The New Release Rack: Romance on Trial in 'The Five Year Engagement'
Plus more 'Piranha,' vampires in 'My Sucky Teen Romance,' Chinese epic 'Sacrifice,' and more
"Safe" (Lionsgate), the busiest action film of the year, is dense, fleet, tight plotted, and features a body count big enough to make a dent in the New York City census results. Videodrone's review is here.
"The Five Year Engagement" (Universal), a comedy from Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segal (the team behind "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"), stars Emily Blunt as a grad student in post-doc mode and Jason Segal as a San Francisco chef: an optimistic young couple whose dreams of a happily ever after keep getting delayed by career opportunities and a relocation to a college town in Michigan. The frustration, stagnation, and relatives that die off while awaiting the day become targets for jokes in this relationship comedy.
Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman calls it: "A lively, original, and scattershot-hilarious ramble of a Judd Apatow production… the movie is an enjoyable grab bag of messy life circumstances." Rhys Ifans co-stars as Blunt's far-too-interested advisor, Chris Pratt is Segal's doofus buddy, and Alison Brie (with a British accent) is Blunt's highly excited sister.
Blu-ray and DVD, with commentary by director Nicholas Stoller, producer Rodney Rothman, co-writer/actor Jason Segel, and actors Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, and Allison Brie, deleted scenes, Line-O-Rama and Experiment-O-Rama compilations, and a compilation of Rhys Ifans outtakes among the supplements.
Exclusive to the Blu-ray is a collection of featurettes (including "The Making of The Five Year Engagement"), a "Top Chef" parody, more deleted/extended/alternate scenes and other outtakes, plus a bonus DVD.
"Piranha 3DD" (Anchor Bay), a sequel to a remake that was released to theaters in 3D (the better to showcase the gratuitous nudity and blackly comic gore), sends the hungry prehistoric fish to a summer water park and a whole new smorgasbord of teen chum in the water. "The director, John Gulager, has no idea how to mix his ingredients to create a savvy self-parody," warns Neil Genzlinger at The New York Times. Danielle Panabaker, Chris Zylka, and Katrina Bowden fill out the pretty young roles and David Koechner, Gary Busey, Christopher Lloyd, and David Hasselhoff (as himself) fill out the pseudo-celebrity adult quotient. Blu-ray and DVD, with filmmaker commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes and bloopers. The Blu-ray Combo Pack features a bonus DVD, and the 3D Blu-ray edition includes a standard Blu-ray and DVD plus a digital copy (via iTunes).
"High School" (Anchor Bay), a stoner comedy in the halls of lower learning, stars Matt Bush as a Grade-A student who plots to lace the cafeteria food with dope after the principal (Michael Chiklis) institutes mandatory drug tests the day after he takes his first puff. "High School is a pun," nudges Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert. "Get it? This is one of those stoner comedies that may be funny if you're high - but if not, not." Adrien Brody, Sean Marquette, and Colin Hanks co-star. Blu-ray and DVD, with commentary by director / writer John Stalberg, Jr., and deleted scenes.
"My Sucky Teen Romance" (Dark Sky), a high school horror comedy about teenagers at a horror convention where real-life vampires come looking for victims, is notable for being the third feature film from writer / director Emily Haggis, now a 17-year-old veteran of genre filmmaking. And while it's neither scary nor surprising, it's kind of sweet, endearingly affectionate, certainly better than 90% of the horror knock-offs landing straight-to-disc nowadays. More reviews here. DVD only, with commentary by Haggis and producer Paul Gandersman, a featurette, deleted scenes and bloopers, and a bonus short film by Haggis.
"Sacrifice" (Vivendi), directed by Chen Kaige, is a costume epic and revenge melodrama about the sole survivor of a brutal clan massacre who grows up under a false identity and the doctor (Ge You) who raises the boy and plots an elaborate revenge on the killers. Based on an 800-year-old play and set in the fifth century B.C., it's big, busy, complicated costume piece set against the pageantry of power. "Ultimately, the film works because the doctor's relationship with the general - and both of their relationships with the doctor's young boy - is just as complicated as the action-packed coup," writes San Francisco Chronicle film critic David Lewis. Chinese with English subtitles and optional English dub soundtrack, no supplements. DVD only.
Also from China is the costume warrior epic "White Vengeance" (Well Go), with Leon Lai and Xiang Fu as former allies leading opposing armies in the bloody battle known as the Feast at Hong Gate. Chinese with English subtitles. Blu-ray and DVD, with supplements. Reviews here.
And from South Korea is the contemporary action thriller "Quick" (Shout! Factory), with a motorcycle courier boobytrapped with a bomb and sent on a series of deliveries. Korean with English subtitles. Blu-ray and DVD, with supplements. Reviews here.
- "Touchback" (Anchor Bay), a football drama starring Brian Presley, Melanie Lynskey, and Kurt Russell. Blu-ray and DVD.
- "8:46" (Virgil), a drama of the people who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. DVD only.
- "Small, Beautifully Moving Parts" (Film Movement), a "coming-of-parenthood-tale for the Internet age," directed by Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson. DVD only, with bonus short films by each of the directors.