Available this week on DVD and Blu-ray: Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs has our furry friends on a whole new animated adventure; Atom Egoyan‘s Adoration follows one young boy looking for answers about his dead parents; Larry David stars in the Woody Allen comedy, Whatever Works; plus a quick look at Stan Helsing and Stargate on Blu-ray.
Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs
It’s back to prehistoric times we go in the second Ice Age sequel from 20th Century Fox. Catching up once again with Manny, Sid, Diego, and Ellie – the quartet of prehistoric critters voiced by Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, and Queen Latifah, this time out the friends are all having, or at least thinking about having, little ones, with Manny and Ellie expecting their first baby.
Meanwhile, when Sid the Sloth gets into big trouble, it’s up to the whole group to find a way to save him. This will of course lead them on a big adventure as Scrat the squirrel competes with a lady squirrel for one of his beloved acorns, and maybe thinks about being with that special sabre-toothed squirrelly someone in his life.
Looking back, Ice Age has been an above average family franchise, maybe not quite as clever or engrossing as the Shrek films, but up there as a memorable and enjoyable series for kids and adults. The series also stands out as something very different from the average animated cartoon, especially in terms of the unique visual style.
The drawback to a sequel for Ice Age is that the series seems to be getting low on fresh ideas, and some of the heart is quickly slipping away from the characters. This film is also much more about the adventure, rather than the story, which unfortunately makes the film feel like it’s being forced along at an ungainly pace.
There are still laughs to be had, and some great moments with Scrat and the rest of the crew, but I was definitely disappointed in Dawn Of The Dinosaurs, and I can only hope that if more films are in the works, someone will have some better ideas for this fabulous group of characters.
Atom Egoyan’s Adoration is a convoluted tale of a teenager trying to discover the truth about his parent’s deaths, while the adults around him seem unwilling to reveal the story he craves.
Devon Bostick plays Simon, a sad-looking young man who fabricates a complicated back story for his parents with the help of his teacher Sabine, played by Arsinée Khanjian. Scott Speedman is Simon’s uncle Tom, who has been raising Simon since that fateful day.
While I’m not usually a fan of Egoyan’s films, and I do have a lot of issues with Adoration, I was still impressed by the film. It recycles a lot of Egoyan’s work from other movies, and I’m incredibly tired of his wife Khanjian starring in all of his productions, but Bostick and Speedman are quite good, as is Rachel Blanchard, who plays Simon’s mother.
The biggest problem is wading through the contrived events in Simon’s life, and dealing with the sometimes jarring editing, which sucks some of the emotion from this otherwise taunt drama.
Writer and director Woody Allen is back in New York, this time with Larry David as his star in a comedic drama about a middle-aged man facing his own, eventual, mortality, while trying out a bohemian lifestyle.
David plays Boris, a reclusive chess teacher with a bigger-than-life, and holier-than-though, personality. Discovering a young runaway on his doorstep, played by Evan Rachael Wood, Boris invites her in, but has a hard time accepting her, even though he reluctantly allows her to stay with him until she finds a job.
Leaping into monologues, breaking down the fourth wall, Boris relates his life to the audience as he contemplates life, his friendship with this girl, and all the trials of bringing people together under one roof.
Co-starring Ed Begley Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Conleth Hill, and Michael McKean, Whatever Works is exactly what you might expect from a Larry David film, or a Woody Allen film for that matter. It’s highly satirical, somewhat mean-spirited, but nonetheless funny and even a little touching. It’s not Allen’s best work by far, but it is an engaging New York story.
Also on DVD this week…
From one of the minds involved in bringing us the Scary Movie franchise comes the B-movie horror-comedy about a video-store employee who has to save the day by defeating an invasion of classic movie monsters.
Set on Halloween night, Stan Helsing is nothing short of a disaster waiting for an audience, and that shows in the avalanche of negative reviews.
Kyle Smith of the New York Post noted at least one redeeming quality though. “Mostly the gags are unfortunate and amateurish,” Smith wrote, “but this micro-budget flick at least has a semi-coherent plot and every 10 minutes or so there’s a flash of wit.”
Last of all, in honour of its 15th anniversary, Roland Emmerich’s Stargate debuts on Blu-ray today. Easily one of my all-time favorite sci-fi films, Stargate launched a massive television franchise, and represents one of Emmerich’s best films.
Starring Kurt Russell and James Spader, Stargate has a group of soldiers, and one historian, leaping through a galactic wormhole to a planet where they find a whole society living in the shadow of ancient Egypt. As the group of travellers look for answers, they also have to deal with the appearance of the Egyptian god Ra, who isn’t happy with their meddling.