This week we’ve got CG spectacles (Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), Meryl Streep letting loose (Mamma Mia!), Joss Whedon’s online superhero musical (Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog), and High Def Grinding (Death Proof and Planet Terror on Blu-ray), so dig in!
Sometimes, the third time is not the charm – even when Jet Lit is juggling magic glowing balls in the air. Critics and audiences learned that this summer when the third film in the popular Mummy franchise — adventures that were vibrant, old-fashioned action romps with tongue firmly in cheek — opened to dismal reviews and an underwhelming North American debut. But despite a 14 percent Tomatometer, The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor raked in the dough worldwide and by all accounts can be notched as a success. (At least in dollars.) And hey, it starred two of our favorite Asian movie stars, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh, in a fantastical, mythological, action spectacular, which might just be reason enough to give Mummy 3 a shot — at least, maybe as a rental.
Below, watch a DVD-only exclusive clip featuring stars Luke Ford and Michelle Yeoh from The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
Next: Meryl lets loose in Mamma Mia!
ABBA fans, you’re in for a treat! (ABBA haters, you might want to skip ahead.) The Broadway hit show featuring the songs of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Anni-Frid came to the big screen this summer and arrives on DVD this week, just in time for the holidays. Meryl Streep, who earned a Golden Globe nomination this week for Mamma Mia, stars as Donna Sheridan, a former pop singer living in Greece with her daughter, Sophie; Sophie, on the eve of her own wedding, issues invitations to three of her mother’s exes in hopes of discovering which man is her father, and hilarity, singing and dancing ensue.
Word of warning: your enjoyment, much like that of the critics, may depend largely on how much you enjoy the music of ABBA (one of my favorites, “Super Trouper,” is performed), how much you enjoy watching erstwhile serious thespian Streep jump on beds and let her hair down, and how horrified you might be at hearing former 007 Pierce Brosnan screech out a tune or two.
The 2-Disc Special Edition includes a digital copy of the film and tons of behind-the-scenes and making-of featurettes. Intrigued by newcomer star Amanda Seyfried? Watch an exclusive clip below to hear her in the recording studio and learn how she was cast as Meryl Streep’s daughter.
Next: Joss Whedon + NPH + Writer’s Strike = an Internet musical phenomenon!
It’s the winter of 2007 and the Writer’s Strike has begun; what’s a filmmaker to do? If you’re Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly), you get a few friends together and create an internet-only “supervillain musical” starring Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion in a superpowered love triangle for the Facebook generation, and call it Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog!
Dr. Horrible (played by NPH) is a mad scientist by profession who makes various kinds of ray guns (Freeze Ray, Death Ray) and aspires to join the ranks of the Evil League of Evil. Terribly shy in public, he’s got a crush on a local gal named Penny — only Penny’s being courted by Horrible’s nemesis, the shallow, ego-centric superhero Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). Angst, romance, musical numbers, video blogs and evil plots abound in this delightful tragicomedy, which debuted on iTunes and Hulu and come to DVD this week with a host of fun extras for fans; special features include “Commentary! The Musical,” a sing along musical commentary track to the sing along musical feature.
Next: Anna Faris goes centerfold in The House Bunny
Despite the best efforts of star Anna Faris, who’s quickly becoming the Lucille Ball of her generation, the femme-driven comedy The House Bunny garnered middling reviews. Much of that critical ennui came thanks to a confused grrrl power plot in which Playboy bunny Shelley (Faris) finds herself kicked out of Hef’s pad once she turns 27, then becomes house mother to a sorority full of nerdy girls who teach her to embrace her inner intelligence while she teaches them push-up bras and make-up strategy. To which this 27-year-old nerdy girl says, pfft! The answers to life’s struggles aren’t underwires and eye shadows and a soundtrack full of The Pussycat Dolls, Ashlee Simpson and Avril Levigne. The answer, obviously, is Botox. (Duh.)
