Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What's coming out on DVD this week?

The Big Lebowski - 10th Anniversary Edition - 4 stars
This is at least the 3rd edition of The Big Lebowski, but this time they finally got it right. The original release had a Behind-the-Scenes Featurette with the Coen brothers that ran 25 minutes. The Widescreen Collector's Edition (2005) had a silly but pointless 5 minute introduction from "Forever Young Films" and a bunch of pictures Jeff Bridges took during production. This version has all that plus more.

The best DVD extras (IMHO) are retrospective, 10-year later kind of things. My favorite thing about this release is it has just about the entire cast participating. You get Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, even john Turturro. It would have been nice to hear from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tara Reid and Peter Stormare, but the biggest stars of the movie are here. You get Jeff Bridges talking about the practical joke the girls played on him during the filming of the dream sequence when he is flying under their legs. You get John Goodman talking about the things fans shout at him when he runs into them on the street. You get Steve Buscemi comparing his death scene in this to his death scene in Fargo. Compare a DVD like this to something like Fletch: The Jane Doe Edition. No Chevy Chase involvement at all. Lame as hell.

You can get the 2 disc edition for around $15, or you can spend $25 - $30 for the Limited Edition Bowling Ball Packaging (pictured). That's going to look great up on the mantle. It really ties the room together.

Baby Mama - 2 1/2 stars

I was a little disappointed with this. It should have been funnier than it was. The cast is great: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Sigourney Weaver, and Steve Martin. They all had their funny moments, but overall the movie didn't really work for me. Its probably better as a rental than in the theater. I definitely wouldn't buy the movie. But this may be the funniest Steve Martin performance since the 80's.

The Fall - 1 1/2 stars

Tarsem Singh directed this, his first movie since The Cell (2000). He has also done commercials and REM's Losing My Religion video. So he really knows how to create interesting visuals. Unfortunately the movie is boring as hell. Lee Pace plays a stuntman in the 1920s who is in the hospital because he got seriously injured filming a movie. He befriends a young girl named Alexandria. He wants to kill himself, so he asks Alexandria to get him some pills. But he does this by telling her a story. Like The Princess Bride the movie cuts back and forth between the characters in the hospital and the characters in the fantasy story he is telling. Unlike The Princess Bride, the story is boring and makes no sense. This might have made a decent short film but its 2 hours. Did I mention that it's boring?

The Forbidden Kingdom - 1 1/2 stars

From Rob Minkoff, director of The Haunted mansion comes the first collaboration between Jet Li and Jackie Chan. So it should be good, right? Wrong. The story is pretty simple. Jason (Michael Angarano) is a teenager in modern day America. He is bullied, he finds a magic staff in a Chinese pawn shop (the kind of place where Gizmo came from), the staff transports him back to ancient China. Luckily, everyone there speaks English. He meets the drunken kung fu master (Jackie Chan), a silent monk (Jet Li), and a hot kung fu chick named Golden Sparrow (Crystal Liu Yi Fei). Their quest is to return the staff to its rightful owner.

One problem with the movie is the fight editing. When Jackie Chan and Jet Li fight, you can't tell what is going on because no shot lasts more than a split second. I'm so tired of this kind of editing. They have both been doing movie fight scenes for so long that they could have done a cool looking fight with no cuts. Give me a master shot and don't cut away so I can actually SEE the fight.

Another problem is Michael Angarano. He has no charisma and is a terrible actor. You might have seen him as Will Stronghold in Sky High. He hasn't gotten any better.

This movie isn't very good. I wouldn't even rent it.

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