OnVideo DECEMBER Video Reviews
BALLS OF FURY
A former ping-pong champ is brought in by the government to infiltrate a high-stakes underworld tournament and bring down the organizer, a feared crime boss. In this secret society, the competition is brutal and the stakes are high. It is the unsanctioned, underground, and utterly unhinged world of clandestine Ping-Pong tournaments. Down-and-out former professional Ping-Pong phenom Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) is sucked into this maelstrom when FBI Agent Rodriguez (George Lopez) recruits him for a secret mission. Randy is determined to bounce back and win, and to smoke out his father's killer-arch-fiend Feng (Christopher Walken).
Director: Robert Ben Garant. Stars: Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez, Maggie Q, James Hong, Terry Crews, Robert Patrick. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 91 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $32.587 million, Universal. Available: 12/18.
BOURNE ULTIMATUM, THE
The third installment of the successful spy franchise based on the Robert Ludlum novels. This time around Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is living as a man without a country or a past. Subjected to brutal training he doesn't remember by people he can't identify, Bourne was turned into a sophisticated human weapon -- the toughest target the CIA has ever tracked. Since he was discovered floating in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy several years ago, he has been on a desperate quest to learn who he is and discover who taught him how to kill. After his lover, Marie, died from an assassin's bullet, all Bourne wanted was revenge. Once he found it, what he craved was to forever disappear and forget the life stolen from him. But a front-page story in a London newspaper that speculates about his existence ends that hope, and he finds himself once again a target. Treadstone, the top-secret black-ops program that created this super-assassin, is now defunct. It has been re-imagined as the joint Department of Defense program Blackbriar, with a new generation of trained killers -- hidden from domestic or foreign oversight -- at the government's disposal. To them, Bourne is a $30-million malfunctioning threat who must be taken out, once and for all. To him, they are the only link to a life he has tried in vain to forget. Bourne has reached the end of the line. This time, he will not stop at his former masters' empty promises or even with the killing of those who relentlessly pursue him. With nothing left to lose, he will use each nuance of his training and every finely honed instinct they taught him to come after his creators and finish it all. His quest will take him from Moscow, Paris and Madrid to London and Tangier -- evading, outsmarting and outmaneuvering Blackbriar operatives, federal agents and local police every step of the way -- in a desperate quest to find answers to the remaining questions that haunt him. And Bourne's journey will ultimately lead him to where it all began and where it must come to an end: the streets of New York City and the black-ops' headquarters.
Director: Paul Greengrass. Stars: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Paddy Considine, Edgar Ramirez, Trevor St. John. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 116 min., Drama, Box office gross: $222.776 million, Universal. Available: 12/11.
The film follows the mysterious and ruthless Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen), who is tied to one of London's most notorious organized crime families. His carefully maintained existence is jarred when he crosses paths with Anna (Naomi Watts), an innocent midwife trying to right a wrong, who accidentally uncovers potential evidence against the family. The charismatic Russian-born Nikolai is a driver for one of London's most notorious organized crime families of Eastern European origin. The family itself is part of the Vory V Zakone criminal brotherhood. Headed by Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), whose courtly charm as the welcoming proprietor of the plush Trans-Siberian restaurant impeccably masks a cold and brutal core, the family's fortunes are tested by Semyon's volatile son and enforcer, Kirill (Vincent Cassel), who is more tightly bound to Nikolai than to his own father. But Nikolai's carefully maintained existence is jarred once he crosses paths at Christmastime with Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts), a midwife at a North London hospital. Anna is deeply affected by the desperate situation of a young teenager who dies while giving birth to a baby. Anna resolves to try to trace the baby's lineage and relatives. The girl's personal diary also survives her; it is written in Russian, and Anna seeks answers in it. What she discovers is that the young girl was a forced prostitute in the Vory family. With Semyon and Kirill closing ranks and Anna pressing her inquiries, Nikolai unexpectedly finds his loyalties divided. The family tightens its grip on him; who can, or should, he trust? Several lives -- including his own -- hang in the balance as a harrowing chain of murder, deceit, and retribution reverberates through the darkest corners of both the family and London itself. A brutal, visceral outing from a master of horror and thrills.
