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State of Play (Blu-Ray)





(OUT OF 10)

The majority of this film is actually quite good. Russell Crowe plays an investigative newspaper reporter looking into the death of young woman who was involved with his politician friend (Ben Affleck, in fine form).

As a look behind the inner workings of daily newspapers, the movie is an effective testament to a disappearing (or disintegrating) profession. As a murder-mystery, it screws the pooch in the end, thanks to a crappy, copout finale. Still, Crowe and Affleck are good here, and it's definitely worth a rental.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The U-Control feature provides cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. There are also some deleted scenes and a making-of doc.






(OUT OF 10)

Director Greg Mottola (Superbad) based this one on his experiences working at Adventure-land in the '80s—yes, he actually worked at the crappy park in Farmingdale on Long Island. I grew up near that park, and it sucked. I honestly feared for my life every time I went on the rickety rollercoaster. Peer pressure is the only thing that got me on that monstrosity.

The park has undergone some major renovations since the '80s, so Mottola has moved the action to some rundown park in Pennsylvania. The stand-in park actually did remind me of the horrible Long Island establishment, so props to Mottola for getting that part right.

This is basically a coming-of-age story starring Jesse Eisenberg as a high school grad trying to make some money to pay for tuition to a pricey school. He falls in love with a troubled girl (Kristen Stewart, making up a little bit for her dull performance in Twilight), learns some life lessons and masters the art of emceeing one of those stupid cardboard-horse-race games.

The film isn't nearly the laugh riot that Superbad was, and it's not at all groundbreaking. But the performances are good, and the storytelling is competent. Ryan Reynolds gives a strong performance as a wannabe musician who is stuck in his amusement-park handyman job and getting his kicks with younger women.

Bill Hader gets the film's biggest laughs as the park manager, hiring people after very short interviews and frying up corndogs that might be well past their expiration date. Kristen Wiig does her usual shtick, and it's shtick I'm not yet tired of. Eisenberg and Stewart make for a convincing couple with bad timing.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Just My Life: The Making of 'Adventureland' is a decent look at the film's making, with Mottola talking about his time as a carnie. He also does a decent commentary with Eisenberg. Hearing their similar voices back to back suggests Eisenberg was cast perfectly as Mottola's alter ego. You also get deleted scenes.

Earth (Blu-Ray)





(OUT OF 10)

This is a feature-length version of the excellent BBC TV series Planet Earth, and it is mind-blowing on Blu-Ray. The story segment about the starving polar bear is great, heartbreaking cinema. If you already own the Planet Earth BBC Blu-Ray discs, you probably won't need this unless you want James Earl Jones, aka Darth Vader, narrating the cool great-white-shark-eats-seal jump. Otherwise, you have this footage already.

If you don't have Planet Earth, and you want a condensed version of that epic series, have at it. Your home-entertainment system will get an impressive workout. Also, it's G-rated, so it's a nice way to teach your kids about the circle of life.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Earth Diaries: The Making of 'Earth' the Movie has some interesting moments. Disney also continues their cool trend of providing a standard-DVD version along with the Blu-Ray for those who haven't converted yet, but might be thinking about it.

Fast and Furious





(OUT OF 10)

Me no likey this movie, but the gas-truck-robbery chase scene, as stupid as it is, looks pretty sweet on Blu-Ray. Still, the return of Vin Diesel was not a blessing, as his mopey persona is many miles away from anything that could be considered charismatic. When Paul Walker is acting circles around you, you have some serious problems.

Now that Diesel is back, they will probably make more of these with Sir Croak at their center. I prefer it when the guy voices Iron Giants as opposed to when he actually appears onscreen.

Frightening trivia for you to chew on: Diesel and David Twohy are talking about making more Riddick movies. Oh holy God.

SPECIAL FEATURES: More U-Control, with Walker and director Justin Lin providing behind-the-scenes details. Some BD-Live stuff allows you to make your own Fast and Furious video. (Ooooh!) There are also several short features about getting Diesel and Walker back, all the crazy-cool cars, and so on.

More by Bob Grimm


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