‘Corpse’ is rotten, ‘Last’ is lifeless and ‘43’ is funny on DVD

Among the movies that became available Tuesday, June 18 on Blu-ray and DVD at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley are an animated adventure about a living corpse, a sequel to a horror flick produced by Eli Roth and a comedy starring more A-list actors than you can shake a stick at..

21 & Over

Justin Chon plays a straight-A college student whose best friends (Skylar Astin and Miles Teller) surprise him with a visit for his 21st birthday. What was supposed to be one beer becomes a night of humiliation, overindulgence and utter debauchery. (R – 93 minutes)

“21 & Over,” a new comedy written and directed by “The Hangover” screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, is exactly what one would expect it to be – “The Hangover” for the college crowd. And although it is true that seeing three middle-aged men make the most massive mistakes of their lives is much more amusing than seeing three 21-year-olds make complete donkeys of themselves (as they so often do), Lucas and Moore have conceived some situations that are simply so absurd that you cannot help but let loose and have a fun time. It really should come with one of those “do not try this at home” warnings,” though. (Thumbs Up!)

The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse

Lee Perkins voices a soulful zombie who fights to keep the dead from rising up from their graves and feasting on the flesh of the living. (R – 98 minutes)

It will not take too long before “The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse” finds its way to the bottom of the bargain bin at your local retail store. You would do best not to dig it back up because the new animated adaptation of Ken Haeser and Buz Hasson’s cult comic “The Living Corpse Exhumed” looks less like a bona fide feature film than it does a series of narrative segments from a video game strung together. The source material seems to have promise – perhaps as a live-action tongue-in-cheek comedy ala “Warm Bodies” – but this half-hearted iteration is D.O.A. (Thumbs Down!)

Jack the Giant Slayer

Nicholas Hoult plays a young farmhand who unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants. Fighting for a kingdom, its people and the love of a brave princess, the farmhand comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend. (PG-13 – 100 minutes)

“Jack the Giant Slayer” has enormous excitement, a humongous heart and abundant adventure. Director Bryan Singer’s new live-action re-telling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” succeeds in its efforts to entertain audiences of all ages by simply not straying too far from the classic English folktale’s basic premise and merely modifying the minutia to increase credibility and creativity. Unfortunately, the screenwriters do tack on an extra ending in which the proverbial beanstalk sap hits the fan and the giants kick it into “Transformers” madness mode, but most of the movie stays true to the fairy tale’s fundamental function – inciting and inspiriting our imaginations. (Thumbs Up!)

The Last Exorcism: Part II

Ashley Bell plays a woman who is found terrified and alone in rural Louisiana. Just as she begins the difficult process of starting a new life, the evil force that once possessed her is back with other, unimaginably horrific plans that mean her last exorcism was just the beginning. (PG-13 – 100 minutes)

In 2011, I not only named writer/director Ed Gass-Donnelly’s incredibly unsettling drama “Small Town Murder Songs” one of the year’s best movies but also called him one of the top filmmakers to watch. Unfortunately, his follow-up film – “The Last Exorcism: Part II” – makes me look ludicrous and makes him seem like a sell-out. The new horror sequel starts strong with a suggestion that the evil that may haunt one’s mind is far more frightening than the evil that may inhabit one’s body. But, before long, it becomes just a humdrum, run-of-the-mill movie about demonic possessions and exorcisms. (Thumbs Down!)

Movie 43

A series of interconnected short films follows a washed-up producer (Dennis Quaid) as he pitches a profane motion picture project to a Hollywood big-wig (Greg Kinnear). Its ensemble cast includes at least 36 recognizable actors and actresses. (R – 90 minutes)

There are some people who might find the prospect of jokes about sexual organs in unusual places, equating defecation as the ultimate expression of love and a game of truth or dare that escalates from blowing out the candles on a blind kid’s birthday cake to undergoing extreme plastic surgery to resemble someone of another ethnicity to be the most sickening scum ever seen on the silver screen. However, anyone who is not afraid to let loose and laugh a little – or, in “Movie 43’s” case, a lot – may not have more fun watching any other film this year. (Thumbs Up!)

Quartet

Maggie Smith plays an eternal diva whose arrival disrupts a home for retired opera singers’ annual concert. (PG-13 – 95 minutes)

“Quartet” – the latest movie that appears to be riding the newly formed wave of entertainment aiming to appeal exclusively to aging audiences – is so sweet and conflict free that it makes “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” look like an extremely complicated and complex motion picture. Granted, one does not want to upset the apple cart of viewers who venture out of their retirement homes on field trips to the picture show too much, but the new drama from director Dustin Hoffman – yes, that Dustin Hoffman in his inaugural effort behind the camera – is in desperate need of more weight. (Thumbs Down!)

Stoker

Mia Wasikowska plays a friendless young woman who becomes increasingly infatuated with her uncle (Matthew Goode) who, having moved in with her and her emotionally unstable mother (Nicole Kidman), may have ulterior motives. (R – 98 minutes)

“Stoker” is a poetically perverse motion picture. The new drama, which was directed by Chan-Wook Park and written by Wentworth Miller – yes, the same Wentworth Miller who starred in FOX’s groundbreaking television series “Prison Break” – breaks down the barriers of abnormality but it does so with literary refinement. In other words, it uses allegories and symbols to tell its story of savagery and strangeness. Having said that, the flick does take a tad too long to get to its explanatory backstory. But when it does, the floodgates are opened so wide that the viewer nearly drowns in its depravity. (Thumbs Up!)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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