Welcome to the DVD & Games Forecast.
It’s fitting that it’s a slim week as we kick off the year. I think everyone’s still working off their Christmas hangover, financially speaking, and I doubt people would be thrilled if there were 97 great new releases all landing this week. Even so, there’s always something worth searching out, and this week’s no exception…
THIS WEEK’S FEATURED TITLES:
“Cloudy With a Chance Of Meatballs” (BluRay/DVD)
I only went to see this one because Toshi was desperate to see it, but I was surprised by just how sweet and funny the film is. Smartly written, the movie invents a spine on which to hang some of the key images from the popular children’s book. There was no real story to the book, which didn’t make it seem like a natural for adaptation. By inventing Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), a would-be scientist whose father (James Caan) runs a bait-and-tackle shop, the filmmakers have given the story a focus it never had. Flint hates growing up in a town where all there is to eat are sardines, and so he turns his attention to creatign a machine that can turn water into any kind of food in the world. Bruce Campbell, Anna Faris, Mr. T, Andy Samberg, and Neil Patrick Harris all contribute deliriously goofy turns, and overall, the film is one of the strangest comedies for kids I’ve ever seen. Beyond that, it’s a beautifully designed film, and the BluRay transfer is top-notch.
“Mighty Mouse – The New Adventures: The Complete Series” (DVD)
Oh, wait… did I say “Cloudy” was strange? When Ralph Bakshi was hired to bring Mighty Mouse back to television, I’m sure no one could have guessed just how wild his take on the character would be. Controversial when it was on the air, this three-disc set features all 19 episodes of the show that was accused of glorifying drug use and corrupting children. Considering one of Bakshi’s main collaborators on the show was John Kricfalusi, who later created “Ren & Stimply,” I’m guessing this absolutely corrupted the kids who watched it in the best possible ways. One look at the landscape of children’s TV these days reveals just how pervasive the influence of this show was on the people who are creating and making cartoons for kids these days, and how Bakshi and Kricfalusi have had the last laugh as the whole industry has pulled towards the gravity of their lunacy instead of away from it.
“Riding Giants” (BluRay)
“Dogtown & Z-Boys” (BluRay)
What good is having a BluRay player if you can’t show it off? Even if you don’t like surfing or skateboarding, these two films will make excellent demo discs. And if you’re open to a great documentary about the people who are drawn to these pursuits, then you can’t go wrong with either one of these. Stacy Peralta lived the story of “Dogtown & Z-Boys.” Those are his friends, and in some of the footage, that’s him. They were California kids who basically revolutionized the entire notion of skateboarding as a sport, and who became legends in the process. “Riding Giants” deals with the people who surf the massive waves off Hawaii’s North Shore, which seems like something you’d have to be crazy to do. Both movies are beautiful, filled with mesmerizing imagery, and practically designed for BluRay.
“Bayonetta” (PS3/XBOX 360)
Even after playing the demo a few times, I couldn’t tell you what the hell this game is about. You play a giant witch with a ridiculous body whose hair is both her weapons and her clothing, and you fight giant monsters and angels and you shoot guns out of your boots and you have swords and magic and… basically, it is chaos with a controller. I enjoyed playing it, but I was exhausted just from ten minutes of random demo play. I can’t imagine what the entire game will do to my brain. If you love “Devil May Cry,” but you thought it was too much like a still picture for your tastes, then “Bayonetta” is the cure. Epileptics need not apply.
ALSO ON BLURAY:
I’m not rabid about the show, but I fully expect I’ll give “Chuck: The Complete Second Season” (BluRay/DVD) a spin at some point. It’s consistently charming spy movie stuff with likeable leads and a good sense of humor about itself. If you didn’t read my mini-review, suffice it to say “The Final Destination” (BluRay/DVD) stinks on ice, the worse of the series, and the home 3D is rancid, robbing the film of the only thing that makes it remotely interesting. They’re reissuing “10 Things I Hate About You” (BluRay/DVD) today, and it’s amazing how young Heath Ledger seems in it, and how much he already had his persona in place. It just took the movies a decade to figure out what to do with him. I am almost shamefully excited to watch “The Green Berets” (BluRay) this week, and there’s a part of me that loves that the only major pro-Vietnam war movie was made by John Wayne. Of course it was. I’ve heard enough good word on “50 Dead Men Walking” (DVD) to give it a spin, but I’ll have to find a used copy, since I’m not willing to blind buy it. I know there was a giant box set with everything, but I wasn’t sent one and I couldn’t pick it up when it came out, so I’ll be grabbing “Battlestar Galactica: Season One” (BluRay) this week to start slowly but surely replacing my DVD boxes. This is a show I’ll go back to, and when I do, I want it to be in BluRay.
ALSO ON DVD:
I’ve noticed that more and more, I try to consume TV series in one big bite a year, and HBO series are always perfect for that. I’ve enjoyed the first two years, so I assume that “Big Love: The Complete Third Season” (DVD) is going to be more of the same, which sounds pretty good to me. It’s all about Margene, isn’t it? Well, it is for me, anyway. I’ve heard the film is so-so, but people seemed pretty taken with the performance by Michelle Monaghan in “Trucker” (DVD) , so I’m going to hunt it down and check it out for myself. One of the best shows that doesn’t seem to get much respect on TV right now is “Burn Notice: Season 1 and 2” (DVD), and this set with the first two years of the show is a great way to catch up. Trust me… there’s more entertainment in that box than you’ll know what to do with. And Bruce Campbell, so it’s got that going for it. Finally, I’m ashamed that I missed “Lorna’s Silence” (DVD) in theaters, and I plan to fix that immediately. The Dardennes are world-class filmmakers, and I strongly anticipate their latest will continue to cement that reputation.
ALSO IN GAMES:
I hear “Darksiders” (PS3/XBOX 360) is a sort of “God Of War”/”Zelda” hybrid, and a bit of an unoriginal drag. It still looks interesting to me. And I guess since “Duke Nukem” is dead dead dead, there’s room for a lunkheaded action hero parody franchise, and the download release of “Matt Hazard: Blood, Bath & Beyond” (PSN/XBOX Live) this week seems to fit the bill.
NEXT WEEK: Next week is dense with the awesome, with “The Hurt Locker,” “Moon,” “In The Loop,” and “The Simpsons” all on BluRay. Plenty to talk about, so I’ll see you back here then.
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