Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope 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, but opinions based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations 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.
Ip Man (also Blu-ray). I heard about this some time ago but did not have the opportunity to see it until much more recently. Let me begin by saying that if you have not yet seen it and you like martial arts films, this is an absolute must see. It is loosely based on the life of martial arts grandmaster Ip Man, who also happens to be one of Bruce Lee's first mentors. In addition to being a martial arts film, it is also a period film that shows China during the Japanese occupation of the late 1930s through WWII. It is an interesting look into the period and features some jaw dropping fight sequences. The film stars Donnie Yen and is one of the better performances I have seen from him. I am very much looking forward to the sequel.
Repo Men (also Blu-ray). I like this movie. It is an interesting concept, features plenty of blood and action, a little bit of humor and an ending that is rather bizarre. Jude law and forest Whitaker star as Repo Men, they work for an artificial organ company and if you do not make you payments, they will come knocking on your door to take it back. The story plays with the idea of what happens when a Repo Man goes from hunter to hunted. It is definitely worth checking out, as well as the similarly themed Repo! The Genetic Opera, I have a hard time separating the two.
Clash of the Titans (also Blu-ray). Skip this, watch the original. That is the best advice I can give in relation to this remake. It is rather dull, uninspired, and pretty cheap looking. It is a story that should make for a lush big screen fantasy/adventure. Instead we get petulant gods, annoying people, and an adventure that never really takes off. Sam Worthington stars and never has all that much to do as we march towards the climactic battle. I suspect it will look snazzy enough in high definition, but that is hardly a reason to go out of your way to see this. if you need to see a Sam Worthington movie, go with Avatar or even the last Terminator movie.
Batman Under the Red Hood (also Blu-ray). This new entry to DC's animated universe looks pretty darn good. It is based on the "Under the Hood" and "A Death in the Family" storylines from the comic books. A new bad guy is in Gotham, taunting Batman with tragic results.
Stargate: Universe 1.5. I like this series. It may take itself a little too seriously and perhaps borrow a little too liberally from Battlestar Galactica, but it is still worth your time. It is quite the change of pace from prior series. A group of military and civilian personnel are trapped on an Ancients ship on a predetermined course that they have no control over. I particularly like Robert Carlysle's scientist character.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Blu-ray). This is a fantastic film. The martial arts fantasy from director Ang Lee was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning four of them (including Best Foreign Language Film). It is a story of love and revenge wrapped around a quest for a stolen jade sword. Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, and Cheng Pei-Pei star.
Rambo: Extended Cut (Blu-ray). I am not sure what the differences are between this and the theatrical version are, but I can attest to the great entertainment value of this fourth entry in the Rambo series. Stallone as the titular character does not have all that much to say, but he does have a lot to do which involves mowing down an army of bad guys as he tries to save a group of missionaries. It is a violent film and one that I will gladly check out for the extras footage.
GI Joe: Special Edition (Blu-ray). No, this is not the live action film, that is already out in stores. This is the animated film from the 1980's. I know I have seen this but I do not recall any details. I look forward to revisiting it. I was a big fan of the series growing up, this and Transformers were mainstays in my cartoon days of old.
Fanboys (Blu-ray). I love this movie. Is it a good one? No, not particularly. It just hits all the right notes for me. It centers on a group of Star Wars loving friends who set out on a road trip to break into Skywalker Ranch so that their dying friend can see Episode I before he gets too sick. It is a simple set up and it is executed with all manner of geek-centric jokes. It is a love song to the geek at heart. It has been out on DVD for awhile, only now is it making the jump to high definition.
Operation: Endgame (Blu-ray). This is a war of rival spy groups in a bunker after their boss dies. It looks ridiculous and has a pretty impressive cast. The cast includes Zach Galifianakis, Rob Corddry, Maggie Q, Emilie de Ravin, Ellen Barkin, Ving Rhames, Odette Yustman, Adam Scott, and Jeffrey Tambor.
The Prowler (Blu-ray). Old school slasher that somehow has missed my eyes. I think it may be time to pay this 1981 slasher a viewing. A masked man kills a couple at a dance in 1945. He is believed to be a disgruntled soldier. The dance is not held again for 35-years, but when it is, the killer also returns. Among the cast is Farley Granger, who also starred in Alfred Hitchcock's Rope.
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (also Blu-ray). It has been some time since we have seen a proper film starring the evil little puppets. A young man finds Toulon's crate of puppets following the old man's murder. This thrusts him into a battle against Nazis and Japanese assassins to save his girlfriend. I am looking forward to seeing this new one from director David Decoteau and producer Charles Band.
Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated. I saw this on the big screen a few months ago and while I did not like the entire thing, it certainly is a fascinating project. They started with the original audio track and then handed it over to hundreds of animators and artists who proceeded to render the film in art. The art was then compiled into this feature creation. Well worth spending some time with.
Neighbor. A mysterious woman arrives in an upscale neighborhood and proceeds to terrorize those around her. It certainly looks entertaining. America Olivo stars as the woman who tortures her neighbors. What could be more fun than that?
Article first published as DVD Pick of the Week: Ip Man on Blogcritics.