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Category:    Home > Reviews > Children > Comedy > Drama > Fantasy > 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)

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)


Picture: B- & C-/B- & C+/B-     Sound: B-/B & C+/B-     Extras: C/D/C-     Films: C/D/C



Three new 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.


Julie 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 book.


As usual, 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 troubles.


Finally 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.


No, this 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.



The 1080p 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.


The DTS-HD 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, it is.


There are 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


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