I Want My DVD: Tuesday, February 5, 2013

by Ethan Alter February 5, 2013 12:49 pm
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Don't fly these friendly skies.

Robert Zemeckis's return to live-action filmmaking after roughly a decade spent in motion capture land opens with one of the top-five scariest plane crash sequences ever committed to film. In a sequence that's all the more tense because it's so damn methodical, Zemeckis depicts how an ordinary commuter flight literally descends into chaos, just missing a cataclysmic end thanks only to the actions of the plane's drunken pilot, Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington). Once Whip and the aircraft are back on the ground, the movie suddenly switches gears and becomes an effective portrait of a committed addict, who acknowledges that he has a problem, but is entirely disinterested in taking the steps to fix it... even if it has the potential to destroy him. To put it another way, Flight stars off as Airport and then becomes Leaving Las Vegas. Although the leap to more dramatic territory doesn't exactly come off without a hitch (there's one romantic subplot in particular that falls flat), Washington is terrific throughout, pushing himself well beyond his comfort zone. (In another, non-Lincoln year, he'd probably be the frontrunner for the Best Actor Oscar.) Behind the camera, Zemeckis's direction is typically precise and on-point; although his detour into mo-cap yielded some positive results (most notably his criminally underrated adaptation of Beowulf) it's great to have him back in the realm of live-action filmmaking again.
Extras: Three making-of featurettes and highlights from various Q&A's with the cast and crew.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to read a Q&A with the cast and crew.
Click here to see which movie airlines we're glad we weren't on

Alex Cross
If the producers behind this reboot of the Alex Cross franchise were serious about launching a new series of crime movies based on the James Patterson-penned bestsellers, they maybe shouldn't have cast Tyler Perry (replacing Morgan Freeman) of all people as the titular lawman. From the moment he shows up onscreen wearing a trench coat and wielding a shotgun, the one-man movie factory looks entirely out of place in what's supposed to be a gritty thriller. But Perry is only the tip of the iceberg in this movie's crimes against cinema. You've also got Matthew Fox's hilariously overblown performance as the psycho that matches "wits" with Cross, terrible action choreography, laughable dialogue that sounds more appropriate for Saturday Night Live than a feature film and flat-footed direction by Hollywood hackmesiter, Rob Cohen. Add all these elements together and it's no wonder why the Alex Cross series is once more headed back into deep freeze.
Extras: An oblivious commentary track with Cohen, deleted scenes and a lone featurette.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see our picks for the worst good guys gone bad

Here Comes the Boom
Still in search of its Rocky-like sports movie breakthrough after the most excellent Warrior inexplicably failed to find an audience, the mixed-martial arts industry turned to Kevin James to elevate their box office profile. The King of Queens slob plays a public school teacher who enters the Octagon to bring some much-needed funds towards his struggling institution, not to mention inspire his students and win the heard of the absurdly hot school nurse (Salma Hayek). Needless to say, he gets his ass handed to him on a regular basis at first, but eventually discovers his peculiar swagger in the ring and on campus. Compared to some of James's past efforts (like, say, Zookeeper), Boom has a far more grounded and even dramatic tone, with few pratfalls and other bits of broad business. Instead, the fights are actually taken seriously, including the climactic bout pitting James against a potentially lethal fighter. It's a weird and not entirely unpleasant approach, but it also doesn't make Boom a memorable movie or extended pitch for MMA. (Audiences mostly agreed; Boom outgrossed Warrior, but it was far from a hit of Paul Blart style proportions.) Maybe some sports just aren't meant for the big screen...
Extras: Deleted scenes, an obligatory gag reel, perfunctory interviews with the cast and five additional featurettes.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see Kevin James's most unlikely onscreen romances

