Diary Of A Wimpy Kid (2010/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/Last Song (2010/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD)/Skellig: The Owl Man (2009/Image Blu-ray)
B- & C-/B- & C+/B- Sound:
B-/B & C+/B- Extras: C/D/C- Films: C/D/C
features are on Blu-ray at the same time, and the one that is the TV movie is
as good or better than the theatrical releases.
First is the not too exciting Thor Fruedenthal directing Diary Of A Wimpy Kid (2010), based on
the comedy book about how small sixth-grader Greg (a well-cast Zachary Gordon)
deals with school, life, his family and wacky events in his life. The film could have been a children’s
classic, but Fox apparently wanted another Home
Alone and though there are some good jokes and moments here and there, the
overall arch is empty, predictable and never seems real enough, but it did
moderately good business.
Anne Robinson directed The Last Song
(2010) as another vanity project for the extremely overrated Miley Cyrus, whose
15-minutes are running towards the latter end of the clock. The novels of Nicholas Sparks have inspired
several movie adaptations (A Walk To
Remember, Message In A Bottle),
but nothing great. However, more recent
films on his books (The Notebook, Dear John) went over well with a young
new crowd, so Disney bought the rights to this book and threw Ms. Cyrus
in. The result is easily the worst
adaptation we will ever see of a Sparks
Ms. Cyrus does not act, barely emotes and thinks acting natural is flashing her
semi-energetic, phony smile. However,
she is lost here (or should I say, more than usual) and the alchemy of putting
her into a “serious” film does not work because turning lead (or wood) into
gold simply does not work. Greg Kinnear
(absent too long since Flash Of Genius,
a far superior film, though he was also good in the recent Green Zone) plays her father, but I never bought it or their
comes the telefilm, a Fantasy genre work called Skelling: The Owl Man (2009), about a young boy named Michael (Bill
Milner) who is unhappy with his restrictive home life when he meets the title
character (the underappreciated Tim Roth) in his backyard shed. This starts to change his life as it opens up
a new world for him. It is also a book
adaptation and is nicely handled by Director Annabel J. Jankel, who is also a
Music Video director who apparently understands how long narratives work and
proves it here.
is still a predictable work with some interesting moments, but Miss Jankel has
been at least as visual a director in her Videos work as many of her piers and
more so with clips (sometimes co-directed with Rocky Schenk) for Elvis
Costello, Donald Fagen, Miles Davis, Rush, The Talking Heads and Cathy
Dennis. She is able to translate that
here, keeping this interesting, even when the teleplay falls flat. She did the silly Super Mario Bros. film, but also worked on the series Max Headroom.
1.85 X 1 AVC @ 35 MBPS digital High Definition image on Diary, 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Song and 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High
Definition image on Skellig are all
underwhelming on some level, softer than expected and offer no major demo
moments, though Diary at least was
filmed in 35mm, but Director of Photography Jack N. Green (Clint Eastwood’s longtime
cameraman) delivers a good-looking film, though it looks a little watered down
here. Song was lensed by John Lindsey (Legion, Pleasantville) who has done much better work and Steve Lawes fares
well with Skellig considering all
the digital effects. The anamorphically
enhanced DVDs for Diary and Song are weaker as expected.
MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mixes on each Blu-ray is not bad, but Song (sadly) has the best mix of the
three, proving Disney was willing to put out the money to back their star, but
this obviously did not apply to the script.
Skellig is predictably a
little weak being a TV movie, but Diary
is only marginally better and the margin between it and the Dolby Digital 5.1
mix on its DVD is extremely narrow. I
don’t know why, but it is. The Dolby
Digital 5.1 mix on Song is the
weakest of any of the five main soundtracks here, though that makes no sense,
no extras on Skellig, but Diary
includes a booklet built into the paperboard slidecase of Greg’s Deleted Diary Pages, plus the DVD has DVD-ROM Digital Copy
for PC and PC portable devices and four featurettes, while Song has Deleted
Scenes, Alternate Opening Sequence (both proving they could not make their
minds up on how this should work), a Cyrus Music Video (proving they could not
have her only ‘act’), a Set Tour with co-star Bobby Coleman and (yikes) feature
length audio commentary.
Yes, The Last Song, if only it were Ms.
Cyrus’ last song… if only.
- Nicholas Sheffo