Netflix queue? While it didn’t quite find the success of Twilight or HBO’s Golden Globe-winning series, True Blood, the CBS show Moonlight had a full season run before being cancelled last year. (Okay, reviews were pretty bad, but who doesn’t need more vampire romance in their life?)
Moonlight‘s first and only season introduces the viewer to Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin), a vampire/private eye ethically opposed to killing innocent humans. His love life is complicated by an attraction to human Beth Turner (Sophia Myles, playing an “internet reporter”) and his vampire ex-wife, Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon). Get all 16 episodes on four discs (but no additional extra features).
Next: Powerpuff Girls Complete Set
Celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the Powerpuff Girls (AKA Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles) with a six-disc set containing all episodes from Craig McCracken’s super popular series. The trio of kindergarten superheroines have been fighting evil in the cutest ways possible since 1998, and Warner Home Video is celebrating by releasing this uber-set, which comes with a documentary about McCracken, music videos, and audio commentaries. Cartoon Network is also celebrating with a Powerpuff Girls marathon today, capped by an all new episode entitled “Powerpuff Girls Rule!!!”
Next: King Kong Comes to Blu-ray!
Peter Jackson’s 2005 fantasy remake King Kong has taken its sweet time getting to Blu-ray, but the wait’s been worth it. For fans of the theatrical cut and even those who already own it on DVD, watching this gorgeous CGI spectacle again on Blu-ray might just be like watching it for the first time. Both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film are included, as well as the extremely detailed extended cut commentary track with Jackson and writer Phillippa Boyens, Picture-in-Picture cast and crew interviews, breathtaking concept art and more.