Join us each week as Rob Hunter 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. And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below. This week sees only one major release in Clash Of the Titans alongside several lesser known titles like Artois the Goat, Ip Man, Operation: Endgame, The Snake, and more.
See all of this week’s relevant DVD releases after the jump…
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 for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!
Pitch: For those of you that thought the recent live-action G.I. Joe movie was too ridiculous, check out the original for a new definition of the word…
Why Buy? If you’re a fan of the original cartoon series this purchase is a no-brainer, but if you need a little prodding maybe this will help… it features the voice talents of Don Johnson, Burgess Meredith, and Sgt. Slaughter. You heard me right. And all three play themselves too. (Okay, that’s not entirely true.) The plot is centered on a source of unlimited energy that COBRA wants to use towards world domination, but the Joe’s won’t stand for such shenanigans and conflict ensues. I’m partial to the more “realistic” story-lines, but this flick is just too zany to pass by with its high level of science fiction and just plain goofiness. Like the best animation from the eighties the action is fast, crazy, and utterly ignorant of physics.
Extra Features? Commentary, PSAs, art gallery, printable script
Pitch: Is Donnie Yen the best martial artist working in films today? Why yes, yes he is (says the guy who called Ong Bak 2 the best martial arts movie ever…)
Why Buy? Ip Man was the creator and grand master of his own particular Wing Chun style of martial arts, and this action-oriented biopic focuses on his life during the Japanese occupation of China. It’s one part drama, one part history, and three parts ass-kicking action. Everyone involved gives strong performances and demonstrates fast and entertaining fighting skills, but Donnie Yen commands the screen with his fierce intensity and brutally fast punches. The scene where he takes on ten Japanese fighters by himself? Epic. Be sure to buy the Collector’s Edition as it includes multiple extras not available on the standard release.
Extra Features? Making of, behind the scenes, deleted scenes, shooting diary, interviews, trailers
Pitch: You’d think some funny-man actor would’ve brought this Sgt. Bilko character to the big screen by now…
Why Buy? Yeah, this isn’t quite the typical fare for the Buy section of this here column, but dammit, the show is funny. Phil Silvers stars as Sgt. Bilko, a motor pool commander on a military base in Kansas. He an his men wile the days away with card games, insults, and get rich quick schemes. Can you imagine a series today featuring over thirty episodes per season? That’s like two seasons of a contemporary show (or three of an HBO series) which is even more impressive when you think that this show won Emmy’s three years in a row.
Extra Features? The Lost Audition Show, commentaries, original commercials and network opening, crossover with The Lucy Show
Pitch: You’ll never listen to an NPR plug for the Annenberg Foundation the same way again…
Why Rent? Yes, this is a documentary about the art world. And yes, it’s engrossing, frustrating, and at times suspenseful. (I know, I was surprised too.) It’s the story of The Barnes Foundation and perhaps the greatest collection of privately owned art in the world… until the owner died and all hell broke loose with people, institutions, and government bodies trying to get their hands on it. It’s a fascinating look into not only the value placed on great art but also on the shadowy world of endowments, places of higher learning, and the easily manipulated legal system.
Extra Features? Trailer
Pitch: They had me at goat cheese…
Why Rent? This title has actually been available on DVD for a few months now directly from IndiePix’s website, but this week finally sees it go wide. And that’s a good thing because the movie is a fun little gem that can only benefit from the exposure. Virgil’s lady love leaves town for a job offer but his ability to follow depends on him creating the perfect goat cheese. It’s silly, and a handful of dream sequences are even more intentionally goofy, but the film as a whole manages to be sweet, romantic, and light-hearted enough to make you forget most of Hollywood’s rom-com attempts of the past few years.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: Is the original better because it showed Perseus’ mother walking bare-assed on a beach? Maybe, but the remake has Sam Worthington…
Why Rent? This movie is exactly what you’d expect from a modern-day remake of the Harry Hamlin-led classic. It’s bigger, louder, and bigger yet again. The fun but dated stop-motion effects from Ray Harryhausen have been replaced with CGI out the wazoo, and the master thespian that was/is Hamlin has been replaced with Sam Worthington. There are no real surprises here aside from the fact that it doesn’t suck. (To be fair, that is a pretty big surprise.) The movie manages to fill the screen with solid action and and some fairly epic set-pieces in between all the expected notes.
