5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVD Releases in May

Well, it’s that time once again. Time for the big summer movies; the big summer blockbusters in theaters and the big summer DVDs in the mail.

What’s that? You’ve never heard of the big summer DVD releases?

"Stop screwing around or I'm gonna have to shoot you."

“Stop screwing around or I’m gonna have to shoot you.”

That’s because there are none. Distributors want you to leave your house and spend more time in the theaters. So the summer DVD releases are a bunch of crap.

The following five movies are the best I could do with the slim pickings that were offered.

But first a short poem

We’ve got Espionage, History, 
Sci-fi and Mystery.
One movie gives Batman a son.

We’ve got Kristen Bell, Clooney,
Damon, Costner.
But screw me, 
If you’re looking for good films.
There’s ONE.

To the reviews…

First up… the good

Veronica Mars (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Veronica Mars Poster

Directed by Rob Thomas

Written by Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero

Starring Kristen BellJason DohringKrysten RitterRyan HansenFrancis CapraPercy Daggs IIIChris LowellTina Majorino & Enrico Colantoni

This is the perfect Veronica Mars movie. Kristen Bell was amazing as the young title character in the TV series and she’s even better as the grown up version. All of the usual suspects are back and there are tons of cool cameos from old favorites and a few surprises. I loved this film. It was the perfect Veronica Mars movie.

Logan and Veronica

I fell in love with Veronica Mars quickly when I watched the first episode on Netflix and then I watched all the episodes in one weekend. By the end of the run I was singing the theme song. “A long time ago. we used to be friends…” I’m so happy they made the movie.

The Sheriffs

“That’s nice. Just please don’t sing.”

I didn’t realize how much I missed these people. Especially the exquisitely beautiful slice of honey in the title role. I can’t say the things I liked about the movie on the blog without giving away the mysteries and the surprises. It’s a mystery… and there are surprises.

Veronica Mars

“If you don’t pull my finger, I can’t do the joke.”

Veronica Mars was a young detective in high school (A lot of people died under mysterious circumstances in her hometown). But if you don’t know Veronica, go watch the Veronica Mars TV series first. This movie was made for fans of the show. In order to fully enjoy it you have to become a fan… wait several years and then watch this movie. It is awesome.

Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars

Everybody sing. “We used to be friends… A long time ago… We used to be friends…”

Rent it (But start at the beginning. The show is really good)

Next up a remake…

RoboCop (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Columbia Pictures)

RoboCop Poster

Directed by José Padilha

Written by Joshua Zetumer  Based on Characters by by Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner

Starring Joel KinnamanGary OldmanMichael KeatonSamuel L. JacksonAbbie CornishJackie Earle Haley & Michael K. Williams

RoboCop is a decent enough remake that pays homage to the first film with dialogue from the original movie sprinkled throughout like little nuggets of nostalgia. The problem comes in when the characters say anything else. Those few lines are the best writing in the film.

The Brand New RoboCop

The dialogue is crappy. While RoboCop is still a great story, (we knew that going in) and there is some great casting choices with Keaton, Oldman and Jackson, even the scenes that feature these powerhouse actors are flimsy, hokey and mostly unnecessary.

Samuel Jackson

“Seriously?? Come on, mah brotha. Don’t do me like that.”

Samuel L. Jackson seems so superfluous, it even looks like his scenes were added in post-production. He’s barely part of the story. Like an afterthought.

RoboCop

The writing of this remake left a lot to be desired. As with all of these sci-fi classic reboots, there is the much needed updated special effects and the modernization of the futuristic tech. What we thought was futuristic back in the 80’s is laughable today.

Robocop Black

But in the end, there was no other reason for an update. The original RoboCop is dated, yes, but it is still a great film. The new RoboCop just can’t compete.

