ARCHER: THE COMPLETE SEASON THREE
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Over recent years, I have become a real fan of the shows being produced for FX. Comedies like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “The League” draw me in every week, and the dramas like “Sons of Anarchy” are pretty solid as well.
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
Sometimes forgotten is the animated adult gem “Archer.” FX’s main broadcast arm Fox is more well known for its animated content (with series like “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” and “Bob’s Burgers”), but “Archer” is easily as entertaining as any of these series.
In the third season, Sterling Archer has gone missing after his fiancée was killed during their wedding. Mallory Archer pulls out all the stops to find him, sending a bounty hunter after him that lands them all in a pirate fortress. Soon, we get back to the normal bumbling spy ways, and the season reaches bigger heights with guest stars like Burt Reynolds, David Cross and Seth Rogen. The stories get bigger than previous seasons, taking the spy spoof to Roger Moore levels of espionage, including a trip to space and danger on a high-speed train.
“Archer” hasn’t lost its touch. The characters are as extreme as ever, starting to become caricatures of themselves. However, once an audience becomes familiar with comedy characters like this, it’s the natural place to go. Archer has worked his way through all the women to eventually reach Pam, and Cheryl has become possibly more twisted than her.
Upturns in the show include a better use of Cyril, and that means a lot coming from a guy who doesn’t particularly like Chris Parnell. However, the series has moved him out of the accountant’s office enough and integrated his character into the field pretty well.
It’s easy to burn through an entire series of “Archer” in a day or so, considering it’s a half-hour show with only 13 episodes. It left me wanting more, which is the sign of a great show.
The third season DVD comes with commentaries on three episodes on the first disc. The second disc includes the featurettes and other bonus content, including an enhanced version of the season premier trilogy episode. Short featurettes include the in-character spots “Book-on-Tape Fail,” “Cooking with Archer,” “Gator 2 Trailer” and “Archer Season 3 at Comic-Con 2012.”
Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
You’ve really got to hand it to Jennifer Lawrence. Not only did her impressive early role in “Winter’s Bone” earn her an Oscar nomination, she was able to spin it into a successful movie career in both blockbusters and otherwise so-called respectable films.
30 NIGHTS OF PARANORMAL ACTIVITY WITH THE DEVIL INSIDE THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
In fact, 2012 was a banner year for her, after 2011 gave her plenty to work with. After all, she headlined one of the highest-grossing films of the year (“The Hunger Games”) and managed to get oodles of nominations – including another Oscar nod – for “Silver Linings Playbook.” It only seems natural to balance that out with a softball teen horror flick.
While I was not a fan of “Silver Linings Playbook,” her turn in “House at the End of the Street” was easily her worst performance of the year. It’s not that she is particularly bad in the film; she just isn’t given much to work with.
Lawrence plays Elissa, a girl who moves into a small town with her mother (Elisabeth Shue). They’re able to make such an apparently expensive move because the property values in the neighborhood have dropped after a murder took place at the house next door. Elissa, prone to rebellion, strikes up a relationship with the son (Max Thieriot) of the murdered family. However, she doesn’t realize that he’s harboring a greater secret in the house.
“House at the End of the Street” is exactly what you’d expect from a PG-13 horror movie dropped in September. There’s really nothing particularly scary about it, and the story ranges from shaky to thin. That’s not to say that PG-13 movies can’t give you some chills. Instead, the approach the film takes feels more cut out for a TV movie that airs on CW (if those were actually made).
The horror elements in the film are derivative of much better movies, like “Psycho.” It packs very little punch, and it’s poorly constructed from a director’s standpoint. In particular, when secrets and twists are revealed, they’re done so in a lazy and unsurprising manner.
It’s not that “House on the End of the Street” can’t find an audience. It’s that even the casual viewer of horror films will likely be bored and insulted by it.
The Blu-ray looks fine, though the gritty and blood-scratched presentation both in the menus and the cover box hints at a stronger movie than what you get. This cuts negatively both ways: horror fans who respond to that will be disappointed, while the young teen audience it would connect with might be turned off.
The package also comes with a DVD and Digital Copy. Aside from a slate of trailers, there’s almost no bonus content, save a behind-the-scenes video called “Journey Into Terror: Inside House at the End of the Street.” It is, however, presented with either the theatrical or unrated version, the latter of which promises a shocking twist... but honestly, I was too disinterested to watch the movie twice to tell the difference.
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: * (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
In the behind-the-scenes content of the DVD of “30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” director Craig Moss flat-out admits that spoof movies have declined in popularity. Then he goes on to say that he doesn’t give a shit, and he makes them because he thinks they’re funny.
GUNS, GIRLS AND GAMBLING
To a certain degree, I have to respect him for this attitude. After all, I can support anyone following their passion, especially in the light of waning popularity. However, even with these bonus points, this film is not good.
Oddly enough, it hits DVD and Blu-ray less than a week after Marlon Wayans’ similar spoof “A Haunted House” hit theaters. I will actually give a slight edge to “30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” because it has a more cohesive focus than “A Haunted House,” but that’s not saying much.
This story spoofs the obvious films in its title, using “Paranormal Activity” and “The Devil Inside” as its framework. While there are a couple funny gags, and some of the characters can be entertaining (in particular a duo of incompetent ghost hunters who show up now and then), many of the jokes fall flat and have the cleverness of the random pop culture references from a Friedberg and Seltzer movie. At times, they seem thrown in more as a response to a simple movie release – like “The Hunger Games” and “Black Swan” – than actually to deliver a joke.
I know that this is a spoof movie, and you can’t judge the script as you would a regular narrative feature, but even in this context, you have to follow some rules. Part of the backstory to the characters is the main woman’s father (French Stewart) kills the entire cast of “The Artist,” including the dog Uggie. However, this somehow happens in the 1990s. I get the fact that it seems like the most absurd and uncalled-for killing, but it’s hard to wrap your brain around something that happens in 1998 to a cast of a film that won last year’s Oscar.
Yeah, I’m overthinking it, and anachronisms are often played for jokes in films like this (including the quite brilliant “Blazing Saddles”), but this movie stretches the technique too far.
In the end, “30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” might give some people a few laughs, but it’s down the list in the ranking of spoof movies. At least you don’t have to see it in the theaters like “A Haunted House.”
The DVD comes with only a behind-the-scenes featurette, which covers the familiar ground of how funny the cast thinks they are and various accolades on why they’re so brilliant (which they’re not).
Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)
You’d think a film titled “Guns, Girls and Gambling” would be full of T&A, which in this case means “tits and action.” Sadly, this movie is woefully deficient on the T department, but at least there’s a certain amount of content in the A department.
“Guns, Girls and Gambling” tells the story of a small-time crook (Christian Slater) is trying to get his hands on a priceless Apache war mask. He attempts this by impersonating an Elvis impersonator. Along the way, a corrupt sheriff and various other Elvis impersonators get in his way before the Native American mob tries to take him down.
With all the Elvis play in this film, you’d expect Nicolas Cage to make an appearance (and considering his recent tax woes, he probably would have done it for a SAG scale paycheck). Sadly, he doesn’t show up, but at least Christian Slater gives it his all in the film. Slater actually works through the character without going insane, as he has in other recent direct-to- video films. Sadly, he’s tempered by the odious appearance of Dane Cook, who hasn’t been in a movie for years. (I thought we finally got rid of him, but alas, no.)
Gary Oldman seems to have taken the role because it was interesting more than for a paycheck, and some of the other Elvis impersonators like Chris Kattan and Tony Cox offer a certain level of humor.
However, the movie really doesn’t hold together in terms of story. It’s competently shot, and the movie looks slick as can be. It’s just the glue that’s supposed to hold it together doesn’t. There’s a weird appearance by Helena Mattsson, who seems to have been dropped in for the jiggle factor, unfortunately covering up everything that should be jiggling.
So as a somewhat nonsensical direct-to-video action flick, it’s okay. However, for a movie in which you hope to see plenty of girls and guns, you really only get the guns... of the metal kind, that is.
The Blu-ray comes bare-bones, with no special features or a DVD/Digital Copy disc.
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