If it's crap ... We'll tell you
THE RICKY GERVAIS SHOW (DVD)
I can already hear the hissing out there from our more slavishly loyal fans who've cleaved to Korey's upset reaction from when this HBO show first began to air. It was only a matter of time before somebody else started taking podcasts and doing animation on top of them, and to be fair. Ricky's format, comedy, and subject matter doesn't have much in common with what we do here at Spill. Taking older podcasts from 2005, the show animates over Ricky, his writing partner Stephen Merchant, and their producer (and subject for all their abuse) Karl Pilkington, in an early Hannah Barbara style. The point of the entire thing seems to be to let Karl talk about any number of subjects, often things he brings to the table himself, and then savagely roast him for his opinions. The jury appears to be still out on whether Karl really is as stupid as he seems or if it's all a put-on, but the degree to which Ricky and Stephen insult him is either going to make it gut-bustingly funny or unlistenably cruel, depending on how bad you feel for the guy. The animations don't add much to the proceedings really, but the audio is often sharply funny, at least for folks who already dig on Gervais' acerbic style of wit. But I'll admit...even I can only take so much of his piercing hyena laugh before I need a break.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Ricky Gervais Show: Complete First Season
How have I gone all this time without ever have seen Ron Howard's 1991 big-budget action adventure film about firemen? It's one of those films that everybody imagined to at least catch on TNT by now, but I never did. So that puts me into an interesting position, to be able to judge the blockbuster hit twenty years later and not be swayed by nostalgia. And let me tell you something: this is one seriously corny, cliche-ridden ride. That being said, it's filled with absolutely the most impressive (albeit unrealistic) fire scenes ever set to film. Using real fire and effects, this still looks amazing today, twice even as cool on an HD big screen (which certainly would NOT have been the case if it the film had been made flirting with early CG). The story follows the two sons of a famous fire fighter, who have each gone on to live very different lives. Stephen (Kurt Russell) has gone on to become a hero himself at the department, but one whose daredevil antics pushed his wife (Rebecca De Mornay) away. The other brother, Brian (William Baldwin), has been way-fucked up, ever since watching his dad die in a fire as a child. A nomad his entire life, he moved from career to career, but finally returned to fire fighting, and it's brought up all kind of bad blood and memories between the two siblings. Meanwhile, a serial arsonist is using controlled 'backdrafts' to murder people and an investigator (Robert DeNiro) is having his investigations into it hampered by a crooked city council member (J.T. Walsh) who has been cutting funds from the department. In between the rather silly mechanics of the plot (and the performance by Baldwin which makes it clear why his theatrical career didn't go gangbusters), lots of shit blows up REAL good, although I thought it was funny that Howard was praised for the same technique of giving his fires animal-like qualities that Roland Emmerich was so criticized for with his gusts of wind in "The Day After Tomorrow". The new anniversary blu-ray adds to the previous bonus features an introduction by Howard and a limited PIP function, but the real reason to get this is to see how amazing the action scenes still look. There's no question that "Backdraft" is an early nineties action film, with all the predictability and hoary plot cliches that we've come to expect from genre films made during that period, but despite all that, it's very much still an entertaining one.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Backdraft (Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
CASE 39 (Blu-Ray and DVD)
I remember we got a few emails about why the Spill crew didn't review this movie when it came out this year. That's because we didn't even realize that it did. It tiptoed past us (and pretty much everyone else) into theaters, and left quickly afterward just as quietly as it entered. What does it tell you that it was made in 2006 and didn't even make it to theaters until 4 years later? It should tell you that it's pretty bad, and indeed, "Case 39" lives up to those expectations. Renée Zellweger plays Emily Jenkins, a social worker who finds herself caught between bureaucracy and a moral imperative, when she becomes convinced that a young girl named Lillith (Jodelle Ferland) is in real danger from her creepy and haggard looking parents, who apparently believe that she's evil. After a terrified late night phone call from the girl, she and her cop buddy (Ian McShane) show up at her home just in time to keep Mom and Dad from cooking her alive in the oven. Despite her better instincts, Emily allows herself to be talked into becoming a temporary foster parent for Lillith, only to discover that Mom and Dad were onto something. And that's the problem entirely. While certainly, within the context of the film, Lillith is indeed some sort of demon, a card the movie plays way too early, the characters seem to be convinced of it for what seems to be unreasonably arbitrary reasons. And then, of course, they all proceed to act like complete idiots for the rest of the film. *sigh*. Why does it seem like the only horror movies that make it to theatrical runs all suck? You gotta dig through foreign films or festival releases to find all the good stuff. 'Cause "Case 39" definitely ain't the good stuff.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Case 39 [Blu-ray]