The Couch Potato Report

Here are some long weekend viewing ideas.

The Couch Potato Report – August 3rd, 2013

There are two entertainment legends inside this week’s Couch Potato Report and the next generation crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

It’s a long weekend at the beginning of August, traditionally not exactly the biggest week of the year for the studios to release new films for home viewing, which means I get to tell you about some great catalogue releases this week instead. Catalogue releases that star Marilyn Monroe and The King Of Rock And Roll, Elvis Presley.

The King made his big screen debut in 1956 in a film called LOVE ME TENDER…a movie not originally written as a vehicle for him, as we find out in the wealth of extras on the new blu-ray.

Set in 1865, you know, before rock and roll was invented, LOVE ME TENDER is the story of two brothers. One, played by Elvis, who stayed home, and his brother Vance who left home to go off and fight in the Civil War.

Upon arriving home after the war, Vance finds out that his girlfriend married Elvis…plus, to make things worse, before the end of the war he was involved in a train robbery.

When he sets out to make things right with the law, he goes against the wishes of some of the other robbers.

After the truth about his brother comes to light, Elvis believes in his brother’s innocence, and has no idea that the man is still in love with his girl.

LOVE ME TENDER features Elvis trying to actually be an actor, and not lazily walking through some of the other films he did, and the result is a very good movie. One that looks crsip and clean in the high definition transfer on blu-ray.

I can easily recommend it to both Elvis and movie fans.

Of the two new Marilyn Monroe films now out in HD, I can also easily recommend one of them to her fans AND movie fans, but the other is for fans only.

The better of the two is the mostly filmed in Ontario release NIAGARA. Both the star, and the Canadian Falls look amazing!

Originally released in 1953, this sixty year old beauty is about a married woman plotting with her lover to kill her husband. Things don’t go as planned, however, as the husband – played by Joseph Cotton from CITIZEN KANE, and an innocent couple vacationing in Niagara Falls, get in the way.

NIAGARA is a great thriller and I have always loved it, which is why I recommend it.

I’ve never really felt the same way about her 1956 release BUS STOP.

In this one she is a saloon singer who a hunky and naïve cowboy falls in love with. For him it is love at first sight, so he takes her – not kidnaps, per se, but picks her up and takes her on a bus so they can get married and live on his ranch in Montana.

BUS STOP is not Marilyn’s worst film, but it is far from her best. It does look great on blu-ray, but this one is for fans only.


I have spoken many times here on The Couch Potato Report over the years about expectations. Depending on the cast, the director, and their past efforts and works, the expectations we place on films can be immense…or as in the case of the three releases I have for you right now, expectations can be very, very low, so low that you expect almost nothing from a film.

I expected literally nothing from these three films…and that is basically what I got, especially from the big budget sequel G.I. JOE – RETALIATION.

The first film in this series – 2009’s G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA – was so awful that I must admit my surprise that they even made a sequel, but they did and it is almost as bad, even though it adds action film mainstays Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson AND Bruce Willis to the cast. A cast that already includes Channing Tatum, the star of the first film.

This time around the G.I. Joes are not only fighting Cobra, they’re forced to fight their own government after a sabotage kills most of the Joes.

Attention fans of any member of the cast of this film, and people who have to watch absolutely every movie that features cartoon violence and things blowing up: Attention all of you…you will really enjoy G.I. JOE – RETALIATION.

Everyone else needs to skip this one. Yes, there are some really great action scenes, but it is one of the most boring action films I’ve ever had to sit through.

I’ve had to sit through two G.I. JOE films now. I really hope there is never a third!!

I had heightened expectations to see this next release, the action crime drama DEAD MAN DOWN, because its directed by the same guy who gave us the original Swedish version of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, Niels Arden Oplev.

Noomi Rapace, Oplev’s starred in that film as Lisbeth Salander and in DEAD MAN DOWN she plays a woman who convinces a modern day New York City gangster to kill a man who did her wrong.

What she doesn’t originally know is that he is seeking retribution as well, and they bond and fall for each other as they’re both looking to rid themselves of their pain.

DEAD MAN DOWN has some great moments, and interesting scenes, but it is a very slow moving film, and even though it is stylish – die to the work of the director and his team – but ultimately it didn’t meet my expectations.

Ultimately it is just a pretty good, but never great revenge film that might help you kill 118 minutes if you are in the mood for a movie like this, but can’t find anything else to watch.

In that case, enjoy!! Otherwise, skip it.

Talk about expectations for this next movie…WOW!!

Francis Ford Coppola won his first Academy Award in 1970. He won the Oscar for best original screenplay as co-writer of PATTON.

His directorial prominence was cemented with the 1972 release of THE GODFATHER, which won three Academy Awards – including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture, plus Coppola was nominated as Best Director.

He followed that with THE GODFATHER – PART II in 1974, which became the first sequel to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It also brought Coppola three more Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture.

This man also gave audiences THE CONVERSATION and APOCALYPSE NOW in the seventies, and some other great films through the eighties and nineties.

He only occasionally makes movies now, and when he does, when Francis Ford Coppola makes movies now…talk about expectations!!!

But even if you go into TWIXT, Coppola’s latest, even if you go into it with little to no expectations, it is still the latest from the man who gave us PATTON, THE GODFATHER PARTS I & II, THE CONVERSATION and APOCALYPSE NOW…and no film could live up to those expectations.

TWIXT certainly does not.

In TWIXT Val Kilmer plays a writer who arrives in a small town to promote his latest release, only to get caught up in a murder mystery that might make for a great book, and revive his declining career.

There are other things that happen in TWIXT as well, but most of it is either to artistic or dramatic to be interesting and so the result is a movie that not only gets crushed by the career of the man who made it, but also comes across as an experimental film school production.

That is why film students need to see TWIXT, but everyone else needs to stay as far away from it as possible.

And if you’ve never seen Francis Ford Coppola’s PATTON, THE GODFATHER PARTS I & II, THE CONVERSATION or APOCALYPSE NOW…they are all very worthy of your time!!

Every single one of them! Those are films which you can have expectations, because they will be met and exceeded!!

The final new release I have for you this week is the blu-ray set for SEASON FOUR of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, or as I like to call it – the season when this show became amazing!!

In this season Data experienced fatherhood, Worf got to know more about his Klingon heritage, and Picard took a relaxing holiday. Plus, there was the conclusion of the Borg story. The season opener and the conclusion of THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS is television at its finest!!

And once again, the blu-ray set comes with a wealth of special features including the continuing retrospective series where the entire cast and crew look back at the show.

THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION looks amazing on blu-ray and is a must own for fans, and a must see for those who haven’t ever seen it.

I highly recommend it, even if you don’t usually watch science fiction.

The superb SEASON FOUR of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION; the art flick TWIXT from Academy Award winner Francis Ford Coppola; the okay action movie DEAD MAN DOWN from the director of the original Swedish GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO movie; the bad sequel G.I. JOE – RETALIATION, which is for HUGE fans of the cast only; the Marilyn Monroe films BUS STOP and NIAGARA; and Elvis Presley’s first film LOVE ME TENDER are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

One of the most notorious box office flops in Hollywood history, the comedy ISHTAR starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, debuts on blu-ray; Canadian actor Ryan Gosling stars with Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes in THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES; and Tom Cruise leads the cast of the sci-fi flick OBLIVION.

I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.

For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.

Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!