Recliner Reviews for Sept. 27, 2012

September 25, 2012 

Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.

“The Avengers”

In this world-weary drama about characters from diverse backgrounds, morality is black and white, despite the characters’ backgrounds or histories. Well, most of that is true but what else needs to be said about this superhero instant-classic? It made more than a billion dollars, after you include merchandising, these Avengers could buy their own country, at least 47 percent of it. It’s the first time in film history where separate live-action franchises were combined into a superhero-supergroup. The storyline is able to balance all of the characters into a harmonious onslaught of wit and intense action. Director Joss Whedon combines the characters’ histories with just enough current propulsion to avoid oversaturation and blasts this cast through the first cycle in the Marvel Galaxy and into the second phase of their attack. That simply means more superheroes will be introduced, more individual sequels will be made and these Avengers will assemble many more times. So don’t even front and say something stupid like, “I just didn’t buy Ruffalo as the Hulk.” It’s quite an accomplishment to get this many big names/credible actors together and make it work so well. Of course it’s worth a watch.

“The Cabin in the Woods”

The aforementioned Joss Whedon has been a busy fanboy this year. He got to direct his favorite heroes from Marvel Comics in “The Avengers,” and he co-wrote and produced this homage to every good horror movie he’s ever seen. Plus, he’s able to invite friends along. Whedon brought in Drew Goddard to co-write and direct. Goddard was Whedon’s writing partner during his TV heyday on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel.” The film also stars Chris Hemsworth, who is Thor from the film of the same name and “The Avengers.” You can tell they all had fun with this format. The concept is interesting (we won’t get into it because it may spoil it). But as the movie goes on, it gets a little too busy and the script goes haywire. It trails off and relies on some underdeveloped elements that devolve into an anti-climactic mess. In other words, “The Cabin in the Woods” gets lost. The first half is worth a watch, but overall, it’s a pass.

“Bernie”

The “Slacker” director of the ‘90s, Richard Linklater, reteams with his “School of Rock” star, Jack Black, and his “Dazed and Confused” star, Matthew McConaughey. But this is no gut-busting comedy. It’s the true and bizarre story of Bernie Tiede. Linklater mixes documentary footage with actors to add authenticity to the truly quirky lead character. Shirley MacLaine also co-stars and proves she’s still awesome. But Linklater uses this film as an opportunity to show anyone watching that Black can really act. One of Black’s best acting performances to date, his character is over-the-top for the small-Texas-town setting but Black plays him with a subtle, human outlandishness. Linklater continues to prove his slacker-status untrue by putting in the work and making quality films. Verdict: Worth a watch.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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