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New On Home Video: March 23, 2004

Updated Each Monday Evening
by Randy Muselman

Last weeks home video rentals were few and far between with The Cat In The Hat being the big release for the week. This week, the faucet is slowly opened with six new titles showing up on shelves for your viewing pleasure. Several television series are also dropping in, and we have some older movies made new again on DVD.

We’ll start this week off with Gothika. This film features Halle Berry as Dr. Miranda Grey, a criminal psychologist working at a mental hospital. The problem here, is that one day, Dr. Grey wakes up as a patient in the institution for committing murder, a violent crime that she has absolutely no memory of. While trying to regain her memory, and her freedom, she is manipulated by an evil spirit from beyond. As the film’s tagline says, “Because someone is dead, doesn’t mean they’re gone.”

I found Gothika to be pretty decent viewing. I do like the horror genre, and I’ll admit Halle Berry is one of my favorites on the silver screen. The storyline is somewhat twisted, and this again is one of those films that should be paused when you leave the room to refill those drinks. If you don’t, the storyline will be alien to you when you return and you’ll need to rewind to play catch up. My suggestion is to pick it up for a rent.

For you action fans out there, you’ll want to pick up this week’s release of Rundown. Starring “The Rock”, or Dwayne Douglas Johnson, as he prefers to be called, wanting to shed his wrestling moniker, you’ll see lots of action, quite a bit of comedy and some plain old fun. However, the guy who really made this film for me was Seann William Scott. Yep, you folks out there will better know him as Steve Stifler from American Wedding. Scott still seems to be in that eternal brain-fade which actually seems to work for this film.

The storyline is fairly simple. Beck (Johnson) works for local mob boss Billy Walker who sends him off to the jungles of the Amazon to retrieve his son. This will square a debt that’s owed by Beck and get him completely out of hock. When Beck arrives in the Amazon, he discovers that Travis (Scott) isn’t such a bad guy, instead, he’s just plain stupid. The adventure begins when they team up to find a treasure that Travis has been looking for. Along the way, we have monkeys, rebels, and Rosario Dawson (you might know her as Laura Vasquez in Men In Black II).

This film isn’t really that good, but it is fun. Rundown literally bombed at the box office, bringing in roughly fifty million dollars here in the United States. While that normally isn’t a bad thing, the budget to make this film turned out to be eighty five million, so it’s up to the rental market and home video sales to offset the cost of production. I will say this, after watching this film; it brings an entirely new meaning to the term “hot monkey sex.” Want to know what I mean? Grab a rental and have a few laughs, but don’t expect much out of Rundown.

Featuring Mekhi Phifer, Jessica Alba and Lil’ Romeo, Honey hits home video shelves this week as well. The film is all about Honey, a tough, sexy dancer from the 'hood”, who starts to climb the ladder in the cut-throat dance choreography business. Ultimately, she is forced her to choose between sleeping with her mentor or slanderous remarks from him that would ruin her career.

I’m sorry, but my suggestion is to avoid this title. I really can’t give you much of an opinion due to the fact that I just couldn’t finish this release. Literally, from the beginning of this film, all I could think about was how I could allow myself to actually sit in front of my television and watch something as idiotic as this. Older teens may like Honey, but mom and dad, look elsewhere for your viewing needs. Enough said.

There were two titles this week that I did not have time to screen. They arrived later than they should have, so I won’t have any opinions on them. What I can tell you is that most all of our staff members who have seen these films think you should pick them up for a look. If you know our staff, then you know they won’t feed you a line, they call them as they see them.

Dirty Pretty Things is a film about Okwe, a kind-hearted Nigerian doctor, and Senay, a Turkish chambermaid, who work at the same West London hotel. The hotel is run by Senor Sneaky and is the sort of place where dirty business like drug dealing and prostitution takes place. However, when Okwe finds a human heart in one of the toilets, he uncovers something far more sinister than just a common crime. (Plot summary courtesy imdb.com)

Starring Audrey Tautou, Chjwetel Ejiofor and Sergi López, Dirty Pretty Things hits video rental shelves this week.

The other title I did not have time to view this week is The Magdalene Sisters.

Ireland in the sixties: Four women are given into the custody of the Magdalene sisterhood asylum to correct their more or less sinful behavior: Crispina and Rose have given birth to a pre-marriage child, Margaret got raped by her cousin and the orphan Bernadette had been repeatedly caught flirting with the boys. All have to work in a laundry under the strict supervision of the nuns, who break their wills through sadistic punishments. Some of the inmates develop countermeasures, while others perish under the treatment. (Plot summary courtesy imdb.com)

The Magdalene Sisters features the talents of Geraldine McEwan, Anne-Marie Duff and Nora-Jane Noone. McEwan may be better known to you in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves as Mortianna. Ann-Marie Duff has appeared in more television series than movies, but if you have seen Enigma from 2001, she played Kay. This is Nora-Jane Noone’s first appearance in a film, but she also will appear in the upcoming film Ella Enchanted scheduled for release here in the United States in April of this year.

The last major title due out on home video this week is Beyond Borders. Alas, this film for me was very disappointing. I truly tried to like it, but the chemistry between the main characters in the film simply wasn’t there.

Beyond Borders is an epic tale of the turbulent romance between two star-crossed lovers set against the backdrop of the world's most dangerous hot spots. Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie stars as Sarah Jordan, an American living in London in 1984. She is married to Henry Bauford (Linus Roache) son of a wealthy British industrialist, when she encounters Nick Callahan (Clive Owen) a renegade doctor, whose impassioned plea for help to support his relief efforts in war-torn Africa moves her deeply. As a result, Sarah embarks upon a journey of discovery that leads to danger, heartbreak and romance in the far corners of the world. (Plot summary courtesy imdb.com)

You know when Eric Snider titles his review of this film “Beyond Boredom” it’s going to get ugly. Rent it if you must, be do be prepared for a long drawn out affair that just doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

Moving on this week, as I stated in the opening of this column, we have some old titles made new again. These films are now appearing on DVD and that means quality unmatched by the first release on VHS cassette. Here is this week’s list of titles.

Beyond The Matt: Ringside (Special Edition)
For Keeps
Fresh Horses
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
On Edge
The Osterman Weekend
Ransom: Special Edition
Splash: Special Edition
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy


Television series making their debut on those shiny round things we call DVD this week are quite plentiful.

Beast Wars Transformers: Complete Second Season
Celebrity Mole: Hawaii
Cops: Bad Girls
Cops: Caught In The Act
Cops: Shots Fired
Hercules: Season Three
Richard Pryor Show: Volume 1
Richard Pryor Show: Volume 2
Richard Pryor Show: Boxed Collection
Will & Grace: Season Two

Moving on to the latest numbers in home video rentals this week, here is what you folks out there prefer to rent. Numbers provided by billboard.com.

1. School Of Rock
2. The Missing
3. Matchstick men
4. Runaway Jury
5. Cold Creek Manor
6. Duplex
7. Good Boy
8. Radio
9. Secondhand Lions
10. Looney Tunes: Back In Action

That’s going to wrap it up for another week of what’s new on home video. I hope you’ll find something that you like among the titles that we’ve listed. We’ll be back next week to let you know what’s good, bad and boring.


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1062
originally posted: 03/23/04 12:28:04
last updated: 03/23/04 12:31:47
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