The House Bunny on DVD includes features entitled “House Bunny Style” and “Getting Ready for a Party,” a bit on the film’s “nice guy,” Colin Hanks, deleted scenes, and the music video for co-star and former American Idol Katharine McPhee’s cover of “I Know What Boys Like.”
Next: Is Don Cheadle a Traitor?
The coolest thing about Traitor isn’t that it features Don Cheadle in a well-deserved starring role, that he plays a sort of Bourne-ish action hero, or that his character, a Sudanese-American Muslim accused of terrorism named Samir, may not, in fact, be a bad guy; the coolest part is that this timely tale of political spy intrigue and post-9/11 paranoia came from the wild and crazy Steve Martin. Yup, that Steve Martin.
Featurettes, behind-the-scenes video, and a commentary track by Cheadle and writer-director Jeffrey Nachmanoff accompany the film.
Next: The latest from Master Shake, Meatwad and Frylock
If you get delighted at the sight of giant food products living the suburban life in New Jersey, then you probably already watch Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force and own volumes 1-5 on DVD. Get ready to add another set to your ATHF collection with Volume 6, which hits shelves this week.
In Volume 6 (which contains nine episodes from Season 5), Meatwad, Shake and Frylock battle with their landlord, join the Marines, and explore MySpace with the help of special guests like Neko Case, David Cross, T-Pain, and John Kruk; special features include Carl’s sports-related blog rants, a 15-minute “Terrorphone” short, and more.
Next: Embed yourself with HBO’s Generation Kill
If HBO knows one thing, it’s how to craft a great mini-series; pick up the seven-part Generation Kill, which first aired this summer and should find a wider audience on home video. Based on Rolling Stone writer Evan Wright’s own experience as an embedded journalist in the Iraq War, Generation Kill follows Wright (played by Lee Terguson) as he joins the Marines of the First Recon Battalion’s Bravo Company at the start of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, bearing witness to the daily lives of US soldiers whose days waver from actual engagement to Jarhead-like monotony.
The three-disc set includes cast and crew commentaries on six of the episodes, video diaries, making-of featurettes, a guide to military slang, and a video in which the real Evan Wright catches up with some of the actual soldiers portrayed in Generation Kill.
Next: Whose-its and whats-its galore!
Audiences of a certain age may remember Disney’s 1989 film The Little Mermaid as one of the more memorable Disney fairytale flicks of the past few decades; now they can share Ariel’s story (and sequel and prequel) with their kids with The Little Mermaid Trilogy box set!
To catch you up: in The Little Mermaid, rebellious teen mermaid Ariel trades her voice to an evil sea witch in return for a pair of human legs, which help her walk, dance, and nab the man of her dreams…but at what cost? In the 2000 sequel, The Little Mermaid II, Ariel’s human daughter Melody finds herself banned from the sea — cruel irony! — yet gets lured into a trap by another evil witch. Finally, in The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, we find out where she got her lifelong love for whosits and whatsits and that she first met her shellfish buddy Sebastian when he was singing at an underground (underwater?) music club…which actually explains a lot.
Next: Grindhouse comes to Blu-ray!
At long last, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s cinematic one-two punch, Grindhouse (or as they’re individually known and sold, Death Proof and Planet Terror), comes to Blu-ray — which means two things: Vanessa Ferlito’s entire lap dance AND Zoe Bell’s high speed game of Ship’s Mast in glorious HD!
Unfortunately, these twin releases are virtually identical to the Uncut and Unrated standard disc issues that previously debuted. We guess the Death Proof and Planet Terror Uber Editions are in production purgatory along with Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair (which, in fairness to QT, is supposedly in the works.)
Next: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”
Finally, we end this edition of RT on DVD with a home video title for everyone on your Christmas list: Dirty Dancing — The Official Dance Workout!
Tired of Billy Blanks yelling at you with that drill sergeant smile on his face? Can’t follow N*SYNC choreographer-turned-Stomp the Yarder Darrin Henson’s Dance Grooves? Just grab a partner, turn up The Contours, and pretend your name is Baby and that nobody puts you in a corner.
Until next week, happy renting!