This week, a few of the more diverse films of the year so far are hitting store shelves, but once again it’s a day that isn’t anything to really go nuts over. Yes, today’s Blu-Ray/DVD offerings are once again pretty top heavy, to say the least. I’m not complaining, as per the usual, considering how silly that would ultimately be, but still…I obviously prefer quantity and quality whenever possible for the column. Today I have two movies that I could have cited, but the top pick was never a close decision. For my PICK OF THE WEEK, I was easily able to decipher between a sci-fi action flick and a big budget comedy. You’ll see which one I chose shortly, but at this current moment, I want to move on to my Vintage pick for the week!
In honor of this week’s release of Whiplash (which I absolutely loved recently at the New York Film Festival), I wanted to cite an underrated film from co-star J.K. Simmons, who I think is 100% going to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in the soon to open film. As for his Vintage pick, I recommend The Vicious Kind, an indie drama/dramedy that pits Simmons against Adam Scott in a very unique dysfunctional family tale. It’s heavy stuff at times, but the cast are all terrific, including Simmons, of course. Check it out, and be sure not to miss Whiplash…
The other title I’m going to discuss here isn’t nearly as good as my top choice, but it’s worthy enough of some discussion, so that’s what I’ll be doing right now:
A Million Ways to Die in the West
I know not many folks enjoyed this sophomore outing from Seth MacFarlane, but I did. In my review (found here) I wrote: “In just about every way imaginable, this is a step down from Ted, but at the same time, I basically giggled my way through this one and had a few big guffaws, so when discussing a comedy, isn’t that what it’s supposed to do? Ted was hilarious, yes, and while A Million Ways to Die in the West isn’t, it’s still very amusing, lowbrow as it might be. MacFarlane doesn’t make nearly as good a use of his cast this time around, wasting the likes of Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson while showcasing himself in a lead role that would have been better served by someone else. His performance is forgettable and his direction won’t remind anyone of Mel Brooks and Blazing Saddles, but he has enough funny jokes in the script to make this work. Ideally I wish there was a middle ground between two and a half and three stars here, but since two and a half isn’t a recommendation and three is for me, I’m going with the latter. A Million Ways to Die in the West isn’t a particularly “good” movie, but it is an amusing one and likely to entertain folks who are looking for some raunchy laughs.” I stand by my defense of this lowbrow yet amusing comedy. If you want to see if I’m nuts, go right ahead.
Special Features: Alternate Beginning/Ending/Scenes, an Extended Cut, and more…
Total Box Office: $42,720,965
Major Awards: None yet, don’t hold your breath
Other Films Being Released
Here now is just a simple list of what else is hitting shelves on this particular day, sans my personal recommendation. Behold:
The Grand Seduction
I heard decently good things about this movie, but I never quite got around to seeing it. I would like to at some point, but until I do, you’ll just have to go in blind on this one. My guess is that there are other options that will be more appealing today, but if that’s not the case, you probably won’t be in for anything terrible…
Box Office: $3,430,018
Million Dollar Arm
I’m usually a sucker for sports films, especially from Disney, but this one just didn’t quite work for me. In my review (which you can find here) I had this to say: “With just about any Disney sports movie that hits theaters, you more or less know what you’re going to get. Million Dollar Arm doesn’t change the status quo one bit, but it does take longer than it should to get where you know it’s going. These sorts of things are never short, but they’re usually pace better than this one is. Director Craig Gillespie and writer (as well as filmmaker in his own right) Tom McCarthy have both been involved with better productions, but they do give this one their all. The thing is, aside from Jon Hamm‘s charismatic lead performance, they don’t have much to utilize here, as the focus is all wrong and the true story they’ve taken inspiration from isn’t quite as successful as they’re making it out to be. No one issue is particularly a big deal here, but when you see how poorly paced the flick is and how minor of a story (literally) it ultimately is, you can’t help but wish there was more to it than this. The film hits a lot of the right emotional beats without feeling too manipulative, but at the same time you always know you’re being manipulated.” You certainly won’t hate this movie, but you’ll likely be left wanting more like I was…
Box Office: $36,457,627
I’d heard nothing but tremendous things about this comedy and nearly made it to screenings a number of times, though it never seemed to work out. I have a copy probably arriving on my doorstep as you’re reading this, so I’ll be sure to pop it in very soon. Until then, I can’t overtly recommend it, but I think that it’s something that I would have had my thumb up for, so make of that what you will.
Box Office: $3,122,616 (and counting)
Sharknado 2: The Second One
For some of you, this B movie franchise is something to look forward to on TV. As such, I included it here, though it’s not something that I really have any interest in, despite liking Tara Reid more than is probably rational. Perhaps one day I’ll try them on for size, but until then…I’ll survive.
Box Office: N/A
Adventure Time: The Complete Fourth Season
American Horror Story: Coven – The Complete Third Season
Bates Motel: Season Two
China Beach: The Complete Series
Fargo: The Complete First Season
The Following: The Complete Second Season
Hemlock Grove: The Complete First Season
Rick and Morty: Season 1
The Wonder Years: Season One
PICK OF THE WEEK
Edge of Tomorrow (Or if you insist…Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow)
It’s a real bummer that this Tom Cruise vehicle, his best in some time, wasn’t able to really break out and do the business that it deserved. I did make sure to praise it in my review (found right here), saying the following: “For a good portion of Edge of Tomorrow‘s running time, you’re watching one of the more original and effective sci-fi/action blockbusters in a while. The film can’t quite stick the landing in as ambitious a way, but it’s still a definite success. Director Doug Liman and star Tom Cruise set out to do a little bit different of a movie than you’re used to, so they have to be commended for that, especially with all of the humor they’re able to work in. Though I wish the flick had kept the better title of All You Need is Kill (it fits better too) that the novel upon which this is based originally had, there’s plenty to like here. Aside from a somewhat ordinary climax, it’s a blast to watch, Cruise gets to do something a little bit different, Emily Blunt kicks ass, and the battle scenes are depicted with an unusually verisimilitude and brutality for a studio film of this nature, so credit to Liman there. Yes, there are elements of Groundhog Day and Source Code to be found here, but Edge of Tomorrow is easily able to stand on its own merits. It’s perhaps a little too long and the third act can’t quite live up to the promise of what comes before, but there’s a lot to like with Edge of Tomorrow…” That really does sum it up, as this is as satisfying as any summer blockbuster that you’re likely to pop in at home.
Special Features: Deleted Scenes and Making Of Featurettes…
Total Box Office: $100,206,256
Major Award: None yet, but it could be an outside contender for a technical citation
–What will you be watching this week? Discuss in the comments!