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The World’s End Blu-ray Combo Pack
The World’s End starts as the tale of a desperate, middle-aged alcoholic who wants nothing more than to head to his hometown to relive his high school glory days, during which he and his friends almost made it through a lengthy pub crawl ending at the titular World’s End pub. The crawl begins as a begrudging reunion of a bunch of men who are no longer friendly, but when Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright are involved, fans are in for something a little spookier and more spectacular. In this case, as the night wears on, the former friends determine there is something more sinister afoot.
Initially, it takes some time for Gary King (Pegg) to get his friends back together. A combination of wheedling, begging, and other conniving gets Andy (Frost), Steven (Paddy Considine), O-Man (Martin Freeman), and Peter (Eddie Marsan) into his eighties era car to cart them to the town of Newton Haven, where they will slog their way through 12 pubs. It’s clear from the beginning that Gary hasn’t moved forward into adulthood, despite the fact he’s technically there in years. He’s still drinking like a fish, wearing the band t-shirts he favored in his youth, and even listening to the same mixtapes his friends gave him in high school. He envisions the return to Newton Haven as a life-affirming journey, but things start to go awry nearly immediately.
Gary’s a well-drawn character, a man tinged with sadness who is looking to relive his past. His friends have all moved on without him, gotten respectable jobs, bought houses, had families, etc. However, when the gang determines that the town of Newton Haven has been taken over, it is Gary who is forced to face his past and the person he has become, and maybe save a few friends in the process, including a girl he has a rather strange past with named Sam (Rosamund Pike).
The World’s End is the third film in Wright’s Cornetto trilogy, and as such, it features a lot of the humor and signature action sequences we’ve come to expect from the director’s work. If you’ve never been a fan of his penchant for extended and video game-worthy fight sequences, there are still a lot of those in The World’s End that occasionally mar an otherwise wacky and enjoyable movie. Still, it’s a small complaint, and if you want to enter a world where "robot" is a curse word and humanity is not what it seems, The World’s End is the perfect popcorn flick for a weekend viewing.
You can order The World’s End over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Comedies often sport some amusing bonus features, but there are more features than usual with Universal Studios Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray release. The extras can be split into two basic types: footage from behind-the-scenes during the shooting of the film, which includes things like out-takes, "Stunt Tapes," and "Rehearsal Footage," and featurettes with the cast and crew discussing the film, like the audio commentary and the "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy Extra."
Of these, the out-takes are among the most amusing segments, but if you are more into the most informative aspects of Wright, Pegg, and Frost’s work, the "Completing the Golden Mile: The Making of The World’s End" extra is probably the best thing on the disc. It’s extremely lengthy, and while it does feature some of the same information that can be found in a few of the shorter segments on the disc, it’s still a interesting watch.
Other Special Features:
"Director at Work" Featurettes
"Pegg + Frost = Fried Gold" Featurette
"Friends Reunited" Featurette
"Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy" Featurette
"Filling in the Blanks: The Stunts and FX of The World’s End" "Animatics"
"Hair and Make-Up Tests"
"Bits & Pieces" "There’s Only One Gary King –Osymyso’s Inibri-8 Megamix"
"Signs & Omens"
"Edgar & Simon’s Flip Charts"
Trailers and TV Spots
Feature Commentary with Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg
We’re The Millers Blu-ray Combo Pack
We’re the Millers is a grab bag of wild plots and amusing punchlines set to the backdrop of a plotline that makes little sense. If you can get past the idea that a small town drug dealer would get sent on a dangerous mission to unwittingly steal drugs from a Mexican drug lord and then get past the idea that this small town dealer hires a fake family in order to be able to get the drugs across the border, you’re in for a comedy that will make you laugh, mostly thanks to having an impeccable cast.
We’re The Millers stars the always-likeable Jason Sudeikis as the aforementioned small town drug dealer, who is forced into a dangerous mission by his douchebag boss, Brad (Ed Helms), to commandeer more drugs after he can’t produce a significant sum of money owed. He’s tasked with bringing the substances over the border, and to do so he hires two neighborhood teens, the parentless Kenny (Will Poulter) and the runaway Casey (Emma Roberts), as well as a local stripper named Rose (Jennifer Aniston) to pose as his family and get the drugs across the border, no questions asked.
Pretending to be a family can be a difficult process, and on their drug-seeking journey the team encounters some internal strife as they butt up against drug dealers, police officers, and another family traveling by RV that happens to have a DEA agent in the family. (Nick Offerman’s excellent mustache thankfully makes an appearance in many of these scenes.) The story even gets through a few moments that are surprisingly touching amidst the more numerous penis jokes and nods to TLC’s "Waterfalls."
At the end of the day, We’re The Millers becomes a film that is more about its misfit characters and the chances those characters take when life throws random opportunities their way. Though there’s a weird swingers sex scene and a bad orca joke to get through, We’re The Millers manages to actually hit on some poignant notes while keeping its audience invested in the jokes through the length of its run.
You can order We’re The Millers over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s set comes with a few extras. A few of these are featurettes, but the better extras are the deleted scenes, the gags, and the extra outtakes. I thought the "Outtakes Overload" would be the best feature, but it is actually a set of featurettes with interviews. Segments within the segment include "Don’t Suck Venom," "Getting Out of A Sticky Situation," and "Rollin in the RV." We get it. People improvise a lot with comedy scripts.
The deleted scenes and gags & more outtakes segments actually feature some revisions of scenes and funny moments from the shooting of the film. So, if you are into some extra laughs or if you want to see the various directions a few scenes could have gone, these segments are the best things on the disc to catch.
