We know it’s shaping up to be quite a disappointing week for DVD, but we
promise at least a little light at the end of the tunnel. If fantasy is your
thing, you’ve got the latest family flick from the artist formerly known as The
Rock (Race to Witch Mountain), an otherworldly animated flop (Delgo),
and Thomas Jane’s strange sci-fi actioner based on a role-playing game (Mutant
Chronicles). Joe Wright delivers an Oscar would-be (The Soloist,
starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.) while the likes of Sienna Miller,
Peter Sarsgaard, Forest Whitaker, Dakota Fanning and others languish in
poorly-reviewed indie pics (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Fragments).
Only Blu-ray owners truly have something to celebrate (Big Trouble in Little
China on Blu-ray)! Read on for more.
matter how gosh darn charismatic Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is, even his bemused,
enthusiastic performance couldn’t save this Disney kids’ adventure. The biggest
reason for this, of course, is that we didn’t need another Witch Mountain
flick — the 1975 Escape From Witch Mountain is a classic in its own
right, thank you very much — and director Andy Fickman (The Game Plan,
She’s the Man) attempts to “update” the reboot by borrowing liberally from
EVERY OTHER SCI-FI FILM ever made. The story begins as two alien children (AnnaSophia
Robb and Alexander Ludwig) convince an ex-con taxi driver (Johnson) to help them
find an alien doohickey they need to save their home planet. A handful of
drawn-out chase scenes later, they’ve been joined by Carla Gugino’s lady
scientist and are on the run from not only the sinister US government, but a
Predator–Terminator knock off space hunter. DVD extras are sparse,
though the “Which Mountain?” Blu-ray only feature allows Fickman to walk us
through the subtle references to the first Witch Mountain flicks,
demonstrating that he apparently did watch them before deviating so far from
what made them, you know, good?
Next: A very special movie from Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.
first sign of trouble came when The Soloist was pushed from November to
March. Directed by hot Brit helmer Joe Wright (whose last two films,
Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, earned multiple award nominations
and one Academy Award), the true story of a schizophrenic classical musician
(Jamie Foxx) and his friendship with a reporter (Robert Downey Jr.) was
originally destined for an Oscar push, so it came as a shock to many when
Paramount’s release date change essentially took it (and its players) out of the
Oscar race altogether. Turns out the move was warranted, according to critics,
who gave the drama less-than-Fresh marks for unfocused, pedestrian direction.
Deleted scenes, a handful of featurettes, and a commentary by Wright
nevertheless supplement the film (watch it on Blu-ray for its impressive
Next: Get Obsessed with Beyonce Knowles and Ali Larter
Obsessed — 18%
Fatal Attraction, only with Beyonce Knowles and Ali Larter, and you might
imagine why critics gave the collective thumbs down to Obsessed. Idris
Elba stars as the luckiest man alive — with Beyonce as his wife, and Larter as
his hot office temp — until Larter goes insane with obsessive lust for him. I
mean, does that suck, or what? Predictably (and, worse — PG-13), Obsessed
is the latest DVD release that you can skip with absolute confidence. We
won’t bother you with the bonus feature details, although one is entitled, “Girl
Fight!” so you know they’ve stayed classy.
Next: The last stop for infamous animated bomb, Delgo
know what you’re thinking; how could an independently-produced CG animated film
blending Tolkienesque mythology with Eastern philosophy, featuring the voices of
Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt as anthropomorphized dinosaur man
and a butterfly winged-creature, respectively, ever tank at the box office? We
don’t know either, but somehow, this $40 million flick earned just $511K its
opening weekend. If you choose to take pity on this indie animated adventure
(which also features the voices of Chris Kattan, Val Kilmer, Louis Gossett Jr.,
Anne Bancroft, and Burt Reynolds), at least you’ll have an extensive bonus menu
to watch — behind-the-scenes features, filmmaker commentary, creature guides,
deleted scenes, and more are included.
Next: Short Cuts. Er, I mean, Fragments
Fragments — 64%
Australian director Rowan Woods (Little Fish) had a unique outsider spin
to lend to Fragments (originally titled Winged Creatures from the
book on which it’s based), it unfortunately wasn’t evident to critics, who say
that Fragments is very much like many other LA-set dramas about random
strangers “crashing” into each other. Nevertheless, the film’s impressive cast
is not to be slighted; it includes Oscar-winning actors Forest Whitaker and
Jennifer Hudson, Oscar-nominee Jackie Earle Haley, Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce,
Kate Beckinsale, Jeanne Tripplehorn, all of whom critics say give it their all.
Next: Lindsay Lohan goes through some Labor Pains
actual labor pains couldn’t be as excruciating as watching this Lindsay Lohan
vehicle, a light comedy about a woman who keeps her job by lying that she’s
pregnant. Saved from complete direct-to-DVD hell when it debuted (to decent
ratings) on the ABC Family Channel, Labor Pains is not the comeback
project that Lohan really needed; when you find yourself forced to act opposite
Chris Parnell getting projectile vomited on by a miniature dog, it’s time to get
a new agent. We valiantly sat through this poorly-plotted, tedious “comedy” so
you fine folks don’t have to. Please say our efforts were in vain.
Next: The Mutant Chronic-WHAT-les of Thomas Jane and Ron Perlman
Jane and Ron Perlman star in this strange little science fiction adventure about
a ragtag band of soldiers (including Devon Aoki and Hellboy II‘s Anna
Walton) tasked with stopping an army of mutated zombies quickly multiplying
across the earth. Based loosely on the role playing game of the same name,
Mutant Chronicles has an interesting steampunk-meets-WWI aesthetic, a bleak
future in which international super powers are synonymous with corporations; too
bad, then, that the ambition of its filmmakers far outpace what they’re actually
able to bring to the screen. That said, if watching Tom Jane blast his way
through mobs of blade-armed mutant folk, you might just have a “so bad it’s
good” viewing experience.
Next: The Conchords take Flight again!
and Jemaine are back in the second season of Flight of the Conchords, the
comedy-music-parody show in which two New Zealander buddies embark on a series
of absurd-mundane adventures. In season two, watch as Bret starts a gang,
Jemaine dates — gasp! — an Australian, and the two literally duel over a woman.
If you’re a fan, you’re in luck; plenty of deleted scenes, outtakes, and some
imaginative featurettes accompany the season’s ten episodes.
Next: The latest Michael Chabon adaptation
hard to believe that a film adapted from a Michael Chabon novel could come and
go with such little fanfare, but that’s what this Sundance festival flick did
when it flitted in and out of theaters last spring. Writer-director Rawson
Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball) took heavy liberties with Chabon’s
bestseller, turning the ’80s period character study into a love triangle between
main character Art (Jon Foster), Jane (Sienna Miller, in her self-professed “indie
year”), and Cleveland (Peter Sarsgaard). The coming-of-age clichés abound in
what critics called a charmless, clumsy adaptation that simply missed the mark.
Next: Little China gets in Big Trouble on Blu-Ray
all the rotten offerings in home video this week, we saved the best for last.
That’s right — ol’ Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) has finally made it to Blu-ray!
Watch John Carpenter’s 1986 cult classic Big Trouble in Little China in
glorious HD, in a new edition that not only includes the theatrical cut, but an
extended cut that contains never before seen footage. Also included are nine
deleted scenes, an entertaining commentary track by Russell and Carpenter,
behind the scenes features, trailers, and more. Sure, all of these bonus
features have been released in previous DVD iterations, but if you’re like us,
you can’t wait to watch the misunderstood wizard Lo Pan (James Hong) stir some
s*** up… I mean, all the guy wanted was a green-eyed beauty to be his eternal
wife. And isn’t that all any of us wants in life?
Until next week, happy renting!