The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 8
(OUT OF 10)
When I first heard that Frank Darabont, the dude who made The Shawshank Redemption, was putting together a zombie series based on a graphic novel, the news didn't strike me as promising. When I heard the show would be broadcast on basic cable (AMC, to be specific), I lost more interest, figuring we couldn't get decent zombie gore unless it was on HBO or Showtime.
Boy, was I wrong.
Darabont's show is hard-core, full of gore, scares and massive dread. The first season proved to be a real ratings winner, so a second season is on the way. A recent news story claims the second season will be even gorier.
The series begins in a suburb outside of Atlanta, where Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) wakes up to learn that the world has suffered a zombie apocalypse. His wife and kid are gone; his town is devastated; and he's a walking meal for the undead.
Rick bands together with other survivors to kick some zombie ass in Atlanta, where a mysterious man in a medical fortress labors to find a cure. Will he find the cure and return loved ones to a state in which they look less ugly? I'm not telling.
The show steals from seemingly every zombie movie ever made, especially the works of George Romero, and Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later. Still, Darabont and company put their own special spin on things.
This and HBO's Boardwalk Empire are the best dramas on TV. Let's see what happens in Season 2.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Plenty of behind-the scenes stuff, including a look at the makeup effects, extra footage and more.
The Cable Guy: 15 Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B+
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 8.75
(OUT OF 10)
I remember sitting with my brother in 1996 and laughing our asses off in a crowded theater at this movie. We were Ben Stiller fans, and we had been let down by his directorial debut, Reality Bites, so we were looking for this film to deliver ... and it did.
The only problem: We were the only people in the theater laughing, to the point that others were turning around and looking at us like we were morons.
This early "departure" for Jim Carrey caught a lot of controversy, because he allegedly pulled down a $20 million paycheck for it. It was a dark comedy, requiring more nuance than his Ace Ventura work (of which I was also a fan).
Carrey delivered as The Cable Guy, a deranged nightmare of a man starved for friendship. When he meets up with Steven Kovacs (Matthew Broderick, so good that he actually steals some scenes from Carrey) on a service call, he taunts Kovacs into friendly man-dates. The man-dates progress into all-out stalking by the time the credits roll.
Stiller showed he had major directorial chops, something he didn't display again until Tropic Thunder. The film was well ahead of its time, featuring Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Leslie Mann, Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, Andy Dick and others before they were stars. It also counts as one of the first movie-producer credits for a guy named Judd Apatow.
SPECIAL FEATURES: I was shocked to find an all-new commentary featuring Stiller, Apatow and Carrey sitting together and reminiscing, quite lovingly, about the film. They all express their shock at how the film "bombed" upon its initial release. (In actuality, it made its money back.) You also get some rather good deleted scenes, including a creepy one in which Carrey's face comes out of a TV in a well-staged nightmare.
127 Hours (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES A-
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 9.25
(OUT OF 10)
This is a great movie based on the true story of Aron Ralston, a Utah hiker who had to amputate his own arm with a utility knife after he was trapped by a boulder. James Franco, in his best performance to date, plays Ralston in a way that pulls the viewer into the picture.
As disgusting and grueling as the arm-severing moment is, it's also a triumphant moment. I found myself rooting for this poor guy as he relieved himself of his arm, which had gone from being a precious, useful limb to an obstacle keeping him from living the rest of his life.
With the exception of a few minutes during which Aron goofs around with a couple of female hikers (Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara) before getting trapped, Franco does this movie largely solo. It takes a great actor to make a movie about a guy stuck alone and slowly dying this worthwhile.
SPECIAL FEATURES: There are excellent deleted scenes, including a 20-minute-plus alternate ending that shows a little more of Ralston's life after the boulder incident. You also get a listenable commentary from Boyle, a captivating featurette on Ralston's rescue and a behind-the-scenes look at the movie.