Blu Tuesday: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The Call 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.

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”

WHAT: Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carrel) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) used to be the hottest act on the Vegas Strip, but in recent years, they’ve been overshadowed by a self-mutilating street magician named Steve Gray (Jim Carrey). When the duo parts ways following a failed attempt to update their show, they must put aside their differences and compete against Gray for the chance to earn the headlining spot at their former employer’s brand new hotel.

WHY: The trailer for “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” had disaster written all over it, but much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed the film quite a bit. The movie is laugh-out-loud funny at times, and there’s not a single weak link in the cast. Steve Carell channels his inner Will Ferrell as the conceited magician, while Jim Carrey proves that he’s still got it as the Criss Angel-like villain. Even Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin and James Gandolfini (in one of his final film roles) get in on the laughs, and that’s mostly to the credit of Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daly’s amusing screenplay. Though it may seem like the movie is just making fun of magicians at their expense, it has a healthy respect for its subject matter (David Copperfield even served as a special consultant) and does a better job of showcasing the art of magic than last month’s “Now You See Me.”

EXTRAS: In addition to nearly 30 minutes of deleted scenes and alternate takes, there’s also a short magic featurette with Copperfield, footage from Steve Gray’s faux video series “The Best of the Brain Rapist” and a gag reel.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“The Call”

WHAT: Feeling partially responsible for the kidnapping and subsequent death of a teenage girl, 911 dispatcher Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) takes a leave of absence, eventually returning six months later in a new position as a training supervisor. But when a fellow operator receives a distress call from teenager Casey Wilson (Abigail Breslin) after she’s kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a car, Jordan jumps back into the hot seat, only to discover that the abductor is the same man from the previous incident.

WHY: The WWE logo is a strange thing to see before any movie, but especially one that stars a former Oscar winner like Halle Berry. Sadly, just when it looks like “The Call” is going to deliver a fresh take on the kidnapping genre, it switches gears and becomes another run-of-the-mill thriller better suited for VOD than the big screen. Though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the film starts to go downhill, you won’t find a more unintentionally funny scene this year than the introduction of the villain – an over-the-top Norman Bates clone who’s first seen listening to Taco’s synth-pop cover of Puttin’ on the Ritz.” It’s disappointing to see Brad Anderson’s once-promising career relegated to low-rent fodder like this, because while the director and his two stars try their best to elevate the material, their effort only goes so far before the movie crumbles into a clichéd mess.

EXTRAS: The bonus material features a little bit of everything, including deleted scenes, an alternate ending, the audition tape for actor Michael Eklund, a tour of the film’s two main sets, and a stunt featurette on the gas station sequence.

FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

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Movie Review: “The Call”

Starring
Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund
Director
Brad Anderson

The WWE logo is a strange thing to see before any movie, but especially one that stars a former Oscar winner like Halle Berry. Originally conceived as a vehicle for featuring its stable of wrestling stars on the big screen, WWE Studios quickly became known for producing cheap, direct-to-video action films. But with the release of “The Call” (and “Dead Man Down” the week before), it appears that the studio is starting to aim a little higher with their cinematic aspirations. Unfortunately, while the pedigree of talent is better than usual, “The Call” can’t shake the stink of mediocrity that’s present in all of WWE’s films, no matter how hard it tries.

Berry stars as Jordan Turner, a 911 dispatcher who receives a distress call from a teenage girl during a home invasion. After Jordan seemingly saves her from capture by devising a clever plan, she gives her away by redialing the number after the call is disconnected. Feeling responsible for the girl’s kidnapping and subsequent death, Jordan takes a leave of absence and returns six months later as a training supervisor, unable to resume her previous duties. While taking the newest recruits through a tour of LAPD’s base of operations, a fellow operator receives a call from a teenager named Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin) who finds herself trapped in the trunk of a car after being drugged and abducted from a mall parking lot. The only problem is that her cell phone was destroyed in the process, and the TracFone she happened to have in her back pocket is untraceable. When the rookie operator proves unhelpful, Jordan jumps back into the hot seat, only to discover that Casey’s captor (Michael Eklund) is the same man from before.

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