Welcome to the DVD & Games Forecast for Oct. 13, 2009.
I really should just assign my paycheck directly to Amazon or Best Buy or some lucky retailer at this point, because the avalanche of want never seems to subside on my end. And it’s not just me… my wife’s got the movies she wants, my kids have movies they want, and even my mother-in-law has specific tastes that I buy for. With all the people in my house, it seems like each week’s release list is just an excuse for all of us to go a little crazy, and this week is no exception.
It’s uncommon that games come before movies in this column, but this week, they’ve earned their spot at the top of the heap, so let’s dive right in.
THIS WEEK’S FEATURED TITLES
“Brutal Legend” (PS3/XBOX360)
I’ve played the demo for Tim Schafer’s deranged new ode to all things heav y metal on both PS3 and XBOX 360 now, and I’m absolutely rabid to get my hands on the final game. Hilarious, beautifully designed, and just plain fun, it’s the story of Eddie Riggs, the best roadie in the world. He’s killed onstage by a falling set during a rock show, only to find himself resurrected in a world that looks like it’s straight off the cover of every single metal album of the ’80s.
Filled with battle nun demons, head-banging tribesmen, and guest appearances by icons like Lemmy Kilmeister and Ozzy Osbourne, “Brutal Legend” looks great, sounds great, and has one of the most intuitive gameplay set-ups I’ve encountered in a while. I have a feeling I’ll get lost in this one when I do get my hands on it, so maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t picked it up yet.
“Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” (PS3)
It’s rare that I have one game in a week that I’m this excited about… but two? The original “Uncharted” was the second game I bought on the PS3, and it’s the moment I fell in love with the machine. If only the last “Indiana Jones” film had half the energy or the invention that “Uncharted” did, last summer would have played out totally different. Instead of mourning what might have been, though, I’m looking forward to digging back into the adventures of Nathan Drake, the average-guy lead of this series. The games are distinguished by their fast-paced combat, the thrilling combination of action and puzzles, and better-than-expected voice acting and performance capture. Add all that up, and you get one of the best franchises in gaming right now, and one of the crown jewels of exclusivity for this particular console.
“Drag Me To Hell” (BluRay/DVD)
We’ll talk more about this one later today. Suffice it to say, Sam Raimi is at his very best when he’s working in horror, and “Drag Me To Hell” is a potent reminder of just how true that is. You can read my original review of the film from this year’s SXSW screening in the meantime.
“Land Of The Lost” (BluRay/DVD)
The only thing wrong with this film is that it tries to straddle the line between family comedy and stoner freak-out. With just a wee bit more courage of their convictions, Brad Silberling and this cast could have turned this into a full-blown psychotronic classic. As it is, the film is frequently hilarious, deeply strange, and filled with all sorts of things you just don’t expect in a summer movie. I’d recommend this as a purchse if only for Michael Giacchino’s score during the Sleestak sex scene. Banjo porn music? Genius.
“The Mighty Boosh: Special Edition” (DVD)
There’s been a whooooole lotta Boosh on DVD this summer, and now BBC Video’s compiled all three series of this brain-bending cult comedy into one set, and added a bonus disc that will make every fan freak out. I’m so pleased to see the Boosh getting a foothold here in America with the series screening on Adult Swim now, and it’s one of those shows that you can revisit over and over, finding new things in it every time. Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett are the best 21st century comedy team working, and if you’re not already a fan, now’s the time to give the Boosh a try.
“Stop Making Sense” (BluRay)
Oh, look… it’s the best concert film ever made. I love early Jonathan Demme films, and I love Talking Heads albums, but you put the two together, and it’s pure chocolate and peanut butter. Demme captured the band at the exact right moment, at the absolute height of their creative energies together, and the result is magic. Every song unfolds like a mini-movie, with its own dynamics and drama, and taken as a whole, the film is less a concert and more like a spell that the band casts. I almost went to see the outdoor screening that was held at the Toronto Film Festival this year, but I decided to wait so I could see it on BluRay as my first viewing in over a decade. I had to set it on a shelf for a while because I’d worn out two prior copies from playing them so much, and I figure it’s about time to return to this old favorite.
