RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted.
Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
Consider this: standstill traffic, sudden explosions, people fleeing, lots of screaming. It’s the doomsday scenario Chuck Norris and less-hirsute far-right extremists said would happen if we elected Barack Obama as president — either time; pick one — but it’s also the opening moments of World War Z.
The Z stands for “zombies,” of course, but World War Zis an action-thriller, not a horror flick. Like TV’s ridiculously popularThe Walking Dead or 2009’s more-fun-than-funny Zombieland, it’s a watered-down depiction of the days and nights of the living dead — a zombie film for who people who can’t handle a “real” zombie film.
In other words, it’s a real summer crowd-pleaser, far from the trash heap as years of bad buzz have suggested. That said, it’s entertaining without approaching extraordinary.
Directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace), World War Z is based on Max Brooks’ 2006 novel of the same name. While that book — good, not great — was episodic in nature with oral accounts gleaned from across the globe, the movie opts to tell only one of its ostensible stories, and from a singular perspective: that of former UN investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt, who also serves as producer).
Gerry rather reluctantly leaves his wife (Mireille Enos, TV’s The Killing) and two daughters on a military aircraft while he trots around the globe, helping to pursue a cure to whatever virus has caused this pandemic. No matter his (thinly purposed) destination, super-fast zombies are present for a greet-and-eat. Repeat until the two-hour mark.
I give World War Zthis: It wastes no time on setup. It doesn’t need any.
What it does need is — no pun intended — more meat. I understand a PG-13 rating represents the film’s best shot at recouping its reported $200 million-and-up budget, but the movie feels so neutered and toothless in its bloodlessness. Shouldn’t a depiction of a global catastrophe come equipped with a serrated edge?
And shouldn’t audiences be able to see all of it? It could be the fault of the completely unnecessary 3-D, which results in a darker screen, but comprehending any nighttime action sequence is difficult. Forster’s jittery camera and the Slap Chop style of editing only worsens the situation.
Although his hair proves a distraction, Pitt makes for a fine host on his travelogue of terror. Too bad Enos can’t be in the thick with him. She’s such a headstrong actress that it’s frustrating — demeaning, even — that her role in this World Waramounts to moping on a cot. —Rod Lott