Blu Tuesday: Magic Mike XXL, Dracula and More

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.

“Magic Mike XXL”

WHAT: Three years after leaving the stripper life to pursue his dream of starting his own business, “Magic” Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) reunites with the remaining Kings of Tampa – Ken (Matt Bomer), Big Dick Ritchie (Joe Manganiello), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) and Tarzan (Kevin Nash) – for a road trip to the annual stripper convention in Myrtle Beach for one final performance.

WHY: One of the biggest complaints about “Magic Mike” was that it was a lot more serious than people were expecting for a film about male strippers, and “Magic Mike XXL” addresses those criticisms head-on by delivering a more upbeat and whimsical bro-fest that plays like a racier version of “Entourage.” Channing Tatum is still the star, but supporting players like Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello are given larger roles, while new addition Jada Pinkett Smith nearly steals the whole movie. It’s everything the first film should have been and more, making up for its loose narrative structure by unabashedly pandering to the audience with show-stopping dance numbers that are so theatrical it could be turned into a traveling stage show. Though the movie is slightly ridiculous and lacking any real substance, it’s also incredibly entertaining, with rarely a dull moment despite the almost two-hour runtime. You have to respect a film that does exactly what it sets out to achieve (in this case, slow-jam beefcake cheesiness) and doesn’t apologize for it, because “Magic Mike XXL” embraces that attitude full tilt and never looks back.

EXTRAS: There’s a pair of featurettes on the film’s choreography and location shooting in Georgia, as well as an extended version of Stephen Boss’ dance sequence.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“Bram Stoker’s Dracula”

WHAT: Four centuries after renouncing God and being reborn as a blood-sucking monster, Count Dracula (Gary Oldman) travels to 19th-century London, where he meets Mina (Winona Ryder), a young woman with an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. When Mina falls under the spell of the seductive Transylvanian prince, her fiancé Jonathan (Keanu Reeves) enlists the help of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) to hunt down and kill Dracula.

WHY: Though the film has its share of admirers, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” marked the beginning of the end of the director’s illustrious career. The warning signs were there for anyone paying attention, with Copolla’s experimental visual style taking precedent over story and character with mixed results. For every cool effect like Dracula’s shadow, there are two more that look incredibly amateurish. But while you can’t fault Coppola’s ambition and risk-taking, the movie suffers as a result, especially during the problematic opening act. The decision to cast Keanu Reeves (which Coppola has since admitted he did purely to appeal to young female moviegoers) must haunt the director to this very day, because he’s every bit as terrible as you remember. Thankfully, Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins do just enough to prevent the film from falling into self-parody. The whole Dracula-as-werewolf sequence is pretty dumb – in fact, the decrepit Lo Pan version that appears in the opening act is more frightening than any other form he takes – but credit to Oldman for making it work, because without him in the role, “Dracula” probably wouldn’t be as fondly remembered.

EXTRAS: In addition to a pair of audio commentaries – one with director Francis Ford Coppola from the 2007 Blu-ray release, and another with Coppola, visual effects director Roman Coppola and makeup supervisor Greg Cannom from the 1993 laserdisc – there are four production featurettes, new interviews with Coppola and his son about making the film, and some deleted scenes.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“Manglehorn”

WHAT: Heartbroken over the loss of his true love, small-town locksmith A.J. Manglehorn (Al Pacino) finds comfort in his daily routine and beloved cat. But when his friendship with kindly bank teller Dawn (Holly Hunter) begins to turn into something more, A.J. must choose between fixating over the past or embracing the future.

WHY: Whether he’s making poetic coming-of-age films or pot-fueled buddy comedies, David Gordon Green hasn’t allowed himself to be confined to a certain genre, although he does seem to have an affinity for the kind of naturalistic, salt-of-the-earth dramas that he’s returned to in recent years, including his latest movie, “Manglehorn.” Unfortunately, while Green’s downbeat character study shows promise in the opening minutes, it’s hampered by the fact that its protagonist isn’t particularly interesting or likable. Al Pacino delivers some of his best work in years as the reclusive locksmith, and Holly Hunter livens up the screen whenever she appears, but they’re too easily overshadowed by the film’s many flaws. It’s hard to imagine what Green was thinking when he cast director Harmony Korine (“Spring Breakers”) as sleazy massage parlor owner Gary, because the character is immensely annoying and Korine’s performance is just plain awful. Even more problematic is the story, which wastes so much time on pointless subplots that Manglehorn’s predictable, 11th-hour reversal falls a bit flat. Fans of Green’s early work will find some things to admire about “Manglehorn,” but after the enjoyable one-two punch of “Prince Avalanche” and “Joe,” it’s a disappointing step backward.

EXTRAS: Nothing, despite the studio trying to pass off the trailer as bonus material.

FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

  

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