June 22, 2010

DVD Pick of the Week: Death Race 2000

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.

Death Race 2000 (Blu-ray). I can honestly say I did not expect to see this title pop up on Blu-ray, so when I saw it going through the lists, I knew I had to put it at the top of the list. This low budget Roger Corman production from 1975 features David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone. It is an action/comedy/science fiction/satire mash up directed by Paul Bartel that centers on a cross-country race where points are scored for running over pedestrians. How can this not be fun?

Green Zone (also Blu-ray). Director Paul Greengrass takes you into the thick of the fight as the military searches for the alleged weapons of mass destruction while also discovering that we are collectively being played by misinformation. This is a very good film that has brains and brawn underneath the hood. Does it question reality? Sure and there is nothing wrong with that. It works on whatever level you want to view it. War-based thriller, Matt Damon action vehicle, political commentary, or any combination. Give it a shot, you may be surprised by what you find.

Remember Me (also Blu-ray). This drama centers itself on a pair of doomed lovers. You may not know it from the start, but before long it must become evident early that Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin are not going to end well. The movie is quite good. Yes, it is angsty and brooding as both sides of this relationship deal with father issues. As a whole the movie goes well, until the ending. Please, just stop this movie about 5-10 minutes before the end. I will not tell you the ending, but let me say it is no good. At all.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Complete Book 1. Just in time for the M. Night Shyamalan big screen adaptation comes this collection of the first chapter of the Airbender fated to save the world. I have never watched the animated series but have heard good things. Should I check it out?

She's Out of My League (also Blu-ray). Here is a movie that exists in a world that could only be fabricated in Hollywood, or at least only imagined in the mind of the below average male. It is a fantasy world where the underdog can beat the spread and end up with the girl of his dreams, while the girl can overlook the disparity in their appearances and fall for the guy beneath the safe veneer. It is not the most original of films, it does not push any envelopes, but it is pleasant, funny, and I rather enjoyed it.

Dire Straits: Alchemy (20th Anniversary Edition)(Blu-ray). I have never seen this show, but have heard some great things about it. Dire Straits fronted by Mark Knopfler have created some great songs during their career. This show was recorded on 16mm film in 1983. I am sure it is not going to look perfect, but I bet it is going to sound fantastic. So, has anyone seen this and can confirm my suspicions?

Thirst. No, not the Park Chan Wook film with the vampire priest. This film stars Lacey Chabert and is described on the cover as Open Water in the desert. Yes, I know that sounds pretty funny. A group of friends are stranded in the desert. Who will survive?

Tromeo and Juliet (Blu-ray). Much like Death Race 2000, I did not expect this to pop up on Blu-ray. This Troma release was directed by Lloyd Kaufman and is a low-budget, sexed-up, gored-up, twisted take on the Shakespeare classic. I have not seen it in years, but now that it is on Blu-ray, I may just have to revisit it.



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