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Thursday, March 15, 2012

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IMMORTALS

(2011)

* * (C)

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Starring Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, Stephen Dorff, Isabel Lucas, Kellan Lutz

Relativity Media//Rated R//Fantasy//110 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D

The issue of a woman raped by a pair of lusty gods, when we meet Theseus (Henry Cavill), he is a grown man who clings to his mommy, and has learned the fighting arts from a kindly sage (John Hurt) serving as his father figure. Meanwhile, King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) commandeers a monastery that shelters the virgin oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto). The king needs her to lead him to the Bow of Epirus, which will release the Titan army, currently imprisoned within a mountain. The Titans long to kill Zeus (Luke Evans) and the other Olympians, thus ending any threat to Hyperion's rule. Zeus instructs his children (Isabel Lucas and Kellan Lutz among them), not to meddle in the affairs of mortal men, but Zeus has long influenced Theseus, who is earmarked to become the people's savior, and is prodded in this direction when the king slays Theseus's mother. Each of the film's parallel stories want for emotional heft, but the tale of the gods is especially empty. Cavill's poorly emoted Theseus leaves Rourke's sadistic Hyperion to dominate the film. John Hurt's wise old man is underused, as is expressive beauty Freida Pinto. The post-production 3D is nicely conceptualized to match the motto "If it bleeds, it leads." Sadly, no script doctor is on hand to staunch the flow of wounded dialog. DVD features: It's No Myth, Deleted scenes. Blu-ray features same plus: Caravaggio Meets Fight Club: Tarsen's vision, Alternate openings and endings, Immortals: Gods & Heroes graphic novel, Digital Copy. Blu-ray 3D features same, with digital copies on both 2D and 3D.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS

(2011)

* (D)

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

Starring Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Mads Mikkelsen, Gabriella Wilde, Orlando Bloom, Christoph Waltz, Juno Temple, Freddie Fox

Summit Entertainment//Rated PG-13//Action//102 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D

The 22nd screen adaptation of The Three Musketeers is a tepid rendition of the 1844 Alexander Dumas. The film provides another opportunity for director Paul W.S. Anderson to star his 37-year-old wife, Milla Jovovich as femme fatale Milady de Winter. The story follows D'Artagnan's (Logan Lerman) effort to join the Three Musketeers he has long idolized. The young upstart soon discovers that Athos, Porthos and Aramis (played by Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson and Luke Evans respectively) are jaded and dispirited. D'Artagnan's love of swordplay reignites their blustering enthusiasm, so they soon join him, their hapless houseman in tow, in a quest to protect the queen's (Juno Temple) honor. Overlong passages of dialog work against the action sequences, with few comic bits registering save for those belonging to Freddie Fox, cast as a teenage King Louis. Orlando Bloom is serviceable in an underwritten role as the scheming Duke of Buckingham, while Christoph Waltz is sufficiently venomous as the power-grabbing Cardinal Richelieu. Few of the actors manage to delve beneath their characters glossy veneers, but a lack of intelligent wordplay does this one in. 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD features: Director commentary, Deleted and Extended Scenes, Cast and Crew stories, 17th Century Action. Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray only: Access: Three Musketeers.

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN

(2011)

* * * (B)

Directed By Simon Curtis

Starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Dougray Scott, Emma Watson

Anchor Bay//Rated R//Drama//99 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

Given our perpetual fascination with Marilyn Monroe, who would be 85 if alive today, it isn't surprising that this memoir, drawn from the journals of then 23-year-old Colin Clark, made its way to the screen. Clark's story takes place in England during 1956, when Marilyn was cast opposite Sir Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl. Attracting throngs of admirers wherever she went, Marilyn was "complicated," medicated, and problematic. She was incapable of arriving on time, sending Olivier, (beautifully captured by Kenneth Branagh) into apoplectic fits. His intolerance for 30-year-old Marilyn's (captured well by Michelle Williams) eccentricities prompted her to hide away for days at a time. Marilyn took a shine to third assistant director Clark who became her eager babysitter. From his perspective, Marilyn's antics arose from insecurities over her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller, and fears she was inadequate. Clark captures what is at once compelling and tragic in Marilyn, though we suspect his account is tinged with wishfulness. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and DVD features: commentary with director Simon Curtis, The Untold Story of an American Icon featurette.

