DVD Tuesday: ‘Megamind’ and ‘Due Date’

by W. Andrew Powell

A scene from Megamind

A scene from Megamind

New this week on Blu-ray and DVD: Will Ferrell and Tina Fey star in the animated Megamind; Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis take a wild ride together in Due Date; plus a look at Get Low and Total Recall 2070.

Megamind [February 25]
Starring: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, David Cross, Ben Stiller
Directors: Tom McGrath & Cameron Hood

Rated: 7.5/10

DreamWorks Animation has been waging a long battle to become one of the most successful animation houses of the last two decades, but they have some stiff competition.

Since Pixar is pretty much the undisputed champion of the animated world, it’s at least safe to say DreamWorks is waging a valiant war, but Dreamworks have still made a name for themselves thanks to their indisputably unique comedies that have become instantly endearing.

Whether you’re talking about Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, or Kung Fu Panda, there have been some great movies from the studio over the years, and Megamind follows winningly on that course.

Will Ferrell voices the super-villain known as Megamind, a failure who has some amazing gadgets, but he’s never been able to make his plans work out in the end. He’s tried to take over the thriving Metro City (or, as he calls it, Metrocity) with countless schemes, but the superhero Metro Man has always thwarted him… until one wildly botched plot actually works.

With Metro Man gone, killed by a blast from Megamind’s latest weapon, our villain seems to be the conqueror, and he’s got a whole city at his feet, but he’s not quite as happy as he thought he would be. Without Metro Man facing off against him, life is pretty dull, so the only thing Megamind can do is find a way of making a new hero for the city.

While the right intention might be there, Megamind’s plans blow up in his face and he’s left with a foul villain to defeat even as he attempts to win over his dream girl, voiced by Tina Fey, by making himself look like someone else.

Funny, charming, and with a few Superman in-jokes, Megamind is another great comedy from DreamWorks Animation. Will Ferrell is refreshingly different in this role, and I also enjoyed Fey as the love interest, and Brad Pitt as Metro Man, a role I can almost imagine him playing in a live action film.

The only problem with the film is really that we’ve seen something a lot like this not too long ago. Although Megamind and Despicable Me are very different films, it’s almost impossible to forget the similarities, and next to Despicable Me, Megamind is just not as funny, or quite as clever.

As reformed super villains go, Megamind is still worth checking out though, and on Blu-ray you get a selection of cool extras including a look at the cast of the film, deleted scenes, a filmmaker’s commentary track, and “The Button of Doom,” an animated adventure with Megamind and Minion, among other extras.

Due Date
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Juliette Lewis, Danny R. McBride
Director: Todd Phillips

Thanks to The Hangover, Todd Phillips has earned some big respect from fans and Hollywood alike, but I’m frankly not convinced that he can keep the laughs rolling. In fact, I’d say the same thing about Zach Galifianakis, who has a shtick that’s about as funny as a 10-minute long Saturday Night Live skit.

About the only thing this film has going for it is Robert Downey Jr., and I’m not sure he’s worth sitting through an entire movie’s worth of Galifianakis.

Downey stars as Peter, a father-to-be who finds himself stranded on the other side of the country with only one option to get home in time for his child’s birth: the zany, wannabe actor, Ethan, played by Galifianakis.

Embarking on an epic road trip, the obvious odd couple fight it out and try to make friends as they experience all kinds of mayhem along the way, and bond at the same time.

Due Date pulled in wads of cash at the box office, but the film has anything but a solid reputation among critics.

Peter Howell of the Toronto Star, who gave the film some praise, points out what might be the only draw to seeing Due Date: “Watching Downey’s vein-popping discomfiture in the company of Galifianakis is the best and possibly only reason for seeing the film.”

While Rick Groen of the Globe and Mail wrote, “Under the nuanced direction of John Hughes, [John] Candy made annoying seem hilarious and his broad girth endearing. As amped up by director Todd Phillips, Galifianakis makes annoying seem annoying.”

Get Low
Starring: Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Lucas Black
Director: Aaron Schneider

In this folk tale turned real-life story, Robert Duvall and Bill Murray star in the story of a 1930s-era hermit who threw his own funeral while he was still alive.

Duvall plays Felix Bush, the questionable hermit who is rumoured to be a killer in league with the devil. Seeing an opportunity to make some money, the local funeral parlour owner, played by Murray, invites the town to come out and tell Felix the stories they’ve heard about him, one of which involves a widow, played by Sissy Spacek.

With a number of positive reviews behind it, Get Low is definitely a film worth checking out, but it may be a bit harder to find since it’s an indie release.

As Joe Leydon wrote for Variety, “With a mix of sly humor, homespun grace and affecting poignancy, Get Low casts a well-nigh irresistible spell while spinning a Depression-era folk tale from the Tennessee backwoods.”

Total Recall 2070: The Complete Series
Starring: Michael Easton, Karl Pruner, Cynthia Preston, Michael Anthony Rawlins, Judith Krant, Matthew Bennett

Featuring a mere 22 episodes, Total Recall 2070 was a short-lived television series set in the dystopian future made popular by director Paul Verhoeven’s hit movie, Total Recall. The big difference is that the TV show, which was filmed in Toronto, deals much more with the idea of artificial intelligence on the distant planet of Mars where a group of companies called The Consortium control the local government.

Although the show was cancelled before it could properly play out a number of storylines, it was a unique series with decent special effects for the time and above average science fiction writing, at least for television.

For added amusement, watch for one tall, thin, pasty-faced android in the background of a few episodes. He clearly lends a lot of pathos to the whole production and would eventually go on to write weekly movie reviews.

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