Hey look, we’re back on track (for the most part), and have some pretty awesome stuff this time out including the latest MST3K release, a Herzog collection that will blow your mind, some martial arts and a cult classic that is my dream cinematic double feature with Flash Gordon.
Fire up that queue and prep that shopping cart.
|Paramount / Released 7/29/14|
Russell Crowe stars as Noah in the film inspired by the epic story of courage, sacrifice and hope, who takes on the monumental task of building the legendary ark, saving the chosen few and surviving the great deluge. The film also stars Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins and features Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, and Douglas Booth. Extras include featurettes.
Last Word: Fascinating interpretation of the Old Testament that is definitely unlike any other previous adaptation. Director Darren Aronofsky’s vision is far from perfect, but is a truly captivating tale that uses the story of the Ark as a metaphor for an apocalyptic future. With only several actors having any real presence in the film, the story is able to combine a somewhat silly premise into a stunning and visually engaging story that offers a parallel to our own time on Earth and continuing optimism that’s necessary for mankind to survive and prosper. Recommended.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXX
|Shout! Factory / Released 7/29/14|
In the language of bowling, XXX is known as a turkey. This latest collection of episodes from the cult comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 bowls a solid 120, then, since it includes four turkeys, cinematically speaking. But with comic kingpins Joel and Mike and their robot teammates Tom Servo and Crow hurling their own hilarious riffs, not a single instance of bad acting, bad writing or bad filmmaking is spared. This promises to be a match for the ages, and needless to say, you will have a ball. Whether it’s ten frames or 24 per second, the snarky anarchy of MST3K will be right up your alley.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXX brings us The Black Scorpion, the 1957 horror/sci-fi tale of two American geologists who work with the Mexican army to destroy the giant arachnids that emerge and wreak havoc after a volcanic eruption, ultimately facing off in a bullring against the biggest and meanest one; Outlaw (of Gor) aka Gor II, wherein our hero, college professor Tarl Cabot, returns to the eponymous planet to take on a vicious queen whose evil priest has accused him of murder; The Projected Man, the tale of a scientist who made himself the guinea pig in a teleportation experiment gone horribly wrong. His mutated, electrically charged body becomes lethal to anyone he touches, and he seeks vengeance on those who interfered with his work; and It Lives By Night, a 1974 horror film best known as special effects pioneer Stan Winston’s first credit. While a honeymoon couple explores a cave, the new groom is bitten by a rabid vampire bat and quickly develops a taste for human blood. He eventually turns his bride so the marriage is sound, but the honeymoon is definitely over. Extras include Stinger Of Death: Making The Black Scorpion, Writer Of Gor: The Novels Of John Norman, Director Of Gor: On Set With John “Bud” Cardoes, Producer Of Gor: Adventures With Harry Alan Towers, Shock To The System: Creating The Projected Man Extended Trailer For “The Frank” Music Video and 4 Exclusive Mini-Posters By Artist Steve Vance.
|Shout! Factory / Released 7/29/14|
A magical empire has suddenly appeared in the arctic north of Equestria and Princess Celestia needs Twilight and her friends to find a way to protect it. While her friends try to keep the Crystal Ponies occupied at the Crystal Faire, Twilight searches for the hidden Crystal Heart that is the key to keeping their empire safe from harm! Includes the episodes The Crystal Empire, Parts 1 and 2, Sonic Rainboom, and Luna Eclipsed.
Herzog: The Collection (Limited Edition)
|Shout! Factory / Released 7/29/14|
He has taken his camera to parts of the world no other director would dare go, and told stories in ways no one had ever considered. These sixteen masterpieces, which blur the line between fiction and documentary, illustrate why Werner Herzog is the most daring, visionary and dangerous filmmaker of our lifetime, the director that both Milos Forman and Francois Truffaut have called the greatest filmmaker alive today.
This deluxe set includes, for the first time on Blu-Ray:
- Even Dwarfs Started Small: Featuring a cast composed entirely of little people (the first time that had been done since the 1938 western, The Terror Of Tiny Town, Even Dwarves Started Small is a brutal, uncompromising allegory about the consequences of imprisonment and rebellion. The inmates have taken over an institution in a bleak and savage world in which everyone’s a dwarf. As one of the institution’s directors holds a rebel hostage while issuing orders for calm, the other inmates run amok, smashing equipment, setting fires, fighting for power and tormenting two blind prisoners. In this land of reversed proportions, these revolutionary outcasts not only destroy the symbols of civilization – cars, typewriters and dinner plates – but trees and flowers and animals as well. In this world gone mad with violence, the chickens resort to cannibalism, and monkeys are crucified.
