Blu Tuesday: Gamer, Magnolia and Whiteout

It’s another busy week in Blu-ray, but despite the wide selection of titles to choose from, there aren’t too many standouts. In fact, two of the films I’ve decided to highlight wouldn’t even make the final cut most weeks, so before I talk myself out of finishing today’s post, let’s jump right into it.

“Gamer” (Lionsgate)

Fans of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s “Crank” series will no doubt enjoy their latest film, but despite a pretty cool premise that shamelessly steals from cult classics like “The Running Man” and “Death Race 2000,” “Gamer” fails to impress. A big reason for that is the script, which is definitely more restrained than the “Crank” movies but still pretty batshit crazy. (Case in point: “Heroes” star Milo Ventimiglia cameos as a “Sims”-like character named, wait for it, Rick Rape.) One thing that does work is the look of the film. Neveldine and Taylor may not know how to censor their own twisted imaginations, but they’re talented filmmakers with a great visual style. They also put together some great extras for the Blu-ray release, including an audio commentary, a making-of featurette, and a behind-the-scenes look at the RED camera technology used on the film.

“Magnolia” (Warner Bros.)

Paul Thomas Anderson might not be as prolific as his fans would like him to be, but whenever he does decide to make a film, they usually turn out pretty well. “Magnolia” has been called overrated by some, and whether or not that’s true, it’s hard to deny the brilliance behind it. For starters, Anderson reportedly wrote the movie in only a few weeks, which is quite the achievement when you consider the complexity of the narrative. It also boasts a great cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, and Tom Cruise in his Oscar-nominated role, and some of the best editing of the last decade. Clocking in at just over three-hours, “Magnolia” may be Anderson’s longest movie, but it glides by faster than any of his films. Warner Brothers’ Blu-ray release delivers a solid HD transfer, while the included video diary offers an intimate look at the making of the film.

“Whiteout” (Warner Bros.)

Warner Bros. certainly wasn’t shy about showing the trailer to its upcoming crime drama, “Whiteout,” to Comic-Con attendees at the 2007 convention, so when the movie failed to make its 2008 release date, there was only one explanation: it wasn’t very good. Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, “Whiteout” does have its share of thrilling moments (usually those that take place outside in the fatal Antarctic environment), but more often than not, it falls back on the same bland dialogue and characters that we’ve come to expect from every mediocre film in the genre. Fans of the comic will no doubt enjoy seeing Rucka’s story come to life, but “Whiteout” probably would have been better off going straight to DVD. And to be completely honest, it likely would have were it not for Kate Beckinsale in the lead role.

Also Out This Week:

“Che” (Criterion)
“Pandorum” (Anchor Bay)
“Boogie Nights” (Warner Bros.)
“Weeds: Season Five” (Lionsgate)
“The Invention of Lying” (Warner Bros.)


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