Kwanten plays 'The Right Kind of Wrong'
Owls Head — The Right Kind of Wrong (Magnolia, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 97 min.). Ryan Kwanten (HBO's "True Blood") and Sara Canning shine in this charming but edgy romantic comedy.
Kwanten plays Leo Palamino, a writer whose one novel failed to sell many copies. During the funny opening, we see Leo become the subject of his wife's hit blog, about why her husband sucks. With all his faults available online, Leo has achieved a certain notoriety and lots of recognition in his everyday life, which is as a dishwasher at an Indian restaurant. Now his ex-wife, Julie Deere (Kristen Hager) is turning the blog into a book, the worst sting of all. The same day Leo learns of Julie's book deal -- via a television interview -- he sees Collette (Canning) across the street and falls instantly in love (one has to think it was more than her kicking the football). However, Collette is headed into the church to be married to perfect guy Danny Hart (Ryan McPartlin of TV's "Chuck"; a second "Chuck" alum appears in "I, Frankenstein" below). Danny is not a bad guy, even if he is too good to be true (he is a former Olympic skier, a lawyer and runs a camp for underprivileged children), and brings a whole house as a gift from his parents; at least until he decides to use threats to get what he wants late in the film. Part of his plan is to sign up for her tours of very off-the-beaten-track local highlights.
Leo, however, is sure that Collette, whom he finds most interesting, as well as beautiful, can do much better, and that better is himself. He plans on keep intersecting with her life until she learns who he is and comes to love him as well. Leo is helped a bit by Collette's mom (Catherine O'Hara), who thinks her daughter has made the wrong choice for a husband. Jennifer Baxter and Will Sasso play Leo's best friends and publishers (their fun includes tweeting possibly naughty photos, if people can figure out what they are of). The single-father who owns the restaurant has two young children, who also help Leo, although sometimes it seems like they are doing more harm.
Extras include three deleted scenes (6:02; all of which could have been in the film and include Leo first meeting Julie); a 7:57 behind-the-scenes look; 6:14 on the music (the composer is Rachel Portman, who also scored director Jeremiah Chechik's "Benny & Joon" in 1993); a brief AXS TV look at the film; and an original brief rap by the film's two children, Matteen Devji and Maya Samy. Grade: film 3.25 stars; extras 2.25 stars
Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it
3 Days to Kill (Fox, Blu-ray or standard DVD, NR/PG-13, 122/117 min.). I had high hopes for this thriller with comedy elements, but the action and comedy, especially the bits with ex-CIA assassin Ethan Renner (a game Kevin Costner) trying to reconnect with his now-teenaged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld as Zooey), just do not mesh well. Director McG is noted for his action films -- and action is where this film succeeds most -- while French co-screenwriter Luc Besson is more known for his Paris-based films with quirkiness, albeit some action too. The quirkiness here includes squatters having taken over Ethan's apartment and he can do nothing legally to remove them until spring, which is months away. A prime example of when sentiment intrudes on the action is when, in the middle of everything, Ethan takes time out to teach Zooey to ride a bike (and believe me, having had to struggle with my father trying to teach me, one lesson is not enough). Connie Nielsen plays Ethan's ex, Christine.
The everything, though, is interesting. Ethan has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and cancer, and has been given three to five months to live. His sickness helped his last quarry (Tomas Lemarquis as The Albino, who was helping The Wolf sell a dirty bomb). That all takes place in the exciting opening, which literally destroys a hotel. Now CIA operative Vivian Delay (Amber Heard) has roped Ethan into one last operation to kill The Wolf (Richard Sammel) and The Albino, promising possible life extension with an experimental drug. The drug has hallucinogenic side effects, if his heart rate increases too much. The final action sequence is another good one, even though its lead-in is overly predictable.
Extras include a making-of feature (9:55); a look at the director's methods (4:39); and a discussion of covert operations (5:08) by ex-CIA consultant Robert Baer. Grade: film 2.5 stars; extras 2 stars
I, Frankenstein (Lionsgate, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 92 min.). Despite some impressive prosthetic work for the bad demons and CGI work for the good gargoyles, the film, overall, was a disappointment because the script, based on writer/director Stuart Beattie's graphic novel, is too simple. No shades of gray here.
Aaron Eckhart plays Adam, the creature Frankenstein created 200 years ago. After Adam killed Frankenstein's wife in revenge, the scientist tracked him down to the Arctic wastes, where he froze to death. When Adam buries Frankenstein, demons attack him and he is rescued by members of the Gargoyle Order, which has created by Archangel Michael to help protect humans from demons. Adam is taken to the Gargoyle leader, Queen Leonore (Miranda Otto), but he escapes. After years of hiding, Adam decides to take the fight to the demons, who are led by Naberius (Bill Nighy). Lots of battles follow; the demons explode into red fire upon death, while the gargoyles explode into white fire as they ascend.
Yvonne Strahovski (TV's "Chuck") plays Terra Wade, a scientist recruited by Naberius in his human businessman form to reanimate the dead (so far, she has been working on only rats). Naberius believes Frankenstein's notebook about his experiments is the key, and his plan is to bring the wicked from hell and have them inhabit reanimated human corpses.
A very good extra is a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the demons and gargoyles, including sculpting and silicone makeup. Another extra looks at the monsters themselves, and there are two audio commentaries, one by Beattie and the other with producers Gary Lucchesi and Richard Wright, and executive producers James McQuaide and Kevin Grevioux. Grade: film 2.5 stars; extras 3 stars
Way of the Wicked (Image, Blu-ray or standard DVD, NR, 92 min.). A very poor script does in this low-budget, wannabe "Omen." Cover-highlighted Christian Slater, who has made a succession of bad films lately, plays a priest who tries to warn police detective John Elliott (Vinnie Jones) that recently-returned-to-town Robbie Mueller (Jake Croker) is the prophesied son of Satan, who is able to hurt people with his special powers and poses a threat to Elliott's daughter (Emily Tennant as Heather). The film is so heavy-handed in trying to set up Robbie as the bad guy that you just know it is a red herring and someone else is evil's child ... and there are not too many choices. Aren Buchholz alternately provokes sympathy and disgust as Heather's abused jock boyfriend; but frankly, he does deserve some punishment. For some strange reason, the film hides the fact that Elliott is a detective for the first 34 minutes. There are no extras. Grade: film 2 stars
The Americans: The Complete First Season (Fox, 3 Blu-ray or standard DVDs, NR, 572 min.). This is the first of two brilliant seasons for the thriller about a 1980s Washington D.C. suburban couple, Phillip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell), who actually are Soviet spies, now active in the Cold War, after years of simply building an identity and having two children along the way. Elizabeth is more committed to the cause, while Phillip has come to enjoy the American way of life. Then an FBI agent (Noah Emmerich as Stan Beeman) moves in across the street. His superior is played by Richard Thomas (TV's "The Waltons").
The show is exceptionally well-acted, and includes Margo Martindale as Claudia, the Jennings' handler. The Jennings are travel agents during the day, but at night they often are running risky missions and sex is among their tools. Phillip seduces Martha Hanson (Alison Wright), a secretary in the CIA headquarters, and maintains an affair with her to get information. He basically poses as an agent for another government agency that checks on government security.
The show is both fascinating and thrilling. Extras include deleted scenes; audio commentary on one episode; a gag reel; and looks at the show, the art of espionage and ingenuity over technology. Grade: season 4 stars; extras 3 stars
Psych: The Eighth and Final Season (Universal, 3 DVDs, NR, 8 hours, 3 min.). The producers of "Psych" did the show right in its final 10-episode season. Nearly every episode was memorable, there were special guest stars (among them Mira Sorvino, Tom Arnold, Loretta Devine and Bruce Campbell) , and things wrapped up satisfactory for all the characters. Psych is the detective agency set up by fake psychic Shawn Spencer (his ability is mostly observation, learned from his police detective father) with his best friend Burton "Gus" Guster (Dule Hill) in Santa Barbara, where they usually act as consultants for the police department. Extras include an extended version of the first episode; two versions of the penultimate episode; deleted scenes, "Psych: The Musical" special, with an extended scene and a behind-the-scenes look; a farewell look; a gag reel; montages; and podcasts. The show will be missed. Grade: season and extras 3.5 stars
Marine Boy: The Complete Second Season (1966-67, Warner Archives, 3 DVDs, NR, 637 min.). Known as American anime, this cartoon series operates out of Ocean Patrol Marine Headquarters, with Dr. Mariner helping his son to keep the seas safe for all. The lad's equipment includes Oxy-Gum, a bullet-proof wetsuit, flying submarines and propeller shoes. Villains include Skwid, Stormbrane, Count Shark, Professor Beelzebub and Captain Wraith. One of Marine Boy's helpers is the dolphin Splasher (which was named Whitey in the original Japanese version). The show is a bit camp, with the voice actors (many of whom also worked on "Speed Racer" having fun. The set is manufactured on demand and is available online from The Warner Archive Collection (www.WarnerArchive.com or www.wbshop.com). Grade: season 3 stars