Monday, April 7 2014, 05:48 PM MDT
New DVD and Blu-ray Releases for April 8, 2014
(KUTV) This week sees the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson's second film in a planned trilogy, the misguided Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone boxing picture Grudge Match, the dysfunctional adaptation of Tracy Letts' award winning play August: Osage County and Paramount Picture's horror spinoff Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.
Whereas the first installment of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy was somewhat of a disappointment The Desolation of Smaug is closer to what you'd expect from the team behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Gone are the songs and silliness, replaced by a hefty dose of action. It still feels a little bloated and unfocused (do we really need a romance subplot?), but it at least provides more thrills than spills.
Grudge Match sees old rivals Henry 'Razor' Sharp (Stallone) and Billy 'The Kid' McDonnen (De Niro) square off in a boxing match 30 years after their last fight. Stallone is able to channel some of his Rocky charm but De Niro fails to connect with his Raging Bull persona Jake La Motta. The results are fairly painful to watch and the ending feels overly forced.
August: Osage County features a fantastic cast featuring the likes of Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor and Benedict Cumberbatch. Unfortunately director John Wells (Shameless) can't seem to reel them in and the film quickly turns into a classic example of great actors trying to out shout each other. All the humor of Letts' play is completely drowned out in the process.
The Paranormal Activity franchise continues to exist because its films are incredibly inexpensive to make when compared to the (declining) box office returns. The Marked Ones tries to set off in a new direction and while the story goes beyond the typical ghost hauntings of the previous films the fairly tired aesthetic remains. If you're a longtime fan of the series you'll probably be satisfied. I found myself wishing I was watching The Conjuring or Oculus.
Elsewhere Lionsgate releases the gratuitous horror flick Nurse 3D, while Image unleashes the second season of Adam Green's (Frozen, Hatchet) FEARnet series Holliston and Well Go Entertainment brings Herschel Faber's (Mac & Devin Go to High School) comedy Cavemen to home video.
Older films coming to Blu-ray for the first time include the Criterion Collection release of Charles Laughton's classic 1955 horror film The Night of the Hunter and Francois Truffaut's instant classic coming-of-age film The 400 Blows. Not to be out done the Cohen Media adds Ken Loach's (Kes, The Wind that Shakes the Barley) Black Jack to their prestigious Film Collection line.
By: Ryan Michael Painter
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