The screenplay (based on graphic novel) is silly, mind you, but no more so than most action films today and less so than many, and it’s packed with enough twists and turns and car chases and shoot-outs and explosions to keep the film careening in overdrive. But who knew that Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg would make such a fun buddy team without losing the essence of their screen charms? Denzel is wary and cagey, with an easy confidence and a quiet strength that suggests he’s always calculating his options and his odds, while Wahlberg is the earnest, boyish junior partner who throws himself into every situation with unflagging optimism and partner loyalty. They’re freelance crooks who hire out to drug kingpin Edward James Olmos, mind you, but in the company of such a corrupt collection of characters they look pretty good. That’s not the whole story, of course, and I won’t spoil it for you (it’s not all that surprising but it’s more fun to stumble across yourself), just let you know that the bank job they pull to double cross their own boss unleashes a lot of complications very quickly.
We’re not talking about Tarantino cleverness here, mind you, despite the flashback opening and the wise-guy banter, and director Baltasar Kormákur, an Icelandic import who previously directed Wahlberg in Contraband, doesn’t sweat the silliness, or the fact that there aren’t really any good guys to be had here. He just moves it along so fast that you don’t have time to ponder them. It has as runaway energy befitting a plot that seems to be spinning of control of our heroes (if we can call them that) and the energetic charge of seventies drive-in picture with better production values from a director who has a way with staging a set piece for maximum spectacle in minimalist environments.
Details on the supplements here, where you can also enter to win a copy of the Blu-ray+DVD Combo edition from Cinephiled.
The World’s End (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, VOD, On Demand), the third film in the “Cornetto” trilogy by friends and collaborators Edgar Wright (director and co-writer) and Simon Pegg (star and co-writer), is cheeky fun, another offbeat collision of genres, but this one leans heavier on the satire of Pegg’s disappointed loser than on genre satire. Pegg plays the classic BMOC, the popular kid with a gang of followers who peaked in college and never went anywhere once school ended and real life began. Now he wants to simply relive his glory days with his old buddies (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan), the former followers who have moved on with their lives and left Pegg behind.
The film lives up to its title, which ostensibly refers to the final drinking establishment in “the golden mile,” a succession of twelve pubs in their old college town. But not too long into their pub crawl the film shifts into something else, a mix of body-snatcher invasion movie and last stand against an insidious invasion (between pints, of course). This is more ambitious than Wright and Pegg’s previous pairings, daring to go a little darker and take on the arrested adolescence and the frustrations of adult accommodation, and it’s far smarter than most of what passes for comedy in theaters today. I still prefer their first two films, with their manic energy and wicked satire, but there’s something surprisingly grounding in this film’s defiant cry of individualism in the face of conformity.
Features commentary by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg and the 48-minute “Completing the Golden Mile: The Making of The World’s End.” The Blu-ray features many more exclusive supplements: two additional commentary tracks (technical commentary by Wright and director of photography Bill Pope and cast commentary by stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Paddy Considine), a half-hour featurette on the stunts and special effects, U-Control options to see the film with picture-in-picture storyboard track or with a trivia track, all sorts of mini-featurettes and behind-the-scenes footage, and a whole lot more. Plus a bonus DVD and Ultraviolet Digital copy.
The To Do List (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, On Demand) is the rare (but not unknown) coming-of-age sex comedy from a female perspective. Aubrey Plaza (of “Parks and Recreation”) plays class valedictorian Brandy, a straight-laced, somewhat snooty smart girl who decides to get an education in sexual experiences before heading off to college, and in classic Type-A fashion, she makes a list. Number one on the list: the dumb-blonde hunk (Scott Porter, frequently shirtless) she works with at the public swimming pool). It’s set in 1993, which gives filmmaker Maggie Carey plenty of opportunity to have fun with the nostalgia of the age before Internet searches (she has to look up every sexual term she encounters from encyclopedias and dictionaries, which isn’t as funny as they think it is). There is an innocence to the idea of sex as simply another human experience that is mature and the female perspective is refreshing, but otherwise it is a rather clumsy and not very clever adolescent comedy without much insight into the joys, complications, and expectations of sex. A good supporting cast, though, including Bill Hader, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Andy Samberg, Donald Glover, and Connie Britton and Clark Gregg as her parents. Features commentary by director / writer Maggie Grace and co-star Bill Hader, a featurette, and collections of deleted and alternate scenes and outtakes.
