It’s probably a good thing that the Summer Olympics are going on right now, because this week’s new releases don’t offer a whole lot to get excited about. While horror fans will find a few titles worth digging into, the only real Blu-ray of note is the reissue of the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi classic, “Total Recall” – unless you love Marilyn Monroe, in which case Fox’s seven-movie “Forever Marilyn” box set is an absolute must-have.
With a new version of “Total Recall” arriving in theaters this weekend, it was inevitable that Lionsgate would reissue Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 original on Blu-ray in conjunction with its release. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie, and the first thing that crossed my mind upon revisiting the film was that I couldn’t believe my parents actually let me watch this at such a young age. Though not nearly as violent as Verhoeven’s other sci-fi cult classics “RoboCop” and “Starship Troopers,” “Total Recall” has its share of graphic gore, not to mention the grotesque (but brilliant) special effects by Rob Bottin. For as beloved as the movie is in certain circles, however, it hasn’t held up particularly well, with many of the futuristic props and production design coming off even cheesier and more dated than before. Of course, that’s the danger of the sci-fi genre, but it doesn’t change the fact that “Total Recall” is still a fun slice of escapist entertainment that, depending on which side of the “Was it real or a dream?” argument you fall on, is also a lot smarter than it looks.
Blu-ray Highlight: The audio commentary by director Paul Verhoeven and star Arnold Schwarzenegger is a great listen if you never got around to checking it out on previous releases, but the disc’s all-new interview with Verhoeven is a much more interesting retrospective on the film’s production process, with the director offering details on the script and its troublesome third act, working with Arnold, the visual effects and more.
Joseph Kahn’s bizarre genre mash-up is one those movies that will likely earn a small cult following who swear that it’s a misunderstood masterpiece, but they’d be wrong. Those same people might even say that it deserves to be admired for its originality, and while that’s true to a certain extent, the entire plot is dependent on paying homage to a medley of films including “Scream,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Back to the Future,” “Heathers, “Donnie Darko,” and every Gregg Araki movie ever made. Though it shows some real promise early on (the opening sequence, in particular, is a hilarious meta-satire of teen slasher films), “Detention” gradually gets worse as the story begins to lose focus amid its scattershot collection of ideas – some good, some bad, and some just poorly executed. The movie is all over the place, and despite Kahn’s attempts to make sense of everything by introducing time travel to the equation, he only ends up creating an even bigger mess. There are some brief moments of comic brilliance scattered throughout, but why waste your time when you could just watch the far superior “Cabin in the Woods” instead?
Blu-ray Highlight: Regardless of how you feel about the movie, the picture-in-picture commentary track “Cheat Mode: The Unbelievably Mind Melting Making of ‘Detention’” is the kind of extra that I’d like to see on more Blu-ray releases. Unlike Universal’s similar U-Control feature, “Cheat Mode” runs the entire length of the film and includes interviews with the cast and crew, behind-the-scenes footage, photos and much more.
I don’t know what it is about the British and their obsession with crime films, but credit to “18.104.22.168” for at least trying to do something different with the genre. Unfortunately, Noel Clarke’s follow-up to his directorial debut, “Adulthood,” is a simple case of a good idea ruined by terrible execution. Presenting the film as a series of interconnecting stories is a difficult undertaking on its own, but organizing it in such a confusing manner (with each part of the tale told in its entirety, one after the other) causes a disconnect with the audience early on, as it’s difficult not to feel completely lost. Granted, by the time all four stories have unraveled, everything starts to make sense, but apart from the “ah-ha” moment that it provides, it’s wholly unnecessary. Most of the acting is solid, and the movie features some fun cameos from the likes of Kevin Smith and Mandy Patinkin (the former of which is the highlight of the whole film), but “22.214.171.124” gambles so much on its gimmicky plot device that Clarke has no one other than himself to blame when it doesn’t work out.
Blu-ray Highlight: The only included extra is a pretty standard making-of featurette comprised of interviews with writer/co-director Noel Clarke and the cast. It’s hardly must-see material, but fans of the movie won’t be completely disappointed either.