(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: Ghost Town
Where You Can Stream It: Amazon Prime
The Pitch: After a near-death experience during a routine colonoscopy, people-hating dentist Bertrum Pincus (Ricky Gervais) is shocked to discover that he is suddenly able to talk to the dead. Constantly cornered by unhappy spirits who want him to help resolve their earthly problems, the misanthropic Pincus is driven to distraction. Eventually talked into helping the dearly departed Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear), Pincus attempts to talk to Frank’s widow, Gwen (Téa Leoni)
Why It’s Essential Viewing: David Koepp is best known for writing blockbusters hits like Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man and War of the Worlds. Comedian Ricky Gervais is known for being smarmy, snarky, and generally pompous. But when these two come together in Ghost Town, the result is a charming romantic comedy that somehow turns Ricky Gervais into an endearing leading man when all is said and done. Read More »
It’s that time again. The full list of movies coming to Netflix next month (in the United States) has been released, which means it’s time for us to sift through the titles and pick out everything that you should prioritize. This batch includes some Best Picture winners, a John Hughes classic, the most recent seasons of The CW’s DC Comics TV shows, a brand new movie from director Christopher Guest and much more. Read More »
This Week in DVD is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Fry’s.
Please don’t take the commentary on the movies and TV shows too seriously, as they’re meant not to be reviews but rather previews that include the general thoughts and ramblings of a twice-committed DVD addict. The categories represent solely the author’s intentions towards the DVDs at hand, and are in no way meant to be a reflection on what he thinks other people should rent or buy. So if he ends up putting a movie you like in the “Skip it” section without having seen it, please keep in mind that the time you could spend leaving a spiteful but ultimately futile comment could instead be used for more pleasant things in life. Like buying DVDs.
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Each week in Blu-or-Not I take a look at the recent Blu-ray releases. This isn’t a review column. If you’re looking for movie reviews, look out for Adam’s This Week in DVD on Tuesdays. Blu-or-Not takes a look at the extra value content — the Blu-ray difference (and yes, this does include Picture and Sound). We decide is it worth buying the Blu-ray version or the plain old DVD.
Exclusive to Blu-ray: All the content is presented in High Definition, but none of it is exclusive to the Blu-Ray release.
DVD Features in HD: :
Deleted Scenes: Four and a half-minutes worth of four deleted scenes that had no reason to be in the film in the first place, including a laughable alternative ending with Rachel’s son Sam playing Rock Band (Jerry’s gift) with his friends when the television goes all “Matrixy” and begins to instruct him with a mission. If they had included that ending on the theatrical cut, people would have been laughing out loud.
Asymmetric Warfare: The Making of Eagle Eye: A 26-minute making of documentary which opens up with one of the screenwriters/producers talking about how Steven Spielberg came up with the idea for the story ten years ago, and that if the film had been made back then, it would have been “science fiction” and that it would have been “a movie that stretches all plausibility and credibility.” I would argue that the storyline still defies plausibility, but watching this documentary makes you want to like the film and the people involved, even though you know it’s a gigantic mess.
Shall We Play a Game?: The coolest featurette on the set, a 9-minute conversation between Eagle Eye director DJ Caruso and Wargames director John Badham. I’ve always loved conversations between filmmakers, and even while this is more self-promotional than most, its still cool.
Other features include: Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me?, A 9-minute featurette exploring the film’s tech-paranoia premise, Road Trip, a too short 3-minute featurette on the film’s many shooting locations, and a Gag Reel which mostly consists of Shia LaBeouf and Billy Bob Thornton flubbing their lines and Michelle Monaghan getting the giggles one too many times.
Video: 4 out of 5
Sound: 4.5 out of 5
Blu-Ray Exclusives: 0 out of 5
Extra Features: 3 out of 5
Price: $39.99 MSRP ($27 on Amazon)
Bottom Line: Might be worth a rental but definitely not worth a purchase. None of the extras attempt to explain the convoluted plot which makes less and less sense the more you think about it, even while you’re watching the film. I’m also disappointed with the lack of an advertised audio commentary from the filmmakers/screenwriters. NOT
Exclusive to Blu-ray:
Picture in Picture: Interviews with the cast and crew and behind the scenes footage are spread throughout the film, most of the time scene specific. This is probably the only worthwhile feature added to this edition.
Visual Commentary: This is the same commentary recorded for the collector’s edition, featuring Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion (Mal), Adam Baldin (Jayne), Summer Glau (River), and Ron Glass (Book). But this time around you can watch Joss and the crew sitting on a couch while the joke and share their experiences working on the film. It’s a fun commentary but nothing new.
Alliance Database: A series of menus that let you explore the planets, people and history of the Verse. I’ve never really believed that people actually use these type of features. No one I know likes reading long text segments on a television screen. Too bad it isn’t supplemented with computer animated videos and documentaries.
