OnVideo APRIL Video Reviews
ALIENS VS. PREDATOR -- REQUIEM
Picking up after the events of the 2004 blockbuster "Alien vs. Predator," the Predator gives birth to a crossbreed 'PredAlien' shortly before its ship crashes into a small Colorado town. Caught in between the invasion of the Aliens and a new ruthless and methodical Predator, a group of townspeople must join forces to stop the infestation before the military obliterates the town to contain the outbreak.
Director: Colin Strause, Greg Strause. Stars: David Paetkau, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Reiko Aylesworth, Sam Trammell, Shareeka Epps, Steven Pasquale. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 94 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $41.564 million, Fox. Available: 4/15
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS
When struggling songwriter Dave Seville (Jason Lee) opens his home to a talented trio of chipmunks named Alvin, Simon and Theodore, they quickly become overnight music sensations. But when a greedy record producer (David Cross) tries to exploit the musical ensemble, Dave must use a little human ingenuity -- and a lot of 'munk' mischief -- to get his furry family back before it's too late. CG/live-action hybrid film.
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD
Master filmmaker Sidney Lumet directs this absorbing suspense thriller about a family facing the worst enemy of all -- itself. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Andy, an overextended broker who lures his younger brother, Hank (Ethan Hawke), into a larcenous scheme: the pair will rob a suburban mom-and-pop jewelry store that appears to be the quintessential easy target. The problem is, the store owners are Andy and Hank's actual mom and pop and, when the seemingly perfect crime goes awry, the damage lands right at their doorstep. Marisa Tomei plays Hoffman's trophy wife, who is having a clandestine affair with Hawke, and the stellar cast also includes Albert Finney as the family patriarch who pursues justice at all costs, completely unaware that the culprits he is hunting are his own sons. A classy, classic heist-gone-wrong drama in the tradition of "The Killing" and Lumet's own "The Anderson Tapes," "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is smart enough to know that we often have the most to fear from those who are near and dear.
Director: Sidney Lumet. Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 117 min., Drama, Box office gross: $6.806 million, ThinkFilm. Available: 4/15.
CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR
"Charlie Wilson's War" is the true story of how a playboy congressman, a renegade CIA agent and a beautiful Houston socialite joined forces to lead the largest and most successful covert operation in history. Their efforts contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, with consequences that reverberate throughout the world today. Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) was a bachelor congressman from Texas who had a habit of showing up in hot tubs with strippers and cocaine. His "Good Time Charlie" exterior, however, masked an extraordinary mind, a deep sense of patriotism and a passion for the underdog, and in the early 1980s the underdog was Afghanistan -- which had just been brutally invaded by the Soviet Union. Charlie's longtime friend and patron and sometime lover was Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts), one of the wealthiest women in Texas and a virulent anti-communist. Believing the American response to the Russian invasion was anemic at best, she prods Charlie into doing more for the Mujahideen (Afghan freedom fighters). Charlie's partner in this uphill endeavor is CIA Agent Gust Avrakotos (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a blue-collar operative in a company of Ivy League blue bloods. Together, the three of them travel the world to form unlikely alliances among the Pakistanis, Israelis, Egyptians, arms dealers, lawmakers and a belly dancer. Their success was remarkable. Funding for covert operations against the Soviets went from $5 million to $1 billion annually. The Red Army retreated out of Afghanistan. When asked how a group of peasants was able to deliver such a decisive blow to the army of a superpower, Pakistani President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq responded simply, "Charlie did it."
Director: Mike Nichols. Stars: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Om Puri, Jud Tylor, Nazanin Boniadi. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: R, 97 min., Drama, Box office gross: $66.636 million, Universal. Available: 4/22.
Five young New Yorkers throw their friend a going-away party the night that a monster the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city. Told from the point of view of their video camera, the film is a document of their attempt to survive the most surreal, horrifying event of their lives.
Director: Matt Reeves. Stars: Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman, Lizzy Caplan, JessicaLucas, T. J. Miller. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 84 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $79.589 million, Paramount. Available: 4/22.
GOLDEN COMPASS, THE
The first movie based on the bestselling Philip Pullman novels. The "His Dark Materials" trilogy is comprised of "The Golden Compass," "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass" and revolves around a young girl who travels to the far north to save her best friend. Along the way she encounters shape-shifting creatures, witches and a variety of otherworldly characters in parallel universes.
Director: Chris Weitz. Stars: Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue Richards. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $67.513 million, New Line. Available: 4/29.
