5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVD Releases for December 2014

Welcome to the last 5 Quick Reviews of the year. And this one features an eclectic bunch of films. Comedy, Drama, Sci-fi. Some weird and some wonderful.

“Wait. I’ve gotta get a picture of this. Mel’s gonna review DVD’s again. How interesting.”

These movies go down better with a bit of what Saruman calls the Halfling’s Leaf. If you know what I mean. Wink wink. Nudge nudge. Say no more. Say no more.

Frank Rehearsal

“I love you all. Even if you do smoke too much weeeeed. I love you all.

“If you don’t know what I’m saying. I’m talking about pot, marijuana, ganja. If it’s not legal where you live, it should be (or soon will be). And all of these movies are better if you watch them while stoned. Okay?

"Are you saying that you want to smoke a joint?"

“Are you saying that you want to smoke a joint with me?”

What I’m really saying is well… I’m saying you’re a pothead. Just kidding. It’s not you it’s me. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. (Just add the word medicinally at the end. It’s just like allegedly but for pot)

I Am Groot

“I AM GROOT!”

Don’t worry Groot. We won’t be smoking anyone you know, big guy. Or is that your way of saying that you want a hit before we put it out? I never know what the hell you’re saying…. anyway.

Here are my 5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVD Releases for December.

Groot Fireflies

I am Groot.

I’m so fucking high right now.

To the reviews…

First up something too strange for words.

Frank (Magnolia Pictures [US], Element Pictures [Ireland])

Frank Poster

Directed by  Lenny Abrahamson

Written by Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan  Based on “Oh blimey!” by Jon Ronson

Starring Domhnall GleesonMaggie GyllenhaalScoot McNairy & Michael Fassbender

Frank is a weird, strange movie. About a weird, strange and heart-breakingly fragile man. It is not meant to be a mainstream movie. Frank is a movie that is satisfied in its weirdness and in its indie status. It revels in it.

Frank on Stage

“I feel a tired and over-stretched analogy coming on.”

And just because it sticks to its independence, it doesn’t make it better than the popular films. Nor does it make it worse than mainstream movies. It’s just doing its own thing.

Maggie Gyllenhall and Frank

“This movie is kinda weird, though. Right?” “Yes. Yes it is.”

Frank is about an eclectic band of talented misfit musicians led by the king of the misfits; a man who never removes his large fake head. His name is Frank.

Frank on Guitar

“He’s got the whoooole wo-rld in his head… everybody! He’s got the…”

Frank is a wonderful movie but as it revels in its eccentricity, it alienates its audience. Keeping us at arms length. Making us feel like we’re not quite hip enough for the room.

Frank and The Band

“On the count of three, we all drop acid and watch Frank. 1…2… changed my mind!”

And much like Frank’s band in the film, I don’t think we’re meant to like Frank. And it almost feels like the director doesn’t care if we do. But we are meant to like Frank himself. And we do. Making the whole exercise oddly and refreshingly entertaining.

Rent it

Next one of the best movies of 2014.

Guardians of the Galaxy (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Guardians

Directed by James Gunn

Written by James Gunn & Nicole Perlman  Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Starring Chris PrattZoe SaldanaDave BautistaVin DieselBradley CooperLee PaceMichael RookerKaren GillanDjimon HounsouJohn C. ReillyGlenn Close & Benicio del Toro

Guardians of the Galaxy opens with one of the most heart-wrenching scenes of a young boy losing his mother to cancer. And continues as the story of that boy being kidnapped and raised by criminals… in space. It is a comedy.

Star Lord

“Oh man. That sounds cool. Is that what this movie is about?”

He goes on to run away from the abusive criminals and become an outlaw in his own right. Because that’s all he knows. He has no family and no friends and only a cassette of his mother’s favorite songs to keep him company. It is a comedy.

Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket

“Didn’t Mel already review this thing when it came out? What is he doing?”

But then he befriends other criminals, loners, thieves and killers to form a new foster family of misfits and outlaws. And they go on to save the whole fucking galaxy.

Guardians Gif

“That’s right. We bad.”

Guardians of the Galaxy is the most depressingly touching yet hysterically fun movie I have ever seen. I will own it on BluRay. It’s already on my Christmas list.

Buy it

Next a sci-fi action teen angst adventure sorta?

The Maze Runner (20th Century Fox)

The Maze Runner

Directed by Wes Ball

Written by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin  Based on The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Starring Dylan O’BrienKaya ScodelarioThomas Brodie-SangsterWill Poulter & Patricia Clarkson

The Maze Runner has its moments but they are few and far between. The mystery is more made for TV than film. With enough episodes to peel away each layer of the back story, I could see liking this tale of kids who wake up trapped in the center of a deadly maze with their memories erased being hunted by half spider, half robot creatures.

Grievers

“I don’t like spam!!”

The Maze Runner, however, is not a good movie but it is interesting. So maybe (once again) I needed to read the book first. (And the moral of the story is read the damn book)

The Maze Runner

“Run away! He’s gonna hate us! Run away!”

