This week brings a disaster movie of epic proportions and a story about a disaster of a child in a fantasy world.
2012: Disaster master Roland Emmerich’s latest excuse to create CGI scenes of the world crumbling is an ancient Mayan prophecy about cataclysmic events that will supposedly happen two years from now. In 2012, a solar flare bombardment makes the Earth’s core heat up and causes crustal displacement, triggering worldwide catastrophes: earthquakes, mega-tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and more. The all-star cast—including a novelist and father played by John Cusack—tries to reach giant arks built in the Himalayas that will save humanity so Emmerich is free to make more disaster movies. No one expects Shakespeare in a film like this, but the problem here is that Emmerich’s scenes of world destruction in 1996’s Independence Day look more realistic than the effects in 2012, the latter of which look created by a team of caffeinated Mac nerds in a dark room instead of mixing CG effects with models and real locations. The DVD includes commentary, an alternate ending, a deleted scene, and the music video to Adam Lambert’s god-awful theme song; the Blu-ray adds an interactive Mayan calendar, PIP commentary by Emmerich, behind-the-scenes featurettes, “Science Behind the Destruction” and a making-of featurette of the aforementioned god-awful Lambert music video.
Ponyo: In director Hayao Miyazaki’s imaginative interpretation of Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Little Mermaid, a boy named Sosuke rescues a goldfish named Ponyo and they embark on a magical journey. Ponyo desperately wants to transform into a little girl and stay with Sosuke, but her father—a powerful sorcerer—wants her to return home to the sea and keep nature in balance. The cast assembled for the English-language track includes Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin and Betty White. Disney’s BD/DVD combo pack includes some interactive featurettes, a “Meet Ponyo” disc introduction and a storyboard presentation of this G-rated movie that is a must-own for the wee ones in your life.
Where the Wild Things Are: Maurice Sendak’s 48-page illustrated book Where the Wild Things Are has been loved by children for several generations; Spike Jonze’s 101-minute movie will not be. What went wrong? Both are about an obnoxious little kid named Max who escapes to a fantasy world populated by giant furry beasts until he learns to appreciate and respect his mother. But the lovely thing about books is…they are mercifully quiet. In Jonze’s noisy adaptation, Max (Max Records) is a Ritalin-baiting monster who screams, destroys his sister’s room and bites his mother before running off to a fantasy world of giant CGI Muppets for some soul searching to the tune of ‘90s-style indie rock. So what’s the ADHD wunderkind’s reward? He gets a big helping of sugary cake, just the fuel he needs for the sequel that will never come to this box office bomb. The DVD has four webisodes; the BD has those and adds the short “Higgelty Pigglety Pop” and four more exclusive webisodes. Be warned: neither version includes Excedrin or RU-486.
Also new this week: The Syfy miniseries based on Alice in Wonderland, Alice; Gentlemen Broncos, Bitch Slap and Clash of the Titans (1981)