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Michael Jackson entertains one last time



Every Tuesday, new DVD and Blu-ray titles are reaching retail shelves and Redbox outlets ready for you to rent. HollywoodNews.com stays on top of the latest releases so you know which films are worth your time and money. This week, we recommend:

This Is It: A passion project delivered to the Michael Jackson fan in all of us, Kenny Ortega’s “This Is It” cobbles exclusive, up-close footage of the King of Pop as he rehearsed for a string of concerts and compiles it into a keepsake treasure chest for a show that would never be. “This” could have been a disaster, a morbid pillage of Jackson’s legacy that capitalized on the late singer’s tabloid-teasing death. But in Ortega’s hands, the joyous souvenir isn’t greedy – it’s rewarding. It’s a high-concept greatest-hits package, a ferociously entertaining send-off for the musical icon, a coda that permits Jackson’s legacy to end on a high note. Extras on Sony’s DVD include two additional documentaries that provide more insight into Jackson’s creative process, updated videos for Jackson’s “Thriller” and “Smooth Criminal,” as well as more footage with the enamored back-up dancers as they audition to be part of the tour.

Surrogates: There’s virtual reality, and then there’s “Surrogates.” Jonathan Mostow’s sci-fi thriller takes place in a not-too-distant-future, where man relies on advanced robotic technology to live vicariously through polished mannequins. But when someone starts abusing the moral grey areas of surrogacy to commit some of the first homicides in decades, investigator Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) must step outside his surrogate and catch a killer. Mostow’s always been intrigued by man’s hostile marriage with cutting-edge technology (the theme ran rampant through his “Terminator” installment), and there are interesting debates raised by Michael Ferris and John D. Brancato’s script. Touchstone’s Blu-ray, meanwhile, comes with an audio commentary track, a Breaking Benjamin music video, deleted scenes and “Making of” featurettes.

The Boys Are Back: Clive Owen executive produces and stars in this adaptation of British journalist Simon Carr’s heartfelt memoirs about raising his two boys after his wife loses her battle with cancer. “Boys” taught me a thing or two about Owen as an actor. He does certain things very well. Impassioned anger, shrugged-off sarcasm and an effortless sex appeal contribute to Owen’s unquestionable cool factor. But paternal compassion, vulnerability and unconditional love aren’t in his performance arsenal, and he needs all three to make “Boys” work. Bonus features on the new “Boys” DVD include a photographic tour of the film shoot (with optional commentary) as well as an on-the-set clip reel.

I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell: Tucker Max’s misogynistic book, based on his misogynistic blog, becomes a misogynistic sex comedy about dudes trying to throw a memorable bachelor party before their buddy ties the knot. Matt Czuchry cuts loose as Max, but the film’s not nearly as unpredictable (or funny) as the protagonist would like to believe. Outtakes and trailers round out the “Hell” DVD.

Bright Star: A subdued period romance from director Jane Campion about the ill-fated affair between 19th-century poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Pockets of beauty awaken in Campion’s film once Cornish and Whishaw finally consummate their relationship, but it’s not enough to rescue “Bright Star” from its overall stasis. Look for a commentary track, deleted scenes and featurettes on the DVD.

About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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  • January 27, 2010 | Permalink |

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