This week’s releases see a brand-new First Person Shooter, a revived look at two of your favorite platform gamers, and possibly the biggest disappointment for a movie ever (but that’s not going to stop you from wanting to see it).
Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move
(3DS, $10, Everyone)
The puzzle-centric Mario vs. Donkey Kong franchise takes a weird right turn, replacing a Lemmings-like platforming setup for a Pipe Dream-style grid. Mini Mario toys march down a pre-set path, and it’s up to you to juggle an onslaught of pieces to help the little guys make it to each exit.
There are more than 180 levels, each piling on the intensity and complexity than the previous one, and managing to pave the road to success for your Minis can make you feel like a super-genius. That is, if the monotony doesn’t get you down. Fail a specific board enough times, in enough different ways, and you feel as though you’re stuck in Groundhog Day, forced to live through drudgery-inducing failures in order to memorize the lone correct path to getting inside Andie McDowell’s pants… uh, I mean, advancing to the next level. The price is good for a 3DS download, although you can find games that are a lot like this on smartphones for $1 or less.
Metro: Last Light
(360, PS3, $60)
The shooter/survival horror mash-up – a follow-up to the tense but sloppy 2010 game Metro 2033 – tells a dark, gritty, oh-so-Russian tale of stragglers scrapping to get by in a ruined society overrun by monstrous mutants. Stuck in the darkened transit system underneath an obliterated Moscow, you scrounge for rare ammo, solve obtuse puzzles and take on cold-blooded enemies.
Storytelling takes center stage, overcoming occasionally rough, raw gameplay mechanics to keep you hooked in the moment. The saga of ravenous forces scrapping and dealing for survival brings to mind the feel of The Walking Dead comics and show, and the oddball cultural touches give the world an alien, yet still somehow familiar, feel that sucks you in.
($25 Blu-ray, $15 DVD)
The Wachowskis, makers of The Matrix and its crappy sequels, and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) team up for one zany hayride. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry take on several different roles in this mash-up of parallel tales that span various time periods and universes. Little that happens onscreen makes sense, and what does coalesce is weighed down by heavy-handed symbolism. Although there are some memorable moments, the bold experiment of a movie far outkicks its coverage, resulting in an oddball grab bag of pretentious nonsense. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo includes a ridiculously brief set of cast/crew interview snippets, plus five other short featurettes that talk about adapting the story, designing the movie’s look and analyzing the performances.
Did you know that Evil Dead/Spider-Man maestro Sam Raimi turned a script from the genius Coen Bros. into a 1985 screwball comedy? No? That’s probably because all parties involved did their best to keep the knowledge of this abomination from you as long as possible. Now that the mess has crawled out of its cave to make itself known, it can go back in and die. The cartoony romp spins the saga of how a man came to be sentenced to death, framed for murders he didn’t commit. The brain-numbing one-liners, wretched special effects — even for 1985 — and atrocious acting on display show little of the filmmakers’ talents. This was rock bottom, and things would only get better for Raimi and the Coens afterward. Raimi’s pal Bruce Campbell, who has a supporting part in the movie, does the heavy lifting in the extras, providing commentary and sitting down for a 15-minute interview.
Dexter: Season 7
($45 Blu-ray, $35 DVD)
Righteous-minded Miami detective/serial killer Dexter (Michael C. Hall) is forced to make adjustments because the show’s tired formula gets a much-needed tune-up in this go-round. Now his sister and boss, played by Jennifer Carpenter, is onto his secret, and he’s got to re-evaluate his personal life, morality and methods while engaging in the usual struggles with rival killers and fending off investigations from another lawman. The trademark over-narration is still there to suck away a lot of the fun, but the Showtime drama has found new life as it spins into the eighth and final season. The Bu-ray includes digital copies of the episodes but is otherwise extras-free.
($20 Blu-ray, $15 DVD)
With all the awful sequels and remakes, including this one, it’s easy to forget that the original 1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre — yep, it was so old school that it spelled “chain saw” that way — is one of the greatest horror films ever made. This follow-up, stocked with a no-name cast, tries to recapture that magic by posing as a direct sequel to that film. That’s where the good ideas stop. This barely-watchable hackfest can’t even generate decent shocks or T&A, and manages to render the formidable Leatherface into little more than a goofy, chainsaw-waving mascot. The Blu-ray includes 3D and 2D versions, a digital copy, cast interviews, an alternate opening and a short look back at the horror franchise, which has seen far better days.
Screeners were provided by the publishers for review.