DVD Round-Up: 'The Awakening,' 'Hotel Transylvania,' and 'Seven Psychpaths'
Week of January 29th
Published: 01/27/13, Last Updated: 01/28/13 04:26am
There is a variety of offerings for horror movie fans this week including the latest entry in the popular “found footage” franchise Paranormal Activity 4 (Paramount, “Not Rated,” $29.99, BD $39.99). Only 26% of the critics gave PA4 a positive rating, and audiences weren’t much kinder. Has this series jumped the shark?
Considerably more interesting is The Awakening (Universal, “R,” $19.98), a real old school British ghost story with excellent performances from Rebecca Hall and Imelda Staunton. The Awakening got a 60% positive rating from the critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes, which is a solid performance for a horror movie.
There is also a horror movie-themed computer-animated feature Hotel Transylvania (Sony, “PG,” $30.99, BD $39.99), a fast-paced comedy geared for young viewers that was directed by Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack). Hotel Transylvania is visually interesting and kind of fun for adults, especially those who are familiar with the visual tropes of classic 1930s horror movies.
Directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) Seven Psychopaths (Sony, “R,” $30.99, BD $35.99) has serious “cult film” potential. This film is perhaps a little too complex and self-reflexive for its own good, but it remains a delightful black comedy enlivened by strong, if a bit eccentric performances. But be prepared—this is a “black” comedy with plenty of violence and a body count worthy of a couple of Deadpool comics.
Fans who want to get a look at Superman actor Henry Cavil might want to check out The Cold Light of Day (Summit Entertainment, “PG-13,” $19.98), a Taken-like thriller about a man trying to get his family back that is set in Spain. Just don’t expect too much—this film only managed to earn a 5% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
TV on DVD
A light week of TV releases is highlighted by some animated offerings and an unusually strong contingent of shows from the UK. The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley: The Complete Series (Warner Bros., 286 min., $24.98) collects the entire 13-episode 1988 Hanna Barbera cartoon series based on the “Ed Grimley” character created by comedian Martin Short, who provides the voice for the show’s eponymous hero. This series was good enough (and strange enough) that the Cartoon Network aired it in the late 1990s on one of the precursors to Adult Swim.
Also of interest is Hey Arnold!: Season 3 (Shout Factory, 400 min., $19.98), which collects the third season of the Nickelodeon series created by Craig Bartlett that ran from 1996 to 2004 and won lots of praise for its depiction of character development in its stories about a fourth grader growing up in a big city.
The quality of the domestically-produced live-action series due this week is much more problematic. The most interesting might be Pan Am: The Complete Series (Sony, 550 min., $30.99), which collects the ill-fated series that tried to do for stewardesses in the 1950s what Mad Men did for ad agency executives.
Less intriguing, in spite of its title, is the Cinemax anthology series Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season (eOne Entertainment, 382 min., $29.98). Femme Fatales takes its name and attitude from the men’s magazine of the same name that inspired it.
The lone vintage American TV release is the quirky 1980s sitcom Night Court: The Complete 8th Season (Warner Bros., 574 min., $29.98).
The most popular U.K. release of the week is not in doubt. Downton Abbey: Season 3 (PBS, 574 min. $49.99, BD $54.98) collects the current season of the glossy period soaper that has completely mesmerized America. Lavishly mounted (the series is the most expensive ever produced in Blighty), Downton Abbey may be predictable, but it never fails to entertain thanks to its ability to make the stories of both the upstairs and the downstairs characters quite compelling.
Those who enjoy Dame Agatha’s mysteries might also want to check out an earlier series based on Christie’s fun-loving 1929 collection of short stories, Partners in Crime: The Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries (Acorn Media, 623 min., $49.99). Produced in 1983, this series doesn’t look as good as the Poirot and Marple efforts, but it really is a lot fun. James Warwick stars as Tommy and the lovely Francesca Annis as Tommy’s wife, the delightful Prudence “Tuppence” Beresford.
More interesting to some will be the new Blu-ray edition of Fate/Stay Night Collection 1 (Sentai Filmworks, “14+,” 300 min., $69.98), which collects the first 12 episodes of the 24-episode 2006 anime TV series from Studio Deen that was based on the visual novel by Type-Moon that was originally released as an adult game for Windows.
It’s a very busy week on the anime front for Viz Media. Not only is the San Francisco-based company releasing Naruto Shippuden Box Set 13 (Viz Media, “16+,” 300 min., $44.82), which contains episodes 154-166 of the popular ninja series, but it is also releasing six seasons of the Inuyasha anime TV series. Each Season Set is rated “13+,” and Seasons 2-7 each have a retail price of $24.98.
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.