Director: David Cronenberg. Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Sinead Cusack, Donald Sumpter, Jerzy Skolimowski. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $16.666 million, Universal. Available: 12/23.
Inspired by Carpenter's 1978 original and his theme that "evil can appear in even the smallest of towns," Rob Zombie's "Halloween" focuses on the early years of young Michael Myers and the events leading up to his fateful Halloween night murder rampage in the quiet town of Haddonfield, Illinois. Following that brutal night, Michael begins 17 years of incarceration at the Smith's Grove Sanitarium maximum-security mental facility where he is treated by noted child behaviorist Dr. Samuel Loomis -- the only person who can truly understand Michael's evil nature. Now, 17 years later, Michael escapes from the mental facility on Halloween day and begins a murderous trek back to Haddonfield to continue his killing streak and seek resolution to events from his past. In Haddonfield, Michael begins stalking a high school girl, Laurie Strode, and her friends, Annie and Lynda. When Dr. Loomis, now a successful author for his book on Michael, hears of his escape, he enlists the help of Haddonfield's Sheriff Brackett to find and put an end to Michael's reign of terror.
Director: Rob Zombie. Stars: Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Daeg Faerch, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Pat Skipper, Dee Wallace Stone, William Forsythe, Ken Foree, Lew Temple, Danny Trejo, Hanna Hall, Danielle Harris, Adrienne Barbeau, Clint Howard. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Horror, Box office gross: $58.104 million, Weinstein Co. Available: 12/18.
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
It has been a long, lonely summer for Harry Potter as he awaits his fifth year of study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It's bad enough that he must endure living with the odious Dursleys, but he hasn't received even a note from his classmates and closest friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. And there has not been any word from anyone in the aftermath of his confrontation with the evil Lord Voldemort. The letter that does arrive is not the kind for which he was hoping -- pronouncing that Harry is about to be expelled from Hogwarts for illegally using magic outside of school and in the presence of a Muggle, namely his obnoxious cousin, Dudley. Never mind that it was in defense against an unprovoked and inexplicable attack by two Dementors. Harry's only hope is to defend himself at what amounts to hardly more than a kangaroo court orchestrated by the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, who has his own reasons for wanting the young wizard to be gone for good. Much to Fudge's chagrin, Harry is acquitted -- thanks largely to the intervention of Hogwarts' venerable Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore -- but his return to Hogwarts is, for the first time, apprehensive and uncomfortable. Harry has learned that much of the wizarding community has been led to believe that the story of the teenager's recent encounter with Voldemort is an outright lie, putting Harry's integrity in question. Feeling ostracized and alone, Harry is beset by nightmares that seem to foretell sinister events. Worse, the one person whose counsel he needs most, Professor Dumbledore, is suddenly acting strangely distant from the confused and hurt young wizard. Meanwhile, in an effort to keep an eye on Dumbledore and keep the Hogwarts students -- especially Harry -- in line, Fudge has appointed a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the duplicitous Professor Dolores Umbridge. But Professor Umbridge's "Ministry-approved" course of defensive magic leaves the young wizards woefully unprepared to defend themselves against the Dark Forces threatening them. So, at the prompting of Hermione and Ron, Harry is convinced to take matters into his own hands. Meeting secretly with a small group of students who name themselves "Dumbledore's Army," Harry teaches them how to defend themselves against the Dark Arts, preparing the courageous young wizards for the extraordinary battle that he knows lies ahead.
Director: David Yates. Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Imelda Staunton, George Harris, Helena Bonham Carter, Natalia Tena, Kathryn Hunter, Evanna Lynch, Gary Oldman, Harry Melling, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Sian Thomas, Jason Boyd, Richard Macklin, Charles Hughes, Susie Shinner, Auror Dawlish, Nick Shim, Ralph Fiennes, Apple Brook, James Walters, James Utechin, Alec Hopkins, Jason Piper. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 138 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $ 291.340 million, Warner. Available: 12/11.