YOUNG ADULT

(2011)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by Jason Reitman

Starring Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt

Paramount//Rated R//Drama, Comedy//93 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, digital download and on demand

Charlize Theron is a powerhouse, transforming herself into alcoholic author Mavis Gary in this story penned by Diablo Cody of Juno. On the eve of her 20th high school reunion, the lonely divorcee returns to her hometown, hellbent on rekindling romance with her high school sweetie, Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson). Though he's happily married and a new dad, Mavis misinterprets Buddy's politeness for romantic interest. The film's subtle comedy arises from her quest to bust up his marriage, and inability to do so. As Mavis charges forward, she meets former classmate Matt, a chubby outcast, but otherwise normal fellow played by Patton Oswalt. Like half the boys from school, Matt is enamored of beautiful Mavis, and gladly becomes her sidekick. He attempts to be a real friend, but Mavis is deaf to his warnings suffers for it in a series of tragically comically misadventures. DVD features: Commentary with director Jason Reitman, director of photography Eric Steelberg and first assistant director/associate producer Jason A. Blumenfeld, Deconstructing a Scene, Deleted Scenes. Blu-ray features same plus: The Making of Young Adult, Q&A featuring Janet Maslin and Jason Reitman at the Jacob Burns Film Center.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN

(2011)

* * (C)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Voices and Motion Capture performances by Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg

Paramount//Rated PG//Animated//104 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, digital download and on demand

Director Steven Spielberg's first foray into animation finds him out of his element. The dated storytelling and animation style indicate Spielberg's nostalgically motivated effort to bring Georges Remi's popular comic book series to life, but the results are clunky. Tintin is an intrepid young journalist who purchases a rare model ship and finds himself receiving exorbitant offers to buy it from strange men. He refuses to sell and the subsequent theft of his new purchase leads Tintin, accompanied by his faithful dog Snowy, into an investigation that culminate in the discovery of sunken treasure stolen by 17th century pirates. Long, dull passages are punctuated by colorful, but uneven action. Although Snowy, the adorable canine brains of the operation, partially redeems this effort, the film's audience is difficult to pinpoint. DVD features: No special features. Blu-ray features: Toasting Tintin: Part 1 & Part 2, Journey of Tintin, World of Tintin, Who's Who of Tintin, Conceptual Design, In the Volume, Snowy: From Beginning to End, Animating Tintin, The Score, Collecting Tintin.


THE DESCENDANTS

(2011)

* * *1/2

Directed by Alexander Payne

Starring George Clooney, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller

Fox//Rated R//Drama//110 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Clooney's soulful, Oscar-nominated performance is at the center of The Descendents, a story that finds Matt King's life in crisis. Adapted from the Kaui Hart Hemmings novel, the screenplay won an Oscar for Alexander Payne of Sideways, by finding a sweet spot that combines subtle humor with looming tragedy. In Hawaii, a boating accident has critically injured Matt wife, and caused her affair to come light. Working on a lucrative real estate deal, Matt can't afford to come publicly unglued. His daughters need stability, so Matt searches for the strength to face what will come. Second thoughts about the real estate deal, and the very real prospect of losing his wife, all weigh on Matt's mind as he picks his way through the wreckage, searching for answers. DVD features: Everybody Loves George, Working with Alexander, Hawaiian Style. Blu-ray features same plus: Deleted Scenes with director's introductions, The Real Descendants, Casting, Working with Water, Music Videos: Will I Ever See You Again, Postcards from Paradise, Honolulu's Whisper, Waiting for the Light, The World Parade – Hawaii (Silent Film), A Conversation with George Clooney and Alexander Payne, Digital Copy of the Film.

JACK AND JILL

(2011)

CR: * (D)

Directed By Dennis Dugan

Starring Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino

Sony//Rated PG//Comedy//91 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and digital download

Adam Sandler re-teams with his favorite director, Dennis Dugan, for their seventh comedy. The resulting one-joke movie stars Sandler twice. He plays Jack Sadelstein, a successful Los Angeles advertising exec, happily married with two kids (Holmes slums as his wife). Sandler also plays Jill, Jack's annoying twin sister, decked out in Little-Bo-Peep hair and a Bronxy attitude. Jill's annual visit is normally brief, but this year she refuses to leave until Jack has escorted her to the many places making her list of "must-sees." Against all odds, Jill is spied by Al Pacino who becomes smitten and is relentless in his efforts to gain Jill's affections. Long on folksy sentimentality and short on sense, Sandler's movie panders to the Thanksgiving crowd by setting the action around one of our favorites holidays. DVD features: Deleted scenes, blooper reel, Look who stopped by, Boys will be girls. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: film on both DVD and Blu-ray, Stomach ache, Don't call it a boat - Royal Caribbean.



