DVD & Games Forecast: 'Galactica' has a 'Plan' and 'The Prisoner' goes Blu
Welcome to the DVD & Games Forecast for October 27, 2009.
It's sort of a thin week all the way around, but the highlights are worthwhile, and so let's do this as quickly and efficiently as we can, since I just realized that I'm pretty much in motion and running around from now until Saturday morning without stop.
THIS WEEK'S FEATURED TITLES:
I'm a fan of the reboot of "Galactica," but having said that, I have the final season here in the house and haven't watched it yet. I think part of me just doesn't want to be done with the show, so I've delayed and put it off andas a result, this film arrived at my house on BluRay, and I can't watch it yet because I don't want to ruin the last season. Although Edward James Olmos told anyone who would listen this week at the DVD junket that he hopes there will be more "Galactica" films with this cast, this may well be the real last hurrah as the producers turn their attention to "Caprica." As a result, this final puzzle piece for fans has some significance to the series overall, even if it wasn't attempting to explain all the gaps in the Cylon mythology as established over the show's run.
"The Prisoner: The Complete Series" (BluRay/DVD)
My favorite TV show ever, "The Prisoner" was Patrick McGoohan's response to his long and successful run on "Secret Agent," which was known here in the States as "Secret Agent Man." He decided to take the spy series and turn it inside out, building a limited-run series about a retired spy who is kidnapped to The Village, a mysterious place run by mysterious people. Unsure if it's his own side or his enemies who have abducted him, Number Six finds himself struggling for escape each week, and barring that, struggling to at least hold on to his identity.
It's a great big puzzle, and it's so smart and so fun, and these BluRays look brand-new, like this is a show being shot right now. It was an impressive feat when it originally aired, but to see how the show has aged only makes me love it more.
"Night Of The Creeps" (BluRay/DVD)
I reviewed this one recently as part of HorrorFest, and considering what a thin list of new horror titles there is this week (a sure sign of the ebb of the DVD flood), this is easily the best option for horror fans when they hit the stores this week. It's been a long-missing title on home video, so it's not something you've shown 5000 times before. Makes it seem like an easy bet when you're trying to decide what to screen this week with friends, and it really is a lot of fun.
"Monty Python - Almost The Truth: The Lawyer's Cut"
I have this whole thing waiting for me on my TIVO, since IFC just aired it in six parts on six successive nights, but I'm almost tempted to just go pick it up on disc instead and watch it that way. I love Python, and I love stories about how the work was created. It's a process that fascinates me, since there were so many strong egos in the group, so many strong voices, and balancing them all and somehow creating something as singular as Monty Python almost seems like a magic trick. This series traces the entire creative history of the comedy group, and featured never-before-seen behind the scenes footage as well as brand-new interviews.
"Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time" (PS3)
One of the first titles I bought for my PS3 was the last "Ratchet & Clank" game, and I was amazed at the game's charm and the quality of the animation. It was like playing a Pixar film. By the time the game was over, I found it a bit redundant, and a little too easy, but it was still a fun experience overall. With this sequel, Insomniac has really tweaked the formula and, through their newest gameplay feature, turned the game into one of the most interesting puzzle games of the year. I've played the demo twice since I downloaded it on Thursday, and it's a fiendish invention, this "recording yourself" time-manipulation gameplay. There are puzzles here where the only way to solve them (when you're playing as Clank) is by recording other temporal versions of yourself, then using them in tandem to hold doors open or turn on elevators or whatever. At times, you can have as many as four versions of yourself existing side-by-side to solve a puzzle. They're just echoes in time, but it's a neat idea, and a great execution.
