Cinemas & Home Entertainment This Week…
GRIM PICKINGS this week includes key dates to dismember with an exception to the rule that films based off video games don’t work opening in cinemas while home entertainment serves up a triple helping of newly restored Sylvester Stallone classics!
THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD
After wowing festival-goers at this year’s Alliance Francaise French Film Festival, Dominique Rocher’s THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD will open in limited release across Australia. Despite an overworked premise that could have lifted from one of many THE WALKING DEAD episodes, THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD transplants its action to Paris and its
slow-burn approach ratchets up enough tension to fuel a suspense-riddled experience worthy of witnessing on the big screen. After waking up in an apartment the night after a raging party, Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie) comes face to face with his new reality, an army of zombies have invaded the streets of Paris and he is the lone survivor. Petrified with fear, he barricades himself inside the building to survive. He wonders how long can he last in silence and solitude, and the answer comes when he learns that he’s not all alone after all.
POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU
Rarely video games make great source material for films, far too often the essence of the game is lost in favour of an entirely new storyline i.e. SUPER MARIO BROS, RESIDENT EVIL and so on however POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU manages to do things a little differently. While maintaining vital elements of the long-running gaming franchise and the right amount of new material, it succeeds in creating a refreshing, funny and engaging mystery that will no doubt appeal to just as many audiences invested in the gaming franchise as to those not so familiar with it. Shoutout to Ryan Reynolds for injecting the character of Pikachu with such an endearing, hilarious and distinct personality! The story begins when ace private eye Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.
Aside from its gender-swap, there’s little in the way of reworking the 1964 film BEDTIME STORY from its 1988 remake DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS with the exception that THE HUSTLE’s approach is a lot less charming and a lot more slapstick than its predecessor. While the jokes don’t always hit their mark, there’s enough to keep one entertained and engaged for its rather brisk 94 minute duration, helped greatly by Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson’s strong screen chemistry and ability to riff off one another. Hathaway and Wilson star as female scam artists, one low rent and the other high class, who team up to take down the dirty rotten men who have wronged them.
Clint Eastwood delivers his eighth feature this decade (and 38th to date) with THE MULE and while its a damn sight better than last year’s atrocity THE 15:17 TO PARIS, its a flat and meandering exercise in mediocrity that has us wondering whether Eastwood is well overdue for retirement. Earl Stone (Eastman), a man in his 80s who is broke, alone, and facing foreclosure of his business when he is offered a job that simply requires him to drive. Easy enough, but, unbeknownst to Earl, he’s just signed on as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. He does well—so well, in fact, that his cargo increases exponentially, and Earl is assigned a handler. But he isn’t the only one keeping tabs on Earl; the mysterious new drug mule has also hit the radar of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates. And even as his money problems become a thing of the past, Earl’s past mistakes start to weigh heavily on him, and it’s uncertain if he’ll have time to right those wrongs before law enforcement, or the cartel’s enforcers, catch up to him. THE MULE’s Blu-ray Special Features are kept to short production featurettes.
THE FRONT RUNNER
Filmmaker Jason Reitman (TULLY, JUNO) is a prolific filmmaker with six features to his credit in this past decade alone however his output often borders on great with never quite reaching greatness, as is the case with THE FRONT RUNNER. Despite the thought-provoking subject matter and the intellect with which its handled, THE FRONT RUNNER lacks the dramatic excitement to make it truly engaging and ultimately only offers up a rare insight into the behind-the-scenes of political campaigns. So while Reitman once again falls shy of the mark, kudos must be given to Hugh Jackman for his incredible performance, one that enables him to portray a desperate and disgraced politic figure. THE FRONT RUNNER follows the rise and fall of Senator Hart (Jackman), who captured the imagination of young voters and was considered the overwhelming front runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination when his campaign was sidelined by the story of an extramarital relationship with Donna Rice. As tabloid journalism and political journalism merged for the first time, Senator Hart was forced to drop out of the race – events that left a profound and lasting impact on American politics and the world stage. Sony’s DVD release features an audio commentary with Reitman, a featurette titled ‘The Unmaking of a Candidate’ and three deleted scenes.
Ted Kotcheff’s seminal classic FIRST BLOOD arrives on 4K Ultra-HD and Blu-ray with an all-new 4K restoration taken from the original camera negative and with the added benefit of HDR10 augmentation on the 4K format release. He never fought a battle he couldn’t win–except the conflict raging within his own soul. Academy Award®-nominee Sylvester Stallone stars as war hero John Rambo. An ex-Green Beret haunted by memories of Vietnam, he was once the perfect killing machine. Now he’s searching for peace, but finds instead an over-zealous, small-town sheriff who’s spoiling for a fight. All hell breaks loose when an unjustly imprisoned Rambo escapes and becomes the target of a massive manhunt. Now he must use all his cunning, combat skills and weapons training to stay alive and outwit his pursuers. Co-starring Brian Dennehy and Richard Crenna, First Blood is an explosive action-thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final, powerful frame. Both the 4K Ultra-HD and Blu-ray releases contain a wealth of legacy Special Features including two commentary tracks, deleted scenes (including an alternate ending), outtakes, featurettes and one all-new featurette titled ‘Rambo Takes the 80s Part 1’.
RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II
George P. Cosmatos’s 1985 follow-up to FIRST BLOOD has also undergone a 4K restoration from the original camera negative along with an application of HDR10 for the 4K format release. He’s back! Superstar Sylvester Stallone is John Rambo, the ultimate action hero, in this explosive Oscar-nominated sequel to First Blood that boasts a riveting screenplay by Sylvester Stallone and James Cameron (Titanic). Although the Vietnam War is officially over, Rambo remains the perfect fighting machine. But his survival skills are tested with a vengeance on a top-secret mission that takes him back to the jungles of Vietnam in search of American POWs. For when Rambo is double-crossed, this “expendable” hero, armed with just a bow, arrows and knife, must defeat savage enemies equipped with deadly firepower. RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II features a wealth of archival content including a commentary track, marketing epk, featurettes, trailers and the continuation of the all-new featurette ‘Rambo Takes the 80s Part 2’.
The third instalment in the RAMBO franchise like its predecessors also sports a brand new 4K restoration taken from the original camera negative along with HDR10 augmentation for the 4K format release. The battle rages on as superstar Sylvester Stallone detonates the third blast in the action-packed Rambo series. Combat has taken its toll on John Rambo (Stallone), but he has finally begun to find inner peace inside a monastery — until his friend and mentor Col. Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) shows up to ask for his help on a top-secret mission in Afghanistan. A war-weary Rambo declines, but when Trautman is captured, Rambo erupts into a one-man firestorm to rescue his former commanding officer and decimate the enemy. It’s an intense, pulse- pounding adventure that boasts unrelenting action and suspense from start to finish! RAMBO III ports over many of the legacy extras including commentary, deleted scenes (including alternate beginning), featurettes, trailers and the final part in the all-new featurette ‘Rambo Takes the 80s Part 3’.
Grim Pickings is written weekly by Jarret Gahan.