[caption id="attachment_152621" align="alignleft" width="300"] Paramount[/caption]
This week: Denzel Washington plays an alcoholic airline pilot who makes a remarkable emergency landing in the high-altitude drama "Flight," directed by Robert Zemeckis.
Also new this week is Tyler Perry in "Alex Cross," the romantic comedy "Celeste and Jesse Forever" with Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones and the Blu-ray debut of "Cabaret" starring the inimitable Liza Minnelli.
[caption id="attachment_164016" align="alignright" width="220"] Paramount[/caption]
Box Office: $93 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 78% Fresh
Storyline: Denzel Washington stars in this dramatic thriller directed by Robert Zemeckis in which seasoned airline pilot Whip Whitaker miraculously crash-lands a commercial airliner after a midair catastrophe and saves nearly everyone on board. He is hailed as a hero, but there is one problem: Whip was intoxicated at the time of the landing. The more Whip tries to cover up that fact, the more it exasperates his addictions and forces him to face his own personal demons. John Goodman, Don Cheadle and Nadine Velazquez lead the strong supporting cast.
Extras! All of the bonus features are exclusive to the Blu-ray version and give away plot details about the ending, so make sure you watch them after you watch the movie. Included are a look at the origin of the film, a making-of featurette, "Anatomy of a Plane Crash" and a Q&A session with most of the cast and crew (except Washington).
We Say: Washington deservedly earned an Oscar nomination for his performance as a man struggling with addiction as he's backed into a corner. The most intense sequence is the opening, during which Washington expertly brings down a plane of screaming passengers — a terrifying scene that guarantees this will never be an in-flight entertainment choice. Whether or not the rest of the drama affects you depends on your attitude towards alcoholism; during the screening this writer attended, the audience laughed inappropriately at Washington's drunken behavior, which is supposed to be pitiful, not knee-slapping. Also, Goodman's comic-relief drug dealer who helpfully provides fat rails of cocaine as a last-minute hangover cure before Whip's court hearing sends a confusing message.
[caption id="attachment_164017" align="alignright" width="220"] Summit[/caption]
Box Office: $26 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 12% Rotten
Storyline: Based on the novel "Cross" by James Patterson, "Alex Cross" has Tyler Perry taking over the role of the titular homicide detective and psychologist played previously by Morgan Freeman in "Kiss the Girls" and "Along Came the Spider." This time Cross faces off with a serial killer (Matthew Fox) in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse that gets too personal and pushes Cross' moral compass in a dangerous direction.
Extras! Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain audio commentary with director Rob Cohen, deleted scenes and interviews with Patterson and the cast and crew about the book's path to the big screen.
We Say: It's no mystery why this thriller was panned: the lazy script, clichéd characters and laughable depiction of police work, for starters. Tyler 'Madea' Perry is woefully miscast here — the film's fatal flaw — in a role that doesn't require, well, drag. And although it's shocking to see Fox of "Lost" fame morph into a bald, ripped psychopath, the actor's startling gym-rat transformation isn't nearly enough to sell this stinker of a story.
'Celeste and Jesse Forever'
[caption id="attachment_164018" align="alignright" width="220"] Sony Pictures Classics[/caption]
Box Office: $3 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 69% Fresh
Storyline: Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) met in high school, married young and, at 30, decide to separate and pursue other relationships because her career is on the way up and his is on the road to nowhere. This romantic comedy features a supporting cast that includes Elijah Wood, Ari Graynor, Chris Messina and Emma Roberts.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain two audio commentaries, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette and "On the Red Carpet: Premiere and Q&A."
We Say: Any movie that veers from the well-worn rom-com formula is worth noting. Although "Celeste and Jesse Forever" isn't as profound as it thinks it is about relationships and the blending of R-rated humor with chick-flick sensibilities makes for risky business, the film is still charming and features a funny standout performance by Jones.
[caption id="attachment_164019" align="alignright" width="220"] Warner Bros.[/caption]
Box Office: $43 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 97% Fresh
Storyline: Liza Minnelli won one of the eight Oscars doled out to this beloved 1972 film adaptation of the stage musical. Minnelli plays the flamboyant Sally Bowles, a performer at the Kit Kat Klub who begins an "it's complicated" relationship with sexually ambiguous language professor Brian Roberts (Michael York) under the shadow of the growing Nazi presence in 1931 Berlin.
Extras!: This 40th anniversary digibook contains a commentary track, "'Cabaret': The Musical That Changed Musicals," "'Cabaret': A Legend in the Making," "The Re-creation of an Era" and "Kit Kat Klub Memory Galleries."
We Say: Life is truly a cabaret in this stunning Blu-ray debut that breathes new life into the 41-year-old film in terms of picture and sound quality for a generation growing up with "Glee" that is more receptive to movies in which characters suddenly burst into song.
Also New This Week:
"Here Come the Boom"
"Peter Pan" Diamond Edition Blu-ray
"A Star Is Born" Blu-ray
"A Late Quartet"
"Side by Side"