I was not intrigued by the mystery in this film version. I didn’t identify with any of the two-dimensional characters. And it wasn’t helped by the young actors’ bland portrayals.

The Maze Runner Elevator

“That’s harsh, dude.”

All the characters have lost their memories (And isn’t that a convenient way to not have to create any real emotional depth). Don’t get me wrong, lost memory stories can be fun, as we discover the characters’ pasts and as they discover themselves. This ain’t that.

"You're just made the list, buddy. M-E-L um R-O..."

“You just made the list, buddy. M-E-L um R-O…”

This lazy writing is more fitting of a dungeon master’s self-made module of an adventure RPG. Get your graph paper out but make sure you write in pencil. The dungeon changes shape every night. In conclusion, The Maze Runner is a stupid movie.

Skip it

Next a dramedy…

This is Where I Leave You (Warner Bros.)

This is Where I Leave You

Directed by Shawn Levy

Written by Jonathan Tropper  Based on This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Starring Jason BatemanTina FeyAdam DriverRose ByrneCorey StollKathryn HahnConnie BrittonTimothy OlyphantDax Shepard & Jane Fonda

This Is Where I Leave You has an amazing cast of some of my favorite comedic actors but this is not a comedy. It is a well-written family drama with a few big laughs thrown in but it’s a pretty solid drama. And a very good movie with some fine performances.

Jane Fonda and Jason Bateman

“All his favorite people in one movie. He’s gonna love us.” “Hope you’re right.”

It’s got a good script based on the author’s novel with a director who seems fine with just getting out of the way and letting this talented cast do their thing. And they shine.

Tina Fey, Adam Driver and Ben Schwartz

“Say you liked our movie or I twist his other one.” “Say you liked it! I’m in the new Star Wars!”

Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Timothy Olyphant, Rose Byrne and Ben Schwartz. This Is Where I Leave You boasts a collection of my favorite people in a fascinating and funny, family baggage-airing drama. And I liked it.

Debra Monk, Kathryn Hahn and Connie Britton

“Aww. He liked it.”

It’s not for everyone. And it’s not a comedy. Also, the only action in the film is when a secret is revealed and maybe a small fight breaks out. This is a straight drama about a family reuniting for the patriarch’s funeral and about the airing of grievances.

This is where I leave you Cast

“Well that doesn’t sound funny at all.”

It is still pretty damn good. And still pretty damn funny.

Rent it

And lastly…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) (Paramount Pictures)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Written by Josh AppelbaumAndré Nemec and  Evan Daugherty  Based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman

Starring Megan FoxWill Arnett & William Fichtner

I expected this movie to be so bad that it had nowhere to go but up. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a better movie than I thought it would be. It’s kinda sorta fun.

"I have to take a picture of Mel liking the Ninja Turtles movie. It's like seeing The Loch Ness Monster."

“I have to take a picture of Mel liking the Ninja Turtles movie. It’s like seeing Bigfoot.”

Don’t get me wrong, it is still a bad movie based on a bad comic book title that was mostly just a childish insult (called a dis in my day) to the popular books of the time. X-Men and Teen Titans (with maybe a little Howard the Duck thrown in for good measure).

TMNT

“I know Bigfoot personally. I could introduce you.”

It was a dumb comic, but then it became a dumb cartoon and now some dumb movies. And soon a dumb but financially successful franchise. I am not a fan.

Michelangelo

“He doesn’t know Bigfoot. But I do. He has an apartment near here.”

However, this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is enjoyable. The turtles aren’t as annoying as I thought they’d be. Megan Fox is decent and the plot is not stupid. I can’t say I liked it because I am opposed to it from its inception and conception with no exception. Period.

Megan Fox and Will Arnett

“Remember when the captions were funny? Now he’s talking Bigfoot.” “I think he really is high.”

But the movie is not that bad… and if you’re high when you watch it, it’s enjoyable.

Rent it

So to recap…

We had two films about groups forced to work together to remember their pasts; The Maze Runner and This Is Where I Leave You, But this is where their similarities end. One features emotionally immature characters forced to navigate a labyrinth of traps, tricks and pitfalls in order to get out alive and the other one is… The Maze Runner.

We had two films based on less-than-main-stream comic book titles; Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, But this is where their similarities end. One is about a group of kick-ass, immature, constantly bickering heroes trying to save everyone from evil and the other one is… god damn it.

And we had one film about a guy who hides his face from the world; Frank, I also do that. Hide myself from the world. But this is where our similarities end. Because while Frank likes to play music with his friends and loves you all…

I, on the other hand, like to play music with my friends but only love some of you… okay most of you… alright damn it, you win. I love you all.

Awesome Mix

Cue the music.

See you guys at the movies,

– Mel

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3 thoughts on “5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVD Releases for December 2014

  1. Pingback: Best of the Blog 2014 | Mel Rook & The 7 Deadly Sins

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