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Monday, January 24, 2011

RED, Saw 3D, and others on DVD tomorrow.

Retired, and extremely dangerous
It's Monday night. Who knows what that means?

that tomorrow is Tuesday? yes. But, that also means that we get a new shipment of DVD's in to help get us through the week! What are we going to get? Well, we have a choice of five -

Red, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Saw 3D, Nowhere Boy, and Secretariat.

The real question is "which is more worth my money?". Let's take a closer look at each.

More after the cut --

RED exists almost solely as a lesson in "bad-assery" for the younger action heroes of today. Much like The Expendables (though with much less subtle sarcastic undertones), stars that our parents grew up watching - and that we've become familiar with through parody of themselves - lead the way and break everything in sight for the hell of it. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich (whose comic role should have been getting Oscar talk), Mary Louise-Parker, Helen Mirren, Richard Dreyfuss, a slick and genius Karl Urban, Brian Cox, and Ernest motherfu*king Borgnine. That's one hell of a cast. CIA Black Operatives on the run, CIA Black Operatives trying to chase them, international intrigue, love, belly laughs, and thrilling explosions = best action film of last year? Were it not for Stallone's The Expendables, I'd say absolutely. But, The Expendables (being the slightly more serious-in-tone, but just as funny and exciting, answer to this film) just resonates better with its excellent direction. Performances are better in RED, direction is better in The Expendables. Bruce Willis can't win them all, even if he's in both.

Special features include extended/deleted scenes, a 6-part interactive making-of, a feature commentary from former CIA agent Robert Baer (think Syriana), and an expose on the CIA.

Also on DVD tomorrow is the seventh and (god willing) final chapter in the Saw saga. Can we call it a saga? Twilight is a saga - that has a coherent story. Star Wars is a saga - coherent story. Saw hasn't had a coherent story since five minutes into the fourth film. The first three Saw flicks, as they stand together, work as a flawless trilogy that hums a meditation of fatherly devotion and love, and features one of the best performed characters of the new millennium (Shawnee Smith as "Amanda"). But, with the fourth film, her character became irrelevant and everything we learned in the first three movies was either A) a lie, or B) something that we imagined. A film isn't good if it continuously plays circumstantial tricks on its audience. That makes a film weak and automatically casts horror films (like this one) into the "shock theater/midnight movie" section of Blockbuster. Unfortunate because if left alone, the first three Saws could have lived as legendary horror. Now, the series is a joke. But, even moreso now, it's a 3D joke.

"The traps come alive!" is the tagline for this red Caro-syrup soaked production. "Thrilling 3D" is an understatement. I'll give the film its tech production - it's smartly made and makes excellent use of an abused technology. But, because of the staggeringly poor performances and inept, if not absent, direction, it fails wholly as a film. It comes full circle to the ending of the first film (which downgrades this series from saga, maybe even franchise, to punchline) and shatters everything we knew from the second one on. One would have to, literally, sit down with a notepad and take notes to follow how convoluted this story becomes. Every film has a new villain that works with Jigsaw, and it makes you wonder just how many people can he convert to his ways? And then, when the final moments and the final villain are revealed, I thought to myself "I'm watching this for free, and I feel like I'm wasting my money."

The film will have a Blu-Ray release in addition to its standard DVD copy, so all the high-tech gore fans will be able to count the bumps on the entrails that fly across the room. Also, an Blu-Ray 3D release - a new technology designed for 3D films coming to Blu-Ray discs. That's enough for me to revisit it, if unhappily. I won't enjoy it, but I know the effects will almost certainly drive the rewatch, much like they did the first time. The film comes Unrated and will feature these extras, as pulled from the film's page:

• 3D Blu-ray version of the Feature Film
• 2D Blu-ray Version of the Feature Film
• Producers’ Audio Commentary
• Writers’ Audio Commentary
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Music Videos
• “52 Ways to Die” – Recounting the Traps from the Saw Films
• Theatrical Trailer
• Lionsgate Live™ – BD-Live menu system that lets you access exclusive content, special offers, ringtones, and more!

Also on DVD tomorrow - 

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - The astonishing Noomi Rapace completes the filmic adaptation of Steig Larsson's "Millennium" trilogy. Her Lisbeth Salander is in prison awaiting trial for three murders, and is plotting revenge on the people who led her there. She's in the process of being broken out of prison, but it's only a matter of time until things come to a head and explode for the worst. The film features remarkable performances, like the previous two, from everyone involved.

Secretariat - I never knew just how boring a sports movie could be until I saw this film. Granted, I've always had a strong distaste for horse racing, but even I loved Seabiscuit. I blame Disney for the lack of care put into the film, and I blame Diane Lane for her barely-there performance as Secretariat's jockey. Winning the Triple-Crown shouldn't feel like ordering pizza.

Nowhere Boy - "The untold story of John Lennon and the creation of The Beatles" says the DVD box. What it won't tell you is "the arrival of Aaron Johnston, star of tomorrow". His work as the young pre-John Lennon John Lennon leaves no question in my mind that he will be not only on several middle school girls' notebooks and locker doors, but that he'll be receiving awards attention for quite some time at some point in his career. His swagger is almost blinding, and his internalization of John Lennon is deafening. It's a performance that shakes the senses. The cast around him, while sadly not given as much to work with, definitely keeps up with the boy, especially Kristen Scott Thomas (one of my very favorites) as Aunt Mimi.

More information about the above DVDs is available, just click the title to go to their Amazon pages. 

Go out and rent a movie, or, Hell, buy a movie. You've earned one. You've a long week ahead of you. My money would most definitely go to RED, though. So much fun.