Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

General

DVD LOUNGE: Just Another Maniac Monday

There’s more good than bad after the jump, so fire up those queues and fill up those shopping carts.

After the jump check out reviews for The Glades: The Complete First Season, Drive Angry, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, Rubber, The Company Men, Rubber, Ben 10 Ultimate Alien Power Struggle, Pros & Ex-Cons, Body Slam, The Explosive Generation, The Caller, The Ambulance, Cop Hater and Cohen & Tate.

The Glades: The Complete First Season
Fox Home Video / Released June 14, 2011

The Pitch
The Glades stars Australian actor Matt Passmore as Jim Longworth, an attractive, brilliant, yet hard to get along with homicide detective from Chicago who is forced into exile after being wrongfully accused of sleeping with his former captain’s wife. Longworth relocates to the sleepy, middle-of-nowhere town of Palm Glade, Florida, where the sunshine and golf are plentiful and crime is seemingly at a minimum. But this town outside the Florida Everglades isn’t quite as idyllic as he thought, as he finds people keep turning up murdered. Each case pulls Longworth off the golf course and reluctantly into his element as one of the sharpest homicide detectives in the field.

The Review
This sharp written, character-driven police procedural feels quite a bit like a USA Network series, which can only be a good thing for the A & E development slate.  The Florida setting invokes the work of Carl Hiassen, but The Glades is something different unto itself.  Slightly eccentric Chicago detective Jim Longworth has relocated after getting shot in the ass by his boss and settled with a chunk of change.  A golf-junkie, Longworth’s detective skill set makes him an asset to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement despite being a huge pain in the ass.

The other characters on the show are as equally rich, including Callie Cargill (Kiele Sanchez), a nurse who befriends Longworth.  Callie is also a single parent (still married, her husband’s in prison) who struggles with her feelings for Longworth and her obligation to her estranged husband.  Carlos Gómez plays Carlos Sanchez, a medical examiner for the FDLE, who finds himself more and more in the field as Longworth’s reluctant partner and nerd genius Daniel Green (Jordan Wall),  an unpaid intern who is a valuable assistant.

There’s a fair amount of character development from episode to episode, but each case is self contained (think House, M.D.).  The Glades is a showcase for Passmore, who anchors the show with a performance that is both appealing and entertaining.  Extras include commentaries, featurettes, and a gag reel.  The Glades is extremely entertaining and shouldn’t be missed.  Highly recommended.

The Explosive Generation
MGM on Demand / Released March 29, 2011

The Pitch
A schoolteacher asks his teenage students to write essays describing their feelings about sex. When an angry school board decides to suspend him, his students unite to defend their teacher.

The Review
The greatest actor in the galaxy, William Shatner, in his first starring role, portraying a teacher to privileged high schoolers with sex on the brain.  But the biggest problem talking about sex in school isn’t the curious students, but the angry PTA who want to see Shatner to beam the hell out of there.  Obviously, the film is dated (It was produced in 1961, several years before the sexual revolution), but still entertaining.  The cast has some familiar faces including Patty McCormack (The Bad Seed), Billy Gray (Father Knows Best) and Beau Bridges.  The film isn’t as explosive as the premise, but rather innocent.  Shatner delivers a non-characteristic performance (look for subtly and nuance), and the tame film hearkens back to far more innocent times.  If you’re a Shatner fan, you might want to take a look, but there’s definitely a MST3K vibe to it and might be a fun watch with a group of friends on a weekend night.  Mildly recommended.

The Ambulance
MGM on Demand / Released March 15, 2011

The Pitch
When the woman of his dreams is snatched by a strange ambulance, Josh (Eric Roberts) looks into a series of similar disappearances and finds a ring of doctors who traffic in human guinea pigs.

The Review
A staple of cable television and video stores, The Ambulance is an entertaining thriller starring Eric Roberts.  In the film, Roberts plays a cartoonist (complete with Stan Lee cameo) who gets involved in tracking down a conspiracy of missing persons after his potential love interest is abducted by a strange ambulance.

