With his good looks, Liev Schreiber (TV's Ray Donovan) seems born to play an astronaut. In Magnet Releasing's The Last Days on Mars, he finally gets the chance. As chief systems officer Vincent Campbell, he's part of Aurora's six-month mission on the red planet with only 19 hours left to go before heading home. What could go wrong?
According to The Slumber Party Massacre, young women love to have group sleepovers so fun that the girls don't have the good sense to leave the house when their party is crashed by the arrival of a drill-wielding serial killer.
We vilify people for bad behavior in real life, yet celebrate it in our entertainment, particularly on the small screen. When the results are as strong as the current crop, all new (or new-ish) to DVD and/or Blu-ray, why question the disconnect?
Prior to his Spider-Man trilogy, director Sam Raimi cut his superhero-movie teeth on 1990's Darkman, a character of his own creation. Although it's clearly not the most polished of his works, the summer sleeper plays even better as the years tick by. Look no further than Shout! Factory's colorful re-release on Blu-ray.
Someday, celebrity cyclist Lance Armstrong may regret hiring Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney to document his 2009 "comeback," but I doubt it. As The Armstrong Lie demonstrates time and again for two mostly gripping hours, the athlete is still unable to tell the whole truth and nothing but.
If you haven’t seen 2009’s Coraline, you might be more inclined to surrender yourself to the macabre charm of ParaNorman. Both
films, works of stop-motion animation by the Oregon-based Laika company,
share much in common: an outcast protagonist, ineffectual grown-ups,
visually stunning riffs on the supernatural.
But while Coraline sustained a masterful level of Grimm-like creepiness, ParaNorman is only fitfully brilliant.
The premise is promising. Eleven-year-old Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee, Let Me In) has a familiar problem: He sees dead people. Lots of ’em, actually, which makes him something of a pariah in the hamlet of Blithe Hollow, Mass. His only pal is Neil (Tucker Albrizzi, TV’s Good Luck Charlie), a chubby kid who isn’t thrown off by Norman’s frequent conversations with the dearly departed.
Boasting a casket full of horror-flick references, ParaNorman tosses its prepubescent hero into some mumbo-jumbo about the town being cursed by an 18th-century witch, and Norman being the only one to stop it. The escalating dread fuels some wonderfully grotesque sight gags involving decaying zombies and sundry stubborn corpses, and Jon Brion’s music score adds beautifully to the weirdness.
The script proves less successful.
ParaNorman conjures up mood galore, but the script by Chris Butler, who directs here with Sam Fell (The Tale of Despereaux), settles for thin characterization and a storyline that seems like a patchwork of other movies. Lovely animation and strong voice work — from the likes of Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Anna Kendrick and John Goodman — almost makes you forget you’ve seen this all before.
One final note, parents: Don’t be lulled by the PG rating. Some scenes might be a bit too scary for the smallest moviegoers.