Lone Survivor - Universal - Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana. Full cast + crew
Judged purely as an action movie, Lone Survivor is quite good. The cast is solid, it's one of Mark Wahlberg's better dramatic performances, and every ounce of action is visceral and engaging, putting you up close and personal with every broken bone and bullet wound-- and there are a staggering amount of both here.
However, Lone Survivor isn't just an action movie. It's based on a real military event, and while there is no universal, authoritative account of precisely what happened in this botched operation that found four Navy SEALs fighting for their lives in the Afghan mountains, the consensus is that the movie takes more than a few liberties with what happened (particularly with the body count). So, its dripping American patriotism may be a bit excessive for those who don't like that stuff, but if your politics or morals aren't easily offended by a movie, it's a pretty ferocious experience.
Other Notable New Releases
Sometimes the greatest condemnation of a movie is that it's just simply okay. When something isn't a divine masterpiece or isn't a horrible disaster, you may walk away kind of wishing it had been one or the other, and that's the case with 2014's RoboCop. It's not the steaming pile that some remakes are, nor is it anywhere close to being the inspired sci-fi satire that is the original Paul Verhoeven film. The updated drone-warfare allegory here is interesting, and a bit more confrontational than what you'd expect from standard Hollywood movies, but the whole thing occupies this sort of personality-free zone where it holds back from doing anything that's too memorable either way. It's a fine movie in every sense of the word. Worth watching, sure, but there's just nothing landmark about it.
Ravenous has spent less time on my DVD shelf than any other movie I own, though that's only because I've spent the better part of a decade constantly loaning it out to people. If I find out a friend hasn't seen it, I practically shove it into their hands. That's why I'm delighted to be able to finally own it on Blu-ray. Unfortunately its HD debut does not arrive with a meticulous HD restoration, so it's not a major, major change from the DVD transfer, but hey, we've finally got one of the most underrated horror movies of the 1990s about to live a second life on Blu-ray, so that's got to count for something. If you've never seen this wonderfully macabre film about men eating other men to gain their strength, I simply cannot recommend it enough.
And speaking of eating the body of others to imbibe yourself with their strength, Son of God also hits home video this week. (Sorry, couldn't resist that kind of a transition.) This is the feature film version of the Mark Burnett and Roma Downey-produced History channel miniseries The Bible, which reduced the TV version's 10 hours to just a little over two hours. So basically, it's the CliffsNotes version of the series, only with a few bits of footage swapped out. The acting isn't stellar, and the CGI production value isn't what you'd normally expect from a biblical epic at your local movie theater, but it gets the job done.
And speaking of historical epics getting rereleased, this week sees the Ultimate Cut of Alexander hitting Blu-ray. Yes, Oliver Stone has yet again reedited his maligned retelling of the life of Alexander the Great (played by Colin Farrell), marking the fourth time he's done so. At 206 minutes, this version of the movie is actually shorter than Alexander Revisited: The Final Unrated Cut by about eight minutes, though it's still about 30 minutes longer than the theatrical version. I have yet to carve out enough time to watch it all, but once I do, I'll update this space.
Lastly this week we have a movie that's wildly different than everything else noteworthy this week: The Motel Life, a quiet little indie featuring some really strong performances by Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff as two brothers who live day-to-day working crappy jobs. It's a bittersweet look at Americana and how some people manage -- or at the very least try -- to find a silver lining in life no matter how cruddy everything may seem.
Check out this exclusive clip from the cast describing the movie:
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