Celeste and Jesse Forever
Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg make a surprisingly terrific ex-couple in this Sundance-approved indie dramedy, which Jones co-wrote in addition to starring in. As the movie begins, high school friends-turned-husband and wife Celeste (Jones) and Jesse (Samberg) have already chosen to end their union, but are still living together because... well, they still really love hanging out together. But the living arrangement is starting to take its toll, so they finally cut the cord and go their separate ways. Sadly, it's just when their single lives are beginning that the movie itself goes downhill, turning more episodic and losing some of the comic (and emotional) charge that the two leads share when they're in the same frame. Maybe they can revisit these same characters in a prequel sometime.
Extras: A pair of commentary tracks, one with Jones and Samberg and the other with Jones and her co-writer and director, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette and red carpet coverage.
Click here to read our original review

A Star is Born
Bob Fosse's groundbreaking movie version of the Broadway favorite Cabaret turned 40 years young recently and marked the occasion with the gala screening of a restored print at New York Ziegfeld Theater... the same screen upon which it premiered four decades ago. The core cast turned out for the event and pre-screening walk down memory lane, including Michael York, Joel Grey and, of course, Liza Minnelli, who deservedly won an Oscar for her wide-eyed, full-throated portrayal of Fräulein Sally Bowles, a young American singer dreaming of stardom in pre-Nazi era Berlin. (Grey also scored a statue for his alternately delightful and chilling performance as the titular nightclub's emcee.) And now that restored print has been ported over onto a Blu-ray disc for your home viewing pleasure. Whether seen on the big screen or small, 40 years on, Cabaret remains a singular movie musical, one that pointedly depicts how frivolity can gradually, inevitably give way to something darker, both for individuals and even an entire nation. (If they ever do remake it -- and it's not like the need to -- Anne Hathaway is the obvious choice to play Sally; she's already got Liza's big eyes and cute bob.) If Cabaret hasn't dated much at all, the new-to-Blu Barbara Streisand/Kris Kristofferson feature-length duet A Star is Born suffers from a strong '70s hangover. A then-contemporary remake of a story previously filmed in 1937 and 1954 (the latter, of course, starred Liza's mom, Judy Garland), Star casts Streisand as an undiscovered rock 'n' roll belter who hooks up with established rocker Kristofferson and watches her career take off while his sinks. As hard as it can be to get past the '70s fashions, hairstyles and music, A Star is Born, has its charms, specifically the odd chemistry generated by its leading man and lady. We're still waiting on the inevitable 21st century remake starring -- who else? -- Lea Michele and Adam Levine.
Extras: Cabaret comes packaged in book form with vintage photos and production information and the disc itself includes a commentary track with Ithaca College-based film professor Stephen Tropiano, a retrospective mini-docs and several vintage featurettes. A Star is Born also comes with a booklet, as well as a commentary track with Streisand, wadrobe tests and deleted scenes.

Also on DVD:
Miley Cyrus's latest (and probably last) attempt to conquer the big screen So Undercover goes direct-to-DVD. Apparently, the studio was afraid audiences wouldn't want to pay to see the singer play a P.I. who goes undercover at a college to solve a crime. Yeah... they were probably right about that. The "all-star" line-up of Katherine McPhee, Mena Suvari and Rob Schneider appears in You May Not Kiss the Bride
, a romantic comedy that's neither romantic or all that funny about a photographer (Dave Annable) who is forced into a green card marriage with a gorgeous Croatian woman (McPhee... a role that really isn't any less implausible than her Smash character if you think about it). Heading off for a fake-honeymoon in Hawaii, the duo get into an adventure that naturally brings them closer together. The movie's one saving grace? Casting Tia Carrere as an extremely helpful resort waitress. Twenty years after Wayne's World and she still looks amazing. Keanu Reeves investigates the film industry's transition from celluloid to digital in the tech-talky, but enjoyable (for film buffs anyway) documentary Side by Side. A great cast, including Eric Bana and Charlie Hunnam, enlivens the mostly routine thriller Deadfall. And finally, the Disney favorite Peter Pan arrives on Blu-ray for the first time. Second star to the right and straight on to the Amazon DVD store.

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