FOOTLOOSE

(2011)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Craig Brewer

Starring Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell

Paramount//Rated PG-13//Drama//113 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, digital download and on demand

When big-city teen, Ren MacCormack (Wormald), relocates to a small town, he champions loud rock'n'roll, and the right to dance to it, as he pleases. The town's laws forbid the Devil's music, but a misguided law doesn't stop Ren from pursuing his beat, or from making a play for the preacher's wild, beautiful daughter, Ariel (Hough). Ren's rebellion initially upsets the locals, but step-by-step he wins some over, working his way around to the reverend (Quaid) —Ariel's pa. Writer-director Craig Brewer puts a new spin on this '84 classic that starred Kevin Bacon in the upstart's shoes. DVD features: director commentary, deleted scenes, Music videos: Big & Rich's "Fake ID." Blu-ray features same plus: Jump back: Reimagining Footloose, The stars of Footloose, Dancing with the Footloose stars.


AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: THE AMISH

(2012)

* * * * (A)

PBS Video//Not Rated//Documentary//120 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

The Amish are a Dutch-German offshoot of the Mennonites that formed during the 1690s. Persecuted in their native lands, many came to the United States, settling in Pennsylvania. Over the last century, their population grew from 5,000 to over 200,000. Since farmland is costly, only five percent of the Amish are farmers. Gaining intimate access to this group through patience and perseverance, "American Experience" takes an unprecedented look into beliefs that include no electricity or cars. Fair and balanced is the watchword, with both Amish and ex-Amish members expressing their views on a religion demanding adherence to a rigorous lifestyle. Fascinating. No Special features.

REINDEER GAMES: The Director's Cut

(2000)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by John Frankenheimer

Starring Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Gary Sinise

Buena Vista//Rated R//Thriller//104 minutes

Available on: DVD or Blu-ray

Cast as Rudy, Ben Affleck struggles to get a handle on the wise-cracking, double-crossed ex-con Rudy. We join him as he reflects upon events that culminated in a small army of bullet-ridden Santas. In flashback, Rudy relates his ill-fated decision to impersonate his cell mate Nick in order to pursue Nick's sexy pen-pal Ashley (Charlize Theron). Rudy is unaware ex-casino employee Nick is being set up by Ashley's brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise), to plan a casino robbery. As the plot thickens, we expect Rudy to be panic stricken but Affleck plays it light-heartedy and seems immune to his character's circumstances. The double-dealing femme fatale Ashley seems to confuse Theron whose acting skills were in their early stages of development. While Sinise is marvelously menacing, he's sorely underused, mainly showing up for violent encounters. DVD or Blu-ray features: Eight minutes of additional footage.

HAPPY FEET TWO

(2011)

CR: * *1/2 (B-)

Directed by George Miller

Voices of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Alecia Moore, Hank Azaria, Ava Acres, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon

Warner//Rated PG//Family, Animated//99 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and digital download

Penguin Mumble (Wood) leaves his wife Gloria (Moore - aka Pink) behind with their penguin flock when he goes searching for their runaway son Erik (Acres). He finds the lad, but before they can return home, a disaster cuts off Gloria and the others from the life-sustaining Antarctic Ocean. To affect a daring rescue, Mumble and Erik need help from a showoff puffin (Azaria), and a surly elephant seal (Williams). If the plot recalls a chapter from Ice Age, so does the parallel story of two wisecracking krill (Damon and Pitt). Fortunately, this sequel retains the song and dance strategy that sets this franchise happily afloat on the ice pack. DVD features: Helping Penguins and Pals, How to Draw a Penguin, I Taut I Saw a Putty Tat, 3 Sing-alongs, UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack 3D, features the same plus: film on both DVD and Blu-ray, Running with Bodice, The Amazing Voice of Happy Feet Two, Pink's New Song.

TO CATCH a THIEF

(1955)

* *1/2 (Grade B-)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, John Williams, Georgette Anys, Brigitte Auber, Wee Willie Davis, Jessie Royce Landis, Charles Vanel

Paramount//Not Rated//Thriller//106 min

Available on: Blu-ray

Visually striking, To Catch a Thief heavily relies on the rapier wit of retired cat burglar John Robie (Grant). Robie, living comfortably in his Mediterranean villa, is pressed to solve a series of high profile robberies that mimic his M.O. Against the backdrop of the glamorous French Riviera, Robie falls for femme fatale Frances (Kelly), whom he suspects of being the copycat. Hitchcock, enamored of his gorgeous stars against a picturesque coastline, delivers a pretty, but shallow thriller in this Best Cinematography Oscar winner. Blu-ray features: commentary by Hitchcock historian Dre. Drew Casper, A night with the Hitchcocks, Unacceptable under the code: film censorship in Hollywood, Writing and casting, Making of featurette, Behind the gates: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock and To Catch a Thief: an appreciation, Edith Head: the paramount years, Interactive travelogue, Theatrical trailer, Galleries.

MY MAN GODFREY

(1936)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Gregory La Cava

Starring William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady, Gail Patrick

Universal //Not Rated//Comedy (Black and White)//94 minutes

The witty dialog and winning presence of William Powell, bring dignity to an otherwise screwball comedy. Godfrey is homeless and camped out by the river when he becomes the object of a Manhattan scavenger hunt for the rich and idle. Agreeing to help heiress Irene Bullock (Lombard) win the trophy, Godfrey subsequently accepts her offer to work as the family butler. The Bullock women are eccentric, but Godfrey proves adept at handling their whims. As the film continues, we learn he's a down on his luck, but capable Harvard grad. Essentially a romantic comedy, the film was adapted from the novel 1101 Park Avenue by Eric Hatch, and moves briskly enough to offset its rather repetitive gags. Release as part of "100 years of Universal," other new editions include Out of Africa, The Deer Hunter, Charade and Sullivan's Travels. DVD features: 100 years of Universal the Carl Laemmle Era, 100 years of Universal the Lew Wasserman Era.


GAME OF THRONES: Season One

(2011)

* * * (B)

Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Starring Sean Bean, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Harry Lloyd, Mark Addy, Emilia Clarke

HBO//Unrated//Fantasy//600 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

George R.R. Martin's fantasy saga is adapted into a lavish HBO series. Two episodes in, the alternate-reality Medieval tale lags, but toughing it out us rewarded by intrigue that steadily builds over the following first season episodes (10 in total). Sean Bean leads one of three families, each showcased in interlocking tales. These high-born men and women hail from the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and are unaware that supernatural beings threaten their existence when they become locked in a battle for power among themselves. Peter Dinklage deserved and won his Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe award as Tyrion Lannister, a noblemen's son. DVD and Blu-ray features: commentary on 7 episodes with the cast and crew, character profiles, Complete guide to Westeros, Anatomy of an episode, In-episode guide, Hidden dragon eggs, a 30-minute making-of feature including: Form the book to the screen, The night's watch, Creating the show opening, Creating the Dothraki language.

Also Out:

COLUMBUS CIRCLE

(2010)

Directed by George Gallo

Starring Selma Blair, Amy Smart, Kevin Pollak, Jason Antoon, Giovanni Ribisi, Beau Bridges, Jason Lee

Universal//Rated PG-13//Thriller//86 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, digital download and On Demand

After receiving her enormous inheritance at 18, Abigail Clayton (Selma Blair) dodged the prying paparazzi by becoming a recluse in her rambling Manhattan loft. For 20 years, Abigail has seen only Klandermann the Concierge (Pollak), and Dr. Raymond Fontaine (Bridges), her family's trusted friend. During this period, she has become agoraphobic, and totally dependent on her sheltered existence. Abigail's world begins to unravel after the mysterious death of her elderly neighbor brings detective Frank Giardello (Ribisi) to her door. Even worse, after, Charlie and Lillian (Lee and Smart) move into the vacant apartment next door, and Abigail slowly realizes they pose a significant danger. No Special features.

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