New to DVD and Blu-ray: ‘Savages,’ Ben Stiller’s ‘Watch’-ful Eye, and Pixar’s Latest
New on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming this week, suburban strangeness, 'Savages' a la Stone, Scottish family fun and a classic on Blu-ray. …
For anyone worried Oliver Stone was getting too respectable with dramas like 'W.' and 'World Trade Center,' the sun-scorched, over-cut, hyper-edited 'Savages' will wipe away that concern, along with all other rational thought. Based on the novel by Don Winslow, Stone directs Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch as perfectly civilized marijuana kingpins in Laguna Beach, CA, who have to swim into the deep end when a Mexican cartel wants to take their operation over. This being Stone -- and especially in the unrated cut on this disc -- the blood flows fast and furious, with a grim sense of humor that can't quite hold up the clichés and excesses of the script. The sprawling cast includes Salma Hayek as a drug Queenpin, Benicio Del Toro as her enforcer, John Travolta as a lightly bent DEA man and Blake Lively as the woman Johnson and Kitsch love. The extras are extensive -- deleted scenes, making-of material and commentaries -- but the film itself is more a curiosity than a must-see.
For some strange reason, this perfectly adequate comedy got more critical dislike than it deserved; with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade, 'The Watch' sees our funny foursome form a Neighborhood Watch group for various imperfect reasons -- and find themselves then pitted against an alien invasion that's touching down in the seemingly-safe Ohio suburbs. The Blu-ray has deleted scenes, a gag reel and making-of material; considering how few people caught this in the theaters, this release may give viewers the chance to check out its moderate laughs at a more moderate cost.
I'll spare you the rapturous raves for how Pixar-Disney's animators clearly made great advances in the computer-generation of hair for Merida, the plucky female lead in this Scottish-set animated film. (Still: They did.) It's too bad that that level of effort and endeavor wasn't applied to the actual film. The voice cast (including Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson) is all sterling, even if the story and dialogue is more copper plate. The visuals are wonderful, too, and the disc has a mix of materials for kids and the more grown-up among the audience. Just don't be surprised if your kids are far more enthralled than you are, which is often the case in children's film, but not what you'd expect from Pixar.
Restored and re-released, this classic earns its status a thousand times over -- put aside its history and merely watch it as a hell of a film, and you'll be bowled over. Peter O'Toole is T.E. Lawrence -- British soldier, explorer, diplomat and might-be-madman -- and an officer who turns his missions of war into a much more complex vision of peace. With a legendary leading-man turn from O'Toole in the title role, David Lean's epic is a portrait of power, war and hubris -- and the shot-on-70-millimeter-cameras cinematography astonishes and amazes in high definition. Again, this film may be a "classic" -- but take it down from the shelf, knock the dust off it and actually watch it, and you'll understand precisely how it earned that legendary acclaim.