New to DVD and Blu-ray: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ Muppets and ‘Your Sister’s Sister’
New on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming this week, new-school superheroics, two Holiday treats and the complications of love.
Re-booting -- or, rather, protecting the copyright on -- the Spider-Man saga for Sony, 'The Amazing Spider-Man' plays grimmer and grittier and more generically than Sam Raimi's brighter, lighter efforts. I don't think I'm alone in saying that the Raimi take was better than Marc Webb's dour, darker Nolan-influenced vision. About the only time the film comes alive is when Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are doing light comedy; the rest of it is a muddle of CGI and plot complications, with Rhys Ifans either under-written or wholly absent as the bad guy The Lizard. There's loads of special features -- including a "second screen" where you can pull up making-of info on your tablet while you watch -- but as 'The Amazing Spider-Man' plays with the look and feel of a night of programming on The CW, you can find yourself wishing more attention was paid to the first screen and the movie itself more than the second screen and other attendant gimmicks.
Directed by Lynne Shelton, 'Your Sister's Sister' sees Emily Blunt offer her family's isolated cabin to her friend Mark Duplass, heartbroken a year after his brother's death; what Blunt doesn't know is that her sister, Rosmarie DeWitt, is already at the cabin doing a little rest-and-recovery of her own. Add a little booze -- and a little too much honesty -- and everyone's friendships and loyalties get stretched and strained in strange directions. Combining beautiful vistas with intimate conversation, 'Your Sister's Sister' is a funny, heartfelt film that's well worth seeing even without the full, funny and fascinating commentary from Shelton and Duplass on the disc.
Bold, bright and British -- very British -- this new-school holiday family saga follows the adventures of the title character, Santa's youngest son (James McAvoy), who takes it upon himself to correct a minor present-delivery error caused by his number-crunching older sibling Steve (Hugh Laurie). Arthur's heart is in the right place, but when you're delivering billions of presents on one night, even well-intentioned changes have consequences. The voice cast is sterling -- including Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton -- and the mix of Christmas cheer, family drama and farcical comedy will entertain kids easily able to sympathize with Arthur's challenges.
'The Muppet Christmas Carol'
Released as a 20th anniversary edition -- gulp -- this Blu-ray of one of the finer Muppet films works like a charm. The extras are substantial -- commentary by makers and Muppets, interviews, blooper reels and funny bits, all in the classic Muppet style -- but the movie's also worth celebrating, too. In an (ahem) liberal re-imagining of the Charles Dickens classic, Michael Caine stars as Scrooge, while Muppets make up the rest of the cast, including Gonzo subbing in for Charles Dickens. The movie's fast, fun and covered in fake fur -- and yet, Caine's work as Scrooge is completely invested regardless of what species his co-stars are, and he makes for a heck of a Scrooge.