August 4, 2009

DVD Pick of the Week: Big Trouble in Little China

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 Trouble in Little China (Blu-ray). It has been a long time since I have seen this film, but I can imagine it looking great on the high definition format. That is so long as the transfer is a good one! The 1986 film was helmed by John Carpenter and made its big screen bow back in 1986. The tale centers on Jack Burton (Kurt Russell), a wisecracking truck driver who finds himself in the middle of supernatural intrigue in Chinatown. Special effects, make up effects, and one liners combine to make one entertaining movie and this week's top pick for yours truly.

Race to Witch Mountain (also Blu-ray). This movie is exactly what it says it is. It is not so much an adventure or a journey of discovery, self or otherwise. It is a race, pure and simple. On one hand, it is very well executed as a chase film; however, if you want something with any sort of depth beyond the surface, you had best look somewhere else. It is all about a couple of alien children trying to get their ship. This movie that will play well to the young, with its likable leads and their equally likable performances while the adults will be left wanting something a little bit more. Director Adam Finkman does a good job of keeping the action moving, all of it is well-executed and the audience is kept involved with the race, if nothing else. If only there was a little more meat to dig into.

The Soloist (also Blu-ray). This is a decent film. It is involving, but the narrative drags for stretches, letting a bit of boredom in. It is also a little on the incomplete side. We learn a lot about Ayers (Jamie Foxx), his childhood, the events leading to his current state, everything. The problem is with Lopez (Downey, Jr.). His half of the story is not nearly as well developed. Yes, he is the writer and he does plenty of that, but we need the information about what has made him the way he is. We get hints of a failed marriage, a troubled relationship with his son, but it never goes deep enough to make his change have much meaning. Still, it is a touching tale and the performances alone are worth seeing it for. Robert Downey Jr. does a fine job of playing the journalist with responsibility issues. The man is a joy to watch. Jamie Foxx also does a fine job as the mentally troubled Ayers. He disappears into the role, bringing genuine emotion to his character.

Obsessed (also Blu-ray). This film had a good run at the theaters, but I must admit to passing it by. I did not really have any interest in seeing the movie, which looked like a warmed over take on Fatal Attraction. The cast includes Idris Elba, Ali Larter, and Beyonce Knowles.

My Cousin Vinny (Blu-ray). This early 1990's comedy was always a fun one, and an Oscar winner to boot (Marisa Tomei took home Best Supporting Actress). It is the story of a college student, played by Ralph Macchio, who is accused of murder in a small town, only to be defended by his big city lawyer cousin, Vinny (Joe Pesci). There really is not a lot to it, but it really is a lot of fun. It is also a movie I have not seen in some time. It is also a member of this week's catalog Blu-ray class, although I have to wonder how much the added resolution will help it?

Stargate Atlantis: Fan's Choice (Blu-ray). This initial high definition offering for the Stargate: SG-1 spin-off features the series debut and finale for your viewing pleasure. Supposedly, the episodes were chosen by fans, as the title would suggest, I just find it a little odd that the episodes chose were the debut and the finale. Don't you find that strange?

Mutant Chronicles (also Blu-ray). I had hoped to seen this on the big screen, but that did not happen. I guess I will have to catch up with it on Blu-ray. This story is set in a future where the world is run by corporations. During a war a seal is broken, unleashing the Machine, which had been stopped centuries earlier. It has one job, turn people into mutants. Can it be defeated again? The cast includes Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, and Devon Aoki.


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