Hitting movie theaters this weekend:
Burlesque - Christina Aguilera, Cher Faster - Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Maggie Grace Love and Other Drugs - Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway Tangled - Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Ron Perlman
Movie of the Week
The Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Maggie Grace The Plot: An ex-con (Johnson) sets out to avenge his brother's death. The Buzz: Dwayne Johnson is back in straight-up action mode -- after The Tooth Fairy and The Race to Witch Mountain -- I was wondering if he'd ever return. Yes, Faster is certainly an action film, but it appears to be more than that; it appears to be a wildly rampaging, no-holds-barred, glorious tale of bullet-sweet vengeance. Well, that's my gut-shot feeling anyway. Billy Bob Thornton is poised to play the perfect foil as the "slow justice" cop that stands in Johnson's vengeful way. There are a couple solid female actresses here as well, in Maggie Grace and Carla Gugino.
Back when he was still known as The Rock, Johnson starred in my favorite of his career, another vengeance-based action film, 2004's Walking Tall. That film definitely came to mind when I first saw the trailer for Faster, though this current installment seems to have a slightly less forgiving protagonist. Yes, Johnson has certainly returned to the realm of action cinema, and by the look of things, he's done so with a pretty high-octane exclamation mark.
As a sidenote, I have a silly theory here: perhaps it was the nightmare vision of The Southland Tales(2006) that was responsible for Johnson's career-altering genre jump, throwing him into a spiral of feel-good football films and kids movies. Or I suppose it could have been 2005's Doom? Either way, the feel-good era of The Rock was all fine and good (and in the end may turn out to be here to stay), but I'm stoked to see that he's back for at least one more bullet-ridden action fest.
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New Blu-ray and DVDs released this week:
Beauty and the Beast (Diamond Edition) - Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White Countdown to Zero - Graham Allison, James Baker III, Bruce Blair The Disappearance of Alice Creed - Gemma Arterton, Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston Eat Pray Love - Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Viola Davis The Expendables - Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren Flipped - Madeline Carroll, Callan McAuliffe, Rebecca De Mornay I'm Still Here - Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck, Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs The Winning Season - Sam Rockwell, Emma Roberts, Rob Corddry The Zookeeper - Sam Neill, Gina McKee, Ulrich Thomsen
Blu-ray/DVD of the Week
The Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren The Plot: A team of mercenaries head to South America on a mission to overthrow a dictator. The Buzz: I must admit, I feel like a bit of a meat-head, choosing Faster as the "movie of the week" and The Expendables as the "DVD of the week," but let's just chalk it up to me being a guy. Would it help if I added that my runner-up "movie of the week" is Disney's animated feature Tangled, and that my runner-up "DVD of the week" is Disney's animated classic Beauty and the Beast? Well, it's true, and I hope this dispels any anti-action fiend animosity.
But let's get back on track -- I was excited about The Expendables back when it first cropped up on imdb; I couldn't believe the list of action stars who were all to appear in the same film. Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, and Jet Li -- All in the same film? I was certainly impressed, but I did wonder why Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Jackie Chan were mysteriously absent. As it turned out, Willis and Schwarzenegger had mere cameos, but the other list of impressive action stars delivered and delivered well. I enjoyed every minute of this throwback action film, especially the super over-the-top finale (just imagine the ending of Commando hyped up on post shock-therapy Red Bull).
Very good, very good, for those of us who enjoy this kind of thing. Thankfully, for the rest of us, Disney is still at it.
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