- Land of Silence and Darkness: In this astonishing documentary about the world of the deaf-blind, acclaimed director Werner Herzog explores the life of Fini Straubinger, a remarkable and kind-hearted 56-year-old deaf and blind woman who has dedicated her life to helping the similarly afflicted. From their first flight on an airplane to a day at a petting-zoo, Herzog captures the joys and struggles of those who have been isolated from the world around them. Land of Silence and Darkness is a tribute to the triumphant nature of the human spirit and a glimpse into an existence so intense and abstract that at times it seems to reach great lyrical heights.
- Fata Morgana: In one of the strangest and most mesmerizing films ever made, world-renowned director Werner Herzog brings his cameras to the Sahara desert in order to film mirages. But Fata Morgana (literally, “mirage”) is much more than that – as Herzog combines the apocalyptic, often hallucinatory images he discovered in the desert (plane wreckage, exotic beasts, and one of the oddest musical cts ever filmed) with passages from the Mayan creation myth, transforming a simple trick of the light into what he calls “a science-fiction elegy of demented colonialism.”
- Aguirre, The Wrath Of God: In the mid-16th century, after annihilating the Incan empire, Gonzalo Pizarro (Allejandro Repulles) leads his army of conquistadors over the Andes into the heart of the most savage environment on earth in search of the fabled City of Gold, El Dorado. As the soldiers battle starvation, Indians, the forces of nature, and each other, Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski) “The Wrath Of God,” is consumed with visions of conquering all of South America and revolts, leading his own army down a treacherous river on a doomed quest into oblivion. Featuring a seething, controlled performance from Kinski, this masterpiece from director Werner Herzog is an unforgettable portrait of madness and power.
- The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser: In 1828, as if out of nowhere, a young man appeared in Nuremberg’s town square. He had no history, spoke only a few words, and could not stand upright. Having been locked in a basement for 17 years, Kaspar Hauser was more beast than man. Who was he, and where did he come from? Despite attempts by townsfolk to understand and civilize him, Kaspar became little more than a sideshow attraction. And though the mystery of his origins remained unanswered, perhaps the biggest question of all was, why did someone want him dead? Based on a true story, Werner Herzog’s poignant, often funny, and unforgettable tale of “the enigma pf the century” -punctuated by a brilliant performance by Bruno S. -will haunt viewers forever.
- Heart of Glass: The residents of a tiny, pre-industrial Bavarian village are gripped by a collective madness after the man who runs the local glassworks dies without revealing the secret of the magical Ruby Glass. In their desperation to discover the formula, they turn to superstition and murder. When a mystic appears out of the mountains, will his premonitions save them or foretell their doom? Haunting and visionary, Heart of Glass is perhaps best known as the result of one of Werner Herzog’s most radical experiments. In order to create the proper atmosphere of trance and sleepwalking, the entire cast acted under hypnosis.
- Stroszek: After being released from prison, Berlin street musician Bruno Stroszek (Bruno S.) finds himself lost in a world where he simply doesn’t belong. So along with his prostitute girlfriend (Eva Mattes) and an eccentric neighbor (Clemens Scheitz), Stroszek moves to America, where he’s told, everyone is rich. It doesn’t take long, however, after moving into a mobile home and taking a job as a mechanic, for Stroszek to realize that the streets of Railroad Flats, Wisconsin aren’t paved with gold. Featuring a remarkable cast and one of the most bizarre, memorable ending in film history, Werner Herzog’s Stroszek is a brilliant tragicomedy which explores what happens when the American dream becomes a nightmare.
- Woyzeck: In Werner Herzog’s brilliant adaptation of Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck, Klaus Kinski delivers a wild and stunning performance in a role only he could play. Franz Woyzeck (Kinski) is a hapless, hopeless soldier, alone and powerless in society, assaulted from all sides by forces he cannot control. Abused and tortured, both physically and psychologically by commanding officers, doctors and his unfaithful wife, Marie (Eva Mattes, Best Supporting Actress at Cannes), Woyzeck struggles to hold on to his humanity and his fragile sanity. In the film’s shattering climax, he is finally driven over the brink into madness and murder.
