New on DVD and Blu-Ray this week, heroes and fools and more, as '21 Jump Street,' 'Wrath of the Titans,' 'Bullhead' and 'The Artist' come home ...
One of the funniest -- and most unexpectedly amazing -- comedies of the year, '21 Jump Street' comes home in grand fashion, as Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill's unlikely team-up as cops back to high school to go undercover to break up a drug-smuggling ring. Future generations will look back at this as when Tatum seized showbusiness by the neck before taking total control of it; it's a breakout part for him, while directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller demonstrate both crazed comedy instincts and serious filmmaking skills. The Blu-ray and DVD both include cast and filmmaker comedy, plus deleted scenes and other making-of material, but I assure you, the film alone -- funny, knowing, and a re-tread of an 80's TV show that knows exactly what it is -- is worth watching.
Nothing less -- and nothing more -- than two-odd hours of Dungeons and Dragons-inspired van art, this sequel to "Clash of the Titans" is loaded with effects, mythology and -- perhaps most importantly -- A-list actors hamming it up to an insane degree as Sam Worthington returns to rescue the gods from more of the kinds of problems you have to solve in a fantasy epic like this. The blu-ray looks stunning, and the special features are lovely; I just wish there were something on the disc that rationalized why this film even exists in the wake of 'Clash''s failure to impress either artistically or financially.
The Weinstein Co.
Winner of a remarkably dull 2012 Oscar race, 'The Artist' may have been perfectly calculated to go up the middle with the Academy through an appeal to their old-timey sensibilities and old-time age demographic. Jean Dujardin stars as a silent film star thrown off 1920's Hollywood's Mount Olympus by the arrival of sound … who just might help it back into showbiz with the help of the protege who eclipsed him, Bernice Bejo. Your parents will love 'The Artist' -- it's a cover version of a classic silent film more than it is a faithful representation -- but it's hard to argue with the charm and sheer star-power thrown off by Dujardin and Bejo as they try to win you over the old-fashioned way.
A surprise Best Foreign Film nominee last year -- considering its gritty, grimy power -- 'Bullhead' is a great combination of family drama and crime film, both with a modern twist. Jacky (Matthias Schoaenaerts) is a middleman for a crime ring -- the "hormone Mafia," dedicated to using steroids and drugs to make livestock grow faster and get to market sooner, if not legally or safely … but Matthias has his own reasons linking him to the shadowy world of illegal hormones, and his own secrets even as the cops are getting closer. Beautifully written and directed, 'Bullhead' is one of the standout films from last year.