New on DVD, Blu-Ray and On-Demand this week: 'Underworld: Awakening' will wake fans up, while 'the Vow' is all set for snuggie-clad date night viewing. Vampires, amnesia and a cult comedy full of kool-aid colors and poisonous strangeness all come home this week!
After four films, the vampires vs. werewolves saga 'Underworld' has had to grow more and more convoluted just to keep the, ahem, blood moving in its veins. (Some vampires are even against some other vampires! There are vampire-werewolf hybrids! The last film was in the distant past, this one is set in the near future!) In many ways, the presence of series mainstay Kate Beckinsale -- Rhona Mitra took her place in the last film, a switcheroo that did very little good for either Ms. Beckinsale, Ms. Mitra or the audience -- is actually comforting here, as Beckinsale puts on outfits as tight as the writing is loose and dispatches all attackers in a series of blueish, blackish and blue-black looking shots. While fans will find it an agreeable way to spend, say, a plane ride or a dental cleaning, catching up with the first films is neither required (or recommended) before "enjoying" 'Underworld: Awakening' and its plethora of making-of material including, yes, a blooper reel.
So entirely designed to rip-off Nicholas Sparks adaptations like 'The Notebook' and 'Dear John,' this based-on-a-true-tale romance had people thinking it was, in fact, a Nicholas Sparks adaptation -- ah, imitation, the sincerest form of marketing -- this tearjerker works only about as well as stars Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams do. Which is to say, when you're watching them do stuff around the plot -- where McAdams loses all memory of her marriage to Tatum and he has to patiently-but-broodingly win her back -- that's actually more interesting than watching them actually work the plot itself. Soapy, super-sincere and made for 'date night' viewing, 'The Vow' is less broken than it is merely bland.
What does it mean when a film makes you crazy -- and yet, a few weeks later, thinking about it still makes you laugh? A low-budget, low-concept affair from cult comedians Eric Wareheim and Tim Heidecker, best (if barely) known for their work on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, 'Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie' sees the two blow the title sum of money making an unwatchable film and then retreating to take over a failing mall (whose management and staff include Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Will Forte) in the mistaken belief they can earn the sum back with a minimum of work. There's cashflow problems and cults and cameos (including one from Jeff Goldblum that's bizarre and wonderful), and while it's more for devoted fans than first-time watchers, there's still something odd and different and gleefully low-budget and perverse about 'Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie'; If I have to choose between Wareheim and Heidecker's low-cost craziness and, say, millions wasted to have Adam Sandler play his own sister, I know which I'm going to take.
Next week: Liam Neeson takes on nature in 'The Grey,' and sci-fi found footage in 'Chronicle.'