This week, one of the biggest box office flops of the year makes its way to Blu-ray. If you didn’t feel that the movie was worth paying to see in theaters, are you more likely to pay to see it at home?
Poor Taylor Kitsch is having a pretty crappy summer. This was supposed to be the year that the ‘Friday Night Lights’ actor made the transition from television to big-time movie star. Sadly for him, between ‘John Carter’ and ‘Battleship‘, he headlined two of the biggest box office flops of 2012. (‘Savages’ didn’t do much business either.) Honestly, this one wasn’t his fault. You see, it turns out that adapting a silly children’s board game (that had nothing to do with aliens or robots) into a $200 million ‘Transformers’ rip-off wasn’t such a good idea. Huh, who’da thunk it? To understand just how misconceived this whole project was, consider the fact that the U.S. Navy hasn’t actually employed battleships in its fleets for decades.
For potentially more entertaining aquatic adventure, Aardman Animations brings us the stop-motion ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits‘ in your choice of 2D or 3D. True, this kids’ flick didn’t exactly set the box office on fire either, but given the favorable reviews, Aardman’s track record and the amusing trailers, this looks delightful.
Useless Trivia Note: An actor friend of my wife’s filmed a significant supporting role for the Jason Segel/Emily Blunt romantic dramedy ‘The Five-Year Engagement‘, but was cut entirely from the finished film when director Nicholas Stoller decided to drop one scene that tied in with his storyline. Without that scene, the rest of the storyline no longer made sense, and the whole thing had to go. Bummer, Eric! Nonetheless, Mrs. Z dutifully trekked out to the theater on opening weekend to support her friend. She tells me that she thought the movie was OK, but not as good as ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’. [Update: I apparently mixed up my dates. This one doesn’t street until next week.]
In sappier romantic developments, Zac Ephron stars in the latest piece of Nicholas Sparks drivel, ‘The Lucky One‘, and Steve Harvey doles out relationship advice in ‘Think Like a Man‘. Neither sounds like a good idea to me. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.
One-time A-List director Lawrence Kasdan hadn’t made a movie since the disastrous Stephen King adaptation ‘Dreamcatcher’ back in 2003. He returned this year with the decidedly smaller-scale relationship drama ‘Darling Companion‘, in which Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline work out their marital issues while searching for their missing dog. Reviews were mixed. Unfortunately, this sounds more like the work of the Lawrence Kasdan who made the insubstantial fluff of ‘French Kiss’ and ‘Mumford’, rather than the Lawrence Kasdan who gave us ‘Body Heat’, ‘Silverado’ or ‘The Accidental Tourist’. But hey, I feel pretty confident that at least this one won’t have any “Shit Weasels.” I hope not, anyway. That would be really weird.
Of more acclaim is the Canadian Oscar nominee ‘Monsieur Lazhar‘, which tells of a grade-school substitute teacher who has to step in after a class’ regular teacher commits suicide. The film sounds bleak but compelling.
In other foreign-language fare, ‘Game of Thrones’ actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (he plays Jaime Lannister there) stars in the blackly-comic Norwegian heist thriller ‘Headhunters‘. The movie drew raves on the film festival circuit. Reportedly, Mark Wahlberg wants to do the inevitable watered-down American remake. You might want to catch the original before that happens.
Once upon a time, ‘The Blair Witch Project’ kicked off the “found footage” horror genre, which later begat the inexplicably popular ‘Paranormal Activity’ franchise. Bringing things around full-circle, ‘Blair Witch’ director Eduardo Sanchez is back with the ‘Paranormal Activity’ knock-off ‘Lovely Molly‘. Does anyone care?
If the prospect of ‘American Psycho’ director Mary Harron tackling the vampire genre sounds like a great idea on paper, don’t be fooled. ‘The Moth Diaries‘ is an unwatchably terrible ‘Twilight’ wannabe. I paid to see this at the Toronto Film Festival last year based on the director’s name alone, and sorely regretted it. Harron appeared at the start of a screening to introduce her movie, but didn’t stick around for the traditional Q&A afterwards. I later learned that she’d just come from the Venice Film Festival, where she’d taken a beating from critics and disgruntled viewers. At TIFF, she was smart enough to get the hell out of Dodge before that could happen again. The movie is just plain godawful. Don’t ever watch it.
Finally, of some small interest is ‘Starship Troopers: Invasion‘, the anime spin-off directed by Shinji Aramaki (‘Appleseed: Ex Machina’) and produced by master thespian Casper van Dien (who hasn’t reprised his role here, not even for voice work). Given how terrible the DTV live-action sequels were, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for this, but it might be worth a rental. It can’t be worse than ‘Starship Troopers 3: Marauder’, can it?
Universal continues its 100th Anniversary celebration with the James Stewart classic ‘Harvey‘. (That’s the one where he talks to an imaginary rabbit.) Meanwhile, the Criterion Collection gives us an oddly-matched pairing of the rare 1928 silent film ‘Lonesome‘ and The Who’s rock opera ‘Quadrophenia‘.
Animation fans will be happy to find that Warner Bros. has collected 19 classic Chuck Jones ‘Looney Tunes‘ shorts.
For the ‘Terminator Anthology‘, Warner also had to license the first James Cameron film from MGM and the second from Lionsgate to pair with its own third and fourth entries. I’m not 100% certain whether this set contains the recently-remastered version of the first movie. If it doesn’t, the whole thing seems kind of useless. [Update: As feared, it’s the old disc.] As a Best Buy exclusive, odds are that no stores will carry this and the retailer won’t ship to your home address anyway. Apparently, the Best Buy senior executives have decided that they don’t want your money. They’d rather just go out of business, which may be pretty likely in the not-too-distant future.
This is a very busy week for TV on Blu-ray. We have the third season of ‘Boardwalk Empire‘, the second season of ‘The Walking Dead‘, the fourth season of ‘Sons of Anarchy‘, the sixth season of ‘Poirot‘ (which comprised only four episodes from 1995 to 1997), and the first seasons respectively of ‘Homeland‘ and ‘Once Upon a Time‘. For those of you who collect TV box sets, this may be a very expensive week.
Despite such a crowded release schedule, I don’t personally see any must-own titles. ‘Harvey’, the Chuck Jones shorts and the two Criterions will go on my wish list for future purchase. (I don’t need to buy them immediately.) Potential rentals include ‘The Pirates!’, ‘The Five-Year Engagement’, ‘Monsieur Lazhar’, ‘Headhunters’, and ‘Starship Troopers: Invasion’.
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