Veronica Mars - Warner Bros. - Blu-ray and DVD
Director: Rob Thomas
Cast: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Chris Lowell, Tina Majorino
It'd be hard to imagine anyone who had never seen a single episode of the Veronica Mars television show to get much of anything out of the movie. When director Rob Thomas said he was making this one for the fans, he really wasn't kidding. It's essentially the movie equivalent of a Rolodex, with constant call backs to characters and events from the show that would be utterly meaningless to anyone who didn't already understand them. And that's a bummer, because V. Mars as a character, and her small-town world of Neptune, really is greatly entertaining... once you get to know her.
Unfortunately the movie doesn't do a very good job of introducing newcomers to her world. And as someone who has seen every episode at least twice, even I was a bit disappointed at how call back-y the movie was, feeling very much like a reunion episode instead of new cinematic chapter in the adult life of a teenage private investigator. It's fun enough for fans of the show, but it's not a perfect comeback, and feels like every opportunity to reference something or someone from her past is actually a missed opportunity to do something new instead.
Special Features: "By the Fans: The Making of Veronica Mars," an hour-long documentary that covers the film from its controversial Kickstarter campaign, though production, right up to its world premiere. Then there's another 20 minutes of behind-the-scenes material from the actual set, plus 10 minutes of deleted scenes and a gag reel.
Other Notable New Releases
Aside from Veronica Mars, the only major new release this week is the new DC Comics animated movie Son of Batman. Most of these straight-to-video animated movies, whether they're from Marvel or DC, are usually a mixed bag in terms of quality, but this one actually looks like a pretty promising entry. For starters, the script is from Joe R. Lansdale (Bubba Ho-Tep, Cold in July), and it's adapting a thread from the comics conceived by Grant Morrison about Batman discovering he had a son with Talia al Ghul who was secretly raised in the League of Assassins.
This week is filled with some great older films hitting Blu-ray for the first time. We can start with a pair of very different Steven Spielberg movies: The Terminal and Amistad. The former has gotten a bit of a bum rap over the years as the only Tom Hanks/Spielberg misfire, but I think it holds up as an endearing, large-scale rom-com about the world learning to deal with a quirky foreigner. And then there's Amistad, which remains a sobering, stirring courtroom drama and a unique slave-era story. It'd make for an interesting double feature with Lincoln, and now you can finally do that in high definition.
If you want another funny Tom Hanks comedy, check out Bachelor Party, which is precisely the kind of movie Hanks is highly unlikely to ever make again in his career. Heck, Hollywood doesn't even really make comedies like this anymore. It's crude, sure, but it seems like ever since The Hangover, every guy's party movie has to dial the insanity to 11, whereas Bachelor Party comes from a time when it was okay to keep things small scale and still get out of control.
Lastly we have Revenge of the Nerds, which is a movie that will probably get remade in the not-too-distant future just because it's a brand name, but the truth is no one should ever remake this. It's such a singularly '80s movie dripping from a time when nerds really were the underdogs and the things they were into were truly frowned upon. It's also got some weirdly taboo things in it that a studio would probably shy away from today.
Last Week's Notables
We missed last week's edition of New on DVD/Blu-ray, so here are the highlights. Even as someone who loves Renny Harlin's cheesy movies (even Cutthroat Island), I have a hard time enthusiastically recommending The Legend of Hercules. On the one hand, it's kind of admirable that the script is small scale and relatively grounded without giant Kraken to fight and the like, but on the other hand, it's just a dull affair across the board.
If you need a movie gift for this coming Mother's Day, and the mother(s) in your life happen to like Josh Brolin and brooding romantic dramas about convicts falling for single mothers and vice versa, then they'll probably like Labor Day. Or if you happen to know an expectant mother you're buying a movie for, go ahead and get them Devil's Due. It's yet another found-footage horror movie that doesn't need to be found footage, but beyond that it's a satisfactory creeper.
Sticking with horror, you can now grab the French flick Dead Shadows, about a comet that starts to mutate the citizens of Paris into some decidedly nonhuman creature. It's not as great as, say, Night of the Comet, but it's definitely worth a watch for horror fans, especially those who like the splattery French variety.
And lastly we have Gimme Shelter, which could very accurately be pitched as "Hey, Vanessa Hudgens can be a serious actress, you guys." It's the pop sensation's attempt at getitng some indie cred, and to her credit, she does give it her all in this drama about a preggers teenager whose life is going horribly until she winds up homeless and discovers the generosity of strangers.
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