It’s time once again to bring home the magic and wonder of the movies in the form of some glimmering silver discs of plastic (or blue discs of plastic, if you’re on the HD tip as you should be). This week sees some pretty big releases, including a posthumous tribute to the King of Pop, the latest entrant in one of today’s most popular horror franchises, an underrated sci-fi actioner with Bruce Willis and Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut. Let’s get to it!
Saw VI – Man, this series is getting really complicated. What started out as a dude who liked to set traps has evolved into a pretty layered multi-character drama with ever-increasing grossouts. The sixth installment features Detective Hoffman as the latest pawn of Jigsaw, and actually manages to wrap up a couple of the franchise’s hanging plot threads. Throw in a story ripped from today’s headlines (health care!) and you’ve got a pretty good scarefest.
Surrogates – This one didn’t do as well as I thought it would in the theaters, which is weird, because I dug it. Bruce Willis stars in a high-concept sci-fi action flick where, in a sort of low-fi Matrix thing, the general population uses attractive robot duplicates to go out in the world and do their public business while they vegetate on the couch. But a trenchant observation on today’s looks-obsessed society won’t carry a movie, so throw in a murder mystery and you’ve got an eminently watchable flick.
Michael Jackson’s This Is It – With the troubled singer finally passed beyond the vale, it’s OK to look back on his talent without the stench of scandal that had dogged him. A documentary crew was following his rehearsals for his final concert tour, and the results are pretty spectacular. Jackson, in contrast to his public persona, looks energetic and driven here, still captivated by the joy of music. It’s a strange, unique documentary that will keep MJ fans entranced.
Whip It – Drew Barrymore steps behind the camera for this roller derby comedy that also stars Ellen Page. It’s kind of a chick flick, despite being about the ass-kicking world of roller derby, but it manages to not be too wimpy. It’s got a real grounded feeling, in part due to being written by an actual Los Angeles roller derby competitor. Sure, it’s a sports movie, but one you can watch with a lady.
I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell – Now this one you can’t watch with a lady. Tucker Max is one of the Internet’s legendary a-holes, with his tales of debauchery having garnered millions of fans, and now his life is making a jump to the big screen in this gross-out comedy. It’s along the lines of The Hangover. When Tucker royally hoses his best friend’s wedding, he’s off on a journey of self-transformation, but Max is a significantly less empathetic character than that film’s three lovable losers, and it makes the movie in some ways more interesting. Sure, it’s a rowdy, lowbrow romp, but it also has a sharpness to it that you don’t see often in the genre.