Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
“3 Days to Kill”
Kevin Costner has had his share of ups and downs as a leading man. In the last few years, he’s been sturdy support in some big budget films. But McG, the director of the most buttered popcorn films ever, wants to insert Costner into an action/comedy about a dying CIA dad who has gone rogue to spend more time with his estranged daughter, played nicely by up-and-comer Hailee Steinfeld. McG should’ve learned his lesson from his dismal mix of action and humor in 2012’s “This Means War.” This time, he builds off of a Luc Besson script (“Taken”). He throws in a couple strong female characters with a take-no-shit-mom, played by Connie Nielsen, and a kickass femme fatale, played by Amber Heard. The movie has multiple personalities, but not between the action and the comedy. It’s between the relevant and the irrelevant. Nothing gets explained really well and the whole thing is a mess. Costner delivers on his part, and the action scenes don’t suck. But overall, it’s two hours killed – pass.
So what must’ve happened is Sylvester Stallone read this book he liked and decided to write a screenplay for it. Then, he produced it and cast his old friend Jason Statham in the lead role. Gary Fleder (“Kiss the Girls” and “Runaway Jury”) was hired to direct. The unlikely James Franco was cast as the baddie. And Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth both play bitches. You would think this would be a train wreck, but it’s not. Well, there are moments it derails – the acting falters in spots and the plot plays it a bit loose with reality – but it pops back on the tracks as soon as the action picks up. It does have a grit and bare-knuckled style on its side, and that’s Statham’s and Sly Stallone’s bread and butter – worth a watch.
“Escape from Tomorrow”
This film is not important because of what it is. It’s important because of how it was made. This “Clerks”-style black and white, dark comedy about a family unraveling during a trip to Disney World pokes plenty of fun at the big D. Writer/director Randy Moore throws urban legends and mocking ridiculousness at the happiest place on earth – turkey legs are really emu, Disney princesses can be prostitutes for Asian businessmen, cat flu running rampant and corporations controlling and manipulating imagination. But all that is just heavy-handed silliness, made in good humor. The true mastery of the movie is how it was made. Moore shot the entire film without permission at Disney World and Disneyland. He went guerrilla style, used two digital cameras, planned scenes months in advance for sun positioning and lighting, and used iPhones to access scripts. He rode It's a Small World a dozen times to get one scene for Christ’s sake. It’s a bit of a jumble, but don’t run away from it, the filmmaking technique is counter-cultural and worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge