You Know You Need It
The Avengers - Disney - 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD
Release Date: May 04, 2012
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson. Full cast + crew
The Avengers seems an impossible film. It shouldn't work, what with so many great, larger-than-life characters competing for screen time in a single movie. But it does. It works really, really well. And the credit for pulling off the impossible is owed entirely to Joss Whedon. He put together a script that not only found smart and interesting ways to bring Marvel's biggest big-screen heroes together, but was able to do so without ever sacrificing the contributions of any one character.
One might complain about pacing issues, or the look of the film -- fans can debate about what superhero movie was the best of the year until they're blue in the face, but thanks to some pretty bland photography crippled by the need to convert to 3D, you would have a very, very hard time convincing anyone this is the best-looking superhero movie of the year -- but in the end there's no denying that this is one of the most enjoyable, well-rounded blockbusters of the year.
Special Features: Commentary by Joss Whedon; Second Screen experience; Marvel One-Shot: Item 47 short film; gag reel; deleted scenes (15 minutes); making-of featurettes; Soundgarden music video "Live to Rise"
I'm not sure who decided this week's retail space would be filled with festival films new to DVD and Blu-ray, but it is. For my money the best of the bunch are Klown, a Danish comedy with a lot of laughs, a lot of raunchiness, and a surprising heart, and Sleepless Night, a creatively shot, fast-moving French thriller about one guy's terrible night. The Tall Man isn't a terrible film, but it's just not what you'd expect as the next film from the guy who made the brutal horror movie Martyrs. It's also hurt by the title, which implies a very different kind of movie than it really is, but if you can drop any Martyrs expectation and pretend it has its original title, The Secret, you'll be in better shape to see it.
Then there's Snowman's Land, a good but slow German thriller about hit men in over their heads, and Asylum Blackout, which is about a group of employees who get trapped in an insane asylum during a thunderstorm.
Heading straight to video this week we've got: FDR: American Badass, a Postal-esque comedy about FDR killing werewolves and vampires; Barricade, the latest from WWE films; The Samaritan, yet another where Samuel L. Jackson plays a guy pushed over the edge; Strippers vs. Werewolves, which is somehow an even more shameless movie than Zombie Strippers; and Damsels in Distress, an indie comedy that has nothing in common with anything else in this row.
And finally we have a pair of straight-to-video movies that are part of larger franchises. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is not part of Christopher Nolan's Batman world, but don't let that disinterest you. I've not seen it, but the early word is it's a very good showing for a more comic-oriented fan. Lastly we have Resident Evil: Damnation, a CGI-animated RE movie from the director of Resident Evil: Degeneration. This also hs nothing to do with its Hollywood blockbuster counterpart, but if you're a fan of the series, it might be worth checking out.
You Know You Want It
Bond 50 - Fox Home Entertainment - Blu-ray and DVD
All 22 James Bond Films on one Blu-ray set for the first time ever. Not only does it come with nine films previously unavailable on Blu-ray, but it boasts over 130 hours of special features. We hope to have a closer look at this set later in the week, but if you happen to win our giveaway, you might be able to get your hands on it before even we do.
I actually erroneously listed Arachnophobia hitting Blu-ray a few weeks ago, so apologies for that. It actually hits BD for the first time this week, and if you've never seen it, we highly recommend you fix that. This is the type of straight-faced yet playful creature feature that Hollywood just doesn't make anymore. It's got a really fun script, a great cast, and some cool practical effects. Plus, if you hate spiders, it'll probably kill any popcorn-eating habbits you have for quite a while.
Also new to Blu-ray this week is a pair of terrific comedies about the U.S. presidency. It's hard to chose between The American President and Dave. They're both wonderful, charming movies that seek to inject some smiles into the U.S. government for once, and they've both held up very well over the years.
And finishing out the week of catalog releases are four releases that will surely be must-owns for any preexisting fans of the films; the cannibal comedy Eating Raoul; the awesomely violent Lone Wolf and Cub series, which contains all six films; the horrifyingly violent Maniac; and the best Dawn of the Dead tribute ever, Lucio Fulci's Zombie.
Follow along on Twitter: @PeterSHall and @Moviesdotcom.