Rob Hunter loves movies. He also loves nudity in PG-rated movies. These two joys come together in the form of cash money payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVDs. So join us each week as he 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. And don’t forget to check out Neil Miller’s hilariously titled This Week In Blu-ray column for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!
Pitch: Stop. Motion. Titans. Will. Clash…
Why Buy? Perseus, Pegasus, Zeus, the goddamn Kraken, and many more! This is just a fun movie that continues to entertain. If you don’t already own this flick there’s no time like the present… especially as the bigger, glossier, remake is almost here. The effects here may be dated, but Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion creations are still a joy to watch. Plus this 1981 original is guaranteed to have at least one thing the big budget remake won’t… two attractive and unclothed female behinds. Studios are too afraid of even partial nudity these days in anything less than an R-rated flick, so while the effects will be better there will be less skin!
Extra Features? Featurettes, the absence of Sam Worthington
Pitch: The more relevant question is why the Wild Things are…
Why Buy? I’m one of only a few FSR crew members who refused to buy into the supposed brilliance of this Spike Jonze joint when it hit theaters, and my opinion hasn’t changed. There simply is not enough here for a feature film, and the parts added for length come across as padding at best and annoyance at worst. Bitch, fight, play, and repeat… and yet I’m recommending it as a Buy. Why? Because as unimpressive as the narrative and screenplay are there’s no denying the pure cinematic beauty of Max’s world (both imaginary and real). These creatures are believable, living things, and Jonze captures them and the rest of of the characters with wonder and heart intact. This is a beautiful movie… once you’ve tuned out most of the words.
Extra Features? Featurettes, Blu-ray/DVD combo pack includes new short film based on Maurice Sendak’s Higglety Pigglety Pop
Pitch: Some say the world will end in fire, others say Roland Emmerich will have something to do with it…
Why Rent? Listing the faults in Emmerich’s latest disaster flick would take too long, so instead I’ll just say what you already know… it’s a big, dumb movie filled with some stunning special effects. And yes, the dog lives. My review is here.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes, commentary, featurettes
Pitch: Whose bright idea was it to adapt Alice In Wonderland without the damn rabbit…
Why Rent? Lewis Carroll’s tale of a young girl who falls in the wrong hole is a classic for a reason, and it’s filled with several iconic characters and situations. The SyFy Channel took a risk by adapting that story into a completely different direction… gone are the talking animals, shrinking potions, and abnormally noggin-sized queens. In their place is an alternate, slightly steam-punkish, Matrix-infused, conspiracy thriller. It’s an interesting take on a familiar story.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: And here’s a second adaptation that forgoes the damn rabbit. What the hell is going on here…
Why Rent? This version of the classic tale is distinguished from most others in several ways. It was made in 1966 for the BBC, is black and white, and forgoes the same fantasy elements as the SyFy adaptation above. The two biggest differences though are its tone and cast. This Alice is a dark and disturbed young girl and she’s surrounded by some of the biggest names in British cinema (at the time). Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, Michael Gough, John Gielgud, (and an actual cat). It’s creepy and surreal at times and has a specific satirical agenda seldom seen in other adaptations.
Extra Features? Commentary, silent film version of the story from 1903, featurettes
Pitch: False advertising at its cruelest…
Why Rent? The trailer for this little slice of pseudo-exploitation does two things well. It implies the film has a certain amount of style, and it promises an abundance of T & A. The film itself only follows through on one of those. The style is actually a mishmash of other films complete with multiple slow-mo shots, (terrible) green screen work, and a mostly unsuccessful mix of action and comedy. And the sex factor? All tease, all the time. There’s exactly one nude scene and it’s very brief and involves a no-name stripper with fake boobs. That’s it! Didn’t the three leads need a hot, slow-motion shower at any point?!? I prefer my ‘unrated’ T&A to be a bit raunchier than this, but that said there’s still enough entertainment value and cleavage to make it worth a watch.
Extra Features? Commentary, excellent making-of that’s actually more entertaining than the movie itself, virtual ice for your metaphorical blue balls
Pitch: Being Paul Giamatti-lite…
Why Rent? Who’s up for a slow-moving, metaphysical comedy about Russian plays, the weight of the soul, and the Russian black market? This flick is far from laugh out-loud funny, but it’s still a fairly humorous look at what our soul gives us and what it takes away. Giamatti plays an actor named Paul Giamatti who has his soul extracted to lighten his emotional load, but when he decides he wants it back he discovers that someone else has already picked it up off the shelf. Some interesting questions without answers here. Neil Miller’s review from Sundance 2009 is here.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes, featurette
Pitch: Every year on Mother’s Day Elvis Presley returns to Memphis to stalk and kill babysitters…
Why Rent? Yeah, that’s not what happens, but this biopic is directed by Mr. Halloween himself, John Carpenter. It’s also one of his many collaborations with the ever-awesome Kurt Russell who plays the title role. The movie takes a look at Elvis’ early life and entry into legend and features several of the man’s most memorable songs. It’s definitely a TV movie from the seventies, which doesn’t exactly work in its favor, but Russell’s performance holds it all together.
Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes
Pitch: This is the story of a hundred strangers picked to live underground and have their lives taped to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start being real…
Why Rent? This is an interesting documentary but not for the reasons the filmmakers intend. Josh Harris was an internet pioneer in many ways, but he was also a man with issues. His big experiment involving a community beneath NYC with cameras filming everyone’s every move, word, and bowel movement, says less about his supposed genius than it does about his misconceptions of humanity. Miller’s review from Sundance 2009 is here.
Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes
Pitch: An Estevez brother comes to Earth to seek vengeance on the director of My Sister’s Keeper…
Why Rent? A group of badasses (including Nick Cassavetes and Clint Howard) terrorizes a small town by stealing cars in unfair street races until Charlie Sheen arrives in a souped up concept car and begins picking them off one by one. This flick has become a cult hit over the years due almost entirely to its unavailability on DVD, and I myself recalled it being a very cool movie. Having finally watched it again after many years I now see that my teenage self had absolutely shitty taste in movies. Rent it for the nostalgia factor only.
Extra Features? Commentary, interviews, featurette
Pitch: A gay-ish space rogue, multiple poop jokes, and an almost complete lack of laughs. Finally, a film for Cole Abaius…
Why Avoid? Cole Abaius’ review from Fantastic Fest 2009 is here. (For the record, I think Abaius’s review and his D+ grade are too kind.)
Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes, featurette
Also out this week, but review material unavailable in advance: The Life, Ponyo, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak, Wushu Warrior
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?