Ellen Page stars as the title character, a whip-smart teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate Bleeker (Michael Cera). With the help of her hot best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), Juno finds her unborn child a "perfect" set of parents: an affluent suburban couple, Mark and Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), longing to adopt. Luckily, Juno has the total support of her parents (JK Simmons and Allison Janney) as she faces some tough decisions, flirts with adulthood and ultimately figures out where she belongs.
Director: Jason Reitman. Stars: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Allison Janney, JK Simmons, Olivia Thirlby, Rainn Wilson, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 92 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $117.506 million, Fox. Available: 4/15.
LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
Ryan Gosling stars as Lars Lindstrom, a loveable introvert whose emotional baggage has kept him from fully embracing life. After years of solitude, Lars buys a life-size sex doll on the Internet and falls in love with her, telling people it's his girlfriend. Lars' brother and sister-in-law Karin and Gus consult the town's family physician, Dr. Dagmar Berman, who advises them to go along with it. Lars is experiencing a delusion and in order to help him through this crisis, they and the townsfolk need to get onboard. After some persuasion and appeal to their love and concern for Lars, Gus and Karin enlist their cooperation. Soon Bianca is attending church, modeling at the local dress shop, volunteering at the hospital and accompanying Lars to his first ever social events. Surprisingly to those around her, Bianca weaves her way into the hearts of everyone she meets, filling voids they didn't know they had.
Director: Craig Gillespie. Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Kelli Garner, Patricia Clarkson, Nancy Beatty, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, Karen Robinson. 2007, CC, MPAA rating:PG-13, 106 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $5.928 million, MGM. Available: 4/15.
LIONS FOR LAMBS
Directed by Robert Redford, the story begins after two determined students at a West Coast University, Arian (Derek Luke) and Ernest (Michael Pena), follow the inspiration of their idealistic professor, Dr. Malley (Redford), and attempt to do something important with their lives. But when the two make the bold decision to join the battle in Afghanistan, Malley is both moved and distraught. Now, as Arian and Ernest fight for survival in the field, they become the string that binds together two disparate stories on opposite sides of America. In California, an anguished Dr. Malley attempts to reach a privileged but disaffected student (Andrew Garfield) who is the very opposite of Arian and Ernest. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the charismatic Presidential hopeful, Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise), is about to give a bombshell story to a probing TV journalist (Meryl Streep) that may affect Arian and Ernest's fates. As arguments, memories and bullets fly, the three stories are woven ever more tightly together, revealing how each of these Americans has a profound impact on the world around them.
Director: Robert Redford. Stars: Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Michael Pena, Derek Luke, Andrew Garfield. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 88 min., Drama, Box office gross: $14.971 million, UA/MGM. Available: 4/8.
ONE MISSED CALL
It happens to one. Then another. And another. College students discover eerie voicemail messages on their cell phones. Each call comes from the near future. Each call has the chilling voice of the student during his or her last moments alive. And each call comes true. Does the viral spree of calls have a single source? Is there something that links the victims? Psych student Beth Raymond (Shannyn Sossamon) and detective Jack Andrews (Ed Burns) scramble for answers. And they're working fast. Because Beth just discovered an ominous message. Based on the hit Japanese thriller "Chakushin ari."
Director: Eric Valette. Stars: Ed Burns, Shannyn Sossamon, Ana Claudia Talancon, Ray Wise, Azura Skye, Johnny Lewis, Jason Beghe, Margaret Cho. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 87 min., Horror Thriller, Box office gross: $26.713 million, Warner. Available: 4/22.
"The Orphanage" centers on a young woman, Laura (Belen Rueda), who purchases her beloved childhood orphanage with dreams of restoring and reopening the long abandoned facility as a place for disabled children. Once there, Laura discovers that the new environment awakens her son's imagination, but the ongoing fantasy games he plays with an invisible friend quickly turn into something more disturbing. Upon seeing her family increasingly threatened by the strange occurrences in the house, Laura looks to a group of parapsychologists for help in unraveling the mystery that has taken over the place. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona. Stars: Belen Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Geraldine Chaplin, Montserrat Carulla, Mabel Rivera, Andres Gertrudix, Roger Princep. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min., Horror Thriller, Box office gross: $6.981 million, New Line. Available: 4/22.
Nominated for two Academy Awards including best actress for Laura Linney and best original screenplay for writer-director Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages" centers on two siblings who are reluctantly forced to look back at their difficult family history. Having wriggled their way beneath their father's domineering thumb, they are firmly cocooned in their own complicated lives -- Wendy (Linney) a struggling playwright; Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) a neurotic college professor. When their father (Philip Bosco) begins to be consumed by dementia, they are forced to live together under one roof for the first time since childhood. Faced with complete upheaval and battling over how to handle their father's final days, they are confronted with what adulthood, family and most surprisingly, each other are really about.
