This week we ask if a certain January box office hit about a portly security
guard in a shopping mall will continue its reign of success on home video (Paul Blart:
Mall Cop), ponder the reasons why Tom Cruise would ever play a German character
with his real-life American accent (Valkryie), and dare to don 3D glasses to get
limbs flying in our face in the comfort of our own home (My Bloody Valentine
3D). We’re also morbidly curious to see erstwhile Jesus Jim Caviezel as an alien
among Vikings (Outlander), see our favorite celeb geek cameos in a long-awaited
comedy about Star Wars adoration (Fanboys), and get up close and personal with
2008’s other vampire-related pop culture phenomenon (True Blood).
earning lackluster reviews and bearing the ignominy of being released during the
prime dumping ground month of January, Paul Blart: Mall Cop skyrocketed to a ginormous box office take – over $176 million and counting, to be more precise.
The tale of a pudgy shopping mall security guard who battles holiday season
criminals armed only with his wits and a Segway was slapsticky and slight, yet
has turned erstwhile King of Queens Kevin James (who not only stars, but
co-wrote the script) into a box office success, whether you like it or not.
(Who’s ready for Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: Back and Blartier?) Bonus features
include deleted scenes, lots of James (a commentary, career retrospective,
outtakes), making-of featurettes, and a few interesting pieces demonstrating
parkour (AKA free running) in a mall.
do you adapt a life-or-death historical event so dramatic and important that it
could have ended WWII early, pre-empted the Nazi regime, and assassinated none
other than Adolf Hitler a year before he took his own life? If you’re producer
and star Tom Cruise, you opt for bombast instead of authenticity, cast yourself
as a heroic German officer, bring on a dozen esteemed British thespians to play
your countrymen, and let them all speak in their native accents. Valkryie –
based on a real life 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler and restore Germany to its
pre-Nazi glory – unfortunately makes a slick Hollywood thriller out of the
proceedings, falling short of both its debt to history and to the combined
potential of its stellar cast (which includes Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom
Wilkinson, Eddie Izzard, and Carice van Houten). Two featurettes and two
commentary tracks (featuring Cruise, director Bryan Singer, and scripter
Christopher McQuarrie) are also included.
Next: My Bloody Valentine 3D
dealing with modern horror movies (and even moreso with modern horror
sequels/reboots/remakes), it’s not uncommon to expect bad reviews. That said, a
few percentage points below the Fresh cutoff isn’t too shabby! Patrick Lussier’s
reimagining of the infamous 1981 Canadian slasher flick updated its central
premise – mining town gets terrorized by a pick axe-wielding killer -added in
the gimmicky extra of 3D, resulting in a bloody good time for genre critics (and
horror fans), though the mainstream crowd was less enthused. A commentary with
director Lussier and four pairs of 3D glasses accompany the 2-disc edition,
though you can also watch MBV3D in 2D – but why would you want to?
meet Vikings in this independent sci-fi genre mash-up, in which a soldier from
outer space (Jim Caviezel) lands on Earth, circa 709 A.D., and joins forces with
a village of Viking warriors to fight a common enemy. Sadly for us geeks, the
resulting pic is a clunky, unpolished monster movie that fails to capitalize on
the best plot ever imagined; critics say it doesn’t even begin to approach its
cult potential. Behind-the-scenes peeks are included on the disc, though its
lone commentary track (by director Howard McCain) is notably absent of stars
Caviezel, John Hurt, Sophia Myles, and Ron Perlman.
Wars geeks have been waiting a long time for Fanboys (it was originally slated
to debut in 2007 before director Kyle Newman got funding to do re-shoots) and
mobilized en masse when a central plotline was rumored to have been cut out (it
remains). So we wonder if now, as the flick about friends, nerds, and Star Wars
Episode 1 becomes available on DVD, the Fanboys love remains despite its
less-than-forceful reviews? If your answer is yes, break out your official
Lucasfilm Ltd. replica lightsabers T and watch Sam Huntington, Dan Fogler, Chris
Marquette, and Kristen Bell posthaste!
Next: True Blood: The Complete First Season
most teenagers and tweens know that Twilight’s Edward Cullen was the biggest
heartthrob vampire of 2008, adult audiences fixated on another hunky bloodsucker
for their pop culture vamping: Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), the dark and
handsome 173-year-old love interest in HBO’s hit series, True Blood. Developed
by Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) from novelist Charlaine Harris’ Southern
Vampire Mystery books, True Blood follows psychic Louisiana waitress Sookie Stackhouse
(a twangy Anna Paquin) and her circle of friends and neighbors in an alternate
America in which vampires live among humans – tensely, illuminating some obvious
social metaphors – thanks to the invention of synthetic blood. Watch the
riveting first season this week and get ready for Season 2, which airs in June!
Next: 24: Season 7
an amazing (and fan-friendly) departure from the normal DVD timetables, the
folks behind Fox’s long-running series 24 are releasing Season 7 to home video
exactly one day after its season finale! Pick up the continuing adventures of
badass agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) as he deals with new terrorists, an
old friend, and America’s first female President! If only the show’s writers had
worked in a Jack Bauer head-butt here or there.
Next: Eden Log
In what sounds an awful lot like the plot to
Resident Evil, a man wakes up
in an underground laboratory, where he is attacked by mutants and monsters while
seeking the truth behind a place known as “Eden Log.” This French science
fiction thriller, from first-timer Franck Vestiel, debuted on the festival
circuit to mixed reviews; many cited its biggest strength to be Vestiel’s visual
flair, though much of the film (and its creatures) appear more suited to the
confines of a video game rather than a feature film.
Next: Limited Edition T2 Complete Collector’s Set Endoskull
In honor of this week’s supercharged sequel,
Terminator Salvation, what
better way is there to get in the Terminatin’ mood than to revisit the franchise
that started it all? Start with Terminator (and feel free to skip Terminator 3)
but make sure you re-watch Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which we in our humble
opinions regard as not only the best film in the series so far, but one of the
best film sequels ever made. Pick up this new T2 Collector’s Set on Blu-ray for
its awesome “Endo-skull” bust case, but beware that aside from a remastered Blu-ray
version of the film, the additional Extreme Edition DVD and Ultimate Edition DVD
provide extensive previously-released bonus materials that you might already
own. Still, a shiny T2 Endo-skull bust with glowing red eyes and audio sound
effects from the film is hard to pass up; that said, pass on this if you want to
save your money.
Until next week, happy renting!