On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 3, 2014


Sometimes it seems critics are so intent on seeing themselves as more intelligent than popular entertainment, above it in many regards, that they cannot help but look for what might be implausible in big action movies that, the majority of the time, do in fact place explosions over intelligence. At this point though, that is an age old argument and I think studios have come to realize that audiences know better than to accept big, expensive action flicks for what they are, but that we have come to expect a little more from our movies. It doesn't necessarily have to be biting satire, social commentary or even a story that breaks any new ground, but what we do expect is something that someone somewhere seems to have put a good amount of thought and effort into creating that, preferably, comes from a single point of vision as to why this feature should exist. Those last stipulations are especially true when we come to something like a re-make of a classic film that many people will brush off from the moment its greenlit or will immediately dismiss as never being able to live up to the original. With Robocop, one did have to wonder what more could there be to the idea of re-making the 1987 Paul Verhoeven classic other than to rip-off the well-known brand-name that would hopefully assure butts in the seats opening weekend. It would naturally be taken as nothing more than a cash grab initially, something that, like Robocop himself, was put together by a committee of studio execs looking through old properties that could turn a profit in todays market and hey, science fiction has been hot lately so why not go for it? While I never had much affection for the original film (it came out the year I was born) and because I couldn't really watch it given the R-rating and gratuitous violence until many years later I came to view it more as a fun, little 80's flick with a guy in a cool suit rather than appreciate it as many seem to that were old enough to enjoy it in its heyday. That being said, I didn't walk in with horribly low expectations, but I knew the story, knew the likelihood of why this was produced and therefore knew not to expect much, but after the great introduction to this new world we get from Pat Novak aka Samuel L. Jackson I began to slip comfortably into enjoyment and let those critical inhibitions go to where the implausibilities and plot hang-ups disappeared and I was simply having fun. Full review here. B-

In the midst of Hollywood's 2007 politically-charged, post 9/11 war on terror rally to get certain points of views into mainstream entertainment director Peter Berg produced a little seen gem called The Kingdom that starred Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman and Chris Cooper. There were plenty other a strong supporting player here, but despite it all the film failed to connect. That could be blamed as much on the saturation of the market as it could the films own shortcomings. Prepping ourselves for this along with In the Valley of Elah, Rendition and Lions for Lambs there simply wasn't much of a chance for this well-made, but familiar feeling film dropped on us in the dog days of late September. I bring this up because despite The Kingdom not leaving much of an impression on audiences I actually wound up seeing the film a few times and the final scene in which Berg contrasted the feelings of hate and anger from the U.S. towards the Middle East and vice versa, while a simple statement, was also a strong and powerful one that immediately resonated with me as a viewer; it allowed for all the complexity of war and the purpose of the meanings behind words like honor and courage to be stripped down to not so much their definitions, but the intention behind them. It showed, in that brief moment, that we all have similar ideals and end games, but are naturally coming at them from different perspectives. It is fine to have different perspectives or opinions on things, that is what makes the world and the human race consistently interesting, but to allow those different points of view to culminate in a fight to the death or to use violence to re-enforce these points will bring both sides nothing but pain, eventually overshadowing any victory we might feel we've come away with. There is a difference between compromising, coming to an agreed upon solution and beating someone into submission, but somewhere along the lines of history we found war to be the most effective tool of persuasion and today, that tradition continues stronger than ever. I say all of this to say that while Berg's latest effort, Lone Survivor, is also a simple story he is able to say much more with the film and the implications of the events it documents that we come away with much more than an adrenaline rush of action or misplaced pride, but a real understanding for the value of life and that it is not worth throwing away for inconsequential details. Full review here. A

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