New Blu-ray & DVD releases for the week include a war film, a musical comedy, and some older TV.
First is 1944. This is a World War II based film that takes a look at how Estonians fought each other by serving for both the German and Soviet armies. Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union and soldiers were forced into the Red Army. The German army also took Estonians as soldiers when the Red Army moved further in. It’s a pretty interesting film about a story I don’t think many people know about. Most war stories are only one perspective, usually through the eyes of the victor, but this shows war from the soldiers’ point of view. You see how they didn’t want to kill fellow Estonians and that none of them agreed on who they should be fighting for/with. The battle scenes are pretty decent as well. You won’t confuse it with Dunkirk, but people into history should enjoy the movie. I watched it dubbed and should have switched it to subtitles because the dubbing made me laugh a bit, but that’s just a personal preference.
Next is Opening Night. This musical comedy stars a boat load of people you might not be able to name, but will recognize. Topher Grace, Anne Heche, Alona Tal, JC Chasez, Lauren Lapkus, Taye Diggs, Paul Scheer, Rob Riggle, Brian Husky, Lesli Margherita star in a behind-the-scenes look at the making of and performance of a show about one hit wonders. JC Chasez of NSYNC plays himself and the lead singer of the show. Topher Grace is the stage manager. The music of movie is the best part. You’ll recognize a lot of the music, well at least you should. The DVD packaging says it’s Birdman meets 30 Rock and I kinda see that. It’s more R-rated though with lots of drug talk and sex. If you aren’t familiar with how a show is made and all the sex and drugs backstage, it might surprise you. Overall I liked the film, I’m just not a huge fan of Topher Grace. I might have liked it more with a different lead actor. Rob Riggle made me laugh. Paul Scheer too. I always forget just how wildly talented Taye Diggs is, he acts and sings in this. Alona Tal is pretty good as well.
Third we have The Carol Burnett Show: The Best of Harvey Korman. I reviewed The Carol Burnett Show: The Best of Tim Conway a few months back and I have to say, these collections are a lot of fun. This features four episodes showcasing Korman’s style of comedy. What I loved about this collection is they weren’t afraid to show the cast breaking character. Carol herself breaks in a sketch. Korman himself broke often. Conway may have been the more traditional comedy actor, but Korman did much more. He sang, danced, and improvised often. The thing that amazes me when I watch these DVDs are how long the sketches are. Saturday Night Live is lucky if a sketch is 2 to 3 minutes long. Some of these go for almost ten minutes. I also like how often they did recurring characters and Korman never got away from doing something different as well. He wasn’t afraid to cross-dress and lip synch or take on physical roles as well. If you have the Conway collection, pick this one up as well.
Last we have The Secret World of Alex Mack The Complete Series. I had never seen an episode of this before and I learned two things: One, the lead who plays Alex Mack was the other sister in 10 Things I Hate About You. And two, Alex Mack was a show about a girl with powers. I had no idea about that. I thought it was just some kid/teen show about school and dating, I had no idea she had chemicals dumped on her and it turned her into something special. Obviously I’m not the target audience for this collection, but I’m sure fans are dying to get this in one full complete series. It’s a little dated today and it feels very 1990s. The effects are kinda not so great compared to the CGI stuff we are used today, but you can say that about everything older than 10-15 years. The show went almost 80 episodes so I’m sure there were fans then and I can see this being a nice watch down memory lane for those who were fans.