The Movie: It’s very rare that I regret being a home theater geek, but Insidious, for a time, made me regret how deep the black levels on my TV are and how enveloping my sound system can be. And while that alone should be considered a high compliment paid to any horror movie, it carries twice the weight when you add on the fact that I’d already seen James Wan’s spookhouse flick in theaters.
Something unexpected happened while I was rewatching it at home with my wife, however. Sure, our 7-month old baby startled us on his monitor at a few inopportune times, but what actually surprised me was how the things that bothered me about Insidious in theaters months ago were completely absent at home. My original problem with the film was it being too into being a horror movie-- that the sound design was jacked to 11 and that the score was so over-the-top its crashing arrivals completely crippled the movie. I also thought the cinematography suffered from that pallid flatness that plagues poorly shot digital work, ultimately holding back a strong cast and an original script from climbing a few more rungs up the quality ladder.
Well, maybe the theater did indeed have its sound channels turned up too high. Maybe its bulb was cranked up a few too many lumens. I don’t know the reason, I just know that from the comfort of my couch I was completely sucked into this creepy and crazily fun movie all over again. And it’s very, very rare that a horror movie can have any kind of a freaky effect on my twice. My hat is off to you, James Wan.
The Features: Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of goodies on this disc, just some run-of-the-mill press kit stuff.
Buy It If: You like horror movies that don’t take themselves too seriously that they’re absurd, but also don’t let go of reality to the point of losing their edge.
The Movie: Movies like The Lincoln Lawyer don’t come around too often. No, I’m not talking about movies that are so astronomically great that you strain your neck just trying to glimpse their celestial origins. I’m talking about movies that are just roundly satisfying in a third bowl of porridge, everything-is-just-right-enough kind of way. Back in the ‘90s it seemed there were a number of legal thrillers that fit this bill, but these day the sheer dominance of mostly repetitive legal shows on TV has pretty much displaced the box office appetite for thrillers along the lines of Primal Fear and The Client.
But there’s just something admirably old school about Brad Furman’s adaptation of Michael Connelly’s novel about a roguish, street smart lawyer who uses his town car as his home office. Matthew McConaughey fits the role to a T, though it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s surrounded by quality supporting actors like Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy and Josh Lucas. Sure, there are some clunky bits involving Bryan Cranston’s character who clearly exists only to say aloud what the audience has already figured out just in case someone watching is a little slow, but beyond that, it’s got an interesting approach to the legal arena that doesn’t feel like it’s been done to death.
The Features: A 14-minute chat with Michael Connelly where he talks about the book-to-script adaptation process is followed by a second 10-minute featurette in which Connelly shows off the film’s LA locations. That is then followed by a brief interview with McConaughey (conducted by Connelly) that covers typical, surface level character questions. There are a few deleted scenes, but they’re all inconsequential.
Buy It If: You love Michael Connelly’s book or must own anything McConaughey stars in. If you don’t meet either of those criteria, however, The Lincoln Lawyer is still definitely worth a rent.
The Movie: Rango rounds out the trifecta of new Blu-rays this week for movies that are all totally satisfying without ever really reaching the next level. This is not your average animated movie. It’s filled with dark, beautifully rendered images and ideas that will likely disturb young children who think any movie produced by Nickelodeon is bound to be family friendly to all ages. Plus, its legion of homages to other films will no doubt go over the heads of most film fans under the age of 18.
What holds Rango back, however, is that for all its elaborate action set pieces, for all its memorable character designs and dead-on voice work, it’s a largely forgettable film thanks to the absence of any emotional punch. It’s entertaining no doubt, and its Blu-ray transfer will push the limits of your TV, but it’s a fleeting, “Well, that was cool...soooo, what’s next?” type a movie.
The Features: A commentary track from director Gore Verbinski, writer James Ward Byrkit, production designer Mark McCreery, animation director Hal Hickel and VFX supervisor Tim Alexander. If you’ve got kids who love animals, there’s a 22-minute goodie on the real animals found in the film. What you’ll most likely want to throw your spare time at, however, is the film’s 49-minute long making-of that explains how Verbinski and his cast and crew ended up taking a new approach to the increasingly tired area of performance capture animation.
Buy It If: You absolutely most own every bit of cutting-edge animation out there. For the rest, try Rango out with a rental first. It might grow to become a Buy, it might not, but it’s something.
All the Rest:
I love this cover art, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not very representative of the movie as a whole.
Note: This Blu-ray doesn’t hit until July 15.