A film about friendships, Bridesmaids centres around Annie (Kristen Wiig) a late-thirty something whose recently-engaged best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) has asked her to be her maid of honour at her upcoming wedding. At the engagement party, Annie meets the rag-tag group of bridesmaids including the cynical cousin Rita (Wendi Mclendon-Covey), the crude sister-in-law Megan (Melissa McCarthy), the vain but beautiful Helen (Rose Byrne). Annie and Rose begin a battle of one-upmanship that continues throughout the course of the movie with the gags and jokes escalating in terms of humour as the film progresses. There’s lots of added humour along the way including an endearing subplot about Annie’s dating life as she chooses between the loveably goofy police office Nathan (Chris O’Dowd) and the attractive womanizer Ted (Jon Hamm).
Ultimately, the ladies are the main attraction of the film as are the bonds of friendship that evolve as time goes by. Kristen Wiig is great in her first starring role as Annie who is an incredibly likeable and realistic character. Goofy and fun, Annie is the sort of person you want to be friends with, as is Maya Rudolph’s character Lillian. Their real-life friendship that began while the actresses spent time together on Saturday Night Live is apparent on-screen. Rose Byrne is an utter delight as the uptight Helen, and it is refreshing to see her in an expanded comedy role after her knock-out performance in Get Him to the Greek. The actress is more recognized for appearing in dramas like TV’s Damages, and the movies Insidious and X-Men: First Class.
It’s hard to single out a star performer in the film since the entire ensemble cast brings their “A” game, but the scene-stealer of the film has to be Melissa McCarthy. The recent Emmy Winner for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work in the sitcom Mike & Molly, elicits huge laughs every time she is on screen.
A laugh-out-loud comedy, Bridesmaids is the perfect film for a girls’ night in, but it’s also one that men will enjoy since it rarely dips into sappy rom-com territory. The film has enough of producer Judd Apatow’s signature humour a la Knocked Up that there’s something funny for everyone .
Also new to DVD & Blu-ray this week:
It has been called the greatest film ever made. Orson Welles’ first feature film Citizen Kane (1941) regularly tops film critics’ lists of the best movies ever made in part to its innovative narrative structure and stunning cinematography. In honour of the film’s 70th anniversary, Warner Brothers has released a brand new remastered Citizen Kane box set. Available for the first time in spectacular high-definition on Blu-ray, the Ultimate Collector’s Edition is packed for of extra features and bonus materials, and is also available on DVD- and we’re giving you a chance to win your very own copy!
When on his deathbed, former media magnate Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) uses his dying breath to utter the cryptic “Rosebud,” his death becomes a worldwide media sensation. An intrepid reporter Jerry Thomson (William Alland) delves into the story and attempts to find out more about Kane’s private life and seek meaning in his last word. Flashbacks to Kane’s childhood, his rise to power, and crumbling marriage and subsequent affair with untalented opera singer Susan Alexander make up the bulk of the film’s intriguing storyline.
Restored from the original nitrate elements and remastered on Blu-ray in dazzling 1080p HD, the picture and sound quality is stunning. This brand new Ultimate Collector’s Edition is chock-full of amazing extras in addition to the film including separate audio commentaries by film critic Roger Ebert and director Peter Bogdanovich, original newsreel and more. The box sets comes with bonus DVDs of the 1995 Oscar-nominated documentary The Battle over Citizen Kane, documenting the clash between Welles and William Randolph Hearst whose life Charles Foster Kane closely resembles. The battle between Welles and Heart was documented in the 1999 HBO film RKO 281 which is also included in the Citizen Kane Ultimate Collector’s Edition.
A beautiful 20-page reproduction of the film’s original souvenir program is also included as is 10 reproductions of studio memos and correspondence between Welles and studio executives, contracts between RKP Pictures and actors Agnes Moorehead and Joseph Cotton, and a pre-filming budget estimate sheet which calculates the total estimated budget of the film at $1,082,798 (The film’s actual budget is estimated to have been around $839,727 according to the American Film Institute). Beautiful lobby card reproductions are nicely packed in a “Rosebud” keep-sake folder in addition to a spectacular 48-page book on Orson Welles and Citizen Kane including photos, storyboards and behind-the-scenes information.
Citizen Kane is a must-own film for every movie fan and this stunning box set makes a great gift for the cinephile in your life.
