Note: To order any of the following films, click on the poster.
Writer/director Joss Whedon is a brave man. Not only has he made a film based on a Shakespeare classic, Much Ado About Nothing, he’s updated the setting to modern times while maintaining the original Elizabethan language. And it’s in black and white. The end result is a mixed bag of success and failure. The cast, however, are good. There’s playfulness in their delivery that is tremendous fun to watch, and Nathan Fillion stands out as great comic relief in the smaller role of Dogberry, the bumbling policeman. In fact, the actors are so much fun and deliver the dialog so well that anyone ever thinking of claiming that Americans can’t do Shakespeare need to take a back seat. If Whedon has proved anything with this new telling of a comedy classic it’s the issue of accents. If the actor is good at his craft, regardless of birthplace, Shakespeare’s language will always come alive. Available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
At least a thousand years or so in the future, all of humanity will have left the planet and settled on an area outside of our Solar System; that’s according to the setup in the sci-fi thriller with Will Smith called After Earth where father and son accidentally crash back on what is now a hostile planet. There is the problem of likeability, however. Will Smith’s father is a stern disciplinarian, plus the son himself is a somewhat moody, humorless character who obviously wants to do well in his father’s eyes, but it’s this total lack of warmth throughout that stops us from liking either of them. Admittedly, the whole idea is that eventually the son will prove his worth in front of his father, finally making the father proud – that’s hardly a giveaway; everything in the story points to that direction – but it’s hard to root for a character if you don’t feel particularly connected. If only you could feel something deeper for the two leads other than the basic hope that they’ll survive, After Earth might have become something greater. Available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
If ever there was a series of films that should never have developed further than the first it’s this one, and yet here we are with The Hangover Part lll. The 2009 original was no great comedy, but it had a good idea with endless comic potential. Four guys waking up from a stag night binge in Las Vegas and having no clue as to what they did the night before is a funny idea. The biggest problem is that The Hangover Part lll isn’t particularly funny. The humor, what there is of it, comes from the reaction of the four guys thrust into a nightmare world of guns, bullets, car chases and murder. If only they’d been given funny things to say or do instead of just dodging bullets. We can all understand the director wanting to end his creation on a somewhat different note, but by ignoring everything in the principle structure that made the original Hangover popular in the first place he’s produced a disaster. The Hangover Part lll is simply dreadful. Available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
If we’re to believe the premise of the horror thriller, The Purge, in the year 2022 the United States is prospering. The unemployment rate is just 1% and crime virtually non-existent. In fact, things are going so well that in order to keep this ever-growing prosperity the government mandate an annual 12-hour period where all criminal activity – including rape and murder – are permissible. It’s a countrywide catharsis for everyone to vent their anger and emotions without fear of legal consequences. It’s also one of the most ludicrous ideas for a movie, ever. As an exercise in violence and terror for the sake of it, the film achieves its aim, but when built on a foundation that is, frankly, as asinine as it is here it really becomes annoying, and fast. If we’re allowed to act like psychotic killers for one night of the year, every year, how can anyone ever think of going back to normal the next day? How could you face your neighbors knowing that some of them tried to kill you the night before, or perhaps you tried to kill them? Nothing could ever possibly be the same. The economy would collapse overnight; tourists would stay out of the country, and the rest of the world would wash their hands of us. Available on DVD and Blu-Ray.