For Your Home Viewing Pleasure: October 8th, 2013

after earth bluWe can’t speak to the quality of the Will and Jaden Smith father and son sci-fi flick After Earth, but we can say it’s out now on Blu-ray, DVD and the like.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Deluxe Edition gives Batman fans what they really wanted from this adaptation of the seminal Frank Miller Batman series: everything on one three disc set.

It’s funny when you think back to the days when, first, Lucasfilm didn’t want to put the Star Wars out as a set on DVD and then it took a while to get them on Blu-ray. Now in the past few years we’ve had a number of different sets. There’s two more now, Star Wars Trilogy Episodes IV-VI and Star Wars Trilogy Episodes I-III that include both DVD and Blu-ray versions of the films.

Hasbro’s latest home video offering Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters – Predacons Rising looks great on Blu-ray and features a pretty fun story even if you’re not steeped in the lore. Don’t believe us? Check it out!

In other TV-related news, A&E Home Video has a collection of The Avengers episodes featuring none other than that iconic super spy herself: Emma Peel. Dubbed The Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel Megaset the set contains all 51 of Diana Rigg’s episodes as the character on the three discs.Lara Croft Tomb Raider The Cradle of Life

Finally, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is now available on Blu-ray, so that’s a thing.

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

The fall GuyDwayne Johnson and McG are both in talks right now to star in a big screen reboot of the 80s Lee Majors stuntman/bounty hunter TV show The Fall Guy. [via THR]will smith independence day

Roland Emmerich said that Will Smith is back in talks for the long-in-development sequel to their 1996 hit Independence Day. [via Digital Spy]ice cube 21 jump street

Ice Cube’s returning to the 21 Jump Street sequel 22 Jump Street along with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. [via THR]

Greek-amber-stevens

Speaking of 22 Jump Street, Amber Stevens (The Amazing Spider-Man) will also appear in the college-set film an as-yet-undisclosed role. [via Variety]nathalie-emmanuel game of thrones

Game Of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel will appear in Fast & Furious 7. Sources say that actress will work with Dom and Bryan in the James Wan-directed flick. [via Deadline]snowpiercer

Well, this is an interesting turn of events. According to Snowpiercer Bong Joon-Ho, he’s still in negotiations with The Weinstein Company about potential cuts to the film. Seems odd that no one else mentioned this in the ensuing crap storm that rolled across the internet. [via THR]hardymaxfuryroad_large

Finally, as Mad Max: Fury Road goes to Sydney for some extra shooting they released a high-res image of Tom Hardy as the lead character to remind people that this film exists. [via AICN]

 

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

The_Expendables_3_BTS_Dolph_LundgrenHey, look, Dolph Lundgren’s hanging out on the set of The Expendables 3! [via ComingSoon]

ziyi-zhang-crouching-tiger-hiddenZhang Ziyi is in talks to appear in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II – The Green Destiny alongside fellow returning castmate Michelle Yeoh and franchise newcomer Donnie Yen. Director and fight choreography Yuen Wo Ping (Iron Monkey) will fill in for director Ang Lee. [via ComingSoon]

Neill Blomkamp‘s next film Chappie, about a stolen robot with artificial intelligence now, has an official release date: March 27, 2015. [via Collider]

Focus, a racing-based heist film, brought on Rodrigo Santoro (300: Rise Of An Empire, The Last Stand) to play Will Smith’s boss in the film being directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid Love). [via THR]

dead-snow-posterDirector Tommy Wirkola (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) hired a trio of actors for his horror/action flick Dead Snow: Red Vs. Dead which teams up the lone survivor of the first film with a group of zombie hunters called The Zombie Squad. Said actors are Martin Starr (Freaks & Geeks, Party Down), Ingrid Haas (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) and Jocelyn Deboer (College Humor). [via Variety]

watch dogsSony, New Regency and Ubisoft are teaming up to make a movie based on Sony’s November 19th-shipping Watch Dogs. [via Hero Complex]

act of valourThe Bandito Brothers utilized real life Navy SEALS when they filmed Act Of Valor. For the sequel, though, they’re focusing on the adventures of a S.W.A.T. team. Scott Wiper (The Condemned) is writing the script. [via Deadline]

Finally, we lost two icons in the world of films and crime fiction this week. Elmore Leonard, whose adapted novels include Rum Punch (transformed into Jackie Brown by Quentin Tarantino) and Get Shorty, passed on August 20th at the age of 87. Legendary director Ted Post (Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, Magnum Force, Good Guys Wear Black) passed away on the same day at the age of 95. Our thoughts are with the families of these two incredibly prolific individuals.

Back In Black: Men In Black 3 (2012)

men in black 3I did not have very high hopes for Men In Black 3. When I first heard they were doing another film after the pretty-great first installment and the I-can’t-remember-anything-about-it sequel, I wasn’t super excited. Then I heard that they started filming without a finished script, which is never a good sign and was even less interested. However there were two basic reasons I moved it to the top of the Netflix queue. First, my wife wanted to watch it and I was fairly curious. And two, we got a great deal on a Blu-ray player on Amazon during Cyber Monday and have been itching to take full advantage of that killer picture.

Well, we just finished watching it and I’ve got to say, I was amazingly surprised with how much I dug this movie. I’m not sure if it was the low expectations or that this really is a fantastic movie (I’m thinking it’s leaning towards the latter, really), but this movie really felt like a proper follow-up to the deft mix of action, comedy and sci-fi that made the first one so great. As you may or may not know, the plot for this movie follows Agent J (Will Smith) as he travels back in time to help the late 60s version of his partner (Josh Brolin), Agent K, save the current day version (Tommy Lee Jones). Along the way, he’s also saving the world from a world-killing alien named Boris The Animal in both current and past versions.