Mr. Universe’s Compendium: Basically a version of the Alliance Database which comes up with new textual information based on the scenes you’re watching. I found it pretty much useless.
DVD Features in HD:
Deleted Scenes: 13-minutes of 9 deleted 6-minutes of 4 extended scenes, available with or without commentary from Joss Whedon. The scenes are off of an AVID output, not correctly formatted for a 16:9 television, and have time-codes at the top and the bottom of the black letterbox.
Outtakes: 6-minutes of bloopers, presented in the same non-hd condition as the Deleted Scenes.
Featurettes: Future History (4:31), What’s in a Firefly (6:32), Re-Lighting the Firefly (9:40), A Filmmaker’s Journey (19:53), Joss Whedon Introduction (3:41), Take a Walk on Serenity (4:06), The Green Clan (3:07) are all off of the Serenity Collector’s Edition Set. None of the features have been remastered for high definition presentation, and most even contain a letterbox within a letterbox.
Video: 4.5 out of 5
Sound: 5 out of 5
Blu-Ray Exclusives: 2 out of 5
Extra Features: 4 out of 5
Price: $29.99 MSRP ($20 on Amazon)
Bottom Line: I wish that Universal would have spent the extra time cleaning up the extra features for High Definition presentation. The addition of the Visual Commentary and Picture in Picture features are cool, but can’t really be played at the same time. If you play the film with both activated, the player will push you back to the visual commentary when the Picture in Picture segments end, leaving it up to you to switch back over to PinP when another segment begins. Hey, I’m lazy. Truth is this is the type of movie that either you lvoe or hate, and if you love it and have a High Definition television, its a no-brainer. BLU
More after the jump.
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Words are not sufficient to describe how epic this /Filmcast is. In this episode, Dave, Devindra and Adam are joined by Dan Trachtenberg from The Totally Rad Show to geek out about some recently watched TV and films, tear apart the 2008 Emmy awards with Myles McNutt, wage in on Seth Rogen and Stephen Chow’s Green Hornet news, and praise Neil Labute’s Lakeview Terrace.
Have any questions, comments, concerns, feedback, or praise? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993 . Join us next Monday as we review D.J. Caruso’s Eagle Eye.
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In about 6 seconds, I will lose a lot of geek cred… 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… I’m not a fan of Ricky Gervais. There, I said it. Also, I have yet to get into either the British or American versions of The Office. ::gasp:: I know, a travesty. That said, I caught David Koepp‘s Ghost Town at the Toronto Film Festival, and I didn’t hate it. I also didn’t love it either. It’s your paint-by-numbers romantic comedy, with a little dry humor thrown in for good measure.
In Ghost Town, Gervais plays a loner dentist who dies for seven minutes during a routine operation, and is now able to see ghosts. Living in New York City, you can imagine there are a lot of ghosts. The ghosts need Gervais to help them fix the various unfinished business before they are allowed to enter the after life. And once all of the ghosts realize that someone can see them, they won’t leave Gervais alone. So for Ricky, it is a nightmare instead of a gift. Ricky just wants to be left alone.
Greg Kinnear plays Frank, a cheating husband who narrowly escapes being crushed by a falling air conditioner only to be hit by a bus a second later (movie cliche #1). Frank offers to get rid of all the ghosts if Ricky can fix his problem, which is to scare off his ex-wife’s (played by Téa Leoni) “money grubbing” human rights lawyer fiancée. And of course, when a connection develops between Ricky and Gwen, the film goes into full-on romantic comedy mode.
Ghost Town is a movie that you’ve already seen. It’s a romantic comedy version of Ghost, with Just Like Heaven and Roxanne thrown in for good measure. It’s not bad, but the whole thing feels below Gervais. It’s like the guy from the British Office got trapped in a generic American romantic comedy. The main gag involves Gervais being caught by others talking to “thin air” and having to talk his way out of it. You can imagine that this gets old pretty fast. Kristen Wiig is wonderful as the quirky spray-on tanning surgeon who is responsible, but not legally liable for Ricky’s short lived death.
/Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10
It’s day seven of my 28 day movie adventure. The Toronto International Film Festival has begun. And anyone who doesn’t think Canada can be hot obviously hasn’t visited Toronto in September. I arrived at 2:00am due to an unforeseen delay in my flight, and was unable to catch the morning press screening of Guy Ritchie‘s latest Rocknrolla. Luckily I was able to catch up with Liam Cullin of EmpireMovies.com after the screening of Ghost Town. We talk about the Ricky Gervais comedy and Liam gives his thoughts on Guy Ritchie’s latest (you can read his written review here). Hopefully this will be the first of many video blogs where we take a few minutes out with other critics at the festival and discuss what we’ve just seen.
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