Other Special Features:
"Millers Unleashed: Outtakes Overload"
"Behind the Scenes: Stories from the Road"
"Behind the Scenes: Livin’ it up with Brad"
"Behind the Scenes: When Paranoia Sets In"
Gags & More Outtakes
The Poor And Hungry Blu-ray
The biggest problem with most independent films is pacing. When filmmakers get behind the camera and make their first feature length, they often try to cram way too much into a short window or conversely, make a "character study" that’s agonizingly slow. Black Snake Moan helmer Craig Brewer’s first feature The Poor And Hungry is one of the few that’s actually able to find a middle ground. The plot moves forward with enough momentum to maintain interest and enough caution to build real characters and real suspense.
For the sake of simplicity, those three characters are a car thief named, a streetwise hustler named Harper and a cello player (Eric Tate, Lindsey Roberts, Lake Latimer). The first two live on the fringes, while the latest struggles beneath an exterior that seems a whole lot rosier. Eventually, a car theft, a crush and some honest moments bring the three together and shake-up the paths that once seemed a little more pre-ordained.
Shot in black and white, The Poor And Hungry chooses the right subject matter and the right scenery for its budget. Eli and Harper aren’t the type that would benefit from glitz and make-up. They’re home amidst the stripped down locations and messy streets of Memphis, and Brewer realizes that. So, instead of wasting time with making things look polished, he embraces the basic vibe, shooting scenes from simple and effective angles and cutting them once they’ve gotten their point across. Showier movies might have lingered on tears and confrontations for longer, but this one is more interested in honesty, which is precisely why it works.
The Poor And Hungry is a good film with something to say. Because of its modest budget and lack of polish, it’ll never play to the world’s widest audience, but for film buffs, it’s absolutely worth a look.
You can download The Poor And Hungry for free here.
Best Special Feature: Poor Man's Process follows Craig Brewer’s attempts to make a film, how round one was a disaster and how his sister-in-law getting her car stolen wound up providing the inspiration for the final film. More interestingly, it also chronicles all of the weird people in Craig’s life at the time and how each contributed to what the film ultimately became, whether it was actually working on it, starring in it or providing locations.
Other Special Features: Deleted Scenes.
Planes Blu-ray Combo Pack
Pixar didn’t have its hands on this summer’s Cars spinoff release, Planes, and while this doesn’t show too badly in its animation and certainly not in its voice acting, the storytelling in Planes is pretty lackluster.
Planes tells the tale of a lowly cropduster who dreams about racing among the world’s fastest planes. In one of the most basic film moments ever, he lucks into a race around the world after a plane is disqualified for cheating (those of us with kids will have recently seen that plotline in Monster’s University, as well). While he has the will to compete, he needs to work to be competitive amidst faster planes, but more importantly, he needs to overcome a debilitating fear of heights.
Dane Cook voices the brave and overeager Dusty, and he’s actually great at voicing a kid-friendly character that is lacking in the derision and sarcastic humor we’ve come to expect from the comedian. The rest of the voicework is enjoyable, too, with standout work from Stacy Keach and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The former plays a war veteran plane named Skipper and the latter plays an aloof French-Canadian plane named Rochelle. There’s plenty of interest in a cast of characters with voices from around the world. Additionally, the characters get to fly to interesting sights, following an easy plot that’s full of life lessons. It’s like Amazing Race for the kiddos. But that’s about where the compliments end.
Adults will sit through plenty of themes that are cobbled together from fresher, better movies. Even if kids haven’t caught some of the world’s more entertaining animated movies, they’ve probably seen Cars and Cars 2. Planes doesn’t really stack up against even the second of those movies, which at least tries for more jokes and creates a whole new universe full of oil-guzzling individuals. At its best, when the film is swooping through intricate flight maneuvers, the movie still feels like a worse version of the Cars universe, and doubtless kids will be a little disappointed, too, even if they like the flick.
You could do worse than Planes in your DVD collection, but this may not be one of the more well-worn movies on your family’s shelf.
You can order Planes over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Planes isn’t as stacked with special features as you would expect it to be. The best special feature is probably "Franz’s Song," a special deleted scene that helps Dusty to realize it’s alright to drop his cropduster roots. Unlike the other deleted scenes on the disc, "Franz’s Song" was actually finished by the director and the team and fully animated and colored for the Blu-ray release. It’s a nice segment and a lot better than the hand drawn or halfway-animated deleted scenes that are also present on the disc.
Other Special Features:
"Klay’s Flight Plan"
"Meet the Racers"
"Top 10 Flyers"
Other November 19 Releases
Talking planes, robots, and orca-owning drug dealers pepper the plotlines of this week’s biggest releases, but if you’re looking for something a little more down to earth, you might find it in 2 Guns, a buddy cop movie featuring two larger-than-life personalities. The film stars Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, two actors with very different styles, but like most of the world’s more entertaining movie duos, the two actors are able to find a verbal rapport that really works. Less exciting are the extras, which peak at a featurette called "Undercover and Into Action," following graphic novelist Steven Grant and screenwriter Blake Masters merging their own individual styles to put together the film. This may be one to rent, rather than buy, but the good news is that its already available for a moderate price over at Amazon.
If I haven’t mentioned anything that might suit your fancy, yet, here’s a list of some of this week’s other releases. Unless otherwise noted, titles are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
The Poor & The Hungry
The Ultimate Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy
Treme: The Complete Third Season
The Little Mermaid II and Ariel's Beginning 2-Movie Collection
Lost Girl: Season 3
The To-Do List
Violet & Daisy
Lilyhammer: Season 1