ALSO ON BLURAY THIS WEEK
I didn’t love “The Proposal” (BluRay/DVD) the way many people did, but I can acknowledge that Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds had good chemistry in the film, and they both deserve the career bounce they’ll get out of it. My wife, who would no doubt leave me and change teams if Bullock ever came calling, will no doubt demand this one as soon as she realizes it’s out, so I guess it’s on the list for my next Amoeba run. Richard Stanley’s trippy low-budget SF film “Hardware” (BluRay/DVD) isn’t perfect, but it’s inventive and grimy and ambitious, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen it. I’ve waited a decade to revisit “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” (BluRay), and I’m really excited about picking up the DVD. That press screening in 1999 is still one of the most unexpectedly great theatrical experiences I’ve ever had, and the amazing thing is how the show just keeps getting better. On the other hand, I’m reluctant to take a peek at Ron Howard’s “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” (BluRay), which I didn’t hate when I saw it the first time. A big part of that is because I was just so freaked out by Rick Baker’s bizarro make-up job on Jim Carrey. I know it’s a violation of Dr. Seuss’s work, and I have a feeling time has been rough on the film, to say the least. It’s been a heckuva long time since I looked at Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers” (BluRay), but I’ll bet it looks positively prescient at this end of the decade, and it may represent the last moment Stone really had his finger on the zeitgeist. Atom Egoyan’s films leave me either hot or cold, but I’m always interested, and I will definitely put on “Adoration,” his latest, at some point this week, as it’s sitting here now on top of the stack. Director Enzo Castellari is probably best known as being the guy who made the original “Inglorious Bastards,” but thanks to that new notoriety, much of his back catalog is finally coming out, and his WWII arial combat film “Eagles Over London” (BluRay) is the latest example. I’m not sure it needs to be a BluRay release, much as I’m confused as to who exactly needs a high-def version of “Screwballs,” (BluRay) an ’80s T&A comedy that was originally shot on wax paper. Or at least it looked like it was. Finally, if you have no access to the Internet and you feel the urge to do horrible things to yourself while looking at goth chicks, then “The Craft” (BluRay) is just the ticket.
ALSO ON DVD THIS WEEK
Have any of you guys seen “Legend Of The Seeker: Season One”? Is it better than the “Hercules”/”Xena” shows that Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert produced in the ’90s? Based on the source material, I’m at least curious. I can’t believe I missed every screening this spring of “Every Little Step,” a documentary about casting and staging “A Chorus Line,” but I love how meta that concept is, and I’ve heard good things so I’m sure I’ll catch up with it now. Instead of wasting time with the not-screening-for-critics remake of “The Stepfather” this weekend, check out the original with Terry O’Quinn of “Lost” fame in a great early performance. If you’re in an ’80s horror movie mood, you might also throw in “Happy Birthday To Me,” which is getting a new release this week as well. I still can’t believe how much I enjoyed “Helvetica,” a documentary about the ubiquitous font, so I’m looking forward to the director’s latest doc, “Objectified.” If you want to know why you should pick up “Jackass: The Lost Tapes,” I have two words for you: the Vomelete. I really enjoyed “The Killing Room” at Sundance this year, but I’m not surprised a small thriller like this ended up essentially dumped to DVD. Distributors just don’t want to work for it anymore. The documentary “New World Order” takes a look at the growing conspiracy theory movement in this country, and spends a fair amount of time with Alex Jones in particular, and it’s not exactly the most flattering portrait. I’m sure the Bildenberg Society is responsible. I haven’t seen the concert, but I’ve heard the CD version of “Nick Swardson: Seriously, Who Farted?”, and it’s a very funny and blisteringly dirty stand-up set from the “Reno 911” veteran. I particularly loved his story about the handjob from the 70-year-old Asian masseuse, and would recommend checking it out. Finally, there’s “Left Bank,” a Belgian horror film I saw at last year’s Fantastic Fest. It’s a grim, creepy little ride that reminds me of “Rosemary’s Baby,” and in a good way. If you want to try a more esoteric title in your horror line-up this month, give this one a look.
ALSO IN GAMES THIS WEEK
I almost wish I’d waited to just buy “Fallout 3: Game Of The Year Edition,” since in addition to the game itself, this version comes with all five chapters of DLC that have been released this year. If you don’t already have it, treat yourself. Just set aside a few months, because it will absolutely take over your life. I’ve heard that the Wii game “Ju-On: The Grudge” is genuinely creepy, and I love the idea of using the Wii controller as a flashlight as you explore a haunted house. If any of you play it, drop me a line and let me know what you think.
NEXT WEEK: “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” finally comes home and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” goes Blu.
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