Blu Tuesday: The World’s End, 2 Guns 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 World’s End”

WHAT: It’s been over 20 years since Gary King (Simon Pegg) and his high school friends embarked on a quest to finish The Golden Mile, a 12-pub crawl through their peaceful town of Newton Haven. Desperate to relive those glory days, Gary gets the gang back together under false pretensions to complete the illustrious pub crawl, only to inadvertently uncover a secret invasion by robot-like beings that have assimilated most of the town’s inhabitants.

WHY: For fans of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” the final installment in Edgar Wright’s Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy couldn’t come soon enough. Of course, it’s not even a real trilogy in the traditional sense, but any time that Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost join forces is cause for celebration. Best described as “The Big Chill” meets “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “The World’s End” is more of a group effort than their previous movies, with all five actors – Pegg, Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine – in fine form. In fact, their chemistry is so good that some of the funniest scenes take place when they’re just sitting around the table talking. The action sequences, however, are pretty hit and miss, which is a shame considering Wright’s outstanding work in “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” and the sci-fi setting seems to be working against the story at times. Still, while expectations were undoubtedly high for their third (and hopefully not last) cinematic outing, Wright, Pegg and Frost have produced another excellent comedy that, although it falls a little short of their previous films, still delivers all the laughs that we’ve come to expect from the trio.

EXTRAS: Following in the footsteps of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” Universal has packed this Blu-ray release with an unbelievable amount of bonus material, including three audio commentaries (one with Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, one with Wright and director of photography Bill Pope, and one with Pegg, Nick Frost and Paddy Considine), a U-Control storyboard picture-in-picture track, a 48-minute making-of featurette and a 28-minute stunt and FX featurette. There’s also a pop-up trivia track, 10 mini-featurettes covering various areas of production, deleted scenes, alternate takes, outtakes, a montage of the film’s hidden Easter eggs and more, if you can believe it.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY

“2 Guns”

WHAT: When DEA agent Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and naval intelligence officer Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) fail to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel, they decide to rob a bank that they believe contains evidence incriminating the cartel’s boss. But the $42 million they make off with actually belongs to the CIA, and to make matters worse, neither one knows that the other is working undercover.

WHY: It’s hard to believe that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson were originally tapped to play the two leads in this throwback to late 80s and early 90s buddy cop films, because while a lot of the dialogue sounds like it was written with the “Wedding Crashers” duo in mind, they’re not exactly convincing action stars. Credit to director Baltasar Kormakur, then, for casting Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in the roles instead, because while “2 Guns” is a pretty average action-comedy that’s riddled with decades-old clichés and plot holes, the actors make it much more enjoyable. Not only can they handle the physical stuff, but they’re also both incredibly charismatic, forming the kind of effortless rapport that directors only dream about. The rest of the cast isn’t quite as memorable – though Bill Paxton has some fun as a crooked CIA agent – and the plot is beyond ridiculous, but Washington and Wahlberg have such great chemistry that it’s just fun watching the odd couple bicker while blowing away bad guys.

EXTRAS: There’s an audio commentary with director Baltasar Kormakur and producer Adam Siegel, a 30-minute making-of featurette and some deleted/extended scenes.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“We’re the Millers”

WHAT: After low-level drug dealer David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) loses his entire stash and personal savings to a group of thugs, his boss (Ed Helms) offers him the chance to make amends by smuggling a shipment of marijuana across the Mexican border. Knowing that he’ll draw attention on his own, David convinces his neighbors – stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), dork Kenny (Will Poulter) and runaway Casey (Emma Roberts) – to pose as his fake family.

WHY:We’re the Millers” is every bit as formulaic as the typical road trip movie, but the cast makes up for those generic story beats with some winning performances, and they all pull their weight equally. In fact, although Sudeikis is technically the film’s lead, he’s actually the weakest link of the bunch, relying too much on his one-note wisecracking to realize that he’s being outshined by the rest of his “family.” Aniston should tap into her naughty side more often, because the actress delivers one of her more enjoyable roles to date as the stripper-turned-housewife, while Poulter steals nearly every scene he’s in. What’s perhaps most surprising about the movie, however, is that the trailers haven’t ruined all the good bits, which is very telling of just funny the movie is at times. It’s also oddly sweet in the way that the Millers gradually evolve into a real family over the course of the film, even if you can see that twist coming from a mile away. Still, “We’re the Millers” could have been a lot worse, because though it drags on for a little too long, it’s one of the year’s better comedies.

