New DVDs feature titles of interest to teens

By Gary Clift

This month the new videos shelves will be heavy with copies of “Veronica Mars,” “Her,” and the remake of “Gambit.” But what’s surprising is how much the other new releases skew toward teen interest movies.

There may not be anything new in the teen date comedy “That Awkward Moment,” but then there isn’t anything really wrong in it, either. The cast is headlined by men—Zac Efron and Michael B. Jordan—but with all the talent on the distaff side—Imogene Poots and Mackenzie Davis. The story is about a group of male pals who agree to avoid romantic entanglements. They then all promptly fall in love.

Writer and director Tom Gormican is able to convey a notion of contemporary style that seems genuine. And the script can sometimes be funny, though it is more often by turns melodramatic and good-natured.

It is a little better movie than “I, Frankenstein,” a sequel to Mary Shelley’s book. The action is set in a medieval town where church gargoyles—those cartoon figures cut into the stone—come alive to fight off demons (led by Bill Nighy). But the demons secretly have a plan to use re-animated human cadavers as soldiers in this war. Naturally, Frankenstein’s monster is the prototype they hope to replicate. This visual movie probably needs theater 3D to be sufficiently interesting.

The 1986 movie based on David Mamet’s short play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” has been re-made. The new “About Last Night” has an African-American cast including Michael Early and the seemingly inescapable Kevin Hart. They play friends whose romances distract them and reveal their characters. Stock Valentine’s Day stuff without any of the teeth of the stage show.

“Vampire Academy” is another of these Gothic romances with supernatural elements intended for young teen girls. But director Mark Waters (who made “Mean Girls” and the second “Feaky Friday”) lets the movie waste too much time explaining the facts of vampire life. At the school there is a lot of hazing so that one can’t pick out the real threats to our two heroines. It isn’t until late that sexual attraction and supernatural machinations take over and provide the viewer with sustained action.

There isn’t enough purposeful action anywhere in “Monuments Men,” George Clooney’s movie recalling the generally ineffective actions of art experts sent to western Europe at the end of the Second World War to identify and save stolen works of art. Actually just about the only character who manages to do any lasting good is a Parisian secretary played by Cate Blanchett. This is a hollow sort of a movie.

So is Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Pompeii,” except that it looks great, right down to the goofy tidal wave. Don’t expect history here—there was a Roman town of this name buried when a volcano erupted, but the eruption was hardly a surprise. And don’t expect anything more than the silliest rivalry story. On the other hand, Anderson seems to be on a personal campaign to prove that digital 3D can work. It does for him, but in movie theaters.

“Three Days to Kill” is a new Luc Besson formula thriller, with Kevin Costner playing a CIA killer who lives partly in a world of James Bond absurdity (Amber Heard appears in these sequences), partly in a sort of romance about a dad regaining the trust of his estranged daughter, and partly in a contemporary crime picture. The action scenes and the ones with Heard work.

Even more cliché is “Endless Love,” a romance about an apparently demented dad and his devoted daughter. This too was meant as a romance for young teen girls. The cast is studded with English actors playing folks from Georgia. And the story is stripped down Nicholas Sparks.

So if you’re teen-aged or feeling immature, this isn’t a real bad month for new-to-DVD movies. If you’re feeling your age, find refuge in a book.

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