Director: Tamara Jenkins. Stars: Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Bosco, Peter Friedman, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Cara Seymour. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 113 min., Comedy Drama, Box office gross: $5.272 million, Fox. Available: 4/22.
Johnny Depp and Tim Burton join forces again in a big-screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's award-winning musical thriller "Sweeney Todd." Depp stars in the title role as a man unjustly sent to prison who vows revenge, not only for that cruel punishment, but for the devastating consequences of what happened to his wife and daughter. When he returns to reopen his barber shop, Sweeney Todd becomes the Demon Barber of Fleet Street who "shaved the heads of gentlemen who never thereafter were heard from again." Joining Depp is Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney's amorous accomplice, who creates diabolical meat pies. The cast also includes Alan Rickman, who portrays the evil Judge Turpin, who sends Sweeney to prison and Timothy Spall as the Judge's wicked associate Beadle Bamford, and Sacha Baron Cohen as a rival barber, the flamboyant Signor Adolfo Pirelli.
Director: Tim Burton. Stars: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee, Jamie Campbell Bowen, Jayne Wisener, Laura Michelle Kelly, Ed Sanders. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 116 min., Musical Thriller, Box office gross: $52.015 million, Paramount. Available: 4/1.
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
A sprawling epic about family, greed, corruption, and the pursuit of the American dream. Set in the booming West coast oil fields at the turn of the 20th century, "There Will Be Blood" follows the rise of rugged prospector Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) who becomes an independent oilman after hitting it rich with the strike of a lifetime. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the film is inspired by Upton Sinclair's novel "Oil!" Set on the incendiary frontier of California's turn-of-the-century petroleum boom, the story chronicles the life and times of Plainview, who transforms himself from a down-and-out silver miner raising a son on his own into a self-made oil tycoon. When Plainview gets a mysterious tip-off that there's a little town out West where an ocean of oil is oozing out of the ground, he heads with his son, H.W. (Dillon Freasier), to take their chances in dust-worn Little Boston, California. In this hardscrabble town, where the main excitement centers around the holy roller church of charismatic preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), Plainview and H.W. make their lucky strike. But even as the well raises all of their fortunes, nothing will remain the same as conflicts escalate and every human value -- love, hope, community, belief, ambition and even the bond between father and son -- is imperiled by corruption, deception and the flow of oil. A masterpiece for the 21st century. The oil derreck fire and its consequences alone are worth the price of admission. And, of course, the film won two Academy Awards: Daniel Day-Lewis in a mesmerizing performance, for best actor, and Robert Elswit for best cinematography.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson. Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciaran Hinds, Kevin J. O'Connor, Dillon Freasier. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 158 min., Drama, Box office gross: $31,619 million, Paramount. Available: 4/6.
Jane (Katherine Heigl) is an idealistic, romantic and completely selfless woman ... a perennial bridal attendant whose own happy ending is nowhere in sight. But when younger sister Tess captures the heart of Jane's boss -- with whom she is secretly in love -- Jane begins to reexamine her "always-a-bridesmaid..." lifestyle. Jane has always been good at taking care of others, but not so much in looking after herself. Her entire life has been about making people happy -- and she has a closet full of 27 bridesmaid dresses to prove it. One memorable evening, Jane manages to shuttle between wedding receptions in Manhattan and Brooklyn, a feat witnessed by Kevin (James Marsden), a newspaper reporter who realizes that a story about this wedding junkie is his ticket off the newspaper's bridal beat. Jane finds Kevin's cynicism counter to everything she holds dear -- namely weddings -- and the two lock horns. Guess what happens.
Director: Anne Fletcher. Stars: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Akerman, Ed Burns, Melora Hardin, Judy Greer. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 111 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $74.466 million, Fox. Available: 4/29.
WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY
One of the most iconic figures in rock history, Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) had it all: the women (over 411), the friends (Elvis, The Beatles) and the rock 'n' roll lifestyle (a close and personal relationship with every pill and powder known to man). But most of all, he had the music that transformed a dimwitted country boy into the greatest American rock star who never lived. A wild and wicked send-up of every musical biopic ever made.
WATER HORSE: LEGEND OF THE DEEP, THE
When a lonely young boy named Angus discovers a large, mysterious egg along the shores of Loch Ness, no one is prepared for what lies within. He soon discovers, that the strange, mischievous hatchling inside is none other than The Water Horse, the loch's most mysterious and fabled creature. But with the Water Horse growing ten times its size every day, Angus finds it increasingly difficult to keep his new friend a secret.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.
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April 1, 2008