Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.
WHAT: When the Wolfpack is kidnapped by a vengeful gangster (John Goodman) who blames the guys for introducing Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) into his life, he tasks them (sans Doug, naturally, who’s kept as collateral) with tracking Chow down and recovering his stolen money, taking them back to Las Vegas, the city where it all began.
WHY: “The Hangover Part III” is a really bad movie – a joyless and humorless cash-in that bears little resemblance to the 2009 original except by name. Say what you will about the first sequel, but at least that one actually felt like a “Hangover” movie. I’m not even sure if “Part III” is supposed to be a comedy, but the shocking lack of laughter would suggest otherwise. Galifianakis and Jeong are more annoying than ever in their respective roles, while Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms are simply on auto-pilot, going through the motions to collect their paychecks. And can you really blame them? The script is so terrible and devoid of laughs (despite some half-assed attempts at humor that rarely land) that it’s hard to imagine anyone signing on to the movie for anything other than the great payday. The film mostly runs on nostalgia – a fact made clear by the return of several familiar faces, even if they have nothing to offer the story – but even that little bit of fan service sputters out well before the end, much like the finale itself.
EXTRAS: The two-disc release includes a few extended scenes, an 8-minute outtakes reel, and some mini-featurettes that are all pretty terrible.
FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
WHAT: In the near future, the government has introduced an annual event called The Purge where all crime – including murder – is legal for 12 hours. The Sandins are fortunate enough to be able to afford a security system that keeps them safe, but when son Charlie (Max Burkholder) provides sanctuary to a homeless man on the run from some attackers, James (Ethan Hawke) and the rest of his family become their new targets.
WHY: “The Purge” is hands-down one of the dumbest movies of the year. Nothing about this film works, beginning at the concept stage, which is laughable in its suggestion that a) the government would ever impose something like the Purge, b) everyday people would actually embrace it, and c) no one would commit crimes during the rest of the year, not even the homeless people being beaten and murdered. It just isn’t plausible, and as such, the premise is completely drained of any suspense. The characters all act like idiots – especially Charlie, who doesn’t think twice about the fact that the man he’s helping could be tricking him in order to gain entry to the house – and the lead villain is just plain ridiculous. (His gang wears masks for no apparent reason other than that writer/director James DeMonaco thought it would be creepy.) And if that wasn’t bad enough, DeMonaco actually thinks that he’s making some kind of bold political statement, when in reality, it’s simply the musings of a crazy person.
EXTRAS: Considering how well it performed in theaters, it’s a little surprising that the only included bonus material is a making-of featurette titled “Surviving the Night.”
FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
WHAT: Leonato (Clark Gregg), the governor of Messina, is visited by his good friend Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) after a victorious campaign against the prince’s rebellious brother, Don John (Sean Maher). Joining Don Pedro are two of his officers: Claudio (Fran Kranz), who falls for Leonato’s daughter, Hero (Jillian Morgese), and Benedick (Alexis Denisof), who meets his match in the governor’s niece, Beatrice (Amy Acker). But Claudio’s love for Hero is put into doubt when Don John uses his trickery to ruin the couple’s fast-tracked wedding ceremony.
WHY: Most directors would take a much deserved vacation after wrapping on a movie as massive as “The Avengers,” but not Joss Whedon, who used his short break between filming and post-production on the Marvel blockbuster to shoot this modern day version of “Much Ado About Nothing” with some friends at his house. The film is packed with familiar faces from the director’s so-called Whedonverse – with all four of his previous TV shows represented in some capacity – but not everybody is quite on the same level. Amy Acker delivers some solid work as Beatrice, and Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg are both hilarious in supporting roles, but Alexis Denisof is way out of his depth here, and he nearly ruins the entire movie with his one-note performance. Shot entirely in black and white, “Much Ado” looks about as close to a low budget indie as you’re bound to find, but Whedon and Shakespeare are such a great fit (both celebrated for their sharp and witty dialogue) that it’s a wonder the latter didn’t attempt an adaptation of the Bard’s classic any sooner.
EXTRAS: In addition to a pair of audio commentaries – one with writer/director Joss Whedon, and another with Whedon and his cast – the Blu-ray release also includes a pair of production featurettes on the making of the film and a music video.
FINAL VERDICT: RENT
WHAT: A series of sketches starring pop culture icons – from G.I. Joe and The Avengers, to He-Man and The Smurfs – as well as the show’s own stable of original recurring characters.
WHY: Just when I thought that “Robot Chicken” had started to lose its comedic edge, Season Six proved that it can still make me laugh. Though all 20 episodes are pretty hit-and-miss (oftentimes, the shorter the sketch, the funnier it is), there’s some really inspired humor at play. Case in point: the season premiere features one of the best jokes in the show’s history, detailing the true origin of the Starbucks logo in a way that’ll never make you look at that familiar green sign the same way again. The Justice League of America is sadly absent for this go-around due to the recent DC Comics Special, but there are a few great sketches involving the G.I. Joes, particularly one that blends the toy world with the real world. Sam Elliot also lends his voice to a series of funny white wine commercials; the Street Sharks are finally exposed as the blatant TMNT rip-offs that they are; and there are movie spoofs aplenty, including “Cabin in the Woods” (complete with zombie Joss Whedon) and a Lego version of “Children of Men.”
EXTRAS: As usual, the Blu-ray release is jam-packed with bonus material, including a collection of mini-featurettes, outtakes, deleted scenes and animatics, and audio commentaries on every episode.
FINAL VERDICT: RENT