Lone Survivor

Doppelganger Releasing

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Black Out Jos (Raymond Thiry) used to be a very bad man. But he’s reformed now, on the straight and narrow, and engaged to be married to a wonderful woman. All of that’s put at risk when he wakes up the day before his wedding in a somewhat compromising situation… namely with a dead body lying beside him and no memory of how it got there. Now he’s in a race to discover what’s happening, who’s behind it and how he can keep his bride-to-be from hearing about it all. This Dutch action/comedy has been a long time coming to our shores — we saw it back at Fantastic Fest 2012 — and it’s an absolute blast from beginning to end as it mixes a dark sense of humor with extreme acts of violence and some highly memorable characters. Comparisons to early Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino are fair, but director Arne Toonen makes it his own creation. Highly recommended for fans of funny, profane and fast-moving R-rated fun. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, short film, bloopers, gallery]

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Ashley-Benson-Rachel-Korine-Selena-Gomez-And-Vanessa-Hudgens2

Every year that goes by without a Special Achievement Academy Award given out at the Oscars is another year where it feels like cinema isn’t moving forward. Of course, cinema is moving forward. The last such award was received way back in 1996 by John Lasseter for making the first feature-length computer-animated film (Toy Story), yet things have changed and progressed in those 18 years in a multitude of ways, just maybe nothing so noticeably groundbreaking as that. Animation has instead improved gradually. So have computer-generated visual effects, and the truly important advances of the latter do tend to get recognized with the Scientific & Technical Academy Awards. Plus, unlike the early years of the Special Achievement Award, there’s actually a permanent visual effects category again. In fact, most of the areas that the award has honored in the past now have their own category. But the special Oscar doesn’t have to be just for visual effects, sound effects and sound editing, as it mostly has been. The purpose of the award is, according to the Academy, “for an outstanding contribution to a particular movie when there is no annual award category that applies to the contribution.” That can be any number of elements that go into moviemaking, from stunts to casting to catering. And the “outstanding contribution” doesn’t need to be anything game-changing. The three “unsung heroes” spotlighted this week by Variety — Lone Survivor stunt coordinator Kevin Scott, Inside Llewyn Davis animal trainer Dawn Barkan and Her video […]

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lone

Editor’s note: Our review of Lone Survivor originally ran during last year’s AFI Fest, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens tomorrow in wide release. Director Peter Berg made a massive misstep with 2012′s Battleship. There was a decent ninety-minute popcorn movie buried underneath all the bloat, but worst of all, it had no personality. It didn’t feel like a movie Berg had to make. Not every movie has to be a serious passion project, but when the passion is onscreen, it speaks volumes. That theory is proven well by Berg’s latest film, Lone Survivor, his best film since The Rundown. The true life story follows, if you haven’t guessed yet, a lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg). You could consider that a spoiler, but the movie opens with the rescue of Luttrell. It’s a questionable creative decision because a good deal of filmgoers will discover Luttrell’s journey with this film, but then it becomes more a matter of how Luttrell got there rather than who survived. Berg goes about introducing Luttrell and his team — Matt Axelson (Ben Foster), Mike Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), and Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) — with the standard camaraderie and exposition that’s expected. It’s a fine set-up, but it’s forgotten once the four of them are thrust into battle, where we learn more about them through action.

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JACK RYAN

This dreaded dump month is only going to look worse considering all the terrific December releases we just saw: Martin Scorsese, Spike Jonze, and the Coen Brothers’s three incredible films; Ron Burgundy’s hilarious return; and David O. Russell‘s pretty good movie. Even with 47 Ronin kind of stinking up the joint, it couldn’t ruin last month’s holiday filmgoing spirit. December ended a satisfying year on a tremendous note. Of course the start of 2014 can’t live up to all those award contenders, not even with I, Frankenstein going to bat for it. Frankenstein’s monster turned pretty boy action hero should at the very least give us something to talk about, but if the trailers are any fair indication, I, Frankenstein is not one of the five must see movies of the month.

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2013review_action

I’ve always been far more partial to action accomplished via choreography than with CGI shenanigans. There’s a place for both, obviously, but I’m more impressed by the agile movement of bodies than I am by the placement of pixels. Unfortunately, fight scenes unassisted by CGI or wire-work are becoming a bit of a rarity these days. That said, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with action scenes, big or small, that are created with the aid of technology or that eschew fisticuffs all together for exciting gunplay or vehicular hijinks. This year’s best action films are a mix of all of the above and include both domestic and international movies. What’s not included? Movies featuring superheroes. It wasn’t an intentional slight, believe me, but when it came time to rank which films offered up the most legitimately exciting and visceral thrills the thirteen below beat out the likes of Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, and others. Remember, this isn’t a ranking of movies but of the action in the movies, meaning while these aren’t all necessarily great films they do represent the best action to have hit screens this year. To that end, keep reading for a look at our choices for the Best Action Movies of 2013.