To celebrate the release of the film, we’ve got two amazing Citizen Kane prizes up for grabs! The grand prize package includes one framed Citizen Kane movie poster and a copy of the Ultimate Collector’s Edition on DVD or Blu-ray. Secondary prize is one copy of the Ultimate Collector’s Edition on DVD or Blu-ray.
Visit the Citizen Kane Shop to enter today for your chance to win one of two amazing prize packages. One entry per person, contest closes October 5, 2011.*
*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Online contest begins at 10:00:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 and closes at 12:00:00 p.m. EST on October 5, 2011. Open to age of majority, legal residents of Canada (excluding Quebec). Limit one entry per person. There are two (2) Citizen Kane prize packages available to be won (each a “Prize Package”) consisting of one (1) Grand Prize, and one (1) Secondary Prize. Approximate retail value Grand Prize Package is $165 Cdn. Dollars, Secondary Prize Package approximate retail value $64.99. Must correctly answer, unaided, a mathematical skill testing question to be confirmed a winner and satisfy other winner confirmation requirements. Odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible entries received during Contest Period. See Official Rules for full details.
The Good Heart was a Toronto International Film Festival selection in 2009. An unusual sort of buddy picture, The Good Heart stars Paul Dano as Lucas, a wayward street kid who finds himself at the end of his rope. In the hospital, he has a chance encounter with a lonely, crotchety bar owner Jacques, played by Brian Cox. Both men see the other as a way to fill the void in their lives and provide a much-needed companionship. As Jacques takes Lucas under his wing and teaches him the tricks of his trade, Lucas begins to see new opportunities arise…that is, until the arrival of the lovely April, a flight attendant who is afraid of flying, who leads Lucas to break all the rules of his mentor.
A dark, often comic, and endearing tale of friendship, The Good Heart is independent film at its best. Directed by Iceland’s Dagur Kari, the film pays close attention to detail and the characters and their intricate relationships that are the heart of the story that is so much deeper than your average “odd couple” storyline. Paul Dano lights up the screen with vulnerability as the lad chosen to carry on the legacy of the childless, cantankerous Jacques played with unfailing believability by Brian Cox. The actors so become their characters that their relationship is believable -- Lucas isn’t a charity case taken in by this difficult, ailing man. He’s the crutch the old man needs to go on living and vice versa. The film packs an emotional punch straight to the heart.
Emotions are at the core of the new film Certified Copy by acclaimed Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. The film stars actress Juliette Binoche -- looking radiant on the gorgeous cover of the DVD -- as a French antiques dealer who befriends a British writer James, played by opera singer William Shimell in his first film role. Over the course of a single day, the pair’s relationship undergoes an odd transformation that sees them moving from almost strangers to sharing an intimate bond.
The dialogue drifts between English, French and Italian as the pair discuss everything from art to family relationships. As the film progresses, the writer James and the antiques dealer (whose name is never given) begin to act and speak as a married couple, trading anecdotes, discussing the behaviour of the antiques dealer’s son as if he were their child, and discuss the mundane ordinariness of daily life and routine as a married couple.
Intimate and ambiguous, Binoche won a much-deserved Best Actress Award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival for her performance. The entire movie is a play on the film’s title “Certified Copy” which also happens to be the name of the fictional book James has written which argues that, in the field of art, every reproduction or copy of an original work is in itself a work of art, thus making issues of authenticity irrelevant. Just like the thesis of his book, the idea of a real relationship between the two characters is irrelevant and the truth of whether they are a married couple or not is of no consequence for in the act of pretending to be married, they intrinsically are. Dreamy, and emotional, the film is beautifully set in Tuscany, the film draws accurate comparisons to Roberto Rossellini’s 1954 film Voyage to Italy making it a must-see for fans of cinema.
Has the end of summer got you down? Never fear! There are a lot of great movies making their way to DVD and Blu-ray in the Fall that can keep you company as the weather gets cooler. Check out these highly anticipated releases that are coming soon, and don’t forget to check out the part 1 of the Fall Preview for all the must-see tv shows coming to DVD and Blu-ray this Fall.
