December 2, 2008

DVD Pick of the Week: The Day the Earth Stood Still

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 Day the Earth Stood Still: 2-Disk Special Edition. With the remake just around the corner it is a perfect opportunity to put out a new version of the classic science fiction film on DVD (and Blu-ray). This is a great film that everyone needs to see, if you have not, here is your opportunity to do so prior to seeing the remake. A flying saucer arrives with an alien who wishes to gather all of the world's government's together to tell of his mission, this leads to problems of course. This is a fantastic film with a great cinematic robot in an edition complete with a number of new features, as well as holdovers from the last release (new features are noted as such):
· Commentary by Robert Wise and Nicolas Meyer
· New: Commentary by Film & Music Historians John Morgan, Steven Smith, William Stromberg and Nick Redman
· New: Isolated Score Track
· New: The Mysterious, Melodious Theremin
· New: The Day The Earth Stood Still Main Title Live Performance By Peter Pringle
· New: The Making of The Day the Earth Stood Still
· New: Decoding “Klaatu, Barada, Nikto”: Science Fiction as Metaphor Featurette
· New: A Brief History of Flying Saucers Featurette
· New: The Astounding Harry Bates Featurette
· New: Edmund North: The Man Who Made the Earth Stand Still Featurette
· New To Disc: Race To Oblivion: A Documentary Short Written And Produced By Edmund North
· New To Disc: Farewell To The Master: A Reading By Jamieson K. Price Of The Original Harry Bates Short Story
· New: Interactive Pressbook
· Fox Movietonews from 1951
· Theatrical Trailer
· Advertising Gallery
· Behind-The Scenes Gallery
· Portrait Gallery
· Production Gallery
· Spaceship Construction Blueprints
· Shooting Script

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. This is not a bad movie nor is it a good movie. What it is, is a very mediocre movie. The screenplay is loaded with clunkers, not to mention the pacing/story, or lack thereof, issues. I am sure fans of the novel will have plenty to complain about, while others will enjoy the flash of it all. I was not able to get behind it, yet I am not inclined to completely pan it. There are much worse films you could be subjected to. In other words, it is not worth owning.

Frost/Nixon: The Original Watergate Interviews. With the Ron Howard directed film based on these interviews coming soon to theaters, seems like the perfect opportunity to put out the original video of the material. Before seeing the trailer I was unaware of these interviews (I was not in a position to care when they originally happened). It will be interesting to see these in concert with the film, see how everything fits together.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe. I have to label this a disappointment. As much as I wanted to like this, there is not enough meat to care about. There are a couple of nice moments and nods to the series, but when all is said and done, the story is not worthy of the title. I would love to see a standalone X-Files film that told a great "monster of the week" type story, something that this should have done, but I doubt that this franchise will warrant another sequel. At least we will always have the series to revisit.

Metalocalypse: Season II - Black Fire Upon Us. The continuing adventures of Dethklok. I have only seen the first season, but I cannot wait to see more. The music is actually good and the characters are seriously out there. It is great to see a series steeped in metal that is goofy yet not condescending.

Wanted. The DVD ads call this a trailblazing action film that no one has seen before. I would not go so far as to call it that, but it is an excellent action film. Now, If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, this will definitely fill the bill. It is one of the, if not the, best action film of the year. I was hooked right from the start; it has a strong lead performance, big action, a story that has enough fuel for at least a sequel or two, and a nice post-Matrix feel. Do yourself a favor and go for the ride.

Step Brothers. This is a movie that you are either going to love or hate. I have reason to go either way, thus pushing my rating towards the middle. The utter hilarity pushes it up while the lack of a decent narrative holds it down. This is an example of a movie based around star chemistry, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly mesh perfectly as they riff off each other for the whole film. Laugh out loud funny while narratively bankrupt, well worth checking out.

White Dog. I have never seen this Samuel Fuller directed film, but with this Criterion Collection edition, it looks like the perfect time. Kristy McNichol stars as a young actress who adopts a lost German Shepherd, only to discover through a series of horrifying incidents that the dog has been trained to attack black people, and Paul Winfield plays the animal trainer who tries to cure him. A snarling, uncompromising vision, White Dog is a tragic portrait of the evil done by that most corruptible of animals: the human being.

Fly Me to the Moon. This feature was released to theaters to take advantage of the latest 3D craze. I never did make it down to see it, but it looks like a cute kid-centric film. Whether or not it will pay off in the home setting is yet to be seen. It follows the adventures of a couple of flys as they hop an space shuttle ride to space.

The Longshots. No, not a great movie, but a good example of the inspirational sports drama. With everyones overwhelming familiarity with the genre, it all comes down to execution, and this one is executed with a sure hand resulting in a film that is easy to watch and is better than I had expected. It also has the unlikeliest of director's: Fred Durst (yes, that Fred Durst).

Grave Mistake. Sounds like any number of zombie films, but it is a zombie film and being such, I need to see it. It follows a group of friends who realize what is happening around them and head out on a mission of survival and find one of their owns missing mother.

Gunhed. I do not know much of this, but it looks like goofy fun. It centers on a group of scavengers who arrive on an old military island where war machines were made looking for treasure. Instead they find the island still active and ready to defend itself.

Battleship Potemkin. This 1925 Russian film is a land mark in cinematic history, particularly for its advances in editing. At least that is what I have read. I have not seen the film, but almost feel that it is a requirement. Now, this new release appears to be the perfect excuse to check it out.


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