Written and directed by exploitation auteur Larry Coen who keeps the film going quick enough to prevent the audience from thinking about how silly it actually is.  The cast is pretty impressive, with solid performances from James Earl Jones, Megan Gallagher, Red Buttons and Janine Turner.  Roberts himself delivers an entertaining performance, seemingly not taking himself as seriously as usual and delivers an over-acted performance (with a mullet).  The Ambulance isn’t necessarily a good move, but it isn’t a bad one and will definitely hold your interest to the end.  Recommended.

Body Slam
MGM on Demand / Released March 15, 2011

The Pitch
A rock & roll wrestling comedy with an unscrupulous music promoter latching onto wrestling as his meal ticket.

The Review
Director Hal Needham has made some very entertaining movies including Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run, Stroker Ace, Hooper and a guilty pleasure of mine, Megaforce.  Which is why I was disappointed with Body Slam, an entry into his filmography that I hadn’t seen yet, but hoped was a hidden treasure.

Dirk Benedict plays M. Harry Smilac, an unsuccessful music promoter who becomes a successful wrestling promoter.  I am, at best, a very casual wrestling fan.  I’m familiar with many of the players (especially those appearing in this film which include Roddy Piper, Lou Albano, Ric Flair and Fred Blassie), but have never watched an entire match.  Other familiar faces including Tanya Roberts, Charles Nelson Reilly, Billy Barty and John Astin make appearances, but not a single one of them can save you from Benedict’s wooden, yet swarmy delivery.  Combining music, comedy and wrestling, these three elements do nothing to make this film any more watchable, in fact, this film is terrible beyond words.  This is one that deserves to be forgotten.

The Caller
MGM on Demand / Released March 15, 2011

The Pitch
A strange visitor finds his way into the home of a lone woman, and undertones of fear quietly begin to surface as a series of twisted, chilling games ensue. 

The Review
Reminiscent of Sleuth or Deathtrap, The Caller could very well have been an adaptation of a stage play.  With just two characters, The Caller and The Girl (played by Malcolm McDowell and Madolyn Smith Osborne) meet at a secluded cabin where they engage one another through a series of one upmanships  that leave you trying to determine who, in fact, is telling the truth.  Both actors give fantastic performances and the film’s tension continues to build until a twist ending may leave some viewers feeling disappointed and unsatisfying.  Nevertheless, The Caller is a near forgotten treasure and an engaging thriller that deserves to find an audience.  Recommended.

Cohen & Tate
MGM on Demand / Released March 15, 2011

The Pitch
Two Mafia hitmen kidnap a nine-year-old trial witness, who uses his youth and street smarts to play the two men against each other before being killed.

The Review
Two fantastic character actors, Roy Scheider and Adam Baldwin, play the veteran hitman Cohen and his slightly psychopathic partner Tate, respectively in this fun thriller from writer/director Eric Red.  Red, who wrote the brilliant films Near Dark and The Hitcher, doesn’t disappoint with this, his directorial debut.

The duo are dispatched, killing the parents of and retrieving a young witness, Travis (Harley Cross) and bring him to a mob boss in Houston.  Travis takes advantage of Coen and Tate’s mutual hatred for one another and uses that to his advantage, manipulating them both.  Both Cross and Baldwin give solid performances, but it’s the work of Scheider as the weary assassin that elevates the entire picture.  Coen & Tate is pure pulpy goodness and a damn entertaining film.  Recommended.

Cop Hater
MGM on Demand / Released March 15, 2011

The Pitch
Imaginative filmmaking enhances this tale of summer violence in New York City as police seek a cop killer.

The Review
Based on the first novel in Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series, Cop Hater is a low budget thriller that although forgettable, is worth your time.  Robert Loggia stars in this police procedural which in some ways feels like a 50’s version of Law & Order.  As sweltering heat covers the city, cops are murdered one after another and the film has a healthy serving of both violence and sex (a bit unusual for the time period).  Cop Hater is dated, but possibly because of the genre, it comes off as charming and fun.  A taut 75 minute feature with a twist ending, Cop Hater is definitely worth your time.  As for the Law & Order comparison?  Keep your eye open for the film debut of Jerry Orbach.  Recommended. 

