Unlike last week, when we had a wealth of popular Certified Fresh choices, this week brings a much smaller selection of new releases. Most of them, in fact, are for direct-to-dvd films and bad horror movies you haven’t heard of. With that in mind, we bring you the five new releases and one boxset of a popular animated show’s parody of the original Star Wars trilogy. It may not be a whole lot to choose from, but there may still be a few things of interest here, so check them out!
Emma Stone is the real deal. If you need proof, the Certified Fresh Easy A provides ample evidence that she’s funny, intelligent, and incredibly likeable. Stone stars as Olive Penderghast, whose status in her school is non-existent until rumors of her racy exploits make the rounds. Olive uses her new-found fame to her advantage, until things start to get out of hand. A contemporary update of The Scarlet Letter, Easy A is warm, occasionally hilarious, and smarter than your average teen movie fare, boasting excellent supporting performances and a star-making turn from Stone. The DVD features a making-of doc, a gag reel, commentary from Stone and director Will Gluck, and footage from Stone’s audition.
Angelina Jolie has always been a Hollywood sex symbol, but she’s also proven herself to be quite the action star as well. Salt is simply the latest in a career filled with plenty of derring-do for Jolie, from racing cars (Gone in Sixty Seconds) to curving gunshots (Wanted). This time around, Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative who’s accused of being a Russian double agent and goes on the lam to prove her innocence. In an interesting lead-up to the film, it was revealed that the script was originally penned with Tom Cruise in mind, but Mr. Mission: Impossible felt the character too closely resembled Ethan Hunt, so he declined. That should offer some indication of how strong Jolie’s action cred has become; she effectively filled the shoes of Tom Cruise. And for the most part, critics felt she did an admirable job with material they found to be predictable and, at times, ludicrously plotted. The film also co-stars Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who are no slouches themselves, so Salt should provide a reasonably entertaining evening in with some popcorn.
In a year filled with 80s throwbacks (The Karate Kid, The A-Team, TRON: Legacy) one that really came out of nowhere was Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Was anyone really that curious to know whatever happened to Gordon Gekko? In any case, Oliver Stone brought the iconic Michael Douglas character back to the screen, this time with a protégé in the form of Shia LaBeouf as Jake Moore, who teams up with Gekko in order to warn the financial sector of the imminent stock market crash in 2008 and to exact revenge on the man he believes is responsible for his mentor’s death. Critics found Money Never Sleeps to be a decent follow-up to the original, but expressed disappointment at what they felt was a subpar film coming from the likes of Stone, a strong cast (which included Frank Langella and up-and-comer Carey Mulligan), and a timely storyline. It currently sits at 54% on the Tomatometer, but should hold some interest for fans of those involved and thrillers with a hint of realism.
M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t had much luck with the critics lately, and his last few films (The Last Airbender, The Happening, The Lady in the Water) have also been his worst-reviewed. So it was no surprise that trailers for Devil, which Shyamalan produced and whose story he wrote, were reportedly met with groans from movie audiences when it was revealed he was involved. However, to the credit of directors Drew and John Erick Dowdle, Devil‘s 53% Tomatometer is higher than Shyamalan’s last four efforts. The story centers around five strangers who are trapped inside a stalled elevator in a Philadelphia highrise; it’s revealed that the Devil is among them, and it’s up to them to figure out who it is, and why the five of them have been fated to wind up in the situation they’re in. Critics felt the film was passable entertainment with a few thrills to be had, but also that its premise was intriguing enough that a better movie could have resulted. Take that for what you will, but perhaps the fact that many consider this to be better than most of M. Night Shyamalan’s latest projects will offer some hope.
With the recent popularity of dance-themed television shows like So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Best Dance Crew, and even Dancing with the Stars, it was only natural that a film would come along that delivered a purely cathartic dance experience for moviegoers. That movie was 2006’s Step Up, which was popular enough around the world to warrant a sequel (Step Up 2: The Streets) and, this year, its third installment, Step Up 3D. For those of you who are planning on renting this movie, you know what you’re getting, and the Step Up series has never pretended to be anything more. Will there be strong plotting and award-worthy acting? Probably not. But will there be stunning choreography and some eye-popping visuals? Most definitely. Grab this one if you want to spend an evening watching hardbodies grinding on the dance floor (or any other appropriately flashy surface); the DVD also comes with a number of music videos for the songs featured in the film.
Seth MacFarlane had a hit on his hands with animated Fox show Family Guy, which was successful enough that MacFarlane was able to get two more shows on Fox. Family Guy itself remains the flagship of the network’s Sunday Animation Domination lineup, though the series has a love-it-or-hate-it quality about it, and MacFarlane has been given the opportunity to do pretty much whatever he wants with it. Pair that with his geek leanings and you’ve got Laugh It Up Fuzzball, Family Guy‘s three-part tribute to the original Star Wars trilogy. With three double-sized episodes to mirror Episodes IV, V, and VI of Star Wars, the show celebrates (and skewers) the George Lucas classics as only Family Guy can: with lots of irreverent humor, random non-sequiturs, and Peter being an idiot. The boxset coincides with the individual release of It’s A Trap! (a parody of Return of the Jedi) and contains tons of special features dedicated to each of the installments.
Written by Ryan Fujitani and Tim Ryan