- Nosferatu: The Vampyre: It is 1850 in the beautiful, perfectly-kept town of Wismar. Jonathan Harker is about to leave on a long journey over the Carpathian Mountains to finalize real estate arrangements with a wealthy nobleman. His wife, Lucy, begs him not to go and is troubled by a strong premonition of danger. Despite her warnings, Jonathan arrives four weeks later at a large, gloomy castle. Out of the mist appears a pale, wraith-like figure with a shaven head and deep-sunken eyes who identifies himself as Count Dracula. The event that transpire slowly convince Harker that he is in the presence of a vampyre. What he doesn’t know is the magnitude of danger he, his wife and his town are about to experience.
- Fitzcarraldo: Peru. Iquitos is a town isolated in the middle of the jungle at the turn of the century. On the outskirts, a few shacks are rotting in the mud. In the center are the splendid houses of the nouveaux-riches rubber barons. Sweeney Fitzgerald – Fitzcarraldo, as the natives call him – has his dream of bringing together Enrico Caruso and Sarah Bernhardt for one great celebration of Grand Opera. To finance this fantastic dream, Fitzcarraldo decides to exploit a vast area of rubber trees growing beyond the impassable Ucayala Falls. To circumvent this barrier, he literally has his huge steamboat lifted over a mountain from one branch of the river to the other. With the aid of a tribe of Indians bewitched by records featuring the voice of the greatest singer of all time, Fitzcarraldo fights fever, mosquitos and suffocating heat to achieve the impossible….
- Ballad Of The Little Soldier: This disturbing, compassionate documentary focuses on Nicaragua’s Miskito Indian tribe who were persecuted by the Somoza regime and then fought the Sandinistas with guerrilla units composed largely of children.
- Where The Green Ants Dream: In the wilds of Australia, Aboriginal tribes observe their ancient legends and laws evolve over 40,000 years. Their culture is threatened by a giant corporation that wants to mine in one of the Aborigines’ holiest sites – the place “where the green ants dream”. As long as those dreams remain uninterrupted, the Aboriginal culture will survive but if the mining company executives succeed with their plan to destroy the holy ground, the Aborigines believe that their civilization – and the earth itself – will perish. Thus starts a revolt by the world of dreams against an impatient civilization that seems to want everything but understands nothing.
- Cobra Verde: In their final collaboration, Werner Herzog directs Klaus Kinski in the remarkable tale of Francisco Manoel da Silva, the flamboyant 19th century Brazilian bandit known as “Cobra Verde.” When the owner of a sugar plantation unknowingly hires the barefoot, gun-toting thief to keep his slaves in check, he gets more than he bargained for as Cobra Verde, in short order, impregnates all of his boss’s daughters. In revenge, he is sent on an impossible and deadly mission to sail to the west coast of Africa and re-open the slave trade. Not only does Cobra Verde succeed at this, he goes on to lead an unstoppable army of women in a savage war against the local king! Filmed on location with a cast of hundreds, Cobra Verde is a tale of adventure, greed and betrayal. It’s the story of two worlds in collision, and of the man who was trapped between them.
- Lessons of Darkness: In the aftermath of the Gulf War, retreating Iraqi soldiers left the oil fields of Kuwait a raging inferno. True to form as perhaps the world’s most death-defying filmmaker, Werner Herzog and a small camera crew arrived on the scene to film the carnage. What resulted was Lessons of Darkness – less a simple documentary about an environmental catastrophe that it is an apocalyptic vision of hell, Herzog has created a science fiction film, in which our planet vanishes beneath pillars of flame, oceans of oil, and impenetrable clouds of smoke. Lessons of Darkness is a powerful, breathtaking and strangely beautiful portrait of a world on fire.
- Little Dieter Needs To Fly: As a young boy, Dieter Dengler watched as Allied planes destroyed his village. From that instant, he knew that he wanted to fly. So at 18, he moved to America, enlisted in the Navy, and was promptly shipped off to Vietnam. During one of his first missions, however, Dengler was shot down over Laos and taken prisoner. Despite torture and starvation – at one point he weighed 85 pounds – he escaped, and after a harrowing journey through the jungle on foot, returned home. Today, even comfort and success cannot dispel the demons of his past. In this remarkable, award-winning documentary, director Werner Herzog returns to the jungle with Dengler, to tell an incredible tale of courage and survival against impossible odds.
