Are you ready for the return of Jason Voorhees (Marcus Nispel’s rebooted Friday the 13th)? What about the latest adventures of Tyler Perry’s most popular protagonist (Madea Goes to Jail) or the latest unnecessary direct-to-DVD sequel (The Cell 2)? If you’re willing to go outside the mainstream, we’ve found a few rewarding titles (the Certified Fresh Cherry Blossoms, the documentary biopic Scott Walker: 30 Century Man), while a wealth of cinematic enjoyment awaits those with Blu-ray players (Criterion’s The Seventh Seal, Ghostbusters‘ 25th Anniversary Edition, and Lost Seasons 1 & 2). Read on to see what else is hitting shelves this week!
Former Fulbright scholar and music video veteran Marcus Nispel has had a rough go with the critics, thanks to his 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (36%) and his even lesser acclaimed follow-up, Pathfinder (11%). Unfortunately for him, rebooting the classic slasher flick Friday the 13th did not reverse the trend. (Will his just-announced adaptation of Conan do the trick?) While the scribes actually gave Nispel kudos for directing with technical proficiency, the 12th time around for the Friday the 13th series relies too heavily on its predecessors, making for a fine-enough but unimpressive rehashing of familiar themes, plotting, and scares. Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, and Amanda Righetti star as Camp Crystal Lake’s newest pretty young things, with Derek Mears as a leaner, meaner, new kind of Jason; “slashed” scenes and a featurette accompany the “Killer Cut” DVD, while many more franchise-spanning featurettes and a
trivia track pop up on Blu-ray.
Below, watch an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from Friday the 13th on DVD and Blu-ray!
Next: Tyler Perry’s back with more Madea
Tyler Perry is back with yet another Madea vehicle, in which the cross-dressing writer/director/producer/star dons a dress and wig as the embattled titular matriarch. As with Perry’s previous Madea outings (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion, Meet the Browns), critics were largely underwhelmed by Perry’s idiosyncratic and broad comedy, which here is mixed with melodrama in a tale that finds Madea in jail for anger management issues. (Spoiler alert: hilarity AND life lessons ensue!) Which brings us to our new revelation: with their nutty premises and sprawling casts of colorful characters (which here include performances by Derek Luke, Viola Davis, and Keisha Knight-Pulliam), are the Madea flicks turning into the “Ernest Goes to…” movies?
Next: Steve Coogan’s What Goes Up falls way, way down the Tomatometer
Sadly, the old catch phrase rings true: “What goes up, must come down.” As in, way down on the Tomatometer. This 1980s-set indie serio-comedy from newbie director Jonathan Glatzer follows a morally corrupt reporter (Steve Coogan) on the hunt for a story in a small New Hampshire town, where he ingratiates himself into a community of high schoolers (including Josh Peck, Olivia Thirlby as a pregnant teen, and Hilary Duff as a teenage tramp). Unfocused, morose, and a tad bit tacky, What Goes Up isn’t earning much support from critics; we recommend skipping it and looking for another quirky indie dramedy with at least double digits on the Tomatometer.
Next: Rock stars pay tribute in Scott Walker: 30 Century Man
Reclusive musician Scott Walker (one third of the pop group The Walker Brothers) became a cult figure of sorts within the musical community after going solo in the ’60s, influencing many musicians who would go on to greater fame; in 2006, those celebrity fans returned the favor by honoring Walker in this festival-favorite documentary. Watch as the likes of David Bowie, Radiohead, Sting, Alison Goldfrapp, and Brian Eno pay homage to Walker’s career; deleted scenes, additional interview footage, and a director commentary also appear on the release, making the most of amazing access to the infamously private artist.
Next: Like Up, only in German and set in Japan!
An older married couple plans one last trip to Japan to visit their grown son in this beautifully romantic chamber piece from German director Doris Dörrie. Cherry Blossoms won over critics with its lyrical tale of mortality and love, though noted an irksome overload of sentimentality; then again, when a film is compared to the fine, subtle works of Ozu (specifically, his 1953 film Tokyo Story), it’s no doubt an uphill battle. If Pixar’s similarly-themed Up brought you to tears, give Cherry Blossoms a go on DVD.
