Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Coolest extra: “LEGO Animated Shorts: Captain Jack’s Brick Tales” (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: At the time of the fourth Pirates Of The Caribbean movie’s May release, we put together 10 ways in which Johnny Depp can get his swag back—you know, the star’s once-impeccable coolness bolstered by eccentric role choices and quirky performances. The polar opposite of his latest turn as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Rob Marshall-directed On Stranger Tides, the blockbuster franchise’s worst edition by far. But, in hindsight, should we really have attacked Depp? Who wouldn’t turn down a perfunctory sequel that’s destined to break banks worldwide? Note the film’s domestic gross: $240 million.
OK, so Depp, who’s now even richer, totally deserves the scorn, and it only takes one grueling experience of suffering through the half-baked story and desperately showy effects of Marshall’s empty Pirates effort. Screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio were apparently drunker than Captain Jack while penning the script, an overcrowded clunker that’s too busy with visuals to flesh out a believable history between Sparrow and Penelope Cruz’s character, and too distracted to give the otherwise strong Ian McShane an actual arc to support his scene-stealing gruffness as the legendary Blackbeard.
Like Depp, Elliot and Rossio are no doubt caking off these days, too—hopefully some of those profits are spent on entry-level screenwriting courses. As for the film’s star, we can only hope that The Rum Diary helps his credibility cause.
Buy it now: Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Bad Teacher (Unrated Edition)
Coolest extra: “Way Behind The Scenes With Jason And Justin” featurette (DVD); Gag reel (Blu-ray only)
Complex says: The potential is certainly present throughout Bad Teacher. Playing a crude and mean-spirited elementary school instructor, Cameron Diaz chews through every scene with enjoyable zeal, displaying the comedic talents she’s foolishly kept at bay in recent years. And she’s working with an agreeable supporting cast, including the equally game Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel, and eye-catching British import Lucy Punch. Lastly, their director, Jake Kasdan, previously helmed the underrated biopic spoof Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Add all of those elements together and you should get one of the year’s best comedies, no?
Nope, not even close. It’s nowhere near as bad as, say, Hall Pass or The Hangover Part II, but Kasdan’s Bad Teacher is something that’s debatably even worse: forgettable. Diaz, Segel, and Punch are particularly brave, inhabiting completely unlikeable characters, which would be fine if the script’s dialogue and physical gags weren’t so pedestrian. On the upside, though: You get plenty of exposed leg action from Diaz, who looks better than ever. That’s what the “scene skip” option is for.
Buy it now: Bad Teacher
The Last Circus
Coolest extra: A making-of featurette (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: It should come as no surprise that this week’s best DVD/Blu-ray release is a movie that received little to no promotion throughout its brief art-house run this past summer. Action-starved audiences flocked in droves to see Michael Bay’s latest piece of vapid Transformers spectacle, when they should have sought out acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia’s The Last Circus, an adrenaline rush packed with intelligence, social commentary, and insane violence.
A period love story seeped in Taxi Driver-like psychological dementia, The Last Circus is an extravagant grindhouse flick, masking its allegorical intentions with the kick-ass sights of a clown hacking soldiers up with a machete, another clown unloading machine gun rounds, and a guy burning his own face with acid to achieve a bloody war-paint look.
The director’s unbridled energy enhances the various action sequences, but de la Iglesia, who also wrote the screenplay, is even better at developing emotionally scarred characters and then pitting them against one another in baroque smackdowns. Do yourself a solid and consult Netflix immediately.