January 27, 2009

DVD Pick of the Week: The Lucky Ones

Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope that this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles and what follows are not necessarily reviews. It is my opinion based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists that I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations upon them are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.

The Lucky Ones. Not quite what I expected, but ultimately satisfying. This is a film that takes its time to get where it is going and every minute is worth the trip. You will likely see the end coming, but this will not dampen your enjoyment of the journey. It features three actors who know their way around a set in Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Pena. This is a road trip movie that does not offer much new to the genre, but it tells a story with very strong characters.

Fireproof. This is a Christian film starring Kirk Cameron that did quite well when it hit the theaters in 2008. I did not see it, so I cannot attest to its quality, but I was happy to see a faith-centric film do well at the box office. That said, I did find it a little extreme to learn of Cameron's unwillingness to kiss another woman in character for the film. On one hand I admire his dedication to his wife, on the other hand it seems to indicate that he has no control of himself. Eh, whatever. All I hope for are faith films that have a higher quality than many of those that I have seen.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona. On the surface, it appears that there is a lot of ground that can be covered and plenty of opportunity to grow these characters into something compelling. Unfortunately, it does not happen. The characters do have interesting exchanged that hint at depth and give the idea of something bigger, but it never really takes off. I was slightly entertained, some of the dialogue was quite good, and the performances were also good. The movie is moderately entertaining, but could have been so much more.

Pride and Glory. The movie is briskly paced. There is always some sort of forward motion, making the more than two hour film fly by in no time at all. Each piece of the puzzle fits nicely into the big picture. The biggest problem is that for all the positive build-up, the thrills, the flaring of emotions, and the overall excitement as this tale of corruption unfolds is the way it all ends. No, this is not an original cop drama, but it is one that is superbly crafted. The script is tight, performances strong, and it will keep you interested until that lackluster conclusion. I have to say that this is well worth your time seeing.

Lakeview Terrace. First, let me say the cover art for this release is awful! Yes, this is a good film. It is not pure plot, it has that reactionary feel to propel it towards its conclusion. While it does become rather generic in its conclusion, its power is not diminished. This is well worth spending some time with. The best thing about the film is easily Samuel L. Jackson. The man is an absolute force of nature. He commands your attention, and you will listen to everything he has to say. So,if nothing else, you always have the inimitable Jackson to entertain you.

Hulk Vs. This is a double feature release of new animated films that have the Hulk taking on Thor and Wolverine, respectively. The clips I have seen look pretty good, so it may be worth checking out for a superhero fan such as myself.

Open Season 2. Was this really necessary? I do not recall the original being all that popular, besides not being a terribly good film. This direct to video release does not reunite the Ashton Kutcher/Martin Lawrence team in favor of Joel Mchale/Mike Epps. I cannot say I am excited.

Mary Poppins: 45th Anniversary Edition. I wonder how this differs from the previous Platinum Edition? (no, I haven't looked up the extras) In any case, this is another opportunity to add this Disney classic to your collection.

RockNRolla. This is a gangster film with a visual flourish that keeps the eyes involved. There is a seamless, easy flow that does not allow the viewer to lose track of the various threads as they move along their paths. This wonderful flow and style, combined with the chemistry of the cast, is enough to make this at the very lease a mild recommendation. What drags it down, again, is the fact that I did not connect with any of the characters. I did not really care what happened to them.

The All New Superfriends Hour: Season 1, Vol. 2. I loved these cartoons as a kid. I have seen the first volume and they are revealed to be not terribly good, but the familiarity and good will still holds up very well. Everyone should watch this fun series of superhero adventures.

The Rocker. I really enjoyed this film. It is an easy watch that never failed to please this viewer. Plenty of laughs, no matter how small, a large supporting cast that does well, however underused, and in the end they tell a story that I liked. Isn't that what we all want? A story that is told well and draws us in? Rainn Wilson does a fine job stepping out of The Office and into a Will Ferrell-esque role with plenty of moments to reminisce on the 1980s.

42nd Street Forever: Vol. 4. I need to track down the first three volumes of this series. This is not a movie, but a collection of old exploitation trailers for some of the strangest films you've probably never heard of.

M.A.N.T.I.S.: The Complete Series. Does anyone remember this short-lived series from way back in 1994? I have very faint memories of it. I remember it being pretty darn goofy. It starred Carl Lumbley, who went on to a great supporting role on Alias, as a scientist paralyzed by a killer's bullet who develops a suit that gives him superhuman abilities.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. This documentary received a lot of good word on the festival circuit throughout 2008. It takes a look at the case of Polanski and his statutory rape conviction that saw him flee to France prior to sentencing. I have not seen it yet, but want to give it a shot.

The Gene Generation. I remember a trailer for this some time ago and thought it looked pretty good. It is a science fiction actioner starring Bai Ling in black leather. Do you need to know anything else?

Mercury Man. Thailand's first entry into the superhero genre is reportedly a little half-baked, although I am definitely interested in checking it out. How can you go wrong with a guy whose powers are derived from a mercury laden amulet?


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