Extra Features? Additional scenes
Pitch: Turtle. Tuurtle. Tuuuurtle…
Why Rent? A small town’s Kappa guardian is brought to life and eventually grows to ginormous size to battle a less friendly giant monster. For the uninitiated, Kappas are turtle-like bi-pedals with receding hairlines, beaks, and a love of sumo wrestling. I actually just saw this during San Francisco’s Another Hole In the Head Film Fest, and as a fan of giant monster movies I really enjoyed it. If you’re not a fan of flicks like Godzilla and Mothra then you may want to pass, but otherwise this flick has some great man-in-a-suit action in the second half. That doesn’t sound appropriate at all does it.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: I Need That MP3 just doesn’t have the same ring to it…
Why Rent? I’ve never gotten into the whole vinyl scene (as in records, not rubber suits with three holes in them) but I understand the way fans talk about the audio pops and hisses because I’m a book guy. Sure I can download an ebook, but that sensation is nothing compared to the feel of an actual book’s pages between my fingers, the smell of the paper and glue, the weight of it in my hands. I get it. And so does Brendan Toller, a 22-year-old guy lamenting the closing of his favorite record store by making a fantastic documentary about the state of the independent record store business. He looks at the large number of store closings and the reasons behind it, and he talks to customers, owners, and musicians on the subject as well. It reminds you why you love independent stores (of any product genre) and shows you that they’re all destined to be turned into nail salons and Hot Topics.
Extra Features? Interviews
Pitch: Joe Anderson, Ellen Barkin, Rob Corddrey, Emilie De Raven, Zack Galifinakis, Brandon T Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Maggie Q, Ving Rhames, Adam Scott, Jeffrey Tambor, Odette Yustman…
Why Rent? Today is Agent Fool’s first day on the job, and as he reaches the bowels of the office building that houses the secret government organization that he works for he realizes something isn’t right. The office is divided into two teams of spies, and the order has come down that only one will have a job come tomorrow. Let the interoffice politics and bloodletting begin! This is an odd little flick for several reasons. One, it was completely under the radar until a few weeks ago. Two, the cast is an eclectic but highly recognizable mix of actors, many of who are known for their comedic skills. And three, the action is surprisingly good for a movie no one had heard of and starring comedians. It just isn’t as funny as you’d expect.
Extra Features? Behind the scenes, alternate opening/ending
Pitch: Is bulimia as funny as it sounds? It can be…
Why Rent? Look, you should know going in to a comedy/fantasy like The Snake whether or not it’s your cup of non-pc tea. The lead character is an utter dick, he says and does some incredibly rude things to those around him, and he’s not the least bit redeemable. If that’s okay with you and you like to laugh at such cruelty, I highly recommend you give this indie flick a chance.You won’t learn anything about yourself, the characters, or the world, but you’ll get more than a few laughs and may even learn an insult or two to share with friends and enemies afterward.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes, casting videos, Margaret Cho pitch, “Your Movie Sucked: Viewer Questions Answered”
Pitch: Naked, mud-covered hippies do not a good movie make…
Why Avoid? A commune filled with always-nudes is set upon by an ex-cop (I think) disgusted by their flagrant displays of their flapping fleshy bits. His reaction to said nudity is to arrest, confine, and even kill those who partake of public indecency. But it’s a comedy. Full disclosure, I’m no fan of hippies, but I’m even less of a fan of crappy movies. The laughs are non-existent, the story is pointless, the nudity is unattractive (and often male), but at least the music is okay in a sixties kind of way. This flick was apparently “lost” for four decades. Sadly, it was found again.
Extra Features? Two commentaries, interview, roast excerpts, lobby cards, trailers
Pitch: When a job offer looks too good to be true, make sure Ron Perlman isn’t involved…
Why Avoid? Ah, the generically quirky indie thriller. Great! A young guy meets a lion-jawed cowboy in a diner and strikes up a friendship. Around that time he’s offered a good paying job that involves nothing worse than a quick, hands-on mercy killing. What can go wrong? The story makes a few attempts at twists and turns but they’re fairly well mapped for anyone with movie-watching experience. Add to that two pretty grating performances by veteran character actors (Perlman and Joe Pantoliano) who should know better, and this becomes a movie worth missing.
Extra Features? Making of, alternate ending
Pitch: I met a strange lady, she made me nervous. She took me in and gave me breakfast…
Why Avoid? A woman with past mental issues moves into a rural home with Colin Hay from Men At Work. Did she not notice his creepy lazy eye? Apparently not, and now she’ll pay the price as she starts seeing and hearing strange things in the house. On the bright side, there are a couple truly creepy and tense scenes, but on the downside they make up less than two minutes out of ninety. Effects are limited to some poor blood work and computer trickery, and while Marguerite Moreau is a solid actress her strong performance is balanced out by Hay’s ridiculously bad one. Lastly, the writing isn’t clear enough to let the audience in on whether the events are real, imagined, or other. Hell, the recent US horror flick of the same name is better than this, and that was a pretty damn tepid remake of an awesome Korean horror movie.
Extra Features? Commentary, trailer
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen it and review material was unavailable:
Batman: Under the Red Hood
The Dead Matter
Don’t Look Up
The Missing Lynx
The Secret of the Grain (Criterion)
In the interest of full disclosure, I received review copies of the following films for this week’s column: The Art Of the Steal, Artois the Goat, Clash Of the Titans, GI Joe: The Movie, Gold, I Need That Record, Ip Man, The Job, Operation: Endgame, The Phil Silvers Show: The First Season, The Snake, The Uninvited
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?