For some reason, 2013 has turned out to be a particularly bad year for franchise sequels. Unfortunately, one of the worst to them leads off our major Blu-ray releases this week.
We’ve just about hit the halfway point for the year, and I think it’s already safe to say that ‘A Good Day to Die Hard‘ will wind up near the top of many “Worst of…” lists come next January. This lazy cash-in sequel has next to nothing to commend it. Its script is idiotic. Its teal-upon-teal-upon-teal photography is hideous. Even the action scenes are unimaginative and dull. Absolutely no one involved in the film’s production gave even the slightest damn about anything they were doing. Not hack director John Moore. Not moron screenwriter Skip Woods, whose script for this is a new low, even after having penned such mindless turds as ‘Swordfish’, ‘Hitman’ and ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’. Sadly, not even Bruce Willis, who clearly only showed up on set to cash a paycheck and does nothing the whole movie but disinterestedly smirk and deliver lame one-liners. This movie is an embarrassment. I refuse to acknowledge it as a ‘Die Hard’ sequel. My urge to be a completist collector stops dead with this one. I will not own it or watch it again.
People just love that Melissa McCarthy. Since ‘Bridesmaids’, the actress can seem to do no wrong, as far as the public is concerned. Her middling sitcom ‘Mike & Molly’ is in its third season on TV, and the comedy ‘Identity Thief‘ was a surprise hit at the box office earlier this year. Critics were not so kind to the latter (and I don’t just mean the assholish Rex Reed). Reviews for the movie were withering. I have nothing against McCarthy, but based on the trailers, I have no desire to see this.
Perhaps the week’s best option is the zombie rom-com ‘Warm Bodies‘. Although it wasn’t a huge box office hit (probably because it doesn’t have any big-name stars, unless you think John Malkovich can carry a movie), the clever comedy received both favorable reviews and word-of-mouth. I have a feeling that this will be discovered as a cult item on video.
Less likely to grow in esteem is the Weinstein Company’s dud CG-animated family flick ‘Escape from Planet Earth‘. I’d forgotten that it even existed about five minutes after it was released. So did most everyone else.
From the indie scene, the Hank Williams bio-pic ‘The Last Ride‘ (starring Henry “Elliott” Thomas) didn’t turn out to be the next ‘Walk the Line’, as its producers may have hoped. By all accounts, the apocalyptic comedy ‘It’s a Disaster‘ lives up to its title.
Somewhere between being a hit Broadway play and a hit TV series, Neil Simon’s ‘The Odd Couple‘ was also (and perhaps most belovedly) a big hit movie starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau. I’ve never been much of a Neil Simon fan, but the actors’ outstanding comedic chemistry makes this a classic for a reason.
That one comes from Warner Bros., as does the ‘Mad Max Trilogy‘, which bundles reissues of the first two movies with the first-ever Blu-ray appearance for the third. If you already have the others, ‘Beyond Thunderdome’ is also available separately.
Universal brings us Charlton Heston in the all-star disaster epic ‘Earthquake‘ (with its famous “Sensurround” soundtrack preserved in the oddball 1.1 format) and the WWII drama ‘Midway‘.
Many comic book movies followed in the wake of 1989’s mega-blockbuster ‘Batman’. Most of them were not nearly as successful. By the time Russell Mulcahy’s ‘The Shadow‘ rolled around in 1994, audiences were pretty much over it. (You can quibble about whether the Shadow was really a comic book adaptation, since the character first appeared on radio, but comic books have been written about him and the movie was clearly made in the ‘Batman’ mold.) I was one of the few who saw this flop in the theater, and wasn’t much impressed with it. Nonetheless, I feel a strange compulsion to watch it again now, if only to imagine Alec Baldwin playing it as a spoof – which, as far as I remember, he didn’t.
The market for catalog titles is so poor these days that studios often dump them in double- and triple-bill bargain packages. You’ll see a lot of those on the list this week. Of some interest may be Shout! Factory’s pairing of the 1970s cult B-movies ‘Dirty Mary Crazy Larry‘ and ‘Race with the Devil‘, both starring Peter Fonda.
I also have to make note of Universal’s just plain bizarre bundling of the excellent ‘Children of Men‘ with the terrible ‘Repo Men‘ – two films whose only link is that they’re both vaguely science fictional and have the word “Men” in their titles. If I didn’t already own it, I would actually pay extra to get ‘Children of Men’ on its own, rather than have it be sullied by the other.
In TV offerings, Warner brings the first two seasons of the cult animated series ‘Adventure Time‘ to Blu-ray, as well as the second season of ‘Falling Skies‘. Meanwhile, Sony rolls out the fifth season of ‘Breaking Bad‘.
I’m not sure that there’s much I need to purchase this week, though ‘Warm Bodies’ is definite rental material. How about you?