Skip it (Move along, citizen. There’s nothing to see here. Move along)

Next some old school international espionage…

3 Days to Kill (Relativity Media)

3 Days to Kill Poster

Directed by McG

Written by Luc Besson with Adi Hasak

Starring Kevin CostnerAmber HeardHailee Steinfeld & Connie Nielsen

First off, the title is misleading. The movie is billed as some kind of “Taken” scenario except with Kevin Costner instead of Liam Neeson. Spoiler Alert! There is no kidnapping. There is no clock. There is no immediacy. The trailer is a lie.

father daughter dance

I have a particular set of skills. None of them are dancing.

3 Days to Kill is about an old CIA operative who finds out he is dying of brain cancer and has three months to live. The title, 3 Days to Kill, comes from the fact that he visits his daughter and estranged wife in Paris. He wants to reconnect before he dies. The wife takes off on a business trip. Leaving him with the girl. So… he and his daughter have… three days to kill. But of course some old CIA business interferes and adventure ensues.

Kevin Costner

It’s a good story. The dialogue is awful and the direction is uneven but the story is interesting (Luc Besson has a good mind for action). But the biggest problems with 3 Days to Kill are the poorly written female characters. They are horrible.

Amber Heard

“Do you like my wig? I’m undercover.”

I’m done with two-dimensional women in movies. There are three female leads in the movie: The mother, the daughter and his CIA handler. They are badly written and annoying. The mother whines and is oblivious. The daughter whines and is obnoxious while the handler is some sort of sexy psychopath. I don’t even know what’s going on there. (Amber Heard is awful but she’s sexy so I guess that’s supposed to be enough).

Stop or Kevin Costner will shoot

It’s a bad movie but it is still an interesting story, as he tracks down the terrorists and tries to reconnect with his daughter while coughing up blood and hallucinating and passing out at the worst moments (always the worst moments), it is fun to watch. And on the other side, the best things are the minor characters. The secondary characters are very real. Luc Besson puts so much effort into building these rich and dynamic minor characters that it makes the main characters and their flatness even more maddening.

Kevin Costner and Hailee Steinfeld

Watch 3 Days to Kill for the colorful characters Kevin Costner comes across in his travels and for Costner’s fine performance despite the bad dialogue. But…

Skip It if you’re as tired of poorly written women as I am. And I am.

Next up animation…

Son of Batman (Warner Home Video)

Son of Batman Poster

Directed by Ethan Spaulding

Written by James Robinson Joe R. Lansdale  Based on Batman and Son by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert

Starring Jason O’Mara, Stuart Allan, Morena BaccarinGiancarlo EspositoXander BerkeleyThomas Gibson & David McCallum

The kid is annoying.

Batman and Son Private Detectives

“I’m not that annoying.”

There are some good fights and action sequences but everyone flies around like Yoda in Attack of the Clones. It is distracting. In live-action movies that’s fine but in cartoons it just makes all the characters seem lighter than air. Like they have no weight. (w/o the force)

Damian Wayne al Ghul

“I’m not that annoying!”

The story is kind of cool though. Batman finds out he has a son by Talia al Ghul who has been raised by the League of Assassins and her father Raj. So, Batman has to teach the kid not to kill people as the two try to avenge the boy’s granddad’s death and save the city.

Son of Batman

“I bet if I was Robin you wouldn’t think I was annoying.”

All I have to say is the kid is annoying.

Skip it.

Now some history…

The Monuments Men (Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox)

The Monuments Poster

Directed by George Clooney

Written by George Clooney & Grant Heslov  Based on The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel

Starring George Clooney, Matt DamonBill MurrayJohn GoodmanJean DujardinBob BalabanHugh Bonneville & Cate Blanchett

The Monuments Men has a great cast. It really does. Most of these people couldn’t turn in a bad performance if they were trying. And It’s also a good story. An important story. A story about saving famous artwork from the nazis. I just didn’t like the direction.

The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men is an epic story that spans several countries and several years but George Clooney has the story spread out so much that it loses its narrative focus.

Cate Blanchett and Matt Damon

The Monuments Men plays like a collection of loosely related scenes. And except for the ending, which is pretty cool, it is, literally, all over the place. Not Clooney’s best work.

George Clooney and Matt Damon

“What the fuck did he just say?”  “Wow.”

A historically important story, sure. A good story, yes. Great cast, absolutely. But because the characters spend most of their time in different countries. There was too much going on and it doesn’t make for a good movie. It is not a good movie.

Skip it. A couple of good scenes, some history and great actors but not a good movie.

and lastly… Vampires that don’t sparkle (It is now a requirement that they tell you they don’t sparkle. Thanks Meyer)

Vampire Academy (The Weinstein Company)

Vampire Academy Poster

Directed by Mark Waters

Written by Daniel Waters  Based on Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Starring Zoey DeutchLucy FryDanila KozlovskyGabriel ByrneDominic SherwoodOlga Kurylenko & Sarah Hyland

Vampire Academy is so very bad… it is almost good. It almost makes it to the other side of bad and back around to enjoyable bad. But the movie spends more time trying to be cute than it needs to. It talks down to its audience so severely that it’s annoying.

Rose

And Vampire Academy, at its core, is a misguided cross between Twilight and Harry Potter. Vampire Academy may have made a good book but there is just too much explaining. So much back story before anything happens. And they rush through it.

Vampire Academy

The characters have to speed through pages and pages of exposition and then the writer adds these hokey sitcom jokes on the end of each speech. The guy directed Mean Girls. And I loved Mean Girls. But it was good because it was written by Tina Fey and that’s it.

Rose, Lyssa and Natalie

But there are still some fun parts to the movie. Sarah Hyland is a surprise highlight to the story. She plays a nerdy vampire with just enough awkwardness and comic relief to make her likeable. And of course Sarah Hyland is a great comedic actor.

Sarah Hyland

“What? Is there something behind me? What?”

And Gabriel Byrne and Joely Richardson are good. But other than that, there is very little to like about Vampire Academy. The music choices are awkward and mishandled. The acting is awful and, like I said, the dialogue is mostly long explanations and bad jokes.

The Vampire Academy Girls

Yet underneath all the bad I could tell there was a fun story about young vampires at school that was so poorly directed and so badly scripted that anything good from the novel was lost in all the crappy crappiness. I really wanted to hate it enough to like it. I didn’t.

Skip it (but honestly it’s almost so bad that it’s kind of good)

So to recap…

There were two movies about heartless killing machines trying to reconnect with their family, RoboCop and 3 Days to Kill. Both with a few cool action scenes but both with horrible writing and dialogue.

There were two movies about famous detectives having family problems of their own, Son of Batman and Veronica Mars. One of them a fun and exciting romp down memory lane and the other one a new memory I’d like to forget. (the kid is annoying)

And there were two movies about a group of friends trying to preserve and survive their brush with history, The Monuments Men and Vampire Academy. Neither one of them very good but only one of them based on a true story. (I’ll let you figure out which one)

Thank you for your service. You deserved a better movie.

Thank you for your service. You deserved a better movie.

And that’s five.

Okay that was actually six but Son of Batman was sort of a freebie.

Now if only we could convince them to release some good DVDs for June.

But don’t worry, if they don’t, I’ll dig up something cool, maybe even something foreign.

See you on the couch,

– Mel

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14 thoughts on “5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVD Releases in May

  1. Great reviews Mel as usual. I’m still going to watch monuments men because I love the cast and I just kind of want to see it. As far as Batman and Son goes, I read the comic and despite Grant Morrison’s great writing, your right even in the comic the kid was annoying. I just don’t like Damien. He’s too close to Jason Todd so there’s nothing new to explore there. Thanks!

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    • Thanks Alex. Monuments Men is an interesting slice of history and it’s a true story. So those things make it cool. With Son of Batman, I would think a kid growing up in the League of Assassins would be less privileged and less spoiled and less whiny. Maybe they treated him like a little emperor. He was just too bratty. And I just don’t think the kids back story would lead to that. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  2. Well that was the idea that he was a little emperor. I just think it backfired because even in the comic Damien Wayne is irritating, I think he has a hissy fit when he hears that the Wayne fortune was going to Dick Grayson and not him. I don’t know if that’s in the cartoon. I’ve stop reading Batman after War Games, I picked up a the collections of The Death of Bruce Wayne and the return of Bruce Wayne just because it was written by Grant Morrison but it’s just gotten to weird and too far away from what Batman was and is, so I stopped.