Next: Teenage Christina Ricci as a sinister Little Red Riding Hood
What if Little Red Riding Hood wasn’t the innocent little girl of fairytale lore? This deviation on the classic tale about a girl and a predatory wolf asks just that question, with none other than a then-16-year-old Christina Ricci — pre-Ice Storm, shortly after her Addams Family and Casper days — in the titular role. The Oregonian’s Shawn Levy called it “sly” and “disturbing,” adding that Ricci made for an “unsettlingly erotic Riding Hood,” which moves it to the top of our must-watch queue. Originally released in 1997, this black-and-white short comes to DVD headlining a collection of short films by director David Kaplan and includes commentary tracks by Kaplan and folklore scholar Jack Zipes.
Next: The Cell 2, the most unnecessary sequel of the week
Most people might think of Tarsem‘s visually stunning 2000 film The Cell and think, now here’s a film that cannot be mimicked. Television producer and first time feature director Tim Iacofano disagreed. The result: The Cell 2, a direct-to-DVD affair that claims to be a sequel of sorts, but is more like a low-budget remake that has virtually nothing to do with the first film. Like J. Lo in The Cell, Tessie Santiago stars as a woman who invades the mind of a killer only to become trapped herself; sadly, this “sequel” doesn’t even come close to evoking the lush and imaginative world of its predecessor, merely an attempt to cash in on the fan following of Tarsem’s superior film.
Next: Criterion releases The Seventh Seal on Blu-ray!
An ill-fated knight (Max von Sydow) challenges Death to a game of chess in Ingmar Bergman‘s celebrated classic 1957 classic, which arrives on Blu-ray this week courtesy of Criterion. Previous issues of The Seventh Seal in the high def format have presented stellar picture quality, but in true Criterion fashion, this release offers the best special features menu: an introduction by Bergman filmed for Swedish television, commentary tracks and notes from film scholars, a Bergman retrospective, Woody Allen on Bergman, audio interviews with von Sydow, a commemorative booklet, and the feature-length 2006 documentary Bergman Island, which Criterion is also releasing separately.
Next: Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters… on Blu-ray!
Ivan Reitman‘s modern classic comedy about a ragtag group of parapsychologists (Bill Murray, co-writers Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis) who open a “ghost busting” service in New York City hits Blu-ray just in time to celebrate its 25th anniversary. With a decent visual presentation (call me crazy, but I sometimes miss the fuzziness of VHS), Ghostbusters on Blu-ray is a must-own for fans, primarily for the incredible wealth of bonus features included here; from features on the Ecto-1 to cast and crew interviews to special effects featurettes, every aspect of the production is recounted in detail by the filmmakers, who also provide an in-depth commentary track. Stars like Sigourney Weaver return with anecdotes from filming (Weaver took the part for a change of pace after playing the tough Ripley in Alien), while storyboards and scene comparisons offer a layered glimpse into the making of selected scenes.
Next: Can Blu-ray unlock the secrets of the island in Lost Season 1 & 2?
There’s no doubt about it: Lost is highly addictive television. Whether you lost track after the first few seasons or have every current episode obsessively Tivo’ed, if you’re a Lostie with a Blu-ray player these seasons are must-have items for the simple thrill of watching a dilating pupil, invisible smoke monsters, or even just the lush Hawaiian landscape that serves as a backdrop in high definition. This is a show that looks incredible on Blu-ray; Michael Giacchino’s terrifying, ominous score will shake the very walls of your home theater. Sadly for those who own Lost on DVD, The 7-disc sets include the same comprehensive bonus materials as their previous DVD counterparts, but if you’ve upgraded your home system to Blu-ray, you won’t go wrong upgrading your Lost collection as well.
Until next week, happy renting!