DVD Reviews: Battleship, Walking Dead and More

By August 30, 2012

Late August generally stinks for theatrical releases, and it seems that the DVD shelves are feeling the pinch as well…

Battleship — This crazy-bombastic sci-fi / action / board game movie hits DVD only three months removed from its theatrical release, but if you’re looking for some late-summer lunacy that’s worth (at least) a $4 rental, this should fit the bill for a long weekend. The screenplay is almost painfully generic, but director Peter Berg still manages to bring some odd little charms to a monumentally BIG movie. The actors are mostly quite likable, the action scenes are more than overwhelming enough, and the fact that a bunch of retired senior citizen soldiers get drafted into the mayhem adds a small sense of class. The plot feels a lot like a Transformers sequel, truth be told, but once the visual insanity kicks in, there’s some fun to be had. (Also a very pretty blonde to look at.)

The Blu-ray is stocked with featurettes on special effects, locations, old military boats, etc., and director Peter Berg hosts a sorta-commentary “all access” format that only the hardcore Battleship fans will bother with.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits — I’m pretty sure that Great Britain invented comedy, and here’s a lovely little slice of proof: the latest piece of stop-motion comedy from Aardman, the mad geniuses who created Flushed Away, Chicken Run, and (of course) Wallace & Gromit. It’s an adorably silly combination of a pair of books from Gideon Defoe that follows a colorful crew of buccaneers who covet the “pirate of the year prize,” only to run afoul of Charles Darwin, Queen Elizabeth, and other bumbling pirates. The witty screenplay is only slightly funnier than the numerous sight gags, the voice cast is aces, and there’s a charming energy that runs rampant through all of the Aardman projects.

Walking Dead (season 2) — We’ll have a full review of this gore-soaked, post-apocalyptic soap opera next week, but suffice to say that fans of the AMC series will be very happy with the goodies that have been included in the set.

Starship Troopers: Invasion — After two live-action sequels, the controllers of the Starship Troopers have now set their sights on the feature-length digital animation department. (Hey, it works for Resident Evil.) Visually, Invasion looks a lot like a very violent video game (with digital boobies!) and screenplay-wise, it’s sort of a slog — but the action scenes are rather plentiful, and the producers earn a few bonus points for including old-school characters like Johnny Rico and the girl who was once played by Denise Richards. Mindless stuff, but fans of the franchise will dig some of it.

Quadrophenia — The Criterion Collection revisits this 1979 Franc Roddam film that combined dramatic teen angst with the enjoyably outspoken music of The Who. Truth be told I haven’t seen this movie since college, and I was bored by it then. I include it here because A) The Who is an amazing band, B) Criterion releases are awesome, and C) I plan to revisit the film this weekend.

Citizen Gangster — Scott Speedman as a post-WWII nobody who resorts to bank robbery when his acting career stalls. A rather conventional fact-based tale of crime not paying, but the cast is uniformly strong, yep even Speedman, and there’s a nostalgic beauty to the period design. Stuff like that matters!

Headhunters, Lovely Molly, and V/H/S — A truly insane art heist, a quietly creepy tale of insanity, and a freaky little anthology of terror tales. The first two are on DVD this week, and V/H/S is presently VOD only. As always, let’s show some love to the imports, the indies, and the scary stuff.

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Scott Weinberg
Writer. Movie critic. Producer. Semi-actor. Wise-ass. Film advocate. Horror geek. Cat fan. Twitter junkie. Follow me at @scotteweinberg.