Happy New Year, and welcome to the first new Blu-ray column of 2014. This year’s first edition is essentially dominated by the latest from television–most notably, two Canadian-made series that are well worth mentioning.
Peter M. Lenkov’s Rest In Peace Department oozes with really fantastic ideas, and that’s probably why Universal Pictures wanted to make it into a blockbuster franchise. The problem with the adaptation is that is misfires at almost every plot turn, and never seems to decide if it’s going to be dark, funny, or just plain weird. That’s also why it’s very unlikely we’ll see a sequel to R.I.P.D.
At first glance, Black Rock looks like a blend of Deliverance, mixed with the female-powered revenge horror of I Spit on Your Grave. While Black Rock earnestly tries to balance the two, it comes across as overly ambitious and never really finds the right tone while simultaneously falling prey to predictable horror tropes (hot girls in horror films are contractually obligated to run around naked at least some point during the movie).
Director Roland Emmerich seems to be taking a break from blowing up the world and focusing on more intimate targets, like the centre of the American government, but whatever scale you’re talking about, White House Down is exactly what we have come to expect from the bombastic filmmaker.
R.I.P.D. exists at the point where Men in Black meets The Frighteners, but leaning heavily towards the MIB side of things. Somewhere in that mix, there is probably a winning combination, but R.I.P.D. only gets it about half right, with a storyline that is more than likely to bomb until it rises again in a few months on Blu-ray.
As a great lover of movie history, a place like the Sunset Tower Hotel on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles (more specifically, West Hollywood) already has me pretty much captivated even before I check in. The Hollywood history that is connected to this place, the pure Hollywood legends that live–in spirit and in life–within the walls of this storied old hotel are second to none.
Writer and director Jeff Renfroe’s The Colony is one of the best-looking action films Canada has ever produced, but it has the kind of script and concept that you might expect from a direct-to-DVD Hollywood prequel. Where the film manages to surprise is in the casting, and some of the hell-bent villains that bring much-needed action to the second half of the story.
“You’re waaaaay more commercial than me! You’re blowing up!” Jerusha Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre) reported her husband and collaborator Jared Hess saying about her on the Saturday after the premiere of her directorial debut Austenland, at Sundance’s sold-out Eccles auditorium, January 18th.
This week’s latest Blu-ray reviews, a look at new releases from December 31, including: Looper and Premium Rush. Plus, reviews for titles available on January 8: Dredd, Frankenweenie, and Smash: Season One.
Given the age of the James Bond franchise–celebrating 50 years young this year, if you had somehow missed all the stories and events surrounding the anniversary–it’s something of a miracle that Skyfall, the latest film, is nothing short of spectacular.