Bridesmaids- September 20. The laugh-out-loud comedy hit of the spring is making its way to DVD and DVD/Blu-ray combo pack on September 20th. Ladies get to show just how funny they can be with stand-out performances by Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne. Not to be forgotten are the men of the movie: the smarmy Jon Hamm & the loveable Chris O’Dowd.
Cars 2- November 1. Cars 2 drives on to DVD and Blu-ray this Fall so you can enjoy the round-the-world racing adventures of Lightning McQueen and pals from the comfort of your living room.
The Lion King: Diamond Edition & Lion King 3D- October 4. One of the greatest animated films of all time gets remastered in stunning high-definition in the new Disney Diamond release on DVD and Blu-ray. You can catch The Lion King 3D in theatres this Fall, and bring home the magic in 3D on October 4th in addition to the regular 2D versions.
Jurassic Park- October 25. The fantasy adventure classic makes its debut in stunning high-definition in two incredible box sets this Fall. You can own the complete trilogy on its own, or as part of the Ultimate Collector’s Edition complete with your very own T-Rex statue. The animatronic dinosaurs are still as real and terrifying as they were 18 years ago.
X-Men: First Class- September 6. Even mutants had to start somewhere. X-Men: First Class is the fifth movie in the X-Men franchise and is meant to be the prequel to the earlier films, investigating the origins of the X-Men. A box office and critical hit, X-Men: First Class is an engaging action movie with a solid story.
Incendies- September 13. Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film and multiple Genie Award-winner Incendies is an emotionally gripping Canadian film from director Denis Villeneuve.
Star Wars- September 13. It’s finally here! The one movie fans have been waiting for for years: a high-def, Blu-ray box set of the complete Star Wars Collection. With hours of bonus material and extra content, all 6 Star Wars films are available in one complete collection, or if you prefer, in two separate box sets of Episodes 1 to 3, and Episodes 4 to 6.
Thor- September 13. The Marvel comic superhero smashes his way to DVD and Blu-ray on September 13th. With a sequel already in the works for 2013, Thor stars Chris Hemsworth as the superhero and features a supporting cast that includes Anthony Hopkins and Oscar-winner Natalie Portman in this film directed by Kenneth Branagh…yes, that Kenneth Branagh.
Citizen Kane- September 13. Considered one of the greatest films ever made, Citizen Kane is required viewing for fans of the cinema. In honour of the film’s 70th anniversary, it is hitting Blu-ray in this deluxe collector’s set complete with a 48-page collector’s book, lobby cards, a 20-page reproduction of the original 1941 program, trailers, documentaries on the film, and audio commentaries.
Dumbo- September 20. Also celebrating its 70th anniversary this year is Disney’s fourth animated feature, Dumbo. The heart-warming tale of the circus elephant is restored and remastered for this latest releases on Blue-ray and DVD.
Ben Hur- September 27. Winner of 11 Academy Awards, Ben Hur is also getting the much-deserved special edition box set in the new Blu-ray Ultimate Collector’s Edition. The newly restored and remastered film comes with a new feature-length documentary chronicling the life of Charlton Heston while filming Ben Hur, a 128-page replica of Heston’s filming diary, and an exclusive production art book in addition to other features on the disc.
African Cats- October 4. Perfect for all the cat lovers out there, Disneynature’s African Cats comes to DVD and Blu-ray on October 4th. Shot in stunning high definition, the film makes a great pairing with Disneynature’s two previous films Oceans and Earth.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides- October 18. Jack’s back in the 4th film of the popular Disney Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Load up on more swashbuckling adventures with Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Penelope Cruz in this brand new DVD and Blu-ray combo pack.
There’s a new duo saving the world from domination by an evil mastermind: Phineas Flynn & Ferb Fletcher. The Disney duo are busy with their biggest adventure yet that spans across TWO dimensions as our heroes follow Dr. Doofenshmirtz through his “Otherdimensionator” and into a whole new universe. Based on Disney’s #1 animated hit TV series, Phineas & Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, Phineas & Ferb discover that their scene-stealing pet platypus pal Perry, is actually a secret agent who battles the forces of evil on a daily basis.
Kids will love seeing Phineas & Ferb in their first movie adventure that will have the entire family laughing out loud. But the fun isn’t contained to the movie- the “Ultimate Fan Pack” includes both the DVD of the movie, in addition to a digital copy, and 8 musical tracks from the movie. Plus a “Platypult” Kit. That’s right. A Platypult Kit. That’s a platypus catapult. Of course, since I am just a kid at heart and a huge Disney fan, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this Platypult.
