The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Warner Bros. - Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray combo pack, and DVD
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage,Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly. Full cast + crew
It's a little strange that I find myself becoming a big fan of The Hobbit films considering I wasn't a hard-core fan of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I can't exactly pinpoint the difference between the two, though I guess it boils down to the more adventurous spirit of The Hobbit versus the dire, survivor mode of Lord of the Rings. I suppose I just prefer a small story in a grand setting. It also probably helps that I am by no stretch a Tolkien purist, so any changes made from the source material go completely unnoticed on this end.
Sure, that barrel sequence is a little goofy, but overall it's an enjoyable fantasy that doesn't take itself too seriously. Then again, since I don't take this particular franchise all that seriously, maybe that's why its flaws don't bother me.
Special Features: A pretty good amount of extras, including 41 minutes of what amounts to essentially a virtual set visit, then 37 minutes of production videos, plus the 38-minute live session where Peter Jackson answered fan questions last year. Then there are trailers, plus the music video for "I See Fire."
Other Notable New Releases
Paranormal Activity may just be the best horror franchise we have going on right now. Granted, there aren't very many horror franchises these days, so the competition isn't exactly fierce, but even still it's impressive how the minds behind this series have given it such a dense and interesting mythology. The Marked Ones technically isn't Paranormal Activity 5 (it's a spin-off), and while it doesn't do anything new as far as the found-footage aspect goes, it does continue the story fans have been drip-fed over the years, and it actually does a good job of making you care for the characters while understanding the grander, weirder story at play.
Beloved and respected actors a little bit past their prime, agewise, get together to fight for our amusement. Funny how that describes both Grudge Match and August: Osage County. The former features Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone as two aging boxers who decide to come out of retirement for one last bout against each other. If you're a big fan of either actor, it's a safe, simple comedy. And then there's August: Osage County, which features a cast that's basically everyone who attended the Oscars this year as friends/family in small town America who reunite to scream at each other for awhile. It's billed as a comedy, but it's far more dour and dramatic than it looks, so be ready for that.
If you're in the mood for a dense and challenging film about power, influence and the insanity that can so easily befall men under the influence, check out Ben Wheatley's intense, cerebral A Field in England.
And lastly this week sees the DVD release of Zero Charisma, a very charming love letter to what it truly means to be a nerd. This isn't the Big Bang Theory school of geeks, this is a disarming look at how being a nerd really does go hand in hand with obsession and isolation. That makes it sound far more serious than it is, I just wanted to emphasize that it's a very honest film about what it means to be a nerd. And in the interest of full disclosure, our own writer John Gholson is in the film (he plays the owner of the comic shop). But hey, that should be all the more reason for you to check it out.
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