If you’re into television, this is a good week for you, whether you’re a fan of classic series from the 1970s and 1980s (Taxi, Family Ties) or more contemporary stuff (True Blood, Sons of Anarchy). But before we get to all that, we’ve got an animated hit sequel, Clint Eastwood’s latest film, a road comedy starring Melissa McCarthy, and a buddy cop farce, as well as a bunch of smaller films and other TV collections. Read on for all the details:
Dreamworks Animation had a huge hit with How to Train Your Dragon back in 2010, easily guaranteeing a sequel, and earlier this year, we got that sequel. Berk is now a dragon-friendly land, and its citizens wholly embrace a codependent lifestyle with their scaly, fire-breathing pets, thanks to Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless. But when Hiccup not only encounters a figure from his past, but also runs afoul of a shadowy nemesis looking to raise a dragon army, he learns what it means to be a true leader. Critics called HTTYD2 a thoroughly solid follow-up to the first film, with a ton of splendidly animated action and enough emotional heft to earn its more heartfelt moments, and awarded it a Certified Fresh 92 percent on the Tomatometer. Extras include a commentary track, deleted scenes, an almost hourlong making-of doc, profiles of all the dragons and war machines, and a nearly half-hour extra episode featuring the whole gang in a dragon race.
Though buzz is beginning to mount for Clint Eastwood’s upcoming film, American Sniper, his last three directorial efforts have been disappointing. The most recent of those was Jersey Boys, a musical biopic based on the Broadway musical of the same name. Set in the 1950s-1960s, the film tells the story of The Four Seasons, from the day Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) first meets Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) to their eventual induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Though critics were largely happy with the musical elements of the film, many hoped for something a little less formulaic and a little more daring, which left it with a ho-hum 53 percent on the Tomatometer. Three featurettes cover the film’s transition from stage to screen, Christopher Walken’s mob character Gyp DeCarlo, and a night with Eastwood and the cast as they prepare for the big finale.
Following her breakout performance in Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy has been getting more opportunities to showcase her talents on the big screen. Tammy, however, may not have been the best vehicle for that. McCarthy stars as, of course, Tammy, a fast food worker who crashes her car, gets fired, and discovers her husband is having an affair, all on the same day. Understandably upset, Tammy embarks on an impromptu road trip to Niagara Falls with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon), and they get into all kinds of shenanigans along the way. Critics found McCarthy as charismatic a screen presence as ever; the only problem was that the film surrounding her performance failed to make proper use of her talents, even with a supporting cast that included Kathy Bates, Toni Collette, Dan Aykroyd, Mark Duplass, and more. The Blu-ray comes with an extended cut (14 minutes longer), deleted scenes and alternate takes, and the requisite gag reel.
Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. already share a fairly well-established comedic rapport on Fox’s sitcom The New Girl, so pairing them together in a screwball comedy probably seemed like a good idea. Didn’t quite pan out that way, though. They play longtime buddies Ryan and Justin, who dress up as police officers for a college reunion party. When passersby treat them as if they’re real cops, the pair decide to keep up the act, only to become embroiled in some real life mob intrigue. While Johnson and Wayans are fun to watch together, critics agree that Let’s Be Cops is yet another film that doesn’t know what to do with a talented cast. Extras include a commentary track, a still gallery, and a trio of features (including deleted and alternate scenes, as well as a camera test) only available on the Blu-ray release.
Though critical opinion of the series waned over its final two years, HBO’s sexy, soapy vampire drama enjoyed several acclaimed seasons and attracted a strong fanbase in search of something with a little more bite than Twilight. Based on the premise that, thanks to a synthetic blood substitute, vampires have “come out of the coffin” to coexist with humans, the series playfully mixed heady themes like drug addiction and the persecution of minorities with steamy romance, bloody action, and all sorts of supernatural kookiness. At its center was half human/half faerie Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and her two would-be vampire suitors, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard), but an ensemble cast full of quirky characters helped make the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana come alive. With the series coming to an end earlier this year, HBO is releasing the entire collection in one box set, complete with all the bonus features found on the individual releases. If you’re a big fan and you already own them all, you can pick up season seven by itself, with its own share of extras like cast and crew interviews and other brand new content.