New in Home Entertainment – September 13, 2011

New in Home Entertainment

September 13, 2011

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence
Available on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD

Marvel superhero Thor is a god who is cast to Earth by his father, Odin, and forced to live there as a mortal until he learns the valuable lesson his father wishes to teach him.  As Marvel prepares for its big Avengers movie next summer it was important to introduce the genesis stories for the remaining cast including Thor and Captain America.  While Captain America did a decent job of bringing the fourth Avenger to the screen, Thor was merely mediocre and almost seemed as more of a commercial for the upcoming film rather than a complete movie itself.  At least we know how Thor came to Earth, but it could have been done so much more impressively.  The special effects were okay, but the 3D was headache-inducing, the script was weak and the music by the gifted composer Patrick Doyle was a huge letdown.  It seemed as if the marketing machine was turned on and it managed to suck out much of the creativity that should have been there.  As for Thor, I liked both the actor (Chris Hemsworth) and his portrayal of the character.  I just wish a better film could have come from this hero.  C+

Rated R for disturbing violent behavior, sexual content including graphic dialogue, pervasive language, and drug content – some in the presence of a child
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

After a teenage boy (Devin Brochu) loses his mother in a car crash, he meets a homeless headbanger named Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who weirdly attaches himself to the boy by moving in and consuming his life.  At first the film is played out as a fantasy where you are almost certain that  you are going to discover that Hesher is a figment of the boy’s imagination.  But when you discover that he is for real and not a modern-day Harvey, the film takes a humorous but disturbing turn.  While the script is highly unusual and creative, it’s also frustrating.  The performances were all very good, especially that of Gordon-Levitt, and if what you need is a film that keeps you guessing rather than spoonfeeding you the same old stuff, this might fit the bill.  B

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Rated R for language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

When talk show host Conan O’Brien was ousted at NBC, he was contractually obligated to not appear on television again for six months.  In order to not waste this valuable time, he launched a 32 city music and comedy show called the “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour” where he was able to hit the road and perform for his biggest fans.  This movie shows some of the concert, but focuses mainly on the creation of the tour and the behind the scenes.  I don’t think that anyone would deny that Conan got the shaft from NBC, and to watch a man bravely move on in the face of adversity is a refreshing true story.  While I have never watched a lot of Conan in the past, this film has very much peaked my interest in his new TBS talk show.  B+

Hung: The Complete Second Season

Rated TV-MA
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

A loving father and school teacher who becomes a male prostitute in order to rebuild his life financially might sound like a tough sell, but in its second season, Hung has proven to be quite a good little dramedy from HBO.  Thomas Jane, who could have been a huge superstar were it not for his unfortunate name, turns in another great performance and Jane Adams is masterful as his luny yet focused pimp.  The second season wasn’t as strong as the first, most likely due to the lack of nuance, but with these great performances, strange story lines and unusual characters, I can’t wait to see where they bring us in season three.  B+

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

When Spartacus star Andy Whitfield could not return for season two due to cancer treatments, Starz made a creative move and opted for a prequel instead.  Focusing on Batiatus (John Hannah) and his rise to prominence within the gladiator world, the franchise was able to pull off a respectable season of gratuitous violence and sex that is incredibly over-the-top yet still pretty fun to watch.  The writing and production doesn’t come close to what you’ll find on HBO, but if in the right mood, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is passable entertainment.  B-

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