Inside the DVD are kid-friendly step-by-step instructions to create your very own miniature Platypult. The pieces are sturdy and it’s almost impossible to make a mistake when building your Platypult. The Platypult works with mixed results. As much as I hate to admit it, I am an adult and I am neither as quick as I used to be nor are my hands as small as they once were. My giant adult hands and late-20s slowness perhaps makes the Platypult difficult for me, but I have no doubt that when in the small hands of its proper audience, the Platypult will work with great results. Built like a teeter-totter, the Platypult launches small round discs of the characters into the air. Great fun for a Friday at the office, that’s for sure.
Kevin Smith is taking his movie Red State on the road in a cross-Canada promotional screening tour. Hitting up major cities across the country, Smith is doing all of the marketing and promotion for his new film through in-person appearances and social media, including Twitter (@ThatKevinSmith) and his Smodcast podcast. Smith wanted to get rid of the marketing costs and just get out there in-person and sell the film to audiences. At each screening event, Smith follows up the movie by chatting with the audience in a Q&A…which usually lasts longer than the film itself. If you've seen Smith on one of his stand-up tours, you know the director is not one to mince words or limit himself and is known for taking 90 minutes just to answer 3 questions. At his recent Toronto appearance he spoke to the crowd of 700 people for over 2 hours following the movie, answering questions, telling the odd story and offering up anecdotes, in addition to talking about the behind-the-scenes process of bringing Red State to life.
Smith has taken a new approach to filmmaking with Red State, which first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie is unlike any of his previous films, which tend to be dialogue-heavy comedies. This time around, Smith tries his hand at something new—a hybrid thriller/horror—to mixed results. “I wanted to make a movie that wasn’t a ‘Kevin Smith’ movie,” he says. “There’s not much of me in this film; nothing indicative of me and my world. It’s not a horror movie, like Jersey Girl.” Smith’s sense of humour comes across on the film’s poster which states, “An unlikely film from that Kevin Smith.”
Loaded with a cast that includes Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Melissa Leo, John Goodman, Kevin Pollack, and Tarantino-regular Michael Parks, Red State is sometimes messy and often tense as it constantly shocks the viewer with random acts of violence. It’s not a movie for everyone, and Smith is okay with that, stating the film is “The opposite of ‘meh’…it’s designed to unsettle the audience.” He doesn’t care if you love it or hate it, as long as you have an opinion on it. “You can make some people laugh, you can scare, unnerve them…it’s just about pushing different buttons,” Smith says about gauging audience reaction. “It’s a movie, at the end of the day.”
The film draws inspiration from a variety of genres and past films, and the influence the films of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers had on Smith is apparent. Smith suggests his film is an homage to Tarantino by way of the Coen Brothers, and suggests pairing it with Fargo. Smith however, wanted to do Red State without talking to either the Coens or Tarantino. This homage-style of filmmaking is evident in the mash-up of genres within Red State both in story and in technical style. Smith says that this film combines “Everything I’ve learned until now; it’s the sum total of 20 years in one movie.”
The Best of the Worst Movie Vacations
It’s August. Sadly, Summer is halfway over. You may have spent a few nights in a tent by now, been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway trying to get away for the weekend, or maybe you've contracted poison ivy or been covered in bug bites, or you may have passed out from heat stroke...maybe all of the above. Not all summer vacations are picture-perfect. Sometimes they end up looking like the movies…horror movies, that is. But when it's time to pack up the swim gear and dig your sweaters and jackets out of storage and head back to school or work, you'll have the memories of your vacation gone bad that you can hopefully laugh at through the winter months. Speaking from experience, your family will learn to laugh about that time you got lost in the mountains of West Virginia, or that time someone broke into your rental car in Portugal, or when the cat fell through the ceiling of the cottage, or when you got attacked by a wild ape in Gibraltar. Today’s unplanned events are tomorrow’s dinner table topics that the family can reminisce about for years to come.
