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Rob Hunter loves movies. He also loves saving money in his ING account. 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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Nothing! Saving my money for next week when Kevin Costner’s supernatural thriller The New Daughter gets released!

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Daybreakers

Pitch: Making vampires cool again since 2010…

Why Rent? This is actually a Buy for me on Blu-ray due to an extended and extremely detailed ‘Making-of’ featurette, but the DVD is at least worth a rental. Ethan Hawke plays a vampire in a society where his kind is now the norm and humans are an endangered species. As blood supplies run low the vampires work to synthesize their food source while Hawke and a band of human survivors work to cure vampirism itself. Directed by the Spierig Brothers with style to spare, the movie is a slow-burn at times but worth the wait for some spectacular effects and action sequences.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

Edge of Darkness

Pitch: The men behind his daughter’s death better watch their sugar-tits…

Why Rent? Mel Gibson’s first starring role since Signs is a remake of a popular British mini-series about a cop whose daughter is murdered before his eyes. He sets out to find those responsible and discovers a conspiracy that reaches to some very high places. Martin Campbell’s movie eschews some of the wackier elements of the UK version (which he also directed), but it keeps the grief and thirst for revenge intact. Gibson excels at these kinds of roles and he doesn’t disappoint here. What does however is the somewhat convoluted plot that gets overly complicated fairly quickly. Sit back and enjoy the acting from Gibson, Ray Winstone, and Danny Huston, and the action scenes, but just don’t worry about trying to follow along with the chain of events.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes

Larry McMurtry’s Dead Man Walk

Pitch: Name something they just don’t make enough of anymore. And no I’m not talking about hookers with hearts of gold…

Why Rent? This prequel to McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove is an exciting and sprawling western in its own right. As with the follow-up below it’s nice to see this kind of investment in a TV mini-series. David Arquette and Jonny Lee Miller are joined by Brian Dennehy, Keith Carradine, Edward James Olmos, Jennifer Garner, and Harry Dean Stanton. Seriously, they don’t make westerns or mini-series like this anymore.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

Larry McMurtry’s Streets of Laredo

Pitch: So right after I complain about there not being a lot of westerns or mini-series any more, here comes a second one…

Why Rent? James Garner can do no wrong, but even if he didn’t star in this mini-series follow-up to McMurtry’s beloved Lonesome Dove there’s still plenty to love here. For one thing it’s a solid western which sadly is a under-represented genre. For another it’s a solid mini-series, which again, isn’t something we see many of these days. And lastly, it has one hell of a supporting cast… Sam Shepard, Sissy Spacek, George Carlin, Charles Martin Smith, Ned Beatty, and Randy Quaid.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

Legend of the Tsunami Warrior

Pitch: Imagine Pirates of the Caribbean with martial arts, Asians, and a far smaller budget…

Why Rent? It’s basically a cross between Pirates of the Caribbean and Jackie Chan’s Project A movies… although not nearly as good as either of those. Marauding pirates in cahoots with evil factions are attempting to take down a peaceful kingdom ruled by three sisters. One of the interesting things here is that there are two hero characters leading the good fight… one uses old school Thai martial arts, and the other blows whales. And no, I’m not going to explain that last bit. Give it a rent for a goofy adventure, big budget (for a Thai movie) special effects, and some solid fight scenes.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Featurettes

Legion

Pitch: This is what happens when Paul Bettany puts down the tennis racket and picks up a machine gun…

Why Rent? This poor little flick was shat upon by just about everyone when it was released earlier this year, and I honestly don’t see why. Maybe it’s just the atheist in me that found more to love in a movie about an angel turning his back on god after the deity decides to wipe out humanity yet again. Bettany plays the angel Michael perfectly straight and makes for a convincing action star between the fight scenes and gunplay. The effects are also top notch including a creepy old lady crawling on the ceiling and an ice cream truck driver with elongated limbs. It has some problems though including a terribly obvious sound-stage for the finale and the very uncharismatic Kevin Durand as Gabriel. But far worse movies played theaters last year to much higher acclaim. Ignore the haters and give it a rent.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Featurettes

Mutants (Region 2)

Pitch: Leave it to the French to bring matters of the heart into a zombie movie. And I don’t just mean as an appetizer…

