COWBOYS & ALIENS (Out Dec. 6)
* *1/2 (B-)
Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Paul Dano, Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine, Noah Ringer
Universal//Rated PG-13//Sci-Fi/Western//118 minutes
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray
Adapted from a graphic novel by Scott Mitchell, this sci-fi actioner examines mankind's ability to fight back when extraterrestrials invade an isolated western town during the 1800s. "Cowboys & Aliens" offers few surprises, but the aliens are marvelously invented creatures that partially make up for the film's lackluster narrative. The film benefits from its spooky settings in semi-arid deserts and stark rocky outcroppings. Daniel Craig appears as mysterious stranger Jake Lonergan, lacking all memory of his life prior to his arrival in town. He becomes an object of interest to Ella, an opinionated, capable beauty played by Olivia Wilde, displaying an edginess that lifts her underwritten role. Sam Rockwell and Keith Carradine add Western flavor in supporting turns, while Harrison Ford is cast as the local bigwig. The ensemble is game though at times ill-served by blurred special effects. For much of its running time, "Cowboys & Aliens" entertains with action set pieces, but having eschewed philosophical underpinnings, the action neither enthralls nor makes the grade as camp. DVD and Blu-ray features include: Digital Copy of Cowboys & Aliens, Second Screen, Conversations with Jon Favreau, Making of featurette, director's commentary.
THE HANGOVER PART II (Out Dec. 6)
* * * (B)
Directed by Todd Phillips
Starring Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha, Mason Lee, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Tambor, Mason Lee, Jamie Chung, Nick Cassavetes, Sasha Barrese, Gillian Vigman
Warner//Rated R//Comedy//102 minutes
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
The original's loosely-knit wolf pack is reunited in Bangkok for Stu's (Ed Helms) wedding to a babe from Thailand. The guys plan to toast Stu's impending nuptials on the beach, but somehow ingest a substance that once again leaves them with amnesia, and minus the 16-year-old brother Teddy (Mason Lee) of Stu's fiancee. As before, the trio awakens in a motel room. This time the mysteries include tattoos, new hairstyles, a severed finger and a supersmart capuchin monkey. The small simian is only slightly more outrageous than self-descibed "stay-at-home-son" Alan, played by Zach Galifianakis, who instantly bonds with his primate brother. Normally uptight dentist Stu, has apparently gone off the deep end while under the influence, and knows that his fiancee's strict father will kibosh the wedding unless they find his son Teddy. Bradley Cooper appears as married Phil, longing for his carefree bachelor days. The formula includes comically retracing their steps in order to locate Teddy. Mike Tyson and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) reprise their earlier roles, and chapter two gains traction by placing Paul Giamatti and Jeffrey Tambor in pivotal supporting roles. The slapstick comedy is bolstered by one-liners and approachable characters who remain lovable despite their inanities. DVD and Blu-ray features include: Map of destruction, The madness of Ken Jeong, Action mash-up, Three Best Friends song, The Dan Band performs Fame.
ANOTHER EARTH (Out Now)