The Walking Dead: Season One (2-Disc Set)Coolest extra: “Behind The Scenes: Zombie Make-up Tips” featurette (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: Even The Walking Dead’s biggest haters have to agree with one sentiment: At least it’s not another cop show or medical drama.
During its massively successful run on AMC late last year, AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama—based on Robert Kirkman’s popular comic book series—came under attack from critics and tough viewers, mainly for its at times hokey dialogue and willingness to reuse genre cliches. We’re not here to dispute such claims; for example, Michael Rooker’s character, introduced in Episode 2, could’ve been named Mr. Racist.
But when The Walking Dead’s first season works, which is often, then it’s unlike anything else on TV. As with his movies (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist), series creator Frank Darabont puts the characters first, yet he’s not afraid to put television censors on edge, off-setting the quieter drama with grisly zombie attacks.
This DVD set—complete with all six episodes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and additional footage—does the show a special justice. Consumed as one long six-hour movie, The Walking Dead’s cinematic qualities and streamlined narrative pop more than when split up by commercials and seven-day breaks.
Buy it now: The Walking Dead: Season One
Jackass 3 (Unrated Two-Disc Edition w/ 3D)Coolest extra: “The Making of Jackass 3D” featurette (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: For shits and giggles, let’s make an absurd comparison: The Jackass movie trilogy has much in common with the Godfather trilogy. Before you freak out in the name of Sonny Corleone, though, hear us out.
Like Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic series, the misadventures of Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, and crew started off strongly with 2002’s crowd-pleasing first entry, and then peaked with the superior 2006 sequel. This third installment, unfortunately, isn’t up to par (The Godfather Part III, much?).
It’s still packed with nifty bits, especially bits involving a giant hand smacking Bam Margera, Ehren McGehey’s tooth tied to a string and being pulled out by a Lamborghini, and a revolting sweatsuit gag. The Jackass crew’s antics will always elicit cheap laughs, but, as this flick shows, their mojo is wearing thin. There’s no longer an element of surprise, or a kitsch factor; Jackass 3 is paint-by-the-numbers tomfoolery.
For those unconcerned with depth in their dick jokes and crotch-targeting slapstick humor, Jackass 3 shouldn’t feel like a third visit to the Corleone ranch.
Buy it now: Jackass 3 (Unrated Two-Disc Edition w/ 3D)
Inside JobCoolest extra: “The Making of Inside Job” featurette (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: Haven’t received a pay raise in over two years? Or, even worse, you haven’t even worked in over two years?
First off, we feel for you. Secondly, you might want to avoid Inside Job at all costs. Not because it’s a poorly made documentary; on the contrary, this Matt Damon-narrated, Academy Award-winning look at the 2008 global financial crisis is one of 2010’s best docs.
The reason why unemployed and/or underpaid heads should watch Inside Job with caution is because director Charles Ferguson’s film brings every ounce of corporate greed and underhanded money dealing to light, putting names and faces to the victims’ enemies.
Wisely, Ferguson doesn’t pull a Michael Moore. He keeps himself mostly off screen, avoiding any distracting personal input in order to let the facts speak for themselves. And, please believe, there’s an overwhelming amount of info.
When Ferguson does appear, it’s for comic levity, randomly looking into the camera to address the atrocities with reactions like, “You can’t be serious!” Sadly for everyone who’s been forced to dine on Ramen noodles more often than they’d like, this exceptional documentary is quite legit.
Buy it now: Inside Job
The Next Three DaysCoolest extra: “The Men of The Next Three Days” featurette (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: Certain movies leave viewers with an empty sense of indifference, which, frankly, is worse than outright hatred. At least a violent sense of disgust invokes a full-on response, not catatonia.
Paul Haggis’ action-thriller The Next Three Days wants to push you toward the seat’s edge, presenting the tale of a husband (Russell Crowe) trying to break his wrongly jailed spouse (Elizabeth Banks) out of prison. Basically a flip on the old “escape movie” subgenre, The Next Three Days should be anything but mundane; it should, if nothing else, provide momentary jolts and wham-bam action.
But, despite some quality acting and tight direction, this dismissible flick teeters due to weak pacing and Haggis’ generally uninteresting script. Little is done with the central premise, padding its acceptable action with overdone exposition. The best bet: Seek out the original 2008 French flick, Pour elle (Anything for Her).
Buy it now: The Next Three Days
Morning GloryCoolest extra: Commentary with director Roger Michell and screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: Morning Glory has all the makings of a Complex-approved chick flick: a hottie with inarguable acting chops as its star (Rachel MacAdams), the ultimate guy’s hero Harrison Ford as its elder statesman, and J.J. Abrams’ name in the production credits.
So why do we wish we could have the 110 minutes of its running time back at our disposal? Mainly because Aline Brosh McKenna’s script is more predictable than Titanic.
MacAdams plays a television news producer who hires a bitter veteran newscaster (Ford) to work alongside a prima donna co-host (Diane Keaton). While she battles with the feuding anchors, MacAdams tries to make a relationship with a fellow producer (Patrick Wilson) work. Take a guess as to how it all transpires. She’s beautiful and all, and able to shine in more serious fare, but comedic timing is absent from MacAdams’ repertoire; not that McKenna gives her any knockout punches to spit, though.
One gets the impression that Abrams put his clout behind Morning Glory to show the masses that he’s capable of more than just geek appeasement. To which we say: Leave the crappy rom-coms to less-talented folks and stick to sci-fi goodness, sir.