March 4, 2008

DVD Pick of the Week: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

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 towards titles of interest and warn you from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return. This week's offerings run the gamut from classic to avoid like the plague. Read on and discover which is which.

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Reminiscent of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this movie is filled with magical whimsy that is downright infectious. It does not work, not completely, but it is lighthearted and fun and impossible to ignore. It also happens to be the first screenplay that writer/director Zach Helm ever wrote, although the superior Stranger Than Fiction was produced first. This is a movie to watch with the family and just enjoy.

101 Dalmatians: Two Disk Platinum Edition. This is an undisputed Disney classic. It is now available for a limited time, as all of these Platinum Editions are. So, while it is out there, be sure to snap it up as it will likely be some years before it is available again. If nothing else, Disney knows how to work its catalog of classics. I am looking forward to seeing this again, with one of their cruelest villains, and highest hero count. I am also impressed with the genuinely eerie promo trailer that was released for it.

Into the Wild. Here is a film that is shot well, acted well, and is generally presented well, yet I have a hard time recommending it. There is just something that is holding me back. I am not taken with McCandless reasons for leaving and what it did to his family and to that end I cannot say I like the movie or whole-heartedly recommend it. Still, it is at least worthy of renting for the elements that do work (like Hal Holbrook's Oscar nominated performance).

Hogfather. Set in an alternate universe Earth called Discworld, each Christmas the Hogfather flies around the planet distributing gifts to the children, until someone contacts the Tooth Fairy as an in to assassinate the gift-giver. Sounds wild to me! I do not know much, having just found out about the title, but it is based off a popular novel and is supposed to be a faithful adaptation.

Things We Lost in the Fire. Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro star in this relentlessly, unforgivingly sad movie. This is one to avoid, unless you have the desire to feel bad. Still, Benicio turns in a fine performance as a recovered drug addict helping out the wife of his recently killed childhood best friend. Wow, that was a mouthful.

Awake. Avoid this stinker. It gives up on its central concept early on and never looks back. It is slow and rather dull. It is a thriller without the thrills. Although, on the good side Lena Olin does deliver a strong performance that is better than anything else here.

12 Angry Men: 50th Anniversary Edition. Henry Fonda classic delivers plenty of thrills in a fashion essentially foreign to the modern film. This is definitely worth adding to your collection, and it is available in a new remastered edition with some new extras. Reminds me that I have not visited this film in a long time. This sounds like the perfect opportunity.

Mrs. Doubtfire: Behind the Seams Edition. Robin Williams in one of his finer films, now in a special edition, although I question the need for the vanity tag. This new two disk edition features remastered audio and video along with a plethora of new extras. This is another film I haven't visited in a long time, one hopes that it still holds up.

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who: Deluxe Edition. You know, I don't remember this one. I wonder how it slipped past me.... Anyway, it is just in time for the new feature film featuring the voices of Steve Carell and Jim Carrey.

5 Centimeters Per Second. I know nothing of this film other than the fact that it was well-received in Japan and won a few major awards. It comes from the creator of Voices of a Distant Star.

Automaton Transfusion. Supremely mediocre low-budget zombie flick that makes a big mistake in not telling a complete story, instead ending on a "To Be Continued" tag.

My Kid Could Paint That. Documentary about a wunderkind child painter whose work is called into question when it appears that Daddy may be helping. I have not seen this, but have heard a lot of good things about it.

Carver. Low budget horror that promises thrills and gore. Supposedly based on a true story, but that is no matter. I wouldn't mind giving this a go around and see if it delivers the goods.


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