ALSO ON BLU-RAY:
I didn't hate "Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs" (BluRay/DVD) when I took Toshi to see it, and I do think Simon Pegg's character livens up the film a bit, but I am mystified by the way it seemed to catch fire at the international box-office. It's okay at best, but it is undeniably one of the biggest hits of the year. In her second direct-to-video title, Peter Pan's hottest friend returns in "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure" (BluRay/DVD), a sequel to her first-time-talking title from last year. If there's an award for craziest twist ending of the year, "Orphan" (BluRay/DVD) has it tied up, and the film plays like a batshit crazy version of "Joshua," the other Vera Farmiga/menacing kid movie. I wish I liked "Whatever Works" (BluRay/DVD) more, since it's a Woody Allen film starring Larry David. It's also a recycled script from the '70s, and it shows... Allen's writing has grown so far beyond this that you can't help but notice the big step back he's taking. I'm surprised at what a constant commercial juggernaut the property is, but because it has such a big continuous presence, it makes sense there is a "Stargate: 15th Anniversary Edition" (BluRay), and it's a really lovely transfer. More than ever, the film plays like a big-budget pilot for a TV show, and since that's exactly what it turned out to be, I guess you'd have to call it a success. I haven't seen it yet, but as soon as "Nothing Like The Holidays" (BluRay/DVD) showed up, my largely Latin American family threw it on and had a blast. John Leguizamo, Debra Messing, Alfred Molina and more star in the story of a mixed culture family trying to enjoy the season together, and according to all the women in my house, "it's great." The pop culture parody "Stan Helsing" (BluRay/DVD) opened theatrically last week and made a grand total of about $70 per screen, and I guess the theatrical release was just a way of drawing attention to the Tuesday DVD release. Obviously, demand is high. Finally, there's the creepy biopic "Il Divo" (BluRay/DVD) about one of the most infamous figures in recent Italian political history, and although I haven't seen the film, I've seen the trailer about a dozen times in the last few months in front of things, and it looks like a wicked riff on "Richard III," one I look forward to checking out.
ALSO ON DVD:
The classic Costa Gravas political thriller "Z" gets the Criterion treatment this week, and I'm sure it'll be a great package for a truly great movie. Bunuel's "Death In The Garden" is also out on DVD this week, and I've never seen it, so that's one to pick up immediately. Fans of anthology horror are no doubt looking forward to "Tales From The Darkside: Season Two," and even when those shows are uneven, there are always moments that make it worth your time to sort through. The newly-released "The Sam Fuller Film Collection" highlights seven lesser-known titles from his career, but Fuller was such a consistent voice that even lesser-known films by him are worth your time. In this case, look for "It Happened In Hollywood," "Adventure In Sahara," "Power Of The Press," "Shockproof," "Scandal Sheet," "The Crimson Kimono," and "Underworld U.S.A." If you want the best title of the week for sheer rewatch value, pick up the latest exploitation trailer collection from Synapse Films, "42nd Street Forever, Vol 5: Alamo Drafthouse Edition." It's just pure awesome for 90-plus minutes. I can't imagine "Black Devil Doll" lives up to that lunatic trailer, but it looks like a bizarre mix of blacksploitation horror and crazy parody. The animated anthology piece "Fear(s) Of The Dark" is inconsistent in terms of storytelling, but it's visually arresting as five underground artists (including Charles Burns) bring their styles to the bigscreen in beautiful black-and-white. IFC Films is also releasing the slow-burn horror film "Sauna" this week, and although I didn't love the movie, I do recommend anyone who likes atmospheric horror to give it a try. It's strange, moody, and it sticks with you long after the credits are done.
ALSO IN GAMES:
"DJ Hero" is exactly what it sounds like, a cross-platform game in which you use a turntable to mix songs and to execute certain style tricks. I'm not the guy buying all these rhythm games, but obviously they're huge these days, and this certainly seems like a logical extension. I am jealous of my XBox 360 owning friends and all their exclusive "GTA" downloadable content, and this week brings them one more new installment in the ongoing story of Liberty City, "Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad Of Gay Tony." And finally, if you just want to kick the holy hell out of your friends, and who doesn't, then "Tekken 6" is here, and the beatings may now begin.
NEXT WEEK: If this was a low-key week, next week is the opposite as "Wings Of Desire" and "North By Northwest" hit BluRay, the first season of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" hits home video, and "Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut" is finally assembled. See you back here in seven days for all the details.
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