On DVD & Blu-Ray: October 8, 2013


If you know me personally then you know I have a big soft spot for comedy. I love it and I pretty well like everyone involved in the mainstream comedy game in Hollywood. I root for the underdogs the critics like to bash and I've felt I've especially had to stand up for The Hangover films since many, fans included, were disappointed in the carbon copy follow-up the second film turned out to be. I was, like most, a huge fan of the first film. I found it refreshingly funny and daring. It didn't care what anyone thought, it just wanted to be funny and that is what comedy is supposed to be. There should be no fear when putting what you think is funny on screen and that element I think is what saves the third and final part of this men behaving badly series. Director Todd Phillips and writing partner Craig Mazin (Identity Thief) listened to the audience reaction to Part II and appeased the crowds by saying, "okay, we'll do something different for the third one." Naturally, this was a smart move but as the reactions came in it was clear people were upset that there was no trace of an actual hangover anywhere in the film and that instead of following the antics of these guys on a chase through a random city that has them putting together the pieces of the night before it has them exploring the truth about Alan's psyche and wanting to help him move on with his life. In some aspects it is a film completely devoted to character development and getting Zach Galifianakis' lovable goofball to a place where we as an audience feel content to leave him and the rest of the time it is almost a dramatic man hunt movie that has the wolfpack tracking down Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). The Hangover Part III is certainly not what you would expect from the trilogy and compared to the others it is definitely the least funny, but that didn't make it a bad movie. In some ways it even made it more of a legitimate film. Full review here. B-

When Ethan Hawke showed up in last years legitimately scary Sinister I was happy to see the actor branch out slightly and give the genre picture a go. I was also glad he paired with the director of my other favorite scary movies of the last ten years, The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Upon seeing the first trailers and promotional materials for The Purge though I thought he might have jumped in head first too quickly and began splurging on the kinds of roles in the kinds of movies that might eventually end up in the five dollar bin (he did, see Getaway). While this second trip into scary movie-land is not as intriguing or mysterious as the aforementioned Sinister it has an interesting enough premise to draw people towards it (and the creepy, over exaggerated face masks are always a plus in home invasion thrillers). Director James DeMonaco, who has only directed one previous feature before this, has also composed a script that contains a fair amount of potential in the points it is trying to make and the message it is trying to get across, but unfortunately we never really see any of the gritty realities of this new found way of life. No, instead of diving into that real potential the film could have brought to the experience it instead quickly dissolves into that standard home invasion film where we see every plot twist coming and every supposed scare is as obvious as how this whole thing is going to end up. There were times the movie almost had me fooled, had me thinking it was going to go a different way, but heaven forbid it do such a thing as to dare to make the audience unhappy. This timid nature ultimately results in the most typical conclusion led up to by the least surprising and least effective set of circumstances. Worse than all of this is the fact there are no likable characters here. We don't like our supposed protagonists from the beginning because they've succumbed to this annual event that makes little sense and we don't like their kids or their new enemies because they all make dumb decisions. In the end, there is only one word that comes to mind when I reflect on what this turned out to be: pointless. Full review here. C-

It is odd to be so let-down by a project containing so many working parts that you can usually believe in and rely on or even possess a major part that you'd like to believe might start working to the best of its abilities again. Everything about the latest Will Smith sci-fi film, After Earth, though feels lazy and re-hashed as if they were coming up with things to do, obstacles to overcome on the spot and relying on cheap special effects to fill in the rest come post production. What is most irritating about this entire project though is that it so effortlessly takes itself seriously yet could not come off as more immature. There is a spark at the very beginning where it drops us right into the middle of the action, where for a split second I thought this might have deserved more than the critical lashing it received gave it credit for, but just as that thought entered my mind we began getting voice over from one Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) that gave us the back story of who his father was, where we were at presently, why the human race was there and several other details of exposition that could have just as easily been explored and revealed in a more interesting movie. Also take note that this piece of dialogue and every other line no matter who it was delivered by is spoken in an accent that seems to evoke every impersonation I've ever heard of John F. Kennedy. Like much of the film, this idea of having every human offspring who lived past the days of calling earth our home adapt the same speaking patterns and dialect is interesting, but the execution proves more distracting than anything else (and this is coming from a guy who didn't mind the gibberish talk in Cloud Atlas). Thus this is only one of many complaints I began to log away as After Earth continued to play out in what ultimately feels very brief and more disappointingly, unaffecting. I've always liked Will Smith and thought of him as a charming, charismatic guy that was always fun to watch on screen, but his character here has none of those qualities and with that persona completely absent it leaves the film feeling equally as hollow as his Cypher Raige. Full review here. D

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