More New Releases:
Hanna Arendt (Zeitgeist, Blu-ray, DVD), directed by Margarethe von Trotta, stars her longtime collaborator Barbra Sukowa as the famed German-Jewish philosopher who introduced the term “banality of evil” in her controversial coverage of the 1961 trial of Adolph Eichmann. German with English subtitles, with a featurette, deleted scenes, and a substantial booklet.
From France comes Thérèse (MPI, DVD), the final film from director Claude Miller, adapted from the novel by François Mauriac and starring Audrey Tatou. In French with English subtitles, no supplements beyond a trailer.
Planes (Disney, Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD) is Disney’s sky-high answer to Pixar’s Cars, a production originally designed at a direct-to-disc feature promoted to the big screen (complete with a 3D makeover). The discs include little kid-friendly featurettes, deleted scenes, and the exclusive “Franz’s Song,” plus a bonus digital copy.
Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel are Violet & Daisy (Cinedigm, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, On Demand), teenage assassins taken under the wing of James Gandolfini. Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Danny Trejo co-star in the directorial debut by Precious screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher.
Paranoia (Fox, Blu-ray Combo, DVD, On Demand) is a corporate espionage thriller with Liam Hemsworth as a young executive caught between warring CEOs Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman. The Blu-ray Combo includes featurettes and deleted scenes.
We’re the Millers (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, On Demand), a comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudekis, and Ed Helms, features an extended version on the Blu-ray release.
Here’s a pair of indie comedies: Crystal Fairy & the Magic Cactus (IFC, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital), a psychedelic road movie through Chile with Michael Cera and Gaby Hoffman (includes a featurette) and All Is Bright (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray, DVD), a dark comedy with Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd trying to make a buck selling Christmas trees (the Blu-ray features a bonus Ultraviolent Digital copy).
The studios continue their push for a digital home video future by releasing The Wolverine (Fox, Digital HD) in a digital edition two weeks before the disc editions arrive.
The Grandmaster (Anchor Bay, Digital HD), Wong Kar-wai’s take on the Ip Man story, also hits digital before disc. In fact, the disc editions won’t be out until 2014 (the release date was pushed back, despite what Amazon might say).
All four “Indiana Jones” movies debut on Digital HD this week: Raiders of the Lost Ark (Paramount, Digital HD), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Paramount, Digital HD), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Paramount, Digital HD), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount, Digital HD).
And available via Cable On Demand same day as disc is 2 Guns (Universal, On Demand), The World’s End (Universal, Digital, VOD, On Demand), The To Do List (Sony, Digital, On Demand), We’re the Millers (Warner, Digital HD, On Demand), Paranoia (Fox, On Demand), and Violet & Daisy (Cinedigm, Digital, On Demand).
C.O.G. (Screen Media, DVD)
Breaking the Girls (IFC, DVD)
Bridegroom (Virgil, DVD)
And While We Were Here (Well Go, Blu-ray, DVD)
I Am Zozo (RLJ, DVD, VOD)
Danger in the Manger (Inception, DVD, VOD)
She’s Still Not Our Sister (RLJ, DVD)
Primitive (Lionsgate, DVD, Digital, On Demand)
Assassins Tale (MTI, DVD, Digital)
Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (Kino Lorber, DVD)
Schooled: The Price of College Sports (Strand, DVD)
BAM150 (Cinema Guild, DVD)
Danguard Ace: The Movie Collection (Shout Factory, DVD)
Caesar & Ottot’s Deadly Xmas (Wild Eye, DVD, VOD)
Anton Corbijn Inside Out (Music Box, Digital, VOD, On Demand)