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lonesurvivor

Mark Wahlberg is continuing his grand tour of racking up macho roles by now playing a Navy SEAL in Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor. Did you know that these men are heroes? Because the very literal, somber rendition of David Bowie’s “Heroes” playing in the background of the trailer that seems to be stuck on the part where he says “heroes” will remind you if you’ve forgotten. Lone Survivor tells the true story of the failed 2005 Navy mission “Operation Red Wings,” in which a four-man team headed to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to hunt down Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. I hate to be the one to point out a spoiler, but I’m pretty sure only one of them survives. The foursome is played by scruffed-up versions of Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster. Eric Bana also stars. For fans of war tales or male bonding to the sweet, dulcet sounds of Peter Gabriel (who isn’t?), Lone Survivor is probably going to be a hit. But otherwise, it seems like just another war movie to add to the pile.

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Eric Bana in Lone Survivor

Though there weren’t many people out there who appreciated Peter Berg’s recent board game cash-in, Battleship, he was generally a well-regarded director before he laid that one on us, so there should still be interest out there for what he’s doing next. Especially since he’s already assembled a fairly impressive cast for it. The film is called Lone Survivor, and it tells the true story of a Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan gone bad, as adapted from the biography of soldier Marcus Luttrell. While on a reconnaissance mission along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Luttrell and three of his fellow SEALs made a fatal error. After showing a bit of compassion and letting an old man and three boys who came upon them walk away, they soon became victims of a Taliban ambush, which took the lives of every member of the team other than Luttrell, the titular lone survivor.

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Once upon a time, Adam McKay’s upcoming football comedy Three Mississippi was going to be a glorious re-teaming of not only Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell’s dueling idiots act from The Other Guys, but also a re-teaming of Wahlberg and Alex Baldwin’s meathead chemistry from The Departed. But now Mark Wahlberg is dropping out of the movie, and heck, it isn’t even an Adam McKay comedy anymore. Just when things were looking so promising too. What happened? It’s a sad tale of other movies taking priority. With Peter Berg’s Battleship sinking at the box office, Universal got cold feet when it came to financing his next movie, Lone Survivor, which is about a Navy SEAL on a doomed mission. Without Universal fronting the bill, Berg needed a big name attached to the project in order to procure some new financing, and he got that in the form of Mark Wahlberg. As part of the deal, Wahlberg had to agree to make Lone Survivor his next project. The other movie that took the wind out of the sails of Three Mississippi is McKay and Ferrell’s upcoming Anchorman sequel. For the longest time nobody thought that movie was going to happen, but then it got unexpectedly green lit and suddenly McKay found himself in the position of having to drop out of Three Mississippi. Ferrell’s own commitments to that film made it pretty impossible for he and Wahlberg’s now inflexible schedules to synch up, so something had to be done.

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Another adaptation of Dune has been kicking around for a little while now. The last we heard of it was Pierre Morel (Taken) quickly joining and then leaving the project, a project which Paramount soon after dropped. Four years ago a genuinely enticing filmmaker got attached to finally make it happen: Peter Berg. Berg, for those of you who don’t know, has his gigantic board game adaptation Battleship opening in theaters tomorrow. The Kingdom and Friday Night Lights director isn’t the first person to spring to mind when you think Dune, but Berg was certainly the most interesting director whose name was mentioned. The director can certainly do epic and big, but could he do fantasy? Either way, his plans fit nicely into his signature style: gritty and rough. When asked about what his plans for the film were, Berg told us, “My feeling was, I wanted to make a grittier, rougher film than the [David] Lynch movie. My experience with Dune was just a really great adventure story, and it was muscular, violent, and intense. Obviously there was a very cerebral, mystical, almost-supernatural component to it, and mind communication, and the Bene Gesserits were kind of a bunch of badass witches. At its core, I wanted to make something that felt more like Star Wars, where it just had more grit to it.”

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Battleship

Universal hopes you’re ready for some hot naval action because they’ve set a release date and officially announced Peter Berg while be at the helm of Battleship.

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