Why Rent? The French have already proven themselves capable of creating kick-ass horror films when they so desire with extremely violent hits like Martyrs, Inside, and High Tension, but they haven’t really made moves into the zombie sub-genre… until now. To be fair, this is a 28 Days Later-type zombie flick where the populace is infected by a virus and turned into raving murderers capable of running the two-minute mile. The movie opens with death and bloodshed before settling into a strongly dramatic middle that follows a pregnant woman and her infected boyfriend who she’s trying to save. Eventually all hell breaks loose and the blood starts spurting again in copious amounts. Great effects, some well-done action and suspense, and a strong central performance make this one worth watching.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

North Face

Pitch: Is this the best movie about mountain climbing since Chris O’Donnell’s Vertical Limit Michael Biehn’s K2? Yes, yes it is…

Why Rent? Mountain climbing is a dangerous but exhilarating sport, and as the subject for a film it also presents opportunity for some truly stunning and impressive images. This German film based on a true story doesn’t disappoint when it comes to those visuals… the Alps and the titular north face of one of its mountains are equally beautiful and frightening. The German government is readying themselves for the 1938 Olympics and want bragging rights to the first successful ascent up the north face. Two friends and experienced climbers set out for the adventure alongside pairs from other nations, and sadly, but not surprisingly, tragedy strikes. The film takes its time with the characters so we truly care what happens to them before they’ve even taken the first step up the mountain. And don’t forget to enter our giveaway contest for a copy of North Face on DVD!

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, featurette

Phobia (Region 2)

Pitch: There are scarier things in Thailand than the pumpkin curry soup…

Why Rent? This Thai horror anthology features four tales but only three of them are worth watching. That’s a good thing as you’ll be in and out in about an hour. The first features a young girl stuck in her apartment with a broken leg who begins receiving texts from a mysterious suitor. Things go from romantic to frightening pretty quick, but the most impressive aspect of it all is that it’s done dialogue free. The second story starts terribly with some ridiculously bad camera work, but settles into a bloody tale about bullying gone awry. The denouement is killer. The third tale is perhaps the best, and oddly, it’s the dialogue that elevates it instead of the story with self-referential talk of Asian horror films, Titanic, and more. The plot follows four friends on a river camping trip that goes awry when their raft flips over and one of them disappears. The final tale is a let down from beginning to end as a flight attendant is forced to fly alone with a visiting princess on an otherwise empty (aside from the pilots) jumbo jet. Poorly shot, filled with coincidental flaws, and utterly predictable.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Featurette

Tidal Wave

Pitch: A giant wall of water threatens a bustling Korean beach community, and the only hope they have is an even bigger sponge…

Why Rent? South Korea follows the Roland Emmerich model here by mixing broad emotional strokes with epic CGI destruction, and it actually works for the most part. An earthquake out at sea sends a giant wave heading toward the Korean coastline and the resort city of Haeundae. The first half of the movie is pure setup as we meet the characters at risk and decide who we think will live and die. Once you have that list in hand go ahead and toss it out… because you’re wrong. Heavy amounts of melodrama compete with competent CGI and some truly exciting practical set-pieces. If you need any more reason to check it out you should know that it’s one of Peter S. Hall’s favorite films from last year. (FYI, Peter S. Hall hated this movie.)

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes

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Fire From Below

Pitch: You’ll wish you were watching Steven Seagal’s Fire Down Below before it’s over…

Why Avoid? The IMDB synopsis should suffice here: “Digging at a nearby cave, a careless industrialist unearths a vein of pure base Lithium and inadvertently brings it to the surface, where the Lithium combusts when coming into contact with water and begins to wreak havoc on the country side.” In case you need more reasons to avoid this Syfy “classic”… the action is tepid, the effects consist of fire and cgi, and Kevin Sorbo stars.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

Malice in Wonderland

Pitch: Welcome to Wonderland’s animal menagerie including a Cheshire Cat, a White Rabbit, and a Running Duck played by Maggie Grace…

Why Avoid? The problem with trying to make an “edgy” adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland is that you’re ignoring the obvious fact that it’s already a fairly subversive and dangerous tale. Filling it with adult characters, more realistic threats of violence, and real-world drugs do nothing for the cause if you fail to make it inherently interesting. Of course, adding Maggie Grace as your Alice doesn’t help either. Fans of the well-known story who feel compelled to endure every adaptation may find something to enjoy, but folks who require more than just recognizable characters may want to pass.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Featurettes

Also out this week, but review material unavailable in advance: Daria: The Complete Animated Series, Follow the Prophet, Kung Fu Magoo, Mr. Magoo In Sherwood Forest

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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