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Rob Hunter loves movies.  He also loves solving crimes while flying high on mescaline. 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!

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The Killer

Pitch: Last week saw John Woo’s latest movie in this spot. This week we recommend you pick up one of his earliest…

Why Buy? If you haven’t seen The Killer yet then I really have to doubt your sincerity when it comes to kick ass entertainment. John Woo’s most popular pairing with Chow Yun-fat finds the super cool hitman blinding a beautiful bystander with a wayward bullet and shooting lots of bad guys. Lots and lots of bad guys. Woo’s penchant for doves and bullet ballets peaked with this flick and while he’s made other entertaining movies few can come close to the sheer visual splendor and kinetic action of The Killer. If you already own the Criterion edition you can pass on Dragon Dynasty’s release, but if not, you owe it to your DVD shelf to pick this one up at your earliest convenience.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features?

Sherlock Holmes

Pitch: Is this the best Sherlock Holmes movie Hollywood could have made? Yes…

Why Buy? Please note I said “Hollywood could have made” before you start lambasting me for over-praising what amounts to pure pop entertainment. And that said, what the hell is wrong with pop entertainment? Sherlock Holmes is as good of a movie as the recent Star Trek reboot. They both have flaws and can be picked at critically, but none of that lessens the adrenaline rush, laughs, or pure enjoyment you’ll get out of watching it. Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law have phenomenal chemistry, the score by Hans Zimmer is rousing, and the ending hints at more adventures to come.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Featurette

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Baader Meinhof Complex

Pitch: You’ll never look at German terrorists the same way again…

Why Rent? This is an at times fascinating look into a part of recent German history that many people today don’t know about. And by many people I mean me… I had no clue there were homegrown terrorists killing people and blowing shit up in modern day Germany. The flick focuses on two of the leaders behind the conflict, and while it often seems to stray from them (to the film’s detriment), it still manages to be interesting and enlightening. The details of the production are impressive too with the cinematography, set design, wardrobe, etc all appearing authentic and precise. It runs a bit too long and loses focus once in a while, but it’s worth a watch.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Featurettes

An Education

Pitch: For fans of fantastic performances wasted in mediocre films…

Why Rent? I’m apparently in the minority when it comes to the quality of this movie as most people seem to think it’s fantastic. It’s not. Carrie Mulligan and Alfred Molina are both fantastic in it… but the movie is silly, awkwardly paced, and far less important that it believes itself to be. Mulligan shines as a young Londoner coming of age in the sixties, and the decade has never been so uninspired. Toss in the usually reliable Peter Sarsgaard (as a creepy older man who would make Chris Hanson cringe) and Molina as her conflicted father, and you have a movie worth seeing for the performances alone.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, featurette

I Sell the Dead

Pitch: Does anyone steal corpses anymore? Seems like a lost art…

Why Rent? Good horror comedies are so rare, and it’s especially cool to find one with no expectations. Dominic Monaghan stars as a grave robber telling his story to a priest before being executed. What begins as an apprenticeship into the art of stealing the dead soon becomes a story about dealing with the undead. It’s funny, has some nifty effects and a few minor scares, and is easily worth ninety minutes of your time.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes, a comic book!

Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge

Pitch: A teenage schoolgirl is forced to battle a hooded, chainsaw-wielding supernatural being every night…

Why Rent? This flick is all about confounding expectations. From the title that makes absolutely zero sense even after watching the movie, we move to an opening scene that leads us to believe the girl is the victim and the surly-looking young man is her hero to be… only to see that idea get reversed as she goes toe-to-toe with the shrouded demon as the boy cowers in the corner. The movie follows suit as the expected martial arts combat and bloodshed is relegated to roughly twenty minutes of screen time while the rest of it becomes more of a coming-of-age tale involving loss, responsibility, and friendship. Misleading advertising aside, this is actually a pretty good movie.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Featurette

Steven Seagal Lawman: The Complete Season One

Pitch: Did you know Steven Seagal has been a deputy in Louisiana for twenty years? You do now…

Why Rent? I never caught this show when it aired on A&E (surprise!), and one of the reasons was my expectation that it was pure Fox-like reality fluff. Not to say it’s really a weighty show, but the fact that Seagal has been a deputy for two decades means this isn’t just for show. Plus, he’s unintentionally funny. From the show’s intro (“I’m Steven Seagal. Yes, Steven Seagal.”) To his need to alert those around him several times per episode that he has forty years of martial arts experience. To his absolute glee at jumping into the fray with a suspect while he yells “Taser!” It’s certainly more entertaining than many of his recent movies.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Deleted scenes

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Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel

Pitch: High…

Why Avoid? In the interest of full disclosure, I have not seen the first Alvin & the Chipmunks movie. But I don’t think that would have made a difference either… because this sequel is just terrible. Loud noises substituting as comedy, a sitcom-worthy plot, and segues into song for no reason other than (attempts at) cute pop culture references do not make for worthwhile entertainment. And don’t get me started on the nude and writhing Chipettes. I’m all for CGI-animated landing strips, but this just isn’t right.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Deleted scenes

Mysteryquest: The Complete Season One

Pitch: Mysteries are great, but recaps without resolutions are frustrating…

Why Avoid? I realize that in the age of the internet and 24-hour cable news there’s no way you’d first hear about a great mystery being solved by way of a DVD, but these episodes are still a bit of a let-down. Here’s a well-known mystery! Here’s a possible solution or new wrinkle! And here’s the absence of any kind of follow-up or conclusion! It gets a bit frustrating. And really, the first season of any show like this really should feature an episode on Bigfoot.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Deleted scenes

Also out this week, but review material unavailable in advance: 3 Idiots, High Kick Girl, Housebroken, Smash Cut, Sports Night: The Complete First Season

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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