- My Best Fiend: A film about the tempestuous yet legendary working relationship between two creative giants of the film industry — Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski. A chain of coincidences brings the 13-year-old schoolboy Werner Herzog together with Klaus Kinski to the same apartment in Munich. In an unabated, 48-hour fit of rage Kinski immediately proceeds to lay waste to all the furniture, only one of such fits to come. Herzog therefore knows what awaits him when, some years later, he engages Kinski to work with him on Aguirre, The Wrath of God, their first film together. Four more films would follow. My Best Fiend is a film about the love-hate relationship between director Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski – utterly puzzling to others. It reveals the deep trust between two exceptional artists and their independently and simultaneously hatched plans to murder one another.
Extras include seven English audio commentaries, two German audio commentaries, In Conversation – Werner Herzog and Laurens Straub (In German with English Subtitles), The Making of Nosferatu The Vampyre, Portrait: Werner Herzog documentary, Herzog In Africa documentary, trailers and editorial reviews.
Last Word: One of cinema’s most interesting and fascinating filmmakers gets the deluxe treatment in this must have set from Shout! Factory. Including a large selection of his work, Herzog: The Collection is exhaustive and to certain extent exhausting as the intense filmmaker and his work shine throughout. Highly recommended.
Adventure Time: Princess Day
|Cartoon Network / Released 7/29/14
Oh My GLOB! If you like princesses then the DVD is for you. Inside you’ll find adventure time royalty that’s lumpy, gummy, on fire. Slimy, bouncy, boney, muscle-bound and more! Thanks to these ladies (and 16 episodes) every day can now be princess day! Includes the episodes
Princess Day, Princess Potluck, Bad Little Boy, Candy Streets, Jake Suit, The Party’s Over, Isla De Senorita, The Box Prince, Rattleballs, Love Games, Bad Timing, Princess Monster Wife, Hot To The Touch, Reign Of Gunters, Beautopia, Her Parents, and Loyality To The King. Extras include featurette.
|E1 Entertainment / Released 7/29/14|
Beneath Bruce Garrett’s shabby, overweight exterior, the passionate beating heart of a salsa king lays dormant. Only one woman can reignite his Latin fire, but first Bruce must learn how to unshackle his dancing beast, regain his long lost swagger and claim the love of his life. Spotlight hits, sweat drips, heels click – Nick Frost IS Cuban Fury! Extras include featurettes and interview.
The Protector 2
|Magnolia / Released 7/29/14|
When Boss Suchart is murdered, all evidence points to KHAM (Tony Jaa). Forced to run as he fights to clear his name, he is hunted by not only the police, but Boss Suchart’s revengeful twin nieces and LC (RZA), a crime lord with his own agenda. A sequel of the global smash-hit The Protector, this extreme fight movie is an endlessly intense, nerve-racking film full of daredevil stunt scenes and amazingly choreographed fighting moves that will pump hot blood through the body of all action fans! Extras include featurettes and trailers.
Ong Bak Trilogy
|Magnolia / Released 7/29/14|
- Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior: Tony Jaa, the fighting superstar “destined for film’s martial arts pantheon,” (New York Daily News) electrifies as a religious young warrior who swears an oath of peace. But when a gangster steals the head of Ong-Bak, his village’s deity, Ting heads for Bangkok to get it back. In a film Time Magazine calls “exhilarating” with relentless, fever-pitched action free of stunt doubles and specials effects, Jaa performs some of the most awesome physical feats ever seen on film.
- Ong Bak 2: The Beginning: Tony Jaa, the martial arts master who “is as mesmerizing as ever” (Entertainment Weekly), stars in this epic tale of revenge set hundreds of years in the past. This prequel to Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior takes Jaa’s skills to the next level, showcasing him as a master of a wide range of martial arts styles. “The beatdowns are epic, with several jaw-dropping set pieces. The climactic scene qualifies as one of the best martial arts fight scenes ever.” (LA Daily News)
- Ong Bak 3: The Final Battle: Ong Bak 3 picks up where Ong Bak 2 concluded. Tien is captured and almost beaten to death before he is saved and bought back to the Kana Khone villagers. There, he is taught meditation and how to deal with his Karma, but very soon his arch rival returns challenging Tien for a final duel.
|Lionsgate / Released 7/29/14|
Travis Preston assembles his team for an expedition to a remote region in China’s hinterland, where a wild animal that the locals believe to be a primeval monster they call the “Shocate” is said to roam free. Travis’s nemesis Jim Harker – a merciless trophy hunter – has already set up camp. A race against time ensues, and Travis and his team will have to pool all their resources if they want to capture this legendary creature alive. Extras include interviews and featurettes.
|Cinedigm/ Released 7/22/14|
Average 12-year old Pelle is transformed into an extraordinary superhero after he is bitten by a super-ant. When a young girl is kidnapped, Pelle, now “Antboy” sets about to rescue her, bringing him into conflict with super-villain “The Flea”.