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    • Yeah I hate it when they get too far away from the original. If they’re going to go that far afield with the material they might as well create a new main character for the story. Why are they still calling it Batman? Are there any good Batman novels? Not graphic novels but straight up novels. Is Batman public domain yet?

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      • I don’t know of any Batman novels, they might exist. The comic has been around so long, plus they have at least 4 or 5 tittles at any given time to write for, so they are bound to go far afield for story ideas. Morrison had Bruce traveling through time in different eras, finding his way back to the present day (Darkside sent him way back to the paleolithic). Although this explored his character in interesting ways, Batman was the one tittle that was grounded in a real-world setting. While the “gods” like Superman and Green Lantern could go off into fantasy Sci Fi, we relied on Bats to keep us in the real world. When he joins the JLA in their mystical realms it just messes the whole thing up. That’s why I hate Batman as part of the JLA, it never made any sense. How could he really survive having no super powers, how could he really compete? Batman villains were freaks and gangsters, it was always street level stories and I wish they would keep it that way. Ra’s al Ghul was as fantastic as it got and they were pretty restrained with him for the most part. Batman is not public domain but people do make fan fiction stuff. Did you ever see that Joker Blogs thing I sent you?

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      • Yeah that was pretty good. The guy is a decent actor. I didn’t get all the way through it though I kind of saw a squirrel and got distracted. I’ll have to get back to it. Batman in the past. Batman in the future. Batman in space. Batman shrunk down and injected into Commissioner Gordon’s arteries. Have they Groundhog’s Day’d him yet. Batman living the same day over and over, in the past, as someone else, and it happens to be the day his parents get killed. Blah blah blah he has to let them die in order to save… himself.

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  3. Batman: Groundhog Day… Not yet but since you just said it, I’m sure it’s coming. I surprised on how the Joker blogs were surprisingly good. Like you mostly because the guy doing the Joker was good and underplayed it. It gets better as it goes along. Some of it down right chilling. Like I said for fan fiction this one was a surprise. Most are awful I was disappointed in the Star Trek ones, only because the acting was so bad. They have decent production value and great special effects but all the best special effects can’t hide the bad acting.

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  4. Oh just saw Monuments Men, I think I liked a little more than you did. I actually found it quite enjoyable. No, it’s not Kelly’s Hero’s but it’s decent popcorn entertainment. Heavy hitting actors to help it along. B- from me.

    Like

    • I don’t know. I expected them to be in more scenes together. The ending is good so if all’s well that ends well… sure. But I expected more drama. Even if they had to make up some crap. I wanted more Inglorious Bastards meets Indiana Jones and less whatever that was. I didn’t like it. They barely have any scenes together. I’m glad you liked it though. I didn’t know anything about them so I learned that but then they should have made a documentary or a docu-drama.

      Like

  5. I loved the Veronica Mars movie. That is one of my favorite shows and I think the movie did a great job of capturing the essence of the show with a slightly more grown-up feel and also pleasing fans who helped make it happen with some nice fanservice moments. I hope there is a future for the series in one way or another. I read the recent book and thought that was pretty good.

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  6. Good reviews, I completely agree with your thoughts on Monuments Men. I thought the cast was great and it was a really cool, important story to tell, but I also thought it felt a little disjointed, narrative wise. A friend and I were talking about it, and we agreed we would have rather seen it as a miniseries. That way, they could have fleshed out the characters a little more, and they could have kept the plot a little more spread out but that would have been OK since it was divided into episodes.

    Like

    • Exactly. Separate episodes for each country and then maybe the same finale. Should’ve given it to Tom Hanks instead of George Clooney. The stories seem to not be connected. Even though we’re told going in that they’re all connected. Nice observation. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

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