Hopefully your vacations didn’t end up like these folks' in our list of the Top 10 Vacations Gone Bad:
1) National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
An ill-fated cross-country road trip to Walley World introduced audiences to the Griswold family, who just can’t seem to have a nice relaxing vacation, whether they’re in Europe, Las Vegas, or staying home for the Christmas holidays. In the movie that kicked off the Vacation series, the Griswolds encounter a dead relative, get stranded in the desert, accidentally kill a dog, and try their hand at kidnapping.
2) Deliverance (1972)
Just a regular getaway with the guys, canoeing down the river, exploring mother nature, and soaking in the wilderness…and being terrorized by a band of inbred hillbillies. Not exactly the relaxing vacation the men had in mind. Guesome, sometimes gory, and always terrifying, Deliverance was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Perhaps the most famous scene from the film, The duelling banjos is one of the more gentile, before the trip became a nightmare:
3) The Beach (2000)
A hidden paradise sustained by a utopian community on a remote Thai island isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for backpacker Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio). When the idyllic beach vacation full of romance and respite takes a page out of Lord of the Flies, the film becomes a taut thriller directed by (future) Oscar winner Danny Boyle.
4) EuroTrip (2004)
The Euro-trip. It’s become a rite of passage for many people following that confusing time after graduation where you have to figure out what to do with the rest of your life. What better way to spend the summer than with a group of friends as you have misadventures around Europe in the hopes of meeting up with your German pen pal? Language barriers and foreign customs are the source of many laughs in the film, including a hilarious cameo by Matt Damon.
5) Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)
It’s so exciting to have your work recognized by your boss! Except when he invites you to his beach house to have you murdered. Due to an unexpected chain of events, insurance agency boss Bernie ends up dead while the two low-ranking employees he invited to his beach house are left to their own devices to make it appear that Bernie is still alive, lest they be blamed for his murder… or killed themselves.
6) The Shining (1980)
A working vacation in a secluded location can expose your family to new cultures and experiences and provide a refreshing break from everyday routines. Just make sure you’re not booked into the Overlook Hotel. The Staley Kubrick classic is often called one of the best example of the horror movie genre.
7) Brokedown Palace (1999)
Two girls get caught smuggling drugs in Thailand on their post-grad summer vacation when they are set up by a mysterious stranger. Sentenced to spend more than 30 years in a Thai prison, the girls struggle to maintain their sanity, innocence and friendship.
8) The Great Outdoors (1988)
When the yuppie in-laws crash Chet Ripley’s family vacation at a lakeside resort, it becomes a battle of outwitting and one-upping each other. While John Candy may not have taken very kindly to Dan Akyroyd crashing his family vacation, the result is nothing short of non-stop laughs.
9) A Perfect Getaway (2009)
One of the most surprising thrillers of late, A Perfect Getaway has all the elements of a great vacation film: lush scenery, bikini-clad ladies, shirtless dudes, the sun, the sand, and a spine-tingling mystery.
10) Open Water (2003)
Loosely based on the true story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, two divers who were left adrift in the open waters of the Great Barrier Reef on a dive trip, Open Water is not a film for those afraid of the water. When an erroneous headcount by the dive-boat team mistakenly abandoned the pair of divers under the water, they spend a long night at sea fighting for their survival in shark-filled waters.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water: It’s the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week extravaganza featuring some of the ocean’s deadliest and most feared predators. Now broadcast in over 72 countries, Shark Week has become a worldwide phenomenon. This year’s Shark Week specials are hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Andy Samberg as the specials dive deep into the world of sharks.
Shark Week isn’t just about deadly shark attacks, it’s also about conservation and environmental efforts, education and research. The goal of Shark Week is to give viewers a greater insight and understanding into the world of sharks who often get a bad rap, thanks to their few man-eating relatives. To celebrate Shark Week, we’ve rounded up a collection of Shark Week specials, including the Shark Week 20th Anniversary Collection and the Jaws of Steel Collection from the 22nd season in stunning high definition—it’ll make you feel like you’re in the shark cage with the fearless divers!
Of course, you can’t mention sharks without thinking of the granddaddy of all shark movies: Jaws. The 1975 classic Steven Spielberg film is still as terrifying today as it was over 35 years ago. Just hearing the theme song can give swimmers the chills. Based on the Peter Benchley novel, Jaws was a breakout hit and is considered the first summer blockbuster film, setting the pattern for giant summer movie releases. Jaws regularly appears on lists of the greatest movies ever made precisely for its legendary blockbuster status. Because the film utilized well-crafted animatronics like “Bruce,” the titular mechanical shark, the movie doesn’t suffer from dated special effects. The film was also successful at the Oscars, picking up an award for Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Sound. Jaws would go on to spawn several sequels, none of which matched the terror of the first film or included Steven Spielberg or Peter Benchley as collaborators (plus one splash-filled ride at Universal Studios in Florida & Hollywood).
Want to live every week like its Shark Week? Check out our great selection of shark-related books: from true tales of survival to a kids’ guide to sharks, we’ve got your covered.
What’s bound to be one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters, Cowboys & Aliens hits the big screen just in time for the weekend. Set in 1873 Arizona, Daniel Craig plays a mysterious stranger named Jake Lonergan who, it turns out, isn’t quite welcomed into town by Colonel Dollarhyde, played by Harrison Ford. When aliens spacecrafts launch an attack on the town, the two enemies must become a team and fight the alien invasion together. Cowboys & Aliens blends two genres into one film in this adaptation of the 2006 graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. The film is a thrilling adventure that also just happens to pit Indiana Jones against James Bond.
Will the cowboys' sunning ways and knowledge of the landscape help them thwart the space invaders? Or will the superior technology of the alien race wipe out the quaint men on horseback?
With the battle raging on the big screen, take a peek at our top 5 alien movies and the top 5 cowboy movies. Which type of film do you prefer? May the best man…or little green man…win.
Unforgiven (1992) Winner of 4 Academy Awards, Unforgiven is a dark and brutal Western with stellar performances from Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris and Morgan Freeman. It is the third Western to win an Oscar for Best Picture.
The Searchers (1956) You can’t talk about cowboys without mentioning the greatest cowboy of all time: John Wayne. Directed by John Ford, the film follows a Civil War vet across the Texas wilderness in search of his abducted niece. The American Film Institute (AFI) named it the “Greatest American Western of All Time” in 2008.
3:10 to Yuma (2007) A remake of the 1957 film based on the Elmore Leonard short story, 3:10 to Yuma stars Oscar winners Christian Bale and as an impoverished rancher and Russell Crowe as an outlaw who embark on an intense battle of wills.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966) An epic “Spaghetti Western” directed by Italian Sergio Leone, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly stars Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach as gunslingers searching for gold. It may have been filmed in Italy, but there’s still plenty of Wild West action, chaos, and gunfights. Ennio Morricone provided the famous musical score.
Shane (1953) Based on the 1949 novel by Jack Schaefer, the titular lone cowboy Shane (Alan Ladd) drifts into town and finds himself caught in a conflict between a homesteader and a cattle baron. The film’s famous last scene shows the gunslinger retreating on his horse into the setting sun as a boy pleads for him to “come back.”
Aliens (1986) More of an action-adventure film as opposed to the original horror film Alien, it’s sequel has bigger, badder aliens, and a tough-as-nails Ellen Ripley, the mother of all female action heroes. These aliens are scary, deadly, and intent on surviving for numerous film sequels.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) The beloved Steven Spielberg film shows the softer side of outer space. If aliens were all a kinder, gentler beings, movies would be a lot less interesting.
District 9 (2009) A South African science-fiction thriller, the film relies on the theme of segregation during the Apartheid era…except this time, the segregated beings are an aliens that have been living in a slum-like neighbourhood since their spaceship stalled in 1982. The film is a funny, action-filled movie that has quite a few touching moments.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) Close Encounters is just one of many Steven Spielberg movies about aliens. After a UFO encounter, Roy (Richard Dreyfuss) is drawn to an isolated area where he—and the government—expect something big to happen.
Mars Attacks! (1996) Tim Burton has some fun with some literal little green men from outer space as they land on Earth with a resounding “Ack! Ack!” The movie is an over-the-top satire with an all-star cast that includes Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Glenn Close, Jack Nicholson, and Natalie Portman, just to name a few of the famous faces in comic roles. Despite the big Hollywood actors in the film, it is the Martians that steal the show.
Movies have long been inspired from books, real people, events, and on occasion, video games…some much more questionable than others. This week, Kids blogger Josh Fehrens pits the original video game against its spin-off movie in a head-to-head battle. Not to be left out, I’m taking a look at the video games inspired by movies. It’s an epic throwdown that pits game versus cinema. May the best format win.
Back when I was a kid, the only dinosaurs were the Brontosaurus, the T-Rex, and the Triceratops. Along came Jurassic Park in 1993 to introduce the deadly Velociraptors and the chirping poisonous Dilophosaurus to the non-palaeontologists of the world. Part of what makes Jurassic Park so fun is to see these prehistoric creatures brought back to life to eat lawyers, tease hunters, and terrorize small children. The movie has remained an action-film staple for so long because it has aged so well; for the most part, there’s no dated-looking green screens or computer animated dinosaurs. The use of animatronics make those dinosaurs just as real and terrifying as they were 18 years ago (yes, that’s right. Jurassic Park is 18 years old). Sadly, the same can’t be said of the Jurassic Park Sega Genesis game. Clunky graphics and a flat game world make it kind of laughable in today’s world of Kinect and Wii. The game does score huge points for letting you play as either Dr. Alan Grant or a Velociraptor...and playing the game as a man-eating dinosaur is pretty cool. Get tired of being chased by dinosaurs? Flip the game around and become the hunter, chasing down your human prey. Plus it has an awesome soundtrack. Bonus points for the T-Rex who growls out “Sega” when the game loads.
Winner: The movie.
Good comic book adaptations are hard to find. For every Superman, you have a dozen Catwomans. The Green Lantern movie has more in common with the feline supervillain than with the man of steel, despite the presence of hunk Ryan Reynolds. The movie received some of the worst reviews of the year thus far, but luckily enough the video game fares slighter better. With great graphics and 3D visuals for 3D TVs or with the 3D glasses (included in the Playstation and Xbox 360 packages for use on regular TV sets), Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters edges out the movie in a battle of which Green Lantern is worth your time.
Winner: The game.
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1
Sigh. It’s coming…Life after Harry Potter. It’s about to get less magical around here. Maybe I am in denial, but I think the best cure for the Hogwarts blues is to re-live the magic on DVD and in role-playing video game form. Deathly Hallows Part 1 begins the epic conclusion of the series as the wizarding gang begins their search for Horcruxes so they can finally attempt to destroy Voldemort in human form. It’s the darkest film yet as it paves the way for the grand finale in theatres July 15th. However the Wii game acts like someone put a Confundus charm on it: clunky, buggy, and boring, the Wii game doesn’t live up to the film’s legacy, or even its Potter Wii game predecessors. Voldemort sounds like a fish & chips seller on a street corner in 19th century London instead of the evilest wizard to walk the Potter universe. Gameplay is akin to suffering under the Cruciatus curse…where is that Jurassic Park raptor when you need him?
Winner: The movie.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Ever wish the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were acted out by LEGO actors? Now you don’t have to! In the Disney ride-turned movie franchise-turned video game, The Pirates of the Caribbean LEGO game is the closest you’ll get to being Jack Sparrow…or a LEGO man. Based on all 4 films, the LEGO Pirates game uses key storylines from all four films, throwing the player into the action. The most boring scenes are made awesome thanks to great graphics PLUS you get the chance to ride LEGO goats around Davy Jones’ Locker from the third film. The game is based on collecting objects and solving puzzles all to the original soundtrack from the movies. Sure, Johnny Depp is fun as the swashbuckling anti-hero, but who can resist LEGO men?
Winner: The Game.
There comes a time in every little girl’s life when she dreams of being a princess…or having really, really, really long hair. Now she can have both, in the Tangled video game. This kid-friendly and parent-approved video game combines all the fun, adventure, and slapstick humour from the Disney movie, mixing in an escapade-filled role-playing game with cartoon action aimed at a young audience. Of course, the boys aren’t forgotten either—much like the movie, the game appeals to both boys and girls as kids can choose to play as Rapunzel or Flynn. The game is a puzzle/adventure game filled with problem-solving and team-work. The game follows the same trajectory as the movie, so kids who love the movie will be delighted by this game.
The Verdict: Good movies don’t always make good video games, but sometimes bad movies make better games. For some reason, bad movies often have spin-off games: Thor, Cars 2, Transformers, and so on. While there’s a lot of games that didn’t get to battle it out in the throwdown, I’d like to think that great movies belong on the big screen and not in a video game. Have a favourite video game based on a movie? Share your picks in the comment section!