Want a good movie to watch at home? Take my advice. Here are my attention-span-sensitive movie reviews of the top ten best films recently released on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital copy:
- Source Code – Buy-it – Source Code is an exhilarating, mind-bending, sci-fi thriller where Jake Gyllenhaal enters a stranger’s body on a Chicago train for 8 minutes at time in an attempt to find the bomber onboard – think Groundhog Day meets Minority Report – but better!
- X-Men: First Class – Buy-it – The epic beginning of the mutant saga is just as diverse, stylish, and powerful as the “superheroes” it’s about. You’ll wish the Cold War never ended. But it’s the perfect summer blockbuster that will obviously have a sequel and will certainly make a handful of somewhat recognizable faces into Hollywood stars.
- 13 Assassins – Buy-it – Cult director Takeshi Miike (Audition) creates an epicly bloody samurai action film set in feudal Japan that is an impossibly unattainable, perfectly over-the-top, period masterpiece.
- The Adjustment Bureau – Buy-it – Is Matt Damon married? Because if so, he might be having an affair with Emily Blunt. These two stars light the screen on fire and their burning chemistry is reason enough to see this film about politics, life and love and whether or not we control our own destiny.
- Thor – Buy-it – New This Week – Something about an Australian swinging a hammer just didn’t strike me as “cool” superhero material, but Thor, like Iron Man, is comic-book movie gold, with the perfect mix of action and laughs, and brilliantly ironic direction by Kenneth Branagh. But boy do I feel bad for younger brother Liam Hemsworth who lost out to big brother Chris for the title role of a lifetime.
- Of Gods and Men – Rent-it – This international drama about French Christian monks living in harmony with their Muslim brothers in North Africa is not only the best foreign film so far this year, it is probably the best film of the first half of 2011.
- The Greatest Movie Ever Sold – Buy-it – I admit, I am a bit biased as a multi-tasking marketer and movie critic, but this truly is the greatest movie ever sold, and it’s full title “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” is proof of just that, as documentary director Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) attempts to bribe big-name brands to back his blasphemous Blu-ray.
- Rango – Rent-it – Johnny Depp truly is Rango, a pet chameleon accidentally stranded in the Nevada desert, and just like Depp, Rango is charming, smart, creative, beautiful, and definitely not for kids! Though it definitely is an early front-runner for Best Animated Picture in 2011.
- Hanna – Rent-it – This Hunger Games look-a-like is a cool new take on an action revenge thriller, when a little girl enters the world for the first time only to find she is more soldier than little girl.
- Incendies – Rent-it – New This Week – Incendies is a tragically sobering tale about two adults who sit down to read the will of their recently passed mother only to find two envelopes they didn’t expect – one for their father they thought was dead and one for a brother they never knew existed.
And here are ten other new releases on DVD/Blu-ray that just missed the best-at-home movie rankings…
- Rio – Rent-it – Rio is an animated tale about a couple Macaws in Minnesota who want to join the flock in Rio de Janeiro, but are, of course, sidetracked along the way – voiced by Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, and Tracy Morgan.
- Everything Must Go – Rent-it – Will Ferrell is surprisingly low-key in a dram-com film that shockingly offers a little perspective, as he falls off the wagon, gets fired from his job, and returns home to find his wife has left him and his clothes in the front yard.
- Paul – Rent-it – This sci-fi comedy about an alien who needs a ride across the country is not nearly as clever as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s latest creation does serve up some intergalactic entertainment and is at times hysterical – “at times.”
- Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop – Rent-it – New This Week – This documentary about Conan’s 6-month leave from TV, radio and internet doing stand-up on a 32-city music-and-comedy tour is as funny and intriguing as any documentary you will ever see. Even Letterman and Leno fans will ROTFL and even Conan’s haters will find some pleasure in the more raw moments caught on film.
- The Beaver – Rent-it – The much anticipated and still barely believable film directed by and co-starring Jodie Foster is finally here, about a depressed husband and father (Mel Gibson) who refuses to communicate except through the sock-puppet beaver on his hand.
- The Conspirator – Wait-for-it – This courtroom drama plays more like a history lesson about a woman charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
- Limitless – Wait-for-it – Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) is his usual charismatic self in this film about a pill that allows you to tap into your full potential – unfortunately, the screenwriter needs a dose of his own medicine.
- True Legend – Wait-for-it – New This Week – Unless you are a martial-arts movie buff, then immediately go see this heart-pounding epic film from Yuen Woo Ping (The Matrix trilogy, Kill Bill Volumes I and II, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hero) about the timeless battle between good and evil.
- Soul Surfer – Wait-for-it – Here is the description: “A young, teenage surfer girl summons the courage to go back into the ocean after losing an arm in a shark attack.” That’s literally all you need to know. Decide for yourself if you want to sit through 105 minutes of that.
- Super – Skip-it – Rainn Wilson’s long-awaited dark comedy about superheroes (also starring Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, and Kevin Bacon) oddly combines absurd humor with extremely bloody violence – leaving most movie-goers confused, repulsed and uninterested. Go buy Kick-Ass instead.
…and the five worst films recently released on DVD/Blu-ray:
- Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family – Skip-it – Tyler Perry shows off his range once again in yet another terribly unfunny Madea film – thank you South Park for taking care of the world’s greatest threat to mankind.
- Jumping the Broom – Skip-it – Two African-American families meet in Martha’s Vineyard for a obnoxiously unfunny wedding and terrible two hours of film.
- The Ward – Skip-it – John Carpenter’s return to horror will have you wondering if he himself was institutionalized these past 9 years. Skip this psych-ward ghost thriller.
- The Perfect Host – Skip-it – David Hyde Pierce (Dr. Niles Crane from TV’s Frasier) is the perfect host of this dinner party that goes 90 minutes too long. The intriguing twist in the plot would have made a better short than a feature film. You could rent-it and quickly “drive-thru” but I’d say skip it altogether.
- Take Me Home Tonight – Skip-it – It’s somewhat of a mash-up of Hot Tub Time Machine, House Party, and any teen rom-com starring Freddy Prinze Jr. and is just as bad as any of those FPJ films as well.
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