EXTRAS: In addition to an extended cut of the movie featuring 9 minutes of new material, there’s a collection of behind-the-scenes featurettes, outtakes and some deleted scenes.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

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Movie Review: “We’re the Millers”

Starring
Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Ed Helms
Director
Rawson Marshall Thurber

It hasn’t been a particularly memorable year at the movies, especially for those in search of a good comedy, so it’s a relief to see a film like “We’re the Millers” arrive in theaters, because although it’s not as funny as its behind-the-scenes talent might suggest, it’s one of the better comedies released thus far. Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”) and co-written by the guys behind “Wedding Crashers” and “Hot Tub Time Machine,” “We’re the Millers” doesn’t break any new comedic ground, but it’s packed with some great laughs and an ensemble cast that seems game for just about anything, no matter how outrageous or inappropriate it may be.

“SNL” veteran Jason Sudeikis stars as David Clark, a low-level drug dealer who gets robbed one night by a group of thugs, losing his entire stash and personal savings in the process. His slimeball boss (Ed Helms) doesn’t take the news well, but he offers David a chance to make amends by smuggling a “smidge” of marijuana across the Mexican border in exchange for a clean slate and $100,000. David knows that a single guy traveling alone in an RV will only draw attention from the border police, so he recruits a fake family to serve as a disguise, including the stripper who lives in his apartment building (Jennifer Aniston), the dorky virgin next door (Will Poulter) and a bratty teen runaway (Emma Roberts). But when they arrive in Mexico, the aforementioned “smidge” turns out to be a few metric tons, and worse yet, it belongs to someone else, forcing the ersatz Miller family on the run from a ruthless drug lord.

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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to August

august

In recent years, August has typically been the month where studios dump their summer fare that can’t compete with the bigger blockbusters, and although that’s probably true with this year as well, it’s hard to complain with a line-up as great as this, including the latest sci-fi treat from “District 9” director Neill Blomkamp, the sequel to “Kick-Ass” and the final chapter in Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.

“2 GUNS”

Who: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton and Edward James Olmos
What: A DEA agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer who have been tasked with investigating one another find they have been set up by the mob.
When: August 2nd
Why: It’s hard to believe that “2 Guns” was originally planned as a post-“Wedding Crashers” reunion for Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, because they’re hardly the action movie types. Thankfully, that never came to pass, and director Baltasar Kormakur ended up finding an even better onscreen duo in Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, who are just as good at handling action as they are at delivering a quip. And that’s important, since it appears that the humor in Blake Masters’ script has remained mostly intact. Washington and Wahlberg are both incredibly charismatic actors that have the box office power to sell a movie on their names alone, so while audiences may have missed out on the chance of seeing Vaughn and Wilson do their version of “Bad Boys,” “2 Guns” is probably better off for it.

“ELYSIUM”

Who: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley and Alice Braga
What: Set in a future where the wealthy live on a space station while the rest of society resides on a ruined Earth, a man embarks on a mission to bring equality to the worlds.
When: August 9th
Why: Moviegoers have been patiently awaiting Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up to “District 9” ever since the 2009 sleeper hit arrived in theaters, and although it’s not a sequel like some were hoping for, it is another sci-fi thriller with a socio-political message. Obviously, getting actors like Matt Damon and Jodie Foster was a huge coup for Blomkamp, but the success of “Elysium” will once again rest on its unique premise, which already has my interest piqued. The South African director proved with his debut that he’s really good at world building, and the same holds true for “Elysium,” which looks like a fully formed piece of science fiction with some great visuals to boot. And with the talent involved, another Oscar nomination certainly isn’t out of the question, though it’s just nice to see such an original voice working in Hollywood.

“WE’RE THE MILLERS”

Who: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter and Ed Helms
What: A veteran pot dealer assembles a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico
When: August 9th
Why: It probably won’t be the best comedy you see this year (and quite likely, not even this month), but “We’re the Millers” has the potential to be a lot funnier than it sounds. For starters, the movie is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (who made the underrated 2004 comedy “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”) and written by the same duo behind “Wedding Crashers,” which means that you can expect plenty of silliness without it going too far over the top. There are better leading men than Jason Sudeikis, who’s usually more effective in supporting roles, but the rest of the cast is great, including Jennifer Aniston (tapping into her naughty side once again after the positive reception from “Horrible Bosses”) and up-and-comer Will Poulter in what promises to be a scene-stealing performance.

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