This week’s home video releases include a raucous teen comedy, Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut and a fantasy project based on a classic fairy tale.
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3 stars (out of four)
Rated: PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language
Story: Two middle-aged salesmen (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) lose their jobs and try to reinvent themselves with internships at Google.
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi and Max Minghella
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Bottom line: The film takes product placement to a new level; as it is essentially a recruiting ad for Google. Get past that and it’s also a consistently funny comedy that benefits from the same winning chemistry that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson displayed in “Wedding Crashers.”
This week’s home video releases include an R-rated comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, a new entry in the “Die Hard” franchise, and a charming zombie romance.
3½ stars (out of four)
Story: The events in “After Earth” take place in a distant future where human beings – having seriously damaged Earth – have been living on a different planet for centuries. During a routine military mission, a famous human general (Will Smith) and his 13-year-old son (Jaden Smith) crash land on the planet and must figure out how to survive amid dangerous creatures and a hostile physical landscape.
Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo and Zoë Kravitz
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Bottom line: Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, who hadn’t made a truly great film since 2002, returns to form with this exciting and well-paced adventure. As with many science fiction efforts, there are flaws. For instance, the characters seem to possess only close-range weapons designed for hand-to-hand combat despite having the technology for intergalactic travel. Look beyond the flaws, however, and one uncovers a thrilling action movie that also has a lot to say about father-son relationships.
A horror film about malevolent aliens is the only major theatrical release moving to home video this week.
I’m introducing a new feature here at ForrestHartman.com: Snapshot reviews. Please note that I will still write long-form critiques for my Video Verdict column. These are designed to give readers a quick assessment of new movies. Hopefully you find them useful and fun.
FAST & FURIOUS 6
Story: Dominic Toretto and his crew team with U.S. agent Hobbs in order to capture a dangerous mercenary who is at skilled at motorized hijackings as they used to be. Sweetening the pot is the apparent appearance of Dom’s longtime love, Letty, a woman the whole crew thought was dead.
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris and Gina Carano.
Directed by: Justin Lin (“Better Luck Tomorrow,” “Fast Five”)
Bottom line: The plotting is ridiculous and the dialogue is melodramatic, but the stunts are as good as they get.
Story: Animated film about a teen girl who discovers a tiny world of forest creatures engaged in a constant battle between good and evil. When she is magically transported into their world, she goes on a fantastic adventure.
Voice cast features: Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Beyonce, Chris O’Dowd, Pitbull, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz and Jason Sudeikis
Directed by: Chris Wedge (“Ice Age,” “Robots”)
Bottom line: Beautiful 3-D animation coupled with a compelling story. The fantastic writing, and Wedge’s excellent execution, make this the best animated movie since “Rise of the Guardians.”
R-rated films, including action-adventure efforts from two big-name stars, dominate this week’s home video releases.
A thriller featuring Mark Wahlberg, and a relationship drama that received eight Oscar nominations anchor this week’s home video releases.
After several slow weeks, the home video field is crowded once again. This week’s hefty slate of new releases includes a star-studded crime film, a lightweight horror spoof and a disaster movie that landed actress Naomi Watts her second Oscar nomination.