New to DVD and Blu-ray: ‘Ted,’ ‘The Bourne Legacy’ and Another ‘Ice Age’
New on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming this week: 'Bourne' is back, 'Ice Age: Continental Drift' tries to keep a franchise warm, plus the raucous comedy of Seth MacFarlane's 'Ted' and Christopher Nolan's first film 'Following' gets the Criterion treatment.
When is a franchise not a franchise? Replacing Matt Damon's Jason Bourne with Jeremy Renner's Aaron Cross, this action film weaves between the first few Bourne movies, as similar super-spy Cross gets in the glue and goes on the run. The direction is by Tony Gilroy -- who was part of the writing team on the first three Bourne books -- and the action is just as lean, mean and pared-down as it was for Damon's Bourne. Rachael Weisz is good as a scientist who knows Cross' secrets, and Edward Norton is silky smooth as a bad guy who actually thinks he's not just a good guy but the best guy. The Blu-ray includes extensive making-of supplements, as well, and the picture and sound are superb. You do miss Damon, but Renner makes for an agreeably motivated and accomplished protagonist.
How many 'Ice Age' films have there been, now? 20? 50? Oh, just four -- and this latest, 'Ice Age: Continental Drift,' may be reaching close to the end of the barrel for the adventures of Manny, Sid and Diego, but it'll still entertain your kids. The plot puts our heroic mammals aboard an iceberg and opposite wacky pirates, but it's really the comedy byplay between Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary -- as a laid-back mastodon, a goofy sloth and a terse, tough-talking tiger, respectively -- that makes these films enjoyable. The extras include plenty of material for kids -- including painting simulators, sing-along sequences and a picture-on-picture interactive 'Party with a Pirate' mode, all sure to entertain your kids while they slowly, inexorably, drive you insane.
Seth MacFarlane made his live-action debut with 'Ted' and while it's plot may bear more than a little resemblance to his animated shows 'Family Guy' and 'American Dad' and 'The Cleveland Show' -- incongruously smart/tough animal/character who shouldn't speak does, with complications ensuing -- it's still fun. The plot begins as a young boy's Christmas gift toy bear comes to life as a magic wish; fast-forward a few decades, though, and the bear and the boy-man are still pals, ripping bong hits and generally not growing up. Mark Wahlberg is great as Ted's oldest and only friend, and MacFarlane doesn't do too badly as the voice of the CGI-animated Ted, either; the disc is full of material about how the film tackled trickier technical challenges, as well as commentary and an unrated cut.
It seems impossible to imagine now that his 'Batman' films and 'Inception' have set the bar for big-budget, big-screen action films, but at one point, Christopher Nolan had to ask the actors for his first film 'Following' to promise not to leave town or cut their hair for over a year because he could only shoot on weekends. ... Unfolding in 70 minutes with the swift slash of a blade, 'Following' is the story of a young would-be writer who follows random people in London's streets for inspiration... and finds that his random path may not be so random. This Criterion edition of the film has been restored in a transfer approved by Nolan himself, and he also provides a commentary track. 'Following' is a two-level pleasure -- a cracklingly good indie crime tale that also works as a great way to see how the work and career of a major director began.