March 17, 2009

DVD Pick of the Week: Punisher - War Zone

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.

Punisher: War Zone (also Blu-ray). From the opening moments I was hooked. Of course it helps that the very first line of dialogue had me cracking up. The movie is utterly ridiculous, you cannot help but smile at the crazy things that happen. It brings up the question of what makes one bad movie really bad and another completely entertaining. I do not know if there is an easy answer to this. All I can say is that this definitely falls on the entertaining side of bad movies. I like this movie a lot. It is the sort of movie you can watch over and over again without getting bored. It is not a good movie, and I will never claim that it is. However, I have long since discovered that a movie does not have to be good to provide immense entertainment.

Twilight (on 3/21). No thank you. This film bored me to tears on the big screen. What can I say? This movie is dull. It is punctuated with poor acting and a poorer script. I particularly liked the "You're my brand of heroin" line. Dialogue is at best laughable and at worst unimportant. There is no real conflict, and no one of any depth to care about, much less root for. Beyond that, I cannot say I much like this take on vampire lore, like the sparkly skin, no fangs, random abilities that conveniently arise when the need for a device to advance the plot is required. I will leave this one for the teen girls.

The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 5: 1946-1948. I only have the first set, but I really need to get the rest of these. Stooges shorts are classics and it is nice to see that they are finally getting proper releases. If you like comedy, these are for you.

Bolt (also Blu-ray, on 3/22). I have to say this movie is fun. There is a loose, relaxed quality as if the creative team did not have the entire Mouse House on their backs expecting absolute greatness. You would be surprised the effect that something like that can have. Whatever the case may be, Bolt is an absolutely enjoyable experience that does not suffer from its familiarity. It survives on good characters, humor, and looks great in the 3D presentation without relying on gimmicky shots of things coming out of the screen. Well worth your time, especially if you are taking your family. It is too bad it cannot be replicated at home. I suspect it will translate well to a flat presentation.

The Princess Bride (Blu-ray). Yet another release of this classic comedy is upon us. Fortunately, it is not a rehash, it is a legitimate release giving it a high definition debut. This movie is fantastic. If you like funny, fantasy, or swashbuckling swordplay, this is for you. Although, I suspect most of you have already seen this one at least once.

The Robe (also Blu-ray). I have never seen this film from 1953 starring Richard Burton. It is one of those films I have been aware of, but have never made the time to see. The story looks like one I would be interested in, so perhaps this is now the time to make the time. It is about the Roman who won Jesus' robe after the Crucifixion and is now suffering hallucinations he believes are tied to the robe.

The Haunted Castle. This 1921 film is FW Murnau's precursor to Nosferatu. A hunting party is holed up in a castle with a count believed to have killed his brother and is now intent on resurrecting the ghosts of the castle. The Kino release has wonderful looking cover art and would seem to promise a veritable ton of atmosphere.

Chrysalis. This French science fiction feature is said to have a noirish atmosphere reminiscent of Blade Runner, although not nearly as good. It centers on a hard-nosed police officer who is seeking revenge for the death of his family. I am definitely intrigued.

The Company of Wolves (Blu-ray). Here is another film I have wanted to see for some time. It is director Neil Jordan's combination of werewolves and Little Red Riding Hood. It arrives on high definition, and I believe this is the first it has been officially on the market in some years.


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