HEARTBREAK KID, THE
Awful remake of the 1972 Neil Simon classic. On the third day of his honeymoon, Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller) believes he's finally found true love. Unfortunately, it's not with his new bride. After years of bachelorhood and ample pressure from his father, Doc (Jerry Stiller) and best friend Mac (Rob Corddry), Eddie starts to wonder if he is being too picky about the women he meets. So when a chance encounter with an alluring blonde named Lila (Malin Akerman) leads to a sweet romance, Eddie impulsively proposes. But right after the wedding, as the newlyweds get to know each other on the drive down the California coast, Eddie begins to realize he's made a terrible mistake. Soon after reaching their exotic Mexican hideaway, he falls for the down-to-earth Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), who has no clue he's on his honeymoon. Now Eddie has to find a way to extricate himself from his days-old marriage without losing the girl of his dreams.
Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly. Stars: Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan, Malin Akerman, Jerry Stiller, Rob Corddry, Carlos Mencia, Scott Wilson, Danny McBride, Stephanie Courtney, Polly Holliday, Roy Jenkins. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 115 min., Drama, Box office gross: $36.771 million, Paramount. Available: 12/26.
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2: EXTENDED EDITION
More of the infectious music, high energy dancing and exuberant young cast that created worldwide High School Musicalmania with the original Disney Channel feature. The gang from East High takes the stage at the local country club summer talent show and scheming drama queen Sharpay is at the center of intrigue once more, using her influence to get Troy a job at the club in order to make him her singing partner at the annual show. When Troy arranges jobs for Gabriella and the Wildcats too, Sharpay has to do some fancy maneuvering to keep the others off the stage. To get Troy to go along with her plan, she makes him an offer she thinks he can't refuse -- a chance at a college basketball scholarship -- forcing Troy to choose between his friends and his future. "High School Musical 2" premiered on Disney Channel on August 17 and with 17.2 million Viewers, making it the most-watched cable telecast of all-time. The" High School Musical 2" soundtrack rewrote chart history with its spectacular debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, a first for a television movie soundtrack.
When a terrorist bomb detonates inside a Western housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, an international incident is ignited. While diplomats slowly debate equations of territorialism, FBI Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) quickly assembles an elite team (Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) and negotiates a secret five-day trip into Saudi Arabia to locate the madman behind the bombing. Upon landing in the desert kingdom, however, Fleury and his team discover Saudi authorities suspicious and unwelcoming of American interlopers into what they consider a local matter. Hamstrung by protocol -- and with the clock ticking on their five days -- the FBI agents find their expertise worthless without the trust of their Saudi counterparts, who want to locate the terrorist in their homeland on their own terms. Fleury's crew finds a like-minded partner in Saudi Colonel Al-Ghazi (Ashraf Barhoum), who helps them navigate royal politics and unlock the secrets of the crime scene and the workings of an extremist cell bent on further destruction. With these unlikely allies sharing a propulsive commitment to crack the case, the team is led to the killer's front door in a blistering do-or-die confrontation. Now in a fight for their own lives, strangers united by one mission won't stop until justice is found in the kingdom.
Director: Peter Berg. Stars: Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, Jeremy Piven, Jason Bateman, Francis Fisher, Minka Kelly, Tom Bresnahan. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 110 min., War Action, Box office gross: $47.456 million, Universal. Available: 12/23.
NANNY DIARIES, THE
"The Nanny Diaries" tells the story of the emotional and often humorous journey of Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson), a young woman from a working-class neighborhood in New Jersey, struggling to understand her place in the world. Fresh out of college, she gets tremendous pressure from her nurse mother to find a respectable position in the business world although Annie would prefer to trade in her blackberry for an anthropologist's field diary. Through a serendipitous meeting, Annie ends up in the elite and ritualistic culture of Manhattan's Upper East Side -- as remote from Annie's suburban New Jersey upbringing as life in an Amazon tribal village. Choosing to duck out of real life, Annie accepts the position as a nanny for a wealthy family, referred to as simply "the X's." She quickly learns that life is not very rosy on the other side of the tax bracket, as she must cater to the every whim of Mrs. X (Laura Linney) and her precocious son Grayer, while attempting to avoid the formidable Mr. X (Paul Giamatti). Life becomes even more complicated when Annie falls for