New in Home Entertainment – April 8, 2014

New in Home Entertainment

April 8, 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D

Part two of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit saga follows Bilbo Baggins and his cohort of dwarves as they journey to the Lonely Mountain where they must face the dragon Smaug.  As with the first film, this is a solid piece of fantasy film-making, but so overly long.  Artistically it is an amazing achievement with beautiful cinematography, amazing special effects, good acting, and another terrific score by Howard Shore.  But at 161 minutes in length, by the end of this second movie you are five and a half hours in and there is still one more part to go.  To label as excessive is an understatement.  With The Lord of the Rings, time was respectable as there was a lot of story to tell.  But to give the same amount of time to what is essentially one short novel is fun in moments, but very boring at others.  I know he’s including additional story not found in the book The Hobbit in order to create a closer tie to The Lord of the Rings, but this is too much.  And that’s coming from a huge fan.  Still, I will line up to see number three, just like the rest of the world, and sit down and take my medicine.  And like it.   B

August: Osage County
Rated R for language including sexual references and for drug material
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

It is hard for a play to translate well to the screen, even when you pop out the best actors in America like Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper and many, many others.  The proof of this is this Tony award winning play by Tracy Letts about a highly dysfunctional family that have all come back home to rural Oklahoma after a crisis.  On stage the story is a somewhat sad, but hysterical look at a family that you are more than thankful isn’t yours.  But on screen you get a bunch of legendary actors fighting it out with great performances that fall flat.  Perhaps if we didn’t recognize everyone so well the film could have been just as enjoyable as the stage production, but that connection I wanted to feel again just wasn’t there.  My advice is to skip the movie and catch the play as it is sure to make its rounds over and over again in both big and small play houses for years to come.  C+

King Kong vs. Godzilla
Available on Blu-ray

Making its blu-ray debut is this classic monster movie from 1962 which has the great King Kong facing the horrible Godzilla in a legendary brawl.  Okay, its not legendary, but it is fun to watch two dudes in really bad creature suits going at it over a cheaply built set.  Honestly, the movie works like a comedy better than it does a monster movie.  My family and I had a blast watching the silly battle and the irregular and awkward story.  This definitely falls into the “so bad its almost good” category.  B-