DVD previews: 'Hotel Transylvania,' 'Seven Psychopaths'
Vampire Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) shares a "zing" with Jonathan (Andy Samberg) while Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) watches in "Hotel Transylvania."
Coming Jan. 29
"Hotel Transylvania" (PG, 92 minutes, Sony): As Count Dracula, Adam Sandler turns in a blandly unobjectionable — if toothless — voice performance. As Jonathan, a young American backpacker who accidentally wanders into Dracula's castle — set up as a hotel for monsters seeking refuge from human persecution — Andy Samberg does his best to animate his innocuous persona. Selena Gomez brings a bit more personality to the role of Dracula's daughter, Mavis, a "teenager" celebrating her 118th birthday while chafing at her father's overprotectiveness. Of course, she and Jonathan fall in love, leading to — well, not terribly much. Yes, there is some initial friction between Jonathan and Dracula, a widowed father who convinced himself that all humans are evil after his wife was killed by an angry mob. And then there's a tiny bit more friction once Dracula realizes that Jonathan isn't really such a bad kid but that his hotel guests might freak out if they discover a human among them. Friction, yes, but not a whole lot of drama, suspense or tension. It's something of a shame. "Hotel Transylvania" is entertaining enough for the trick-or-treat crowd, but a bit more bite wouldn't kill it. Contains mild bathroom humor and suggestiveness. Extras: "Goodnight Mr. Foot" mini-movie; commentary with director Genndy Tartakovsky, producer Michelle Murdocca and visual effects supervisor Daniel Kramer; deleted scenes; "Problem (Monster Remix)" music video by Becky G featuring Will.i.am. Also, on Blu-ray: making-of and "Voicing Hotel Transylvania" featurettes and three progression reels. 3-D version also available.
"Seven Psychopaths" (R, 110 minutes, Sony): "Overkill" describes this film, in which a screenwriter named Marty (Colin Farrell) starts writing a movie called "Seven Psychopaths." While Marty tries to dream up homicidal maniacs, his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) and his partner in crime, Hans (ChristopherWalken), embark on their daily scam, kidnapping dogs and pocketing the reward money. When Billy steals a Shih Tzu, though, he runs afoul of its devoted owner, a pathological crime boss named Charlie (Woody Harrelson). Trafficking in the larky dark humor of the Coen brothers and the whiz-bang movie-worship of Quentin Tarantino, playwright Martin McDonagh has never met a reference he didn't nod to. His limber verbal acrobatics, studded with bursts of sordid violence and unbridled vulgarity, are equaled by a vibrantly absurdist visual imagination. With Rockwell leading the way, Farrell, Walken and Harrelson prove to be a merry band of deadpan pranksters, plunging into McDonagh's world with gleeful abandon. Contains strong violence, bloody images, pervasive profanity, sexuality, nudity and some drug use. Extras: Featurettes "Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths" and "Crazy Locations," Harrelson and Farrell character featurettes, "Layers" video mashup of the film set to a rap beat and "Seven Psychocats" remade trailer in which the cast is replaced by cats.
"The Paperboy" (R, 107 minutes, Millennium Films): In the lurid, swampy, yet almost perversely engrossing follow-up to director Lee Daniels' "Precious," the temperature is set to "sizzle." Ironically, it could have used a little more time in the oven. Set in the late 1960s, and narrated as a series of flashbacks by Macy Gray, who plays a maid, the film is structured like a mystery thriller. Its focus? A pair of hotshot Miami newspaper reporters, Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) and Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo), who are investigating a small-town sheriff's murder. The titular paperboy is Ward's younger brother Jack (Zac Efron), who acts as gofer for Ward and Yardley during the investigation. In the end, however, there's not much mystery here. There are, however, plenty of thrills and visceral pleasures to be had. This is largely the result of Nicole Kidman's central, barn-burning performance as Charlotte Bless, the trashy fiancee of the man whose innocence Ward and Yardley are trying to prove. Her opposite in this Southern Gothic tale is Hillary VanWetter (John Cusack), the violent and ignorant racist who's been accused of stabbing the officer. If there's a mystery, it's why Ward and Yardley so passionately want to clear this lowlife's name. Contains sex, drug use, obscenity, nudity and violence. Extras: making-of featurette, interviews with Daniels and other cast and crew members, and behind-the-scenes footage.
"Paranormal Activity 4" (R, 88 minutes, Paramount): The newest film in the found-footage horror series picks up in story terms where the second film left off. A brief recap of that film's finale — in which the possessed Katie disappeared with her infant nephew, Hunter — opens the proceedings before moving forward five years to introduce a family living in a Nevada suburb. After a creepy neighbor boy named Robbie comes to stay with them for a few days, weird things begin to happen around the house. When Katie suddenly appears, it implies that Robbie is, in fact, Hunter. This film's strong suit is that it finally feels contemporary. The use of computer webcams is both familiar and disorienting. "Paranormal Activity 4" is in many ways one big setup, building to a single, inevitable what's-behind-you jump scare and then a rollicking finale — one that implies a deeper mythology, opening the door for another sequel. Contains profane language and some violence/terror. Extras: "The Recovered Files," about 30 minutes of found footage not shown in theaters.
"The Cold Light of Day" (PG-13, 93 minutes, Summit Entertainment): Henry Cavill plays Will, a failing businessman taking a distracted sailing vacation with his family in Spain. He gets along fine with Mom and his brother. Dad (played by Bruce Willis)? Not so much. Will goes ashore in a huff, and when he returns, the boat's been moved and his family's gone. A rough encounter with corrupt Spanish cops has him convinced powerful forces have nabbed them. But who? Since Dad is a CIA agent and not some embassy cultural attache, as he's always said, that could be anybody. "The Cold Light of Day" is a loose variation on the "fish out of water" thriller, with Will unable to speak Spanish, in over his head and as likely to fire off a round into his foot as hit a bad guy. But most everybody here seems out of water, starting with Willis. "The Cold Light of Day" just doesn't stand up to the scrutiny of the cold light of you-know-what. Contains language and sexual content.
Also: "The Awakening," "Hello I Must Be Going," "The Liability," "Noobz," "Citadel," "Long Walk Home" (1990), "Cast A Long Shadow" (1959), "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2" (DC Universe original animated movie), "Tales of the Night" (2011, France, shadow puppet-style animation by Michel Ocelot), "Madly Madagascar," "Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film DVD Collection" (55 discs) and "Best of Warner Bros. 50 Film Blu-ray Collection" (52 discs; both are 90th anniversary commemoration releases that include new documentaries "Tales from the Warner Bros. Lot" and "The Warner Bros. Lot Tour"), "The Mighty Mississippi With Trevor Mcdonald" (PBS), "The Love Section," "All Superheroes Must Die," "Universal 3-D Nature Documentaries" (three-disc set), "Bangkok Assassins," Thailand), "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic — Pinkie Pie Party" and "Stone Soup and Other Stories From the Asian Tradition" (includes Read-Along function, Scholastic Storybook Treasures) and "Stories About African American Heritage Featuring March On!" (three discs, includes "March On!: The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World," Scholastic Storybook Treasures).
Television series: "Downton Abbey Season 3" (PBS), "Pan Am: Season One," "Young Riders Complete Season Three," "Misfits: Season Two" (BBC), "Femmes Fatales: Season One" (Cinemax) and "Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime: The Tommy & Tuppence Mysteries" and "Poirot & Marple Fan Favorites Collection" (both PBS), and "The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley: The Complete Series."
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