The Movie: Walking out of the theater after seeing The Adjustment Bureau, I knew I had just seen a movie that I liked and may even one day grow to love. Getting up off the couch the other day having watched George Nolfi’s adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s short story only confirmed that. I don’t love it yet — there are still a few things that nag me about it (just two needlessly convenient plot points, really) — but I like it a whole lot.
But here’s the thing you need to know about The Adjustment Bureau: it’s not the movie Universal is selling it as. The trailers were cut to make it look like a thriller. Even the box art for the Blu-ray features a pull quote right under the title calling it “A smart, stylish thriller.” Smart and stylish I can get behind, but this movie is flat out not a thriller. It’s a love story with a mindbending dynamic to it.
No, that doesn’t mean it’s a sappy Lifetime movie like The Time Traveller’s Wife, it just means that The Adjustment Bureau is not the Dark City-esque sci-fi thriller that the marketing materials make it out to be. It is, however, a captivating story about giving fate (and those who divine it) a big middle finger. Sure, that involves a few chase scenes and some visually striking moments, but fast camera work doesn’t automatically make a movie a thriller.
The Features: Two featurettes on the cast, one focusing on Matt Damon and Emily Blunt’s chemistry (which is the film’s biggest selling point), the other on Blunt’s training to become a dancer. They’re not particularly in depth, but they’re satisfactory. What is in depth, however is Nolfi’s commentary, which dives into a lot of what the story meant to him, how he wrote it and so on.
Buy It If: You like romantic films that are considerably more intelligent than the romcoms that give the romantic label a bad name.
The Movie: The biggest problem with The Eagle is that it just doesn’t have anything all that unique to offer the audience. Not only have we seen this story about a Roman centurion who goes behind enemy lines in ancient Britain done better before, but we’ve seen it done better in every single capacity. If there’s anything about Roman soldiers fighting UK natives that interests you, just go see Centurion instead (it’s even streaming on Netflix). It’s considerably more engaging, more stylish, more violent, and has Michael Fassbender instead of Channing Tatum. What more do you want?
But even if Neil Marshall’s Centurion didn’t already exist, The Eagle would still be a mediocre-at-best sword and loin clothes adventure flick. Tatum just doesn’t have the range to play an interesting soldier from a long ago era. Sure, he’s a fun actor when it comes to light fare like G.I. Joe, and he’s even a good actor when it comes to street dramas like A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, but he’s just plain out of place here. And since the entire movie hinges on whether or not you can attach yourself to his story, it’s a very stubborn movie to get into.
The Features: When was the last time you saw an alternate ending for a movie and thought, “Man, why didn’t they use this?” Invariably they end up being worse than the film’s theatrical ending, which is no doubt the result of a test audience’s disapproval. Yet still they remain one of the big special feature selling points. Beyond that is your usual range of promo material (a light making-of) and a director’s commentary that, though not exactly boring, won’t be too stimulating or insightful to anyone but rabid fans of the film.
Buy It If: You have devotion to either Tatum or centurions, regardless of overall quality. For everyone else, this is a cable watch.
The Movie: Some day someone will invariably make a ‘Liam Neeson Kicking Ass and Taking Names in a Foreign City’ movie that sucks. Fortunately today is not that day and Unknown is not that film. Oh, it’s not an action-packed fight flick like Taken, but it’s an entertaining and surprisingly original little film all the same.
I actually don’t want to say too much about Unknown for those who haven’t seen it. Not because it has some kind of master stroke twist to it that I’m afraid I may ruin, but because it’s one of those calm thrillers that works best if you don’t think too much about it.
The Features: Unfortunately if you pick up this disc, you’re picking it up for the film and not the features. All it has to offer are two short (8 minutes in total) clip reels that are more press materials than special features.
Buy It If: You’re a Neeson fan and you like slick, modern thrillers with a surprisingly old school script.
All the Rest:
Fun fact, Anchor Bay asked to use my quote on the DVD/trailer for Growth, only they wanted to use a quote from a post written about the trailer, not a review of the actual film. The trailer’s not bad, the film on the other hand…
It’s one of Michael Bay’s lesser movies, but I’ve still got a soft spot for The Island. That might have a lot to do with Scarlett Johansson, though.
This is one of the funniest, bravest most endearing comedies on TV right now– and that’s coming from someone who never really got the love for Louis C.K. This show will make you see the light, however.
Where the hell did this movie come from?