Last Word: Antboy is a Danish import that takes the general Spider-Man concept, copies it, and imprints it on the young tween set. Dubbed in English, the film offers nothing new, but manages to be one of the more charming superhero films in recent memory. 12 year old Pelle (Dietz) is an outsider in his own life. He’s not picked on, but rather overlooked by his classmates, his parents as well as Amanda, the prerequisite girl of his dreams. After getting bitten by a genetically modified ant, Pelle gets superpowers which include wall crawling, enhanced strength and senses, acidic urine and the ability to chew through anything.
Fueled with a stomach full of sugar, Pelle teams with comic book obsessed classmate Wilhelm to design a costume, test his powers and adopt the secret identity of Antboy. And every superhero has an arch nemesis, in Antboy’s case, it’s the Flea, an angry grudge-filled adult who has not only taken Amanda’s CEO father hostage, but who has a showdown with Antboy in his school.
The film is definitely an oddity. The Flea is a bit of a strange antagonist, as an angry grown man fighting a child. It might not seem strange in a comic, but on screen it’s more than a little awkward. The effects are serviceable (several of them seem to be available on a phone app I have), but Antboy is definitely a low budget movie, and at times it shows. It’s derivative, unoriginal and the acting is pretty wooden (even dubbed), but tremendously entertaining. Comic book films take themselves too seriously, but Antboy has fun with the tropes and effectively charms throughout. A must see for kids, and a charmer for adult comic fans as well.
The Other Woman
|20th Century Fox / Released 7/29/14|
Cameron Diaz leads a knockout cast in this irreverent comedy about love, lust and the laws of karma. New York attorney Carly Whitten (Diaz) is nobody’s fool. So when she accidentally discovers that her too-good-to-be-true boyfriend Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is married, she’s less than thrilled. Not only that, she and Mark’s wife Kate (Leslie Mann), learn about yet another mistress (Kate Upton)! Before long, however, the betrayed beauties have become unlikely pals who’ve decided to teach their three-timing man a lesson. The more the trio learns about Mark, the worse he seems, and the more fun they have without him!
|Well Go USA / Released 7/29/14|
The Devil’s Cauldron – a city of depravity and violence, where only the lethal survive. Two hit men rule these streets, feared by all but loyal to one another. When a beautiful woman seduces them both, they turn on each other, igniting an epic battle that may bring the city to the brink of destruction.
|Summit Entertainment / Released 8/5/14|
Divergent is a thrilling action-adventure set in a future world where society has been divided into five distinct factions. But Tris will never fit into any one group – she is Divergent, and what makes her different makes her dangerous. Targeted by a faction leader determined to eliminate all Divergents, Tris turns to the one person she believes she can trust: Four, an instructor for the militant Dauntless faction, and a man full of dark secrets. Together, Tris and Four uncover a mind-bending conspiracy that will put their courage to the ultimate test… and forever link their destinies. Extras include commentary, documentary, featurette, marketing materials and deleted scenes.
Community: Season 5
|Sony / Released 8/5/14|
America’s smartest, edgiest comedy goes back to school with a vengeance! Just when you thought you’d seen and laughed at everything, along comes Season 5 to re-invent all the rules. “Bear Down” for the most jaw-dropping, polygraph-taking, hot lava-walking, ass-crack-bandit-pursuing, fantasy-roleplay-gaming, animated “G.I. Jeff”-hallucinating, hidden treasure-hunting, college campus-saving season that gets a rated of five MeowMeowBeenz! The fifth season of Community proves to be the most innovative and hilarious season yet – with Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong, Jonathan Banks and John Oliver. Extras include commentary, featurettes and outtakes.