The story, which could have gotten overly complicated — especially when you throw in fifth dimensional alien who can see all realities at once — but I thought that screenwriter Etan Cohen did a great job of making everything easy to follow without talking down to the audience. I also thought director Barry Sonnenfeld did a great job with everything from casting younger versions of Tommy Lee Jones and Emma Thompson to keeping the story moving along. Bothcerators get kudos for my two favorite bits in the movie: the fact that the late 60s aliens at MIB HQ all look like they’re from episodes of Star Trek and the whole part with Andy Warhol and the Factory. Warhol played a big early role in the punk scene that I read about in Please Kill Me, so it was fun to see an alternate, funny take on that.

The action and special effects were up there on the same level as the comedy which made this a great choice for really testing out our new Blu-ray player. It all looked so vivid, I could see all the lines on TLJ’s face (which I’m sure he’s not super happy about). At the same time, I could see every aspect of the pretty great looking aliens in both timelines, which is always a plus. Boris was especially awesome looking and well-created. My wife very correctly pointed out that he looks like a less-pale Lobo, which now makes me want a Lobo movie real bad.

But the film also has a heart to it. J wants to know more about K, but K won’t let him in for reasons that become clear(er) by the end of the film. Meanwhile, J finds the past version of K to be a lot more open and happy, so the question of why he changes starts working its way up to the same level as, how are they going to save Earth? A lot of movies with such high stakes (saving the world) tend to lose site of the personal, which is what people can actually relate to. This movie doesn’t have that problem. And, man, the reason they give or K’s distance from J, that was tough but kind of poetic. I have questions about it, but they’re not nagging.

So, all in all, I was very happy with our MIB3 viewing experience from both a story and film perspective AND a visual one. Man, that’s a pretty movie. I really think this Blu-ray thing might have a chance of catching on, you guys.

Book Vs. Movie: I, Robot

Man, I, Robot is bad. I’m speaking of the 2004 movie starring Will Smith and directed by Alex Proyas, not the book which I liked even if it had a few flaws, as I talked about already. It’s kind of funny that my big complaint about the short stories by Isaac Asimov that make up the book were based on characterization because that was my biggest problem with the filmed version. Even funnier is that the film couldn’t nail the character of Dr. Susan Calvin who could be summed up in a few words: cold, calculating scientist. Bridget Moynahan’s interpretation of the character loses her cool so early on that she essentially becomes the damsel in distress, which is about as boring of a character as you can get.

The real problem with the movie is Will Smith. He’s ridiculously annoying in the movie as robot-hating cop Del Spooner (what a terrible name) as he spouts off awful dialog like “You have so got to die.” That kind of stuff works for younger actors, but Smith was roughly 34 when he shot this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Will Smith hater. I loved Fresh Prince, Independence Day and the Bad Boys flicks, but I, Robot smacks of an older actor not understanding what he’s really good at. One-liners aside, he’s just a generally unlikable character and doesn’t really give us much to latch onto aside from having a bummer of an experience that lost him an arm and resulted in the death of a little girl. Boo hoo, you don’t have to be a dick to everyone.

Smith and Moynahan aside, I really liked the rest of the cast. Bruce Greenwood, Chi McBride, Shia LaBeouf, James Cromwell and Alan Tudyk providing the voice and mannerisms for suspected murdering robot Sonny all do a great job, but even their greatness can’t make the two stars actually shine. In fact, their goodness really highlights how bad Smith and Moynahan are.

I guess I should talk about the plot. Cromwell plays a scientist who was supposedly murdered by robot Sonny. Smith’s on the case, but everyone, including his boss McBride, thinks he’s crazy because of the Three Laws of Robotics. Unconvinced, Smith keeps pushing which leads him to Greenwood’s robot-making company U.S. Robotics which employs Moynahan. As he keeps investigating, Smith uncovers a group of robots ready willing and able to hurt humans. The script was originally written as a completely different story, but got reformatted first to fit in with the Asimov mythology and then again for Smith specifically. I’d be curious to see how the original script compared and how many supposedly awesome moments added in by that last revision.

I don’t want this review to be completely negative, though. I found the movie to be generally boring and not super interesting, but there were some interesting moments. The overall plot was interesting and could have been, but wasn’t, set in Asimov’s world. Effects-wise, Sonny looks kind of amazing and when the robots fight each other, they don’t seem like people in robot suits fighting. On the other hand, the CGI doesn’t look great when too many robots are together. The one on one robot fight towards the end looked great, but the big battle at the storage units just seemed too fake.

You’ll notice I’m not complaining about how far away from Asimov’s book the movie is, most notably that it’s set on an Earth that has robots walking around (they were banned from being used on Earth in the books). I can understand not being able to make a movie based on the entire book. It would have been crazy expensive, though according to Wikipedia Harlan Ellison tried in the late 70s. Deemed too costly, the movie was shelved but the script was eventually published as I, Robot: The Illustrated Screenplay in 1994. I definitely want to check that out. I even like the idea of making a movie that would fit in with Asimov’s stories even if it didn’t directly draw from one of the actual stories, but that’s not what this is. Maybe someone with vision and some clout will come along and work their magic. I won’t be holding by breath.