[caption id="attachment_180885" align="alignleft" width="300"] Columbia Pictures[/caption]
This week: A party at James Franco's house rages on as the Apocalypse gets it on outside in the outrageous horror comedy "This Is the End," starring Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robertson and featuring cameos from numerous celebrities.
'This Is the End'
[caption id="attachment_206329" align="alignright" width="220"] Sony[/caption]
Box Office: $101 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 84% Fresh
Storyline: This end-of-the-world comedy follows six celebrities — James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson — as they're trapped in Franco's house in the Hollywood Hills at the beginning of the Apocalypse. After cabin fever sits in, they are eventually forced to leave the house and face their fate ... and discover the true meaning of friendship.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain commentary with Rogen and co-director Evan Goldberg and the featurettes "Directing Your Friends" and "This Is the Marketing." The Blu-ray has many exclusives, including a gag reel, deleted scenes, Line-O-Rama, "Meta-Apocalypse," "Party Time," "The Cannibal King," "Let's Get Technical," "The Making of 'The Making of Pineapple Express 2'" and the original short "Jay & Seth vs. the Apocalypse."
We Say: The movie might be called "This Is the End," but you won't want it to end as the gut-busting laughs never stop coming. Not only do the guys brilliantly send up themselves and how the world sees them, they find fresh humor in tired stereotypes about actors and Hollywood. Even though the movie is unapologetically crude and surprisingly violent (it takes a turn into horror-film territory at times), the central theme of male bonding and friendship is believable and even somehow touching. There are too many celebrity cameos at Franco's party to list here, but you won't want to miss Michael Cera playing himself as a coked-out male slut, Channing Tatum as an S&M slave dog and Rihanna getting sucked into the fiery pits of Hell. Meanwhile, up in Heaven, you will probably never think of the Backstreet Boys in the same way again. This is easily one of the funniest movies of the past ten years — if you're not laughing, you're not breathing.
'The Frozen Ground'
[caption id="attachment_206328" align="alignright" width="220"] Lionsgate[/caption]
Box Office: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: 57% Rotten
Storyline: This chilly thriller is based on the true story of the hunt for Robert C. Hansen, one of America's most notorious serial killers, who murdered 17 young women over the course of 12 years in Anchorage, Alaska. John Cusack plays Hansen, Nicolas Cage is state trooper Jack Halcombe who's on the hunt for him and Vanessa Hudgens plays Cindy Paulson, a teenage prostitute and the only survivor of Hansen's killing spree. Fearing her life might still be in danger, Jack has to win Cindy's trust in order to track down the man who indeed still wants to kill her.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray have audio commentary, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew, "Writing 'The Frozen Ground'" and the "Anatomy of a Serial Killer" featurette.
We Say: Like she did earlier this year in "Spring Breakers," Hudgens once again proves that she has matured as an actress far beyond her "High School Musical" days. After meeting with the real-life Paulson before filming, Hudgens plays her as tough and damaged yet resilient. Cusack is effectively creepy as the Alaskan predator, and it's refreshing to be reminded that Oscar winner Cage is still capable of giving a stirring dramatic performance in-between his goofy roles in goofier films.
'The Wizard of Oz' Blu-ray 3D
[caption id="attachment_206330" align="alignright" width="220"] Warner Bros.[/caption]
Box Office: $20 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 99% Fresh
Storyline: The beloved 1939 musical starring Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, the Kansas girl who gets whisked away in a tornado to the magical land of Oz where she teams up with the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion to take on the Wicked Witch of the West, was just re-released in theaters for one week after undergoing a meticulous conversion to 3-D for its 75th anniversary. If you missed it, the transfer is presented here for the iconic film's debut on Blu-ray 3D.
Extras!: This combo pack features a Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and Ultraviolet digital copy of the film. There are over two hours of extras, including an all-new feature-length documentary titled "The Making of the Wonderful 'Wizard of Oz.'" Bonus features ported over from previous editions include a commentary by historian John Fricke and the film's cast and crew, a sing-along feature and much more.
We Say: No matter what side of the fence you are on when it comes to converting classic films to 3-D, you have to be impressed with the care taken here with "The Wizard of Oz." The 3-D effect gives noticeable depth and is especially impressive in the tornado scene, the Wizard's throne room and the Dark Forest with those still-freaky flying monkeys. It may not be the way the creators intended you to see this timeless film, but this 3-D conversion really pops and will have you discovering little details in the scenery you might not have noticed before. This is a terrific way to go "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" with fresh eyes after seeing the movie dozens of times in only two dimensions. It might even make you more receptive to other classic films getting a 3-D makeover. Oh my!
'The Amityville Horror' Trilogy Blu-ray
[caption id="attachment_206327" align="alignright" width="220"] Shout! Factory[/caption]
Box Office: $105 million (combined)
Rotten Tomatoes: "The Amityville Horror" (25% Rotten), "Amityville II: The Possession" (7% Rotten), "Amityville 3-D" (0% Rotten)
Storyline: This new Scream Factory collection packages together all three of the original "Amityville Horror" movies. "The Amityville Horror" stars Margot Kidder and James Brolin as Kathy and George Lutz, the infamous real-life couple who unknowingly moved their family into a haunted house and quickly fled. "Amityville II: The Possession," which makes its Blu-ray debut here, is actually a prequel to the first movie and tells the story of the family that was murdered in the house by the eldest son prior to the Lutz family moving in. Finally, the trilogy-ending "Amityville 3-D" debuts on Blu-ray 3D and features an early performance by a young Meg Ryan in a supporting role.
Extras!: "The Amityville Horror" contains the same extras of the stand-alone edition, including a documentary with Brolin and Kidder, radio spots and commentary. "Amityville II: The Possession" has an interview with director Damiano Damiani, new interviews with the cast and audio commentary with author Alexandra Holzer. "Amityville 3-D" has both the 2-D and 3-D versions on one disc.
We Say: People don't agree on whether or not the Lutz family really were the victims of demonic forces in the infamous Amityville house on Ocean Drive, but Kidder and Brolin do their best to sell it even as the 1979 special effects haven't aged very well. "Amityville II: The Possession" is the darkest, scariest and most stylish film in the trilogy, even as it takes a somewhat familiar detour into "The Exorcist" territory in the third act. The PG-rated "Amityville 3-D" starring Tony Roberts is the tamest film of the bunch, but this Blu-ray 3D delivers the floating glowing orbs and in-your-face 3-D spook effects that were popular in the '80s.
Also New This Week:
"The Little Mermaid" Diamond Edition Blu-ray 3D
"House of Wax" Blu-ray 3D
"From Here to Eternity" Blu-ray
"Fright Night 2: New Blood"
"The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec" Director's Cut