April 1, 2008

DVD Pick of the Week: Sweeney Todd

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 away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

This week brings with it a selection that includes very little of interest. This is easily the briefest column I have put together in some time. Perhaps it has something to do with April Fool's Day? Perhaps the list is a joke and a plethora of first rate titles will magically appear on store shelves. Okay, maybe not. Still, what this has, if not quantity, is a single title that I will be first in line for, and if you read the title of this week's column, you know exactly what title I am talking about. Furthermore, if you read my review of said film, or read my 2007 recaps you will know why.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. This is easily one of Tim Burton's finest accomplishments, if not his finest. He has put his stamp on a tragic love story for the ages. It is steeped in darkness, spiced with humor, and told through glorious song. It is a film that is equally personal and intimate and grandiose, a wonderful example of the grand guignol aesthetic. Watching the tale of Shakespearean revenge play out is as engrossing and romantic as it is horrific and repulsive. It is a tale that play right to Burton's strengths, perfect for his tendency towards gothic imagery. Combine Burton with a cast headed by Johnny Depp and you are well on your way to a classic. The execution is fantastic, the results impossible to ignore. Through it all, the singing is quite good. Now I need to see the stage play.

Alvin and the Chipmunks. This movie had disaster written all over it. Surprisingly, it was not half bad. This is fun, pure and simple. The special effects are solid, the voice acting is good, and it has a little something to offer everyone. If you are looking for a fun family movie that is a bit more than just a diversion, Alvin and the Chipmunks should ably fill the bill. This is a film about the ties that form between family members, even non-traditional ones, dovetailing with a look at the state of the entertainment industry and what can happen to those who do not keep both eyes open. Both threads told through the family filter of comedy and high-pitched singing.

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II. As we draw ever closer to the release of the sure-to-be-awful remake (I am willing to be proven wrong), we get a new DVD release of the sequel to the Jamie Lee Curtis original. I have seen neither, but hope to make a change to that. This film seems to be unrelated to the original and involves ghostly possession and revenge. A prom queen is killed by her boyfriend, whom she plans to exact revenge on thirty years later on prom night.

Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar. How can anyone not like the Blue Man Group? I have a pair of their audio releases, and their music is quite infectious. This new DVD release is an instructional manual that outlines the steps needed to become a megastar. Sounds like a winner to me!

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle SE. Much like the Prom Night II release, here is a release designed to help cash-in on, while also promoting the impending sequel. I have not done any research to see if this release is different from the other one, but if you don't have it, you may want to check this out. The movie may look like a stupid comedy on the surface, if you look beneath you will find a stupid comedy, but one that delivers on the laughs. One hopes that the sequel will succeed in the funny area as well.


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