February 26, 2008

DVD Pick of the Week: Beowulf

This week brings plenty of films that will assuredly want to make their ways into your collection, or at the very least into your Netflix queue. The question, as it is every week, which ones? Allow me to step in and assist you in my own little way. I have perused the lists of new releases (hundreds come out each week) and picked out the ones most interesting to me, so if your tastes are anything like mine, this could prove useful. If not, well, give it a read anyway, perhaps you'll be surprised.

Beowulf. This past November, director Robert Zemeckis brought his latest experiment in animation to the big screen, in IMAX 3D, no less. The film was spectacular. It was big, explosive, dramatic, epic, and just delivered a good time for all. Was it the best animation of the year? No. It was also nowhere near the best film of the year. However, it was a fun adaptation of the classic poem and it was a good example of director embracing a technology and attempting to push the medium forward. The film is being released in theatrical and unrated varieties, make sure you get the one you want!

NFL Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants. Who in their right mind (outside of New York anyway) would have thought this DVD would be released this year? It was an amazing year for Big Blue that culminated with the spoiling of the Patriots would-be perfect season. For Giants fans and Patriots haters, this will be a DVD to savor.

Justice League: The New Frontier. I have been looking forward to this ever since I heard about it, which was not all that long ago. This animated film is based on the graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke and chronicles the formation of the Justice League. The animation looks great, and the cast is strong and includes Neil Patrick Harris, Lucy Lawless, David Boreanaz, and Jeremy Sisto. This is being released in single and two-disk editions.

The Darjeeling Limited. The latest from Wes Anderson is a curiosity. It plays better in small chunks than it does as a complete film. It features great use of music and has a unique, distinctive look. In the end I just found it to be a little too self-aware and perhaps a touch pretentious. Still, I can see myself adding this to my collection, despite not believing it is great, it certainly is compelling.

Newhart: The Complete First Season. The second sitcom named after Bob Newhart has it's first season released before the first series is completely available. Whichever one you choose, it is hard to go wrong with Bob Newhart.

30 Days of Night. Here is a movie that I really and truly wanted to love but just couldn't. The story played out terribly. Seriously, when I sat in the theater there was a moment that made me seriously suspect that a reel had been skipped. No such luck. Still, there were some great moments, some impressive blood, and a strong performance from Danny Huston as the lead vampire. It is at least worth a rental for you vampire fans. I am surprised not see an unrated release of this. Could a double-dip be in the offing?

Death at a Funeral. Here is a fun film, if only for Alan Tudyk's performance. I kid. The film, in true British style, mines the funny from an event that is supposed to be anything but. It starts off a little bit slow, but it really builds to a madcap finish.

The Smurfs: Season One, Volume One. Well, after reading the title I am sure you have already made up your minds whether or not you want this. Take it from me, as a fan of Saturday morning cartoons, this is a nice set (I already have a copy). The little blue guys, and gal, have aged well.

The Last Emperor: Criterion Collection. I have never seen this film, and a Criterion release would seem to be the perfect opportunity to do so, however there is a big but. The aspect ratio has been modified from 2.35:1 to 2:1. Apparently, the DP of the film does not like the 2.35:1 ratio for home viewing, saying it is better in 2:1. I am not sure I agree with this, so if you are a proponent of OAR, like I am, you may want to think twice about picking this up.

Highlander: The Source. All you Highlander fans get ready to spit some venom. This was originally being made for a theatrical release, then something happened and production was shut down with an unfinished cut made. It made its debut on the Sci-Fi Channel and proved to not be such a good movie. I remember having it on in the background and thought it was all right, but nothing special.

The Legend of the Black Scorpion. Zhang Ziyi and Daniel Wu are among the stars of this loose adaptation of Hamlet. At a banquet the Emperor, Empress, Crown Prince, the Minister, and the General all have enemies they would like to eliminate. I have not seen it, but am quite interested.

The Rage. Robert Kurtzman helms this splatter horror film that I was completely unaware of until I read it on the release list. It does not appear to be anything original, but it will hopefully be fun. A mad scientist is experimenting with a rage virus (28 Days Later anyone?) and the subjects get loose and havoc ensues.

Them. The directors of The Eye have their first film released in the States. This is not to be confused with the Wes Craven production Them. The original title for this film is Ils, and it looks to be pretty creepy.

Day Zero. Another war-themed film is upon us, but it is coming direct to DVD. It centers on a trio of soldiers faced with their commission being reactivated and they have to report to be sent to Iraq. Each of them handle the news in a different way. This could be interesting, but I cannot say I feel any great desire to see it.

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue. Perhaps better known as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, this old school zombie film is one I have been interested in for some time. It is being released in a restored two disk edition.

A Bloody Aria. Here is a little Korean thriller that features an aspiring singer escaping the advances of her teacher, but when she believes she is rescued, she finds herself right back in a sadistic situation. Sounds like fun, no?


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