Last Word: Creator Dan Harmon returns with mixed results. So much of the series during his run had some truly brilliant moments, that this season often feels like he’s trying to recapture the magic, resulting in what often feels like parody. Donald Glover leaves the series early on, but the chemistry that he shared with cast member Danny Pudi never is recaptured. There are lots of moments during the season to like, but more than anything else, it was the discovery that the previous season’s showrunners actually did a good job continuing the series, and Harmon’s return indicates that both NBC and Harmon himself are giving the viewers exactly what they want; with somewhat disappointing results.
Phantom Of The Paradise
|Shout! Factory / Released 8/5/14|
Phantom Of The Paradise is a ground-breaking cult film favorite from acclaimed writer/director Brian De Palma. Paul Williams wrote the acclaimed score for this musical horror classic, and stars as an evil record tycoon haunted and taunted by the disfigured composer Winslow Leach (William Finley) he once wronged. Cheered by the Los Angeles Times as a “delightful, outrageous…visual triumph,” and also starring Jessica Harper and Gerrit Graham, this hilarious send-up of the glam rock era is pure entertainment from beginning to end.” Extras include commentaries, interviews, alternate takes, music outtakes, documentary, featurettes, tv and radio ads, still gallery and trailer.
Last Word: One of my favorite films and a constant recommendation for people who have never seen it, Phantom Of The Paradise has never looked or sounded better. A reimagining of the classic Phantom Of The Opera (with a hint of The Picture of Dorian Gray and a helping of Faust) set in the rock industry. With a captivating performance and music by Paul Williams, this visually amazing, smart and at time hysterical send up is a must see for fans of cult cinema. Phantom Of The Paradise is an over the top, stylized and tremendously entertaining film. Highest recommendation.
Ping Pong Summer
|Millennium Media / Released 8/5/14|
The year is 1985. Rad Miracle is a shy, 13-year-old white kid obsessed with two things: Ping-Pong and hip-hop. During his family’s annual summer vacation to Ocean City, Maryland, Rad makes a new best friend, experiences his first real crush, becomes the target of rich, racist local bullies, and finds an unexpected mentor in his outcast next-door neighbor. Pin Pong Summer is about that time in your life when you’re treated like an alien by everyone around you, even though you know – deep down – you’re as funky fresh as it gets. Extras include commentary and making of.
The Full Monty
|20th Century Fox / Released 8/5/14|
Six unemployed men inspired by a touring group of male strippers, decide they can make a small fortune by putting on a striptease show of their own – but with one small difference. They intend to go the “full monty” and strip completely naked! In this hilarious, heartfelt comedy, these men discover the inner strength to bare it all in front of the world. Features the music of Donna Summer, Hot Chocolate, Gary Glitter, Sister Sledge and Tom Jones. Extras include commentaries, deleted footage, featurettes, and original publicity campaign.
Ja’mie: Private School Girl
|HBO Studios / Released 8/5/14|
From the creator, writer and star of Summer Heights High and Angry Boys comes the continuing story of Ja’mie King, a conniving Year 12 student at Hillford Girls Grammar, a tony private school in Sydney, Australia. Ja’mie, the self-promoting “queen bee” of Lilley’s acclaimed series Summer Heights High (which aired on HBO in 2008) returns from an exchange semester at that public school for her last three months at Hillford, where she’s the unchallenged diva among the school’s most popular girls, as well as the school captain. After passing her school days cooing with fellow prefects and dissing the “boarders”, Ja’mie turns her attention to conquering the opposite sex, enrolled nearby at Kelton Boys Grammar. But Ja’mie can’t stop at just one guy, finding herself in a love triangle with dreamy jock Mitchell and African exchange student Kwami. She also finds herself in a number of jams – performing an inappropriate assembly dance, hosting a wild party at her parents’ house, appearing in a lewd video – that incite the wrath of school officials and her parents. Her callous manipulations begin to wear thin as a few brave girls start to challenge Ja’mie’s reign. But she’ll stop at nothing to have the last word, emboldened by her hot-girl entourage. Clothes, cars, boys, parties… Ja’mie has it all, and her overriding goal is to win the Hillford Medal, given to the “Best Girl in Year 12”. Extras include behind the scenes, deleted scenes and bloopers.
I’ll Follow You Down
|Well Go USA / Released 8/5/14|
After the disappearance of an accomplished physicist (Rufus Sewell), his son Erol (Haley Joel Osment) and wife Marika (Gillian Anderson) struggle to cope. Years later, now a young scientist himself, Erol discovers a formula that could kill him, throw him into the unknown…or bring his family back together. Extras include featurette and deleted scenes.
