No, seriously – Li’l Awful Ani’s fingerprints are all over a few of today’s new releases.
First, there’s The Clone Wars: Season 5, which features an animated semi-likeness of him as Anakin Skywalker, though many will say it is in fact more animated than he could ever be. Truthfully, I never minded him as an actor, but Ahsoka’s arc from being one of the most annoying characters ever to someone we were genuinely sorry to see go is one of the great triumphs of the show and this season. It’s the kind of genuine character development we never really got in the prequels, and what some misguided souls assured us would happen to Jar Jar by the end of Episode III.
Quick, what was Christensen’s first feature film appearance? The answer is also out today: In the Mouth of Madness, which happens to be my favorite John Carpenter movie ever, influenced heavily by Lovecraft and King, and in turn influential itself on horror mystery games like Silent Hill. Christensen briefly appears as a paperboy, while the movie mainly focuses on Sam Neill losing his mind and contact with reality while in search of a missing horror author (Jurgen Prochnow) who may be rewriting all of creation. Though the new transfer is apparently great, there are no new extras – just the previous commentary track, which is possibly the worst one ever recorded, as it’s Carpenter and his cinematographer talking about lighting and lenses the entire time.
Finally, if you think Christensen’s just a two-dimensional actor, here comes a 3D version of Jumper to prove you wrong. I’m not sure anybody was clamoring for this particular post-conversion, but I remember having some fun with this failed franchise-starter in which Hayden plays a guy with the power to teleport, who once again runs afoul of Samuel L. Jackson.
In non-Christensen news, there is of course Pacific Rim, which I hope will translate well to 2D TV. While not the movie’s biggest fan, I did like the way the 3D separated the layers of rain, robot and monster to clarify the night battles, and hope it works when flattened out. The disc comes loaded with deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes, pre-production designs and an audio commentary by Guillermo del Toro. And you still have two more days to enter and possibly win one of these from me.
Best of the rest, in brief:
Vikings: Season 1 – The popularity of Game of Thrones and Thor is the hook, but the show itself is apparently pretty good and more historically accurate than you’d expect. Meaning Vikings are only physically horny, while their helmets are not.
The Haunting – Not the big-budget Jan de Bont version, but the Robert Wise haunted-house flick that many will call their favorite cinematic ghost story. It’s one of those movies that never really shows you the evil, but merely hints at it – some love that fact, others not so much.
Embrace of the Vampire – Back in college, my friends and I wore out the tape on the Alyssa Milano topless lesbian make-out scene. Not sure if the movie was actually about anything else.
Weird Science – In the ’80s, it was widely assumed that audiences would believe computers could do anything, and this led to a movie where two teenagers create a real-life woman who has super powers. With Robert Downey Jr. as a school bully, Bill Paxton as obnoxious older brother Chet, and Road Warrior villain Vernon Wells sending up his signature role as a magically conjured mutant biker.
Defiance: Season 1 – If you ever wanted to see a live-action Bravestarr, this post-alien-apocalypse Sci-fi western on Syfy should do the trick.
And those are my top picks this week. What are yours?