Laserblast Home Video, July 27: Clash of the Titans, Repo Men

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Tuesday, July 27 sees 20-something horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles released on DVD, Blu-ray, and/or Video on Demand, including two high-profile (if not necessarily high-quality) theatrical films and some classic/cult movies repackaged with collectible t-shirts (gotta find some excuse to keep re-issuing those public domain titles!). The 800,000 ton kraken this week is Warner Brothers’ release of CLASH OF THE TITANS, starring Sam Worthington. Fans have their choice of the VOD rental/purchase, a DVD, and a combo pack containing Blu-ray, DVD and a digital copy. Although not a critical favorite (in part because of an unsatisfactory 3-D face lift added in post-production), this remake is actually an improvement over the 1981 Ray Harryhausen original, with a good central idea, decent characterizations and performances, and updated special effects. Like the later JONAH HEX, CLASH OF THE TITANS went through extensive editorial revisions, including the shooting of additional footage. (In the original scenario, Zeus remains a villain throughout, and the lesser gods help Perseus to thwart his plans; the theatrical version gives Zeus a change of heart after he realizes he is being played by Hades.) The DVD bonus features include deleted scenes, which should give some idea of what was originally intended. The Blu-ray also includes the additional scenes, plus an alternate ending, in which Perseus confronts Zeus on Mount Olympus. Other Blu-ray bonus features:

  • Sam Worthington: An Action Hero for the Ages: a featurette on the star
  • Harnessing the Gods: Maximum Movie Mode: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and director Louis Leterrier offer scene breakdowns,  VFX breakdowns, vignettes, and a look at locations, stunt work, and the Kraken, the Scorpiochs, Medusa.
  • BD-Live enabled

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Also arriving on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD this week is REPO MAN, the rather dismal tale of futuristic collectors who retrieve artificial organs from recipients who cannot keep up with their payments. Bonus features on the DVD and Blu-ray disc include:

  • DELETED SCENES with optional commentary with Director Miguel Sapochnik and Writers Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner.
  • UNION COMMERCIALS: See the unique Union commercials used in the film in their entirety.
  • INSIDE THE VISUAL EFFECTS: Get an “insider’s” look at the unique visual effects used in the film.
  • FEATURE COMMENTARY: Director Miguel Sapochnik and writers Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner offer their insights into the film.

Bonus features exclusive to the Blu-ray disc include:

  • BD-LIVE™: Access the BD-Live™ Center through your Internet-connected player to get even more content, watch the latest trailers and more!
  • MY SCENES: Bookmark your favorite scenes from the movie.
  • Pocket BLU™: USHE’s groundbreaking pocket BLU app uses iPhone™, iPod® touch, iPad™ BlackBerry®, Android™, PC, Mac and other devices to work seamlessly with a network-connected Blu-ray(TM) player and offers advanced features such as:
  • Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray™ player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Live™ functions with ease.
  • Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the movie.
  • Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content to enjoy on the go, anytime, anywhere.
  • Browse Titles: Users will have access to a complete list of pocket BLU™-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-ray™ Hi-Def. They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
  • Keyboard: Enter data into a Blu-ray player with your device’s easy and intuitive keyboard.
  • Social BLU™: Connect with friends on your favorite social networks to share information about your favorite movies, enjoy Blu-ray™ community features and more!
  • U-Control™: Universal’s exclusive feature that lets the viewer access bonus materials without leaving the movie!

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The animated BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD arrives in almost more iterations than you can count: VOD for rent and purchase, single-disc DVD, double-disc special edition DVD, and Blu-ray disc; the double-disc DVD and Blu-ray are also available (exclusive from Amazon.com) with a limited edition litho cel.
Fans of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD may be interested in the new DVD of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED. This is a sort of artsy experiment, in which different animators were invited to recreate sequences of the 1968 horror film.
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Kaiju fans may want to check out DEATH KAPPA, a new Japanese monster movie from th creators of TOKYO GORE POLICE. The story takes the Kappa (legendary Yokai monsters from Japanese folklore) and adds an atomic twist to create a modern monstrosity in the Godzilla mold. The film is available in DVD and Blu-ray from Tokyo Shock Cinema.
If you’re into Italian imports from the gory, glory days of the 1970s, you may want to pull out your vomit bag in preparation for BEYOND THE DARKNESS: BUIO OMEGA. This 1979 Italian voodoo thriller from Joe D’Amato, known as BURIED ALIVE in the U.S., features a score by Goblin.
Synergy Entertainment offers up three old titles on DVD, packaged with collectible t-shirts, featuring reproductions of the original poster art: METROPOLIS, ATOM AGE VAMPIRE, and ATOMIC BRAIN. Each shirt is available in large and extra-large. By the way, the version of METROPOLIS is one of the old, previously available cuts of the film, not the newly restored one currently circulating in art house theatres.
The week’s other releases include:

  • STARGATE UNIVERSE SG-U 1.5 on DVD
  • A new Blu-ray disc of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON
  • PUPPET MASTER AXIS OF EVIL on DVD and Blu-ray
  • CRACK IN THE WORLD, starring Dana Andrews, the DVD
  • SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH: THE COMPLETE SERIES on DVD
  • BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: SEASON THREE on Blu-ray
  • Ray Bradbury’s CRYSALIS on DVD
  • HELL GIRL: THE TWO MIRRORS, a two-piece DVD set
  • THE DEAD MATTER on DVD and 3-disc deluxe edition
  • THE BURNT HOUSE on Blu-ray

[serialposts]

Repo Men (2010)

Repo Men (2010)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I should have completed this review week’s ago, but the film simply made my brain hurt too much; I had to take a long break before returning to finish this write-up.

It’s sometime in the future, and guess what? The future sucks. Surprise, surprise: a heartless, profit-driven corporation sells artificial organs to people who cannot afford them and, when clients fall behind on their payments, sends licensed hit men to reclaim the property (called “artiforgs”) . But that’s not the part that sucks. No, the part that really sucks is that everybody in this future is so freakin’ stupid that they don’t deserve to live – let alone occupy two hours of our time in the theatre – and yet there they are, up on the screen, big as life, acting as though what they do makes sense.
Where to start? Well, let’s start with the evil corporation, led by Frank (Liev Schreiber), who in an intriguing throw-away line says he doesn’t want his top repo man Remy (Jude Law) scaring the customers, because then they will pay in full immediately instead of in installments with interest, the latter of which is more profitable. At first the idea seems to make sense, in a devious kind of way: jack up the selling price so that the long-term plan is the only viable alternative, forcing customers to pay exorbitant interest rates for years if not decades. However, this profit-optimization scheme works only if the customers continue making payments. The mathematical calculus breaks down if customers are continuously defaulting – which certainly seems to be the case here. I’m willing to grant that the the plot, by its very nature, will not introduce us to many paying customers, but we never see any, leaving us to wonder whether Frank’s scheme is deliberately designed to make everyone default. Does Frank’s balance sheet really show more black ink if the company routinely retrieves used organs after a few payments, instead of receiving a one-time check for $650,000?
And how about those customers? The sign up; they don’t pay, and yet each and every one of them seems surprised when Remy shows up. Either they go about their lives like normal, doing nothing to avoid the inevitable, or they conveniently gather together in groups so that the repo men can easily score lots of repossessed organs with relatively little footwork.
And how about those repo men? Remy’s partner Jake (Forest Whitaker) opts to score a victim outside Remy’s house – during an afternoon barbecue, no less – with Remy’s approval if not active participation. And both of them seem surprised when this brilliant plan leaves Remy’s wife understandably furious that her husband’s job has come both figuratively and literally to her doorstep – leaving a trail of blood, no less.
And how about that wife? Carol (Carice Van Houten) wants Remy to phase out of the repo end of the business and move into the company’s sales division, as if the ethics of the job are of less concern than the messy mechanics. When Remy gives up repossession after a job goes wrong, putting him in the hospital and leaving him with a company-owned artiforg heart, Carol throws him out of the house anyway, claiming he made his decision when he went out on that last job. The operative word here is “last,” as in: he was about to transition to sales, just the way she wanted.
And all of this happens in a world that barely seems to notice. I’d be further willing to allow that, as long as the repo men were low key and their activities were relatively infrequent, this kind of thing could go on relatively below the radar. However, we’re seeing an absolute epidemic of defaults. And even if the activities were legal in regards to customers, that still leaves the question of collateral damage (Remy tases one customer’s girlfriend, who is never seen again, leaving us to wonder why she doesn’t file charges, or at least a lawsuit).
Incredibly, all of this is only the tip of the idiocy iceberg, which only full emerges in the last reel, when the full-on silliness erupts across the screen with enough force to make what preceded seem almost logical by comparison. Things get so ridiculous that the filmmakers themselves seem embarrassed, resorting to a lame surprise ending (lifted from BRAZIL) that is intended to wipe away the nonsense but only manages to be even more ridiculous than what it replaces. (Sorry if this sounds like a spoiler, but truth be told, there is no way to spoil something so rotten in the first place.)
I could go on and on, outlining each and every intelligenc-insulting moment, but I intend to be kinder to you, dear reader, than the film was to me…
If there is a redeeming element to REPO MEN, it is the performances of Law, Whitaker, and Schreiber. Although the story is too ridiculous for them to perform up to their best levels, they all manage to infuse a sense of credibility to their characters, even when the screenplay is forcing them to do incredible things. For example, Remy’s reclamation of an organ from a musician whose work he respects actually evokes a twinge of emotion, even though you wonder whether his boss’s ever worry about conflict of interest. But then you realize they don’t: when Remy goes rogue, Schreiber’s character sends Remy’s best friend after him, and as unlikely as this is, Whitaker almost sells it.
The essential idea of a tough man in an immoral job, forced by circumstances to re-evaluate his life’s work, is a strong one, and presumably a good movie could have been made from it. Unfortunately, REPO MEN shirks the dramatic change-of-heart, taking it for granted instead of exploring it dramatically, emphasizing mindless action at the expense of story-telling. Too bad we can’t repossess this idea and install it into a good movie.