Need For Speed
|Disney/Buena Vista / Released 8/5/14|
Buckle up with Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) as he sets out on a mission of revenge against wealthy and arrogant Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), who framed him for a crime he didn’t commit. Tobey pushes his limits to the max in a high-octane race across America, hitting the road with the world’s most exotic supercars — delivering real speed, real danger and real action. Adapted from the top-selling video game franchise — and complete with never-before-seen bonus features — Need For Speed is the ultimate thrill ride. Extras include commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes and trailer.
Last Word: The classic video game, Need for Speed, had no real narrative, so director Scott Waugh created a very simple story of good, evil, and speeding cars. The production is pimped out with futuristic exotic vehicles and the ultimate classic prize car, a Ford Mustang as envisioned by Carroll Shelby before his death. Need for Speed is an exciting, easy-to-watch movie. It’s solid despite the cheesy dialogue and foreseeable plotline. And Michael Keaton is in it, so a hundred extra points for that. Obviously.
Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is a quiet blue collar hero street racing late at night to keep his family’s car garage from closing. When his rival, Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), barges in and proposes a race for big bucks that would save his business, Tobey reluctantly agrees. Of course the race ends tragically and Tobey winds up in jail for two years. The movie unfolds as a cross country road trip heading towards the most elite and dangerous race: the De Leon. If he wins, Tobey gets his revenge and the money to reopen his garage. The film is stacked with goofy sidekicks, a hot blonde, an array of odd villains, and of course the most awesome car stunts I’ve ever seen.
The real stars of Need for Speed are Aaron Paul, all the precision/stunt drivers, and the cars. As many action films currently rely heavily on CGI for explosions and outrageous stunts, Need for Speed is very visually impressive as no amount of CGI was used in making the production. This authenticity makes the movie far more exciting because the danger is palpable. Real drivers, real explosions. Even the actors spent a decent amount of time behind the wheel with no track guiding the vehicle separately. The camera work is complex and admirable. The intricate perspectives of the roads, car interiors, and extreme close ups of the actors’ eyes are awesome. You really feel like you’re in the car, or about to be run over by it. Contrasting the close-up intensity are the extreme long shots of the country’s landscapes and cityscapes which are peaceful and stunning.
Aaron Paul is fantastic as a brooding, tender soul who speaks minimally with a soft voice. Maybe I’m biased because I love him as Jesse Pinkman so much, but he is great as a not-so-tortured and abused character. Tobey is confident driven, has a handle on his objectives and doesn’t have a knack for getting beaten to a pulp (like Mr. Pinkman did). Imogen Poots plays sassy Julia Maddon, a high-end car broker who accompanies Tobey on his trip across the country making sure her client’s car (the Mustang) makes it to California unscathed. Is anything sexier than a British hottie spouting fancy car-lingo? Julia and Tobey’s dialogue is simple and their chemistry is subtle and sexy. The camera always stays extremely close emphasizing the fear and intensity of the car chases. You’ll be white knuckling your arm rests as they cruise around tight corners and play slalom with cars on the opposite side of a highway.
Paul is also surrounded by a hilarious bunch of sidekicks that act as his eyes and ears while he drives across the country. Joe Peck (Ramon Rodriguez) and Finn (Rami Malek) follow and defend Tobey against traffic, police, and bounty hunters in a modified monster truck. Benny (Scott Mescudi) guides from the sky in various aircrafts, always spewing snarky comments and flaunting his flying skills. These guys have a great rapport and their well-timed humor is delivered genuinely. They clearly had a wonderful time making the movie.
While the motive of Need for Speed revolves around Tobey’s need for revenge against Dino, the movie is propelled by the high-status invitation to the De Leon by DJ Monarch, played by Michael Keaton. And Oh My God. He’s awesome. Monarch never interacts with any character face-to-face, but instead dominates a radio station, always watching and commenting on the insane race to his De Leon. Keaton dons tinted sunglasses and a soul patch, rasping with his amazing Beetlejuice voice that only adds to the nostalgic essence of the story. It doesn’t bother me that Need for Speed is predictable and cliché-ridden. The good guys wear white. The bad guys wear black turtlenecks. The movie is a fun and warm welcome back to the iconic car-chase-adventure genre. Vroom Vroom. (– Caitlyn Thompson)