It’s been a few weeks since my last column due to what can only be described as one of the busiest months of my adult life, but I’m finally back with another edition of Blu Tuesday. Thankfully, there weren’t too many must-have Blu-rays released while I was out, but I would suggest picking up the following if you haven’t already: “The Dark Knight Rises,” “ParaNorman,” “Lawless” and the “Tarantino XX” box set. This week’s selection isn’t that much better, but there are a handful of titles worth checking out.
Seth MacFarlane has already built a media empire that currently dominates Fox’s Sunday night line-up, but it was only a matter of time before he moved on to a bigger challenge, and though “Ted” represents the multi-hyphenate’s first foray into feature filmmaking, the movie is such a confident debut that you have to wonder why it took so long to make the jump in the first place. While the film can feel like a live-action version of “Family Guy” at times – featuring trademarks like cutaway gags, a knock-down-drag-out fight, and enough boundary-pushing humor to comfortably earn its R rating – you don’t have to be a fan of the show to enjoy “Ted.” It certainly wouldn’t hurt, but there are also things that MacFarlane is able to do here that can’t be done in animation, and it creates a more well-rounded movie as a result. Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis are both solid in their respective roles, but it’s MacFarlane who steals the show as the foul-mouthed teddy bear. His decision to perform the motion capture and provide the voice of Ted not only does wonders for the interactions between him and Wahlberg, but it makes him feel like a real, living, breathing thing, and that goes a long way in making the film such an incredibly funny buddy comedy.
Blu-ray Highlight: There’s a lot of great bonus material for fans to dive into – including an amusing audio commentary with Seth MacFarlane, Mark Wahlberg and co-writer Alec Sulkin – but the making-of featurette is the best of the bunch, focusing mainly on visual effects and MacFarlane’s decision to perform Ted live on the set during filming.
I was a little wary when Universal announced that they were continuing the Jason Bourne franchise without Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass (or for that matter, the title character), but “The Bourne Legacy” proves that there’s still life to the series without them. One of the most important factors in its success was the decision to bring Tony Gilroy back to write and direct the fourth installment, because no one knows the Bourne series better than him, and it was likely his idea to design the story so that it runs parallel to the events in “The Bourne Ultimatum.” That way, there’s still some sort of connection between Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross and Damon’s Bourne, even though they never actually cross paths. If they do get around to making another film, that would be the next logical step, but for what’s essentially a spin-off, “The Bourne Legacy” is a lot better than it probably has the right to be. It’s still not as good as the original trilogy, but between its talented cast (which includes heavy hitters like Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton) and superb action sequences, there’s more than enough here to keep you invested in the Bourne saga.
Blu-ray Highlight: Though it’s a little disappointing that none of the film’s cast appears on the audio commentary, the track – which features director/co-writer Tony Gilroy with several of his crew members – is a great conversation about making the movie, with each participant getting the chance to discuss their contribution to the film in detail.
“Girls” is one of those shows that makes me question why I continue to tune in every week. Though it’s a big hit with a lot of critics, and there’s invariably something that makes me laugh out loud each episode, the HBO comedy’s quartet of leading ladies doesn’t make it easy to enjoy. Creator Lena Dunham’s Hannah is easily one of the most annoying characters on television; Allison Williams’ Marnie makes more bad decisions than a horror movie victim; Jemima Kirke’s Jessa fails to prove what makes her so alluring to men; and Zosia Mamet’s Shoshanna… well, I don’t actually have anything bad to say about her. That might make “Girls” sound like a pretty insufferable viewing experience (and it is at times), but even with such terrible characters, it manages to deliver some surprisingly biting commentary on this generation’s crop of entitled, self-centered twentysomethings. Still, if it weren’t for breakout star Adam Driver’s hilarious performance as Hannah’s weirdo on-again, off-again boyfriend, there’s a pretty good chance I would have tuned out a long time ago, because he single-handedly makes the show worth watching.
Blu-ray Highlight: HBO doesn’t normally include many extras on their Blu-rays, but the two-disc release of “Girls” is loaded with bonus material, and many of them are really good. In addition to a pair of roundtable-type conversations between Lena Dunham and her female co-stars, and Dunham and producer Judd Apatow, there’s also a cool making-of video diary that goes behind the scenes of several Season One episodes.