The Company Men
Anchor Bay Entertainment / Released June 7, 2011
 

The Pitch
Bobby Walker is living the American Dream, until he is stunned to find himself the latest casualty of corporate downsizing. Suddenly, Bobby is forced to re-evaluate his self-worth as a husband, a father and a man. For as long as he can remember, he’s given his life to his job. Now, with only the love of his wife and family, it’s time to take his life back…

The Review
A solid cast including Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Craig T. Nelson, and Maria Bello, The Company Men shows us the effects of the downtrodden economy on the wealthy.  Unfortunately, this well executed film can’t convince you to feel sorry for rich people losing their jobs as a significant portion of this country struggle to pay their bills.  Regardless of the class structure presented in the film (accentuated by Costner’s appearance as Affleck’s blue collar brother-in-law), the very scary reality of both downsizing for higher profit margins and ageism is enough to terrify anyone.

The Company Men is the first feature from writer/director John Wells, best known for the television series, E.R. and he does an excellent job depicting the struggles and challenges and anguish of not just becoming unemployed, but also the struggle of maintaining one’s identity without a career to define them.  Performances across the board are fantastic, but Affleck, Jones, Cooper and Costner anchor the ensemble with some of the best work of their careers.  Extras include a director’s commentary, an alternate ending, deleted scenes, and a featurette.  The Company Men chronicles the recession and it’s effects on people, their co-workers and their families.  Highest Recommendation.

Rubber
Magnolia Home Entertainment / Released June 7, 2011

The Pitch
Rubber is the story of Robert, an inanimate tire that has been abandoned in the desert and then suddenly and inexplicably comes to life. As Robert roams the bleak landscape, he discovers that he possesses terrifying telepathic powers that give him the ability to destroy anything he wishes. At first content to prey on discarded objects and small desert creatures, his attention soon turns to humans, especially a beautiful and mysterious woman who crosses his path. Leaving a swath of destruction behind, Robert becomes a chaotic force and truly a movie villain for the ages.

The Review
One of the strangest films in recent memory, Rubber works only if you can believe that a tire can come to life, have psionic powers, and essentially, a soul.  If you’re still with me, then it won’t come as a surprise that Robert goes on a killing spree, eventually stalking a woman who’s next on his hit list.  The film is absurd, and whereas in conventional storytelling we’re led to believe that everything happens for a reason, Rubber rebukes that, as much of the plot happens for no reason at all.  Visually, the story is fantastic, as director Quentin Dupieux invokes a music video feel for much of the film.  Rubber is a genre movie, but at the same time, has such an off-kilter premise that it feels like the step-child of Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jones.  Extras include interviews, a trailer and screen tests.  Rubber‘s concept isn’t enough to sustain an entire film, but if your tastes run to the strange or hipster pretentious, it’s worth a look.

Drive Angry
Summit Entertainment / Released May 31, 2011

The Pitch
In the high-octane, action-adventure Drive Angry, Nicolas Cage stars as an undead felon who breaks out of hell to avenge his murdered daughter and rescue her kidnapped baby from a band of cult-worshipping savages. Joined by tough-as-nails Piper (Amber Heard), the two set off on a rampage of redemption, all while being pursued by an enigmatic killer (William Fichtner) who has been sent by the Devil to retrieve Milton and deliver him back to hell.

The Review
For some time now, filmmakers have made crappy films (intentionally or unintentionally) and have labeled them as “grindhouse”.  This isn’t uncommon.  This occurrence has happened before when people labeled films as “cult movies” as a marketing tool, thinking that casting Bruce Campbell or Jeffrey Combs instantly qualifies it as such  (that being said, both the Evil Dead and Re-Animator films are cult movies and deservedly so).  My point?

Drive Angry is not only a true grindhouse film, but also just a pure ridiculous film in every quantifiable factor and I loved it.  I believe that when he’s trying, Nic Cage is one of the greatest overactors of all time and he doesn’t disappoint in this.  The film works simply because of it’s purity.  We’re given just enough information to jump into the story without too much focus on how we got there.  Granted, this isn’t how I’d like to see every film, but in the case of Drive Angry, it works.  The film is stupid, the effects are all over the place, and the dialogue is cheesy as hell, but it doesn’t change the fact that it delivers what it’s supposed to.  Extras include commentary, featurettes and deleted scenes.  Drive Angry won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re willing to buy into it, it’s a hell of a ride.  Highly recommended.

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle
Cartoon Network / Released May 3, 2011

The Pitch
Ben and his friends are challenged more than ever. Gwen takes the team to a dimension of magic where they are forced to rely on her old enemy Charmcaster to survive. Then, Kevin volunteers to return to the Null Void prison to settle an old score. Finally, Ben gets angry when Gwen recruits Darkstar to help them in a final showdown that he never saw coming.

The Review
I find the Ben 10 franchise to be pretty interesting.  Over the past few years, the series has done what most animated series would never consider, evolve.  Ben has grown up from his pre-teen origins to a full fledged teenager on his latest series, Ultimate Alien, now facing more grown up problems.

The first thing that’s unusual about this release is that it includes the second half of the first season, which results in a sometimes unsatisfying watch.  Without the first ten episodes included to set the tone and establish the new series, watching Ultimate Alien is sometimes like being thrown into the deep end of the pool.  The release pretty much covers a finite story, but takes it time and delivers plenty of good character moments.  Extras are minor, an interactive alien data base.  I’ve been a fan of Ben 10 for some time and am happy that this release is more comprehensive including ten episodes as opposed to the three or four on previous releases, but still, why no season sets?


Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle is a tremendous amount of fun and it continues to be one of the best animation series currently on television.  Highly recommended.

Pros and Ex-Cons
Lionsgate / Released June 7, 2011

The Pitch
Two outlandish ex-cons work for Fink – a powerful crime lord. When sent on a highly secretive assignment, the two men find themselves stuck in a case of mistaken identity with a wrong person’s blood on their hands. With the stakes set high, the duo must find a way to correct their mistake before their covers get blown and more innocent lives are lost.

The Review
The only one getting conned is the poor viewer who watches this Tarantino-esque abomination that is Pros & Ex-Cons.  Worthington gives the most charmless performance in his filmography portraying a bumbling hitman.  In addition to the plotline of two hitmen mistakenly killing the wrong target, the film features a subplot of two friends trying to execute Richard Pryor’s scheme from Superman II (which would have been clever, if Office Space didn’t exist).  Boasting one clichéd plot device after another, there’s little redeeming about Pros & Ex-Cons other than it’s only 92 minutes.


Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (DVD/Blu-ray Combo)
Warner Home Video / Released June 7, 2011

The Pitch
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights weaves six legendary stories of the Green Lantern Corps’ rich mythology around preparations for an attack by an ancient enemy. As the battle approaches, Hal Jordan (voiced by Castle’s Nathan Fillion) mentors Arisia (Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss) in the history of the Green Lantern Corps, telling tales of Avra (the first Green Lantern) and several of Hal’s comrades – including Kilowog, Abin Sur, Laira and Mogo. In the end, Arisia must rise to the occasion to help Hal, Sinestro and the entire Green Lantern Corps save the universe from the destructive forces of Krona.

The Review
Six short stories are held together by a framework focusing on a new Green Lantern’s induction into the Corps.  Anthologies often vary in levels of quality, but I found Emerald Knights to be an extremely entertaining feature with some of the best animation and best character designs that I’ve seen in a DC animated film.  Most of the stories are based on actual comic book tales (my favorite being “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize” based on the story by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons), and fortunately, the film’s fantastic voice work includes such talent as Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Moss, Jason Issacs, Henry Rollins, Roddy Piper, Kelly Hu and Arnold Vosloo.  For fans of the feature film, this is not a showcase for Hal Jordan, but for members of the vast and diverse Corps.

Extras include a commentary with Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns, featurettes, a digital comic, digital copy, trailers, two episodes of Batman: Brave and the Bold and a first look at the upcoming adaptation of Batman: Year One.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights captures the magic of the comic book mythology and is an extremely entertaining film that stands among the best of the dozen produced DC original animated releases.  Highly recommended.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You May Also Like

Movies

Produced by Aengus James & Colin King Miller Directed by Mark Landsman Featuring Steve Coz, Carl Bernstein, Iain Calder, Judith Regan   I distinctly...

Movies

Let’s be honest, how could a movie with the title The Man Who Killed Hitler and then The Bigfoot not pique one’s interest? Add...

Columns/Features

So, here we are. It’s been far too long since this column has run, missing most of the spring and the summer. I’m not...

Columns/Features

So, April Fool’s!  It’s been far, far too long since a DVD/Blues column has been finished.  This was intended for publication more than several...

%d bloggers like this: