July 28, 2009

DVD Pick of the Week: Big Man Japan

Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope 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, but opinions based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations 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.

Big Man Japan. I have not seen this, but the trailer alone inspired me to place it at the top of this week's list. In post-WWII Japan, the nation has been protected from monster attacks by a succession of guardians. The problem is that the latest hero, a man who turns into a giant several stories high via electric shock, has not captured the hearts and minds of the people. He is mocked, and people just do not particularly care for him or the destruction that results from his "work." The trailer makes it look like some wacky fun. I am looking forward to seeing how this thing plays out. The CG does not look particularly great, but it does exude an energy that allows me to get past it.

Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series (also Blu-ray). This is a pricey set, but man do I want it. Before seeing Big Man Japan on the list, this was going to be my pick for the week. This series is one of the greatest ever made. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be remembered as a landmark, all coming after what I thought was a questionable mini-series. This is reimagining done right. The series has it all, action, drama, comedy, thrills, chills, wonderful direction, acting, design, it is the complete package.

Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5 (also Blu-ray). This is the final batch of episodes for the series, building up to the "Daybreak" finale. This is a show that went out on its own terms, rather than wait to be canceled. They decided to end with season 4, so they were able to plan out the ending, delivering us a satisfying ending. Simply a fantastic show that if you do not watch, you truly need to.

Torchwood: Children of Earth (also Blu-ray). I have seen very little of this Doctor Who spin-off, although I like what I have seen. This mini-series appeared on BBC America last week and is now here on disk for our repeated enjoyment. I have not yet seen it, but have heard nothing but good things about it and the trailer looks pretty darn good. The five episode series centers on an alien invasion by beings called the 456, whose arrival is heralded by chanting children. Torchwood investigates.

Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead (also Blu-ray). David Tennant's tenure as the good Doctor is coming to an end, and it is doing so with a series of TV movies, this is the first of the bunch. The show finds the Doctor attempting to prevent the threat of metallic stingray creatures pose to Earth. The show was generally well received and was also the first to be shot in high definition.

Dollhouse: Season One (also Blu-ray). Joss Whedon's latest attempt at a television series is a good one. It had something of a slow start, but around episode six or seven, everything begins to pick up, creating a compelling series that leaves you wondering what will happen next. It centers on a company that provides dolls, characters with reprogrammable personalities and skills. Eliza Dushku stars and is well worth checking out. Fortunately, it has been picked up by Fox for a second season.

Green Lantern: First Flight (also Blu-ray). The next animated DC Universe film to hit DVD. I heard this is pretty good, but I have not yet seen it. I do not know much about the character aside from his power being derived from a ring, the Lanterns being an interstellar police force, and that Ryan Reynolds was recently cast to star in the live action film.

Fast & Furious (also Blu-ray). While I was left cold, bored, and uninterested by the story I did enjoy the racing action. I am guessing that will be enough for many who go to see this, and there is nothing wrong with that, I just really wished there was more to it. I kept waiting for the story to take off. The entire exercise is a lot of set up with very little payoff. The outing does feature the return of the original stars, as well as the return of Justin Lin who directed the prior entry in the series.

Repulsion (Criterion DVD and Blu-ray). This 1965 Roman Polanski film is one I have wanted to see but have not yet had the pleasure. It is the story of a repressed young girl whose thoughts and hallucinations dip her into madness. A young Catherine Deneuve stars.

12 Monkeys (Blu-ray). One of the best films of the 1990's not to mention for stars Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt. This Terry Gilliam helmed time travel film is terribly involving and interesting as our hero attempts to uncover the secrets of the 12 Monkeys. This is one of this week's catalog titles arriving on high definition Blu-ray.

Dragonball: Evolution (also Blu-ray). Surprisingly enough, this movie is not nearly as bad as I was expecting. It is not a good movie by any stretch, but there is a certain energy that makes it watchable. The story follows star Justin Chatwin on his journey to reunite the Dragonballs and prevent the end of the world.

Miss March. This comedy was on screens earlier this year, where it was largely ignored. It stars the stars of The Whitest Kids U Know. One guy gets knocked into a coma just before he is about to lose his virginity, wakes up years later to discover his ex is now a Playboy Bunny. He and his buddy head off on a trip to find her. The trailers look pretty lame and I do not expect much from the movie.

Inglorious Bastards (Blu-ray). The inspiration for the Quentin Tarantino film, this 1970's exploitation film hits high definition disk, with plenty of time to be seen before h arrival of the Tarantino film. This stars Bo Svensen and Fred Williams as a couple of escaped prisoners sent on a suicide mission behind enemy lines in Europe during WWII.


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