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.
“Oz the Great and Powerful”
Risky move, making a prequel to one of the most beloved movies of all time with James Franco, an actor constantly building animosity - he’s a high and mighty, grinning stoner who ruined the Oscars. Perhaps that’s the case, but he’s also a decent actor. The amazing aspect of this project is Disney didn’t move heaven and earth and Oz to get Tim Burton. No, they went with Sam Raimi, horror auteur, who singlehandedly redeemed and ruined Spiderman. And the witches of the East, West and South are played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams, respectively. This brings up two questions – one, what’s up with the northern witch, she’s never mentioned in any OZ film? And two, Mila Kunis? Yes, she’s super cute but phenomenally out of place. She does her best but she’s dwarfed by other performances. There are other flaws but they’re munchkin-small. On a larger scale, this film tells a pretty delightful story in a very bright way. It pays homage to the original on every level – dialogue, sets, effects, soundtrack, on and on. It’s a fun family flick and can be treated as a two-hour game of I-Spy – worth a watch.
“Silent Hill: Revelation”
The first “Silent Hill” was far from a horror classic. But it did tap into a macabre style where dark art exists in a surreal world and tries to rip people apart in creepy ways. Both films were based on the video game series of the same name. They return to the cool design of the first film and it comes off as self-plagiarizing. There’s no originality and the acting is atrocious. Not that they were slinging out Oscars for the first one, but there’s a cheapness to this whole affair. Bringing back Sean Bean didn’t help; neither does adding Kit Harington (Jon Snow from “Game of Thrones), Carrie-Anne Moss or Malcolm McDowell. The plot and dialogue are too far gone. The problem could be that Roger Avary, who wrote “Silent Hill” and was Quentin Tarantino’s writing partner, went to jail for vehicular manslaughter after being hired to write this one. They should’ve hired a better hack because this is no revelation – pass.
“Stand Up Guys”
Al Pacino takes a break from starring in TV movies about Phil Spector and Jack Kevorkian to return to his roots as a mobster. Christopher Walken continues his lifelong journey of creeping people out while playing good-hearted characters that happen to do bad things. Alan Arkin shows audiences one more time how he can create magic with very little screen time. The film doesn’t try to do too much, but what it does do is enjoyable. It’s directed by Fisher Stevens (he was the lead human actor in the “Short Circuit” movies). There are aspects that are flat out unbelievable, but the movie works because of Pacino and Walken. Their chemistry reminds you what made these actors great in the first place – proof they’re still standing tall and worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge