Movie of the Week
Headhunters - Magnolia Pictures - Blu-ray and DVD
Release Date: Apr 27, 2012
Director: Morten Tyldum
Cast: Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Eivind Sander. Full cast + crew
To put it simply, Headhunters is one of the most entertaining movies of the year that nobody is talking about. Why is nobody talking about it? Because it's Norwegian. And we all know what happens when a great foreign movie comes along that's seen by far too many people.
Yes, Headhunters is already getting an American remake, but please, please do not wait until that day eventually rolls around to watch this brilliant dark comedy/thriller about a corporate headhunter who moonlights as an art thief whose latest target happens to be a rich mercenary who doesn't take kindly to his painting being stolen. It's very smart, very funny, and has a very, very, very good performance from its lead, Aksel Hennie. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who most will best recognize as Jamie Lannister on Game of Thrones, is also fantastic as the pissed-off merc, and the game the two play against one another is just expertly plotted and executed. Do not miss it.
You Know You're Curious
Battleship - Universal - Blu-ray and DVD
Release Date: May 18, 2012
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Tadanobu Asano. Full cast + crew
Speaking of movies not to be missed... Battleship is not one of them. But, you know you want to see it. You know you're curious to see how a board game where you guess numbers was turned into a 131-minute long feature film loaded with more explosions and non-actors than any film this year. This is the kind of box office bomb that you've just got to see for yourself to understand.
And, who knows, you might actually enjoy it. If loud, mindless action movies are your thing, then Peter Berg's Battleship is by far the loudest and most intellectually vacant film of the year. It's like a Navy-themed karaoke cover song of Michael Bay's Transformers. If that sounds fun, it kind of is. If that sounds like a cinematic nightmare, well, it's kind of that too. Either way, grab the popcorn and press play to find out.
Special Features: A Maximum Movie Mode with PiP commentary, plus nearly 90 minutes of separate featurettes.
The last few weeks have been fairly soft with new releases, but August is going out with a bang, dumping new titles left and right. None of them are particularly huge titles, but there are more than a few that are worth your time, so let's just dive in starting with Jersey Shore Shark Attack. Yes, Jersey Shore Shark Attack. The Syfy channel, even by their own standards, misses far more than it hits, but trust me when I say that JSSA is a hit. Sure, the garbage CGI is still, well, garbage, but this is a legitimately funny, surprisingly self-aware spoof of both Syfy movies and MTV's infamous reality TV show. With some like-minded friends and some libations, this is a great movie for some laughs on a Saturday night.
If you like your horror movies considerably more serious, however, there's quite a few other titles worth checking out this week. Top slot there belongs to Lovely Molly, the latest from Blair Witch Project codirector Eduardo Sanchez. It's a creepy, under-your-skin kind of slow burn that works primarily because of the strength of its lead. Then there's The Moth Diaries, the latest from the director of American Psycho. It's a strange film to be sure, and its twist on the lives of vampires will likely be best enjoyed by goth teen girls, but if you liked Lucky McKee's The Woods, you should check it out. Then we have the Argentinian horror movie Penumbra, about a busty real estate agent with clients from hell. It's also a bit of a slow burn, and the story will either work for you or not, but it's a cool little movie.
Rounding out the horror titles of the week are two found-footage movies. Apartment 143 (aka Emergo) is a little Spanish film about investigations into what's spooking people in an apartment building. Then there's Area 407, which has the rare distinction of being a found-footage movie not about a haunting. This time out the people with the camera are the survivors of a plane that crashed into a secret government testing zone that has dinosaurs in it. Reviews for it have been pretty weak, but if you like found footage, the premise alone should make it worth checking out. Horror fans should also take note of Screaming in High Heels, a documentary about '80s scream queens.
From there we head into random straight-to-video territory, with the
Danish Dutch thriller The Heineken Kidnapping, starring Rutger Hauer, and Blood Money, starring Pitbull. Yes, that Pitbull. And lastly Starship Troopers: Invasion, the fourth entry in the Starship Troopers cannon. It's Japanese CGI anime, but it does feature the same characters from Paul Verhoeven's film, and has been getting some pretty solid early reviews. I'll certainly be tracking down a copy.
Getting back into more mainstream territory, The Lucky One is the latest romantic drama from Nicholas Sparks, the man who has already broken countless teenage hearts with the likes of A Walk to Remember, The Notebook and Dear John. This one stars Zac Efron as a Marine back from Iraq who seeks out the woman, a total stranger, who got him through the war. It should play great to fans of Charlie St. Cloud, but it's not exactly a high mark for Efron's career so far.
If you're the kind of demographic for The Lucky One, you may also want to take a look at the sudden-parent comedy Life Happens, or the feel-good middle-aged romance movie Darling Companion starring Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline and an adorable dog, or the Oscar-nominated Canadian comedy Monsieur Lazhar about a music teacher who ends up getting an unlikely life lesson from his students.
Sticking with the safe, light family fare is The Pirates! Band of Misfits, the latest from Aardman Animations. I missed it in theaters, but by most accounts it's this year's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs-- an animated movie most missed in theaters that was more sophisticated than it looked and will probably find the majority of its fans at home.
And lastly for the new releases there's ReGeneration, the Ryan Gosling-produced/narrated documentary about today's cynical youth cultur; Think Like a Man, one of the surprise box office success stories of the year; and The Viral Factor, the latest kinetic thriller from popular Hong Kong helmer Dante Lam (Beast Stalker, Fire of Conscience).
Overdue Box Set of the Week
The Terminator Anthology - Warner Bros. - Blu-ray
It's kind of strange that it took this long for a box set to come out featuring all four Terminator films. It's even stranger that a box set this elaborate is a Best Buy exclusive. But considering the feature set of this Blu-ray bad boy, a trip to Best Buy should be in order for any fans of the franchise. Not only does it include all four films, but it also has all three cuts of Terminator 2: Judgment Day: the theatrical (137 minutes), the special edition (152 minutes), and the extended cut (154 minutes), plus both the theatrical PG-13 (115 minutes) and the R-rated (118 minutes) cuts of Terminator Salvation.
As if that was incentive enough, the special features are packed in as well. For The Terminator, there's seven deleted scenes and 33 minutes of making-of materials (in SD). For T2 there's two commentary tracks, and eight hours of behind-the-scenes materials. T3 boasts three commentary tracks, three featurettes, as well as a deleted scene, and a gag reel. TS includes a Maximum Movie Mode, as well as two features dedicated to how the franchise was updated for the future.
Now, if you already own all four films on Blu-ray, all of those features probably sound pretty familiar. There are indeed no new goodies here. The transfers are the same, as are the extras; all five discs (Salvation has a second disc) are identical content-wise, they just happen to be all packaged together for the first time in a pretty sturdy set with the skull of a T-800 embossed on the cover. If you, like me, dig the entire franchise -- I find Salvation the weakest of the anthology, but do think Rise of the Machines never got its fair due for at least feeling like a spiritual successor to Judgment Day -- but don't actually own all the films on Blu-ray, it's a pretty convenient and affordable package (assuming you have a Best Buy nearby).
The new titles this week are so front-loaded that the catalog titles seem positively sparse in comparison, but there's some quality stuff out there. Universal unloads three more of its 100th Anniversary titles onto Blu-ray for the first time: Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, a movie I loved as a kid; Airport, the thriller that was the inspiration for Airplane!; and Harvey, a wonderful film from 1950 featuring James Stewart and his best friend, an invisible rabbit. Criterion's offerings this week are Quadrophenia and Lonesome, so keep your eye on both DVD Obscura and Criterion Corner for more about those two titles.
Finally the week ends with a smattering of random titles: A Beginner's Guide to Endings, a comedy with a pretty good ensemble cast that includes Tricia Helfer, Harvey Keitel and J.K. Simmons; Death Watch, the Harvey Keitel-led sci-fi film that now seems ahead of its time; The Living Dead Girl and Two Orphan Vampires, the latest in Kino's restoration of '70s cult horror.
Follow along on Twitter: @PeterSHall and @Moviesdotcom.