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Out This Week (In The US): Deepwater Horizon, Jerry Maguire, His Girl Friday & more

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Deepwater Horizon – This is the second of three films directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg and based on a true story. The first was Lone Survivor, and the newest is the currently in theaters Patriots Day. Deepwater Horizon tells the story of the oil rig that suffered a catastrophic failure that caused hundreds of millions of oil to spill into the ocean off the coast of New Orleans a few years ago. As opposed to being an environmentally driven film, however, Deepwater Horizon is a tried-and-true disaster movie. The film starts with 20 minutes of paper-thin character building and rising tension before the well breaks and things quickly turn into a fiery hell at sea that ultimately cost 11 men their lives. While the characters aren’t as compelling as many disaster film, the movie is a tense, fast-paced and visually impressive spectacle, and it will keep your pulse pounding for the last hour or so. Worth watching, even if it’s not one for the ages.

Jerry Maguire: 20th Anniversary Edition – Probably my all-time favorite Tom Cruise movie, Cameron Crowe’s masterpiece Jerry Maguire is every bit as good now as it was when it came out twenty years ago. It’s easy to forget just how great this movie is, but Tom Cruise has never been better, and Cameron Crowe hit every note right in this film that mixes romance, comedy, drama, sports, and business into a perfect blend. But how many other films from the past 20 years were responsible for no less than three phrases entering the cultural lexicon? “You complete me,” “Show me the money,” You had me at hello.” Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you know these phrases. That tells you something. This new 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray includes all of the original extra features from the DVD release, plus an hour and a half of new extra features (including a new documentary) and even a special bonus CD with the film’s soundtrack. It’s a perfect package for a perfect movie!

Max Steel – I’m a little too old to really have any familiarity with the Max Steel action figure line or the cartoon that accompanied it, so I went into the Max Steel movie with pretty much no knowledge of what to expect. Unfortunately, what I got was an incredibly uneven sci-fi action movie that seems like it wants to be for kids but is maybe too adult for them, while not mature enough for adults to really get into. The story of a teenager who has to team up with a little flying alien/robot guy with a mouth that never stops moving, the film starts off really slowly. Once the Steel guy enters the picture it picks up a bit, but even that character could have been better. The actor voicing him is decent, but the whole movie I kept thinking, “Why didn’t they get Rob Corddry to voice this character?” There are some cool moments and some decent special effects, and I do think there is an audience in that 12-14 year old age group or maybe people who fondly remember the awful Guyver movies of the 90s, but it’s just not a crowd pleaser.

His Girl Friday – The original screwball comedy makes its Blu-ray debut courtesy of The Criterion Collection. Starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, this comedy directed by the great Howard Hawks is a remake of 1931’s The Front Page, both based on the play by the classic duo of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. What makes this release so amazing is that it also includes the 1931 version of the film as a bonus feature, so you get two movies for the price of one. His Girl Friday (which sees Russell’s character changed to a woman) really set the pace for a whole genre of classic comedy films, with its rapid-fire dialogue and flirty interplay between Grant and Russell. With a mystery, crime drama, and plenty of comedy, it’s a magical mix that results in a film that’s almost too fast to follow sometimes, but is still an utter classic. Add the extra movie and a ton of extra features and this one is the must-have release of the week.

Also available on Blu-ray & DVD this week:

  • The Code: Season 2 – This episodic thriller from New Zealand is a slow burn. The plot this time around involves hacker Jesse and his journalist brother Ned going up against an online arms dealer of sorts. The story picks up where Season 1 left off, with the duo in pretty big trouble. I think I like season two better than season one, Despite Lucy Lawless not being in the cast this time. At least they got a similar level of star to replace her with Anthony LaPaglia along for the ride this time around. While the numerous characters can be tough to relate to, it’s not a bad series at all, it’s just paced a little slower than I prefer.
  • Swamp People: Season 7 – This is a semi-interesting reality show about swamp hunters in the Louisiana bayous who have permission to hunt alligators for exactly 30 days out of every year. We follow several crews of gator hunters as they set out to bag as many reptiles as they can in the 30-day period. These are some truly hardcore people at work; not the kind of guys you’d want to get into a bar fight with, but some bigger than life personalities to boot. The show’s problem lies in the repetition. It’s the same problem I have with shows like Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, and Ax Men: after a while, watching these guys continually slaughter alligators becomes a bit boring. It’s a decent enough show to catch once in a while if it’s on, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch an entire season of it.
  • The People Vs. Fritz Bauer – Loosely based on a true story, but more of a fictionalized take on real events, this German film tells the story of Fritz Bauer, the Attorney General of Germany, who made it his mission to track down Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, despite the German government’s attempts to stop him. The winner of numerous German film awards, the film is a powerful drama that deals with a heavy subject matter. While none of the actors are known here in the US (and the film is populated by German actors speaking in their native language), so get ready for subtitles. It’s not a perfect film and there are some moments where things slow down, but by and large it’s an interesting movie that is more enjoyable than not.
  • Apple of My Eye – Pretty much every month we get what I like to call A Girl And Her Horse Movies. And those are pretty much exactly what they sound like: movies about a girl and her horse. Apple of My Eye, which co-stars Amy Smart and Burt Reynolds (!!), takes a slightly different tack than the usual “spoiled girl learns valuable lessons from her friendship with her horse” plotline. In this one, a teenage girl loses her sight from a horse-riding accident. So far, so typical. Then, enter Burt Reynolds as a guide dog trainer who introduces her to – get this! – a miniature horse who serves as her horse-shaped guide dog of sorts! You can’t make this stuff up, folks. So this is a family film, it’s a bit ridiculous, but if you like these kinds of movies, it’s perfectly fine for what it is.
  • Miraculous: Be Miraculous – I had never heard of this show before it started coming out on DVD, but I really kind of dig it. A French cartoon that’s been re-dubbed and imported onto American TV screens (via Nickelodeon), this show features two friends who are secretly animal-themed superheroes (and who have super-pets) and who try to protect Paris from the bad guys. Geared for slightly older kids, I think this is a really cute show and I can see it gaining a large following in the states.
  • Super Why: Puppy Power! – Super Why is another fun cartoon that my kids enjoy. The show focuses on a team of super readers (kind of like kid superheroes) whose mission usually involves some kind of reading/letter activities. Super Why: Puppy Power follows the usual formula of using kids’ stories and classic tropes to teach kids how to read. This time around, we meet a new character: Wyatt the puppy, who kids will love! This is one of those shows that blends being entertaining and educational exceptionally well, and I think most parents would be pleased to have their kids watch this

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