Rob Hunter loves movies. He also loves taking pictures of people in uncompromising positions and situations. These two joys come together in the form of blackmail payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVD’s. So join us each week as Rob takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs.
Click on any of the titles below to magically head over to Amazon.com and pick up the DVD.
Pitch: For those of you who don’t believe it’s possible for a remake to (almost) equal the original.
Why Buy? Yes, I know this isn’t technically a remake of Rio Bravo, but it’s pretty damn close. It’s also a damn fine film in it’s own right. This is one of two new additions to Paramount’s Centennial Collection, and like the previous releases it’s a fantastic two disc presentation. John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and James Caan join forces to duke it out against bad guy Christopher George in this western classic from director Howard Hawks. Strong characters, exciting gunfights, and a surprising sense of humor highlight the film and make it a must-buy for western fans.
Extra Features? New commentaries from Peter Bogdanovich, Richard Schickel, Ed Asner, and Todd McCarthy; three new featurettes; trailer; photo galleries.
Pitch: A hint… it was the guy with the gun.
Why Buy? Like El Dorado above, this is a two disc Centennial Collection release from Paramount. There are fewer features this time but they’re still an excellent addition to an excellent film. John Wayne (again) is paired this time with James Stewart in a tale of contrasts, legends, and lies. Director John Ford combines traditional Western motifs with commentary on the west and the men who would come to tame it. A fine film, and again, a definite keeper for fans of westerns and quality cinema.
Extra Features? New commentaries from Peter Bogdanovich and Dan Ford with archival recordings from John Ford, James Stewart, and Lee Marvin; new featurette; trailer; photo galleries.
Pitch: For some of you this may be your best shot at seeing a naked woman in 3D.
Why Buy? Here’s the thing… the movie isn’t really that great. Our local coroner calls it “exciting, bloody fun” (review here), and I agree up to a point. Sure, there’s some great gore and a lady who runs around bare naked for several minutes, but the movie is dumb with a capital DUH. So why buy it? Because the 3D rocks. It looked better in the theater, but it holds up nicely on DVD which makes this a great flick to throw on for a casual movie night with friends or in-laws. Quick note… The DVD is rated R so expect an unrated edition to come out in about twenty-five years.
Extra Features? Two disc set includes both 2D and 3D versions, four pairs of 3D glasses, commentary from Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer; extended/deleted scenes; gag reel; two featurettes.
Pitch: Worth waiting for even more than Episode One was…
Why Rent? This is probably a Buy for some folks, but those of us who require actual humor with our Star Wars in-jokes should stick with “Family Guy’s Blue Harvest” special. Star Wars fans with deep knowledge of the films will benefit most from the multiple references to George Lucas’ creation, but even casual fans will enjoy the film’s light-hearted adventure and comedy. If you’re wondering where on that scale you stand know that Kevin Carr “understood all the humor” (review here) so you should probably be fine.
Extra Features? Commentaries from cast and crew; deleted scenes; multiple featurettes.
Pitch: Jesus Christ: Dragon Hunter
Why Rent? A humanoid alien crash lands in Viking-era North America and accidentally releases a blood-thirsty dragon upon the land. The awesome premise deserves at least a single viewing, and it pays off with a fairly entertaining adventure yarn. The action and effects are pretty good and Jim Caviezel makes for an interesting hero, although Ron Perlman steals his scenes as always.
Extra Features? Commentary from several folks you probably haven’t heard of; deleted scenes; two featurettes; photo galleries, trailer.
Pitch: Meet Paul Blart… the mall security guard who won’t rape you in your sleep. Probably.
Why Rent? It’s only natural to want to knock this film for it’s sheer stupidity and mass appeal, but if you know going in to expect a generic comedy involving fat men and pratfalls it’s actually not too bad of a movie. Kevin Carr recommends it for folks who like “to watch fat slapstick” (review here) and that actually sums it up quite well. It’s not for everyone, but those of you who enjoy this type of humor know who you are.
Extra Features? Commentary from Kevin James and a producer; deleted scenes; multiple featurettes.
Pitch: The touching story of a little boy with a magical flute and the mean old lady who wants to wrap her lips around it.
Why Rent? It’s a rental because if you’ve never seen the HR Pufnstuf show than this terrible, terrible movie is a great place to start. Only the seventies could produce a children’s film (and show) with creators ballsy enough to reference their inspiration in the title itself. Weed was smoked before and during production… this is a guarantee. Hamburglar monsters, nazi rats, set design colorful enough to make you vomit Skittles, song and dance numbers that will haunt your dreams, and a witch named Witchiepoo with a strong desire to get her hands on little Jimmy’s flute… this movie must be seen. Once.
Extra Features? Err, the case snaps shut?
Pitch: Our vampires prefer hardcore sex and bloodshed over teen angst and abstinence.
Why Rent? If you don’t have access to HBO where the show airs I recommend adding season one to your Netflix queue. Vampires in film and literature usually bore me to death with very few exceptions… of which this is one. These vamps are bloodthirsty and horny in equal doses, and the show does a fantastic job of mixing horror, suspense, mystery, sex, and comedy. Season two starts next month so get yourself caught up now so you don’t feel like a loser when everyone else is talking about it.
Extra Features? Commentaries from cast and crew; multiple featurettes; promo advertising.
Pitch: Tom Cruise attempts to kill Hitler, but blows up Hister by mistake. Damn you Nostradamus!
Why Rent? Cruise is one of a handful of movie stars whose projects are constantly (and usually unfairly) maligned even before release. This film was no different with people mocking him, his attempt at an accent, and the very idea that a suspenseful thriller could be built around a mission we all know to have failed. Neil Miller says it’s “less a thriller and more a historical melodrama” (review here) and while that’s a pretty accurate assessment the film is still worth a viewing. It’s a little slow at times but the acting is good and some of the set pieces manage to be suspenseful after all.
Extra Features? Commentaries from Tom Cruise, Bryan Singer, Christopher McQuarrie, and Nathan Alexander; two featurettes.
Pitch: Steven Seagal is Out To Lunch
Why Avoid? Seagal plays a Russian out to avenge the attempted murder of his daughter. Gun battles, arm breaking, and knife fights ensue. Seagal actually looks to have lost some weight recently allowing him to participate in more of the action scenes. (He’s been too portly in most of his direct-to-DVD so the fight scenes are usually comprised of bad stunt doubles and extremely tight editing.) Unfortunately, that isn’t enough to save the movie. His Russian accent consists of unintelligible whispers, the acting is almost uniformily bad, and blah blah blah everything you’d expect from a direct-to-DVD action movie. Wait until it comes on cable.
Extra Features? Nyet.
Pitch: In space no one can hear you sleep.
Why Avoid? The movie gets points for it’s ideas and visual style but then loses them all due to it’s glacier-like pace. A man wakes up in the mud with no memory and must discover who he is and what he’s doing and why there’s a monster stalking his muddy ass. Kudos to those of you who can make it through in one sitting, but I had to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Extra Features? The benefits of a sleep aid without the hassle of a prescription.
Pitch: For George Costanza fans only (too obscure?)
Why Avoid? Terminator 2: Judgement Day is a phenomenal movie, but this set is most definitely not worth the double or triple dip for fans who already own a previous special edition. The Blu-ray transfer is new but is available separately, and the other discs are simply previously available DVDs… so it the plastic bust worth $130 or more? I say no, but your wallet may have a different opinion.
Blu-ray? Yes, includes Blu-ray disc
Extra Features? Nothing you don’t probably already own.
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