Remy (Jude Law) gets blasted by a faulty defribrilator.
Remy (Jude Law) gets blasted by a faulty defribrilator.

REPO MEN(March 19, 2010). Directed by Miguel Sapochnik. Screenplay by Eric Garcia & Garret Lernier, based on Garcia’s novel The Repossession Mambo. Cast: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Lieve Schreiber, Alice Braga, Carice van Houten, Chanlder Canterbury, Joe Pingue, Tiffany Espensen, Yvette Nicole Brown, RZA.
[serialposts]

Repo Men: Cinefantastique Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction Podcast V1:N6

Remy (Jude Law) gets blasted by a faulty defribrilator.
Remy (Jude Law) gets blasted by a faulty defribrilator.

This week’s topic is REPO MEN, the new science fiction film starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker as company agents who retrieve artificial organs from donor recipients unable to pay for the price of a new heart. Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski also discuss the week’s top news stories, offer random recommendations of horror, fantasy, and science fiction films worth checking out, and preview the week’s home video releases.

[serialposts]

Forest Whitaker on Repo Men

The Los Angeles Times interviews actor Forest Whitaker about his role in REPO MAN. Whitaker, who has a black belt in karate, enjoys the chance at a rare action role, but says he was ultimately drawn by the science fiction themes in the story:

The whole concept of ‘What do you own?’ — we should at least be able to own ourselves,” he says. “This whole concept of healthcare [taken to the extreme] — how much will we do? In this case, we’re giving people parts that save their lives, but ultimately we feel we own them.”
The film was made nearly three years ago but could hardly be more timely, echoing the recent sub-prime meltdown and current healthcare reform debate.
“Yes, it touches on both,” Whitaker notes. “Being overextended — the company’s desire to not be paid back. This is shown with real clarity in the film, when Remy’s forced to live the life they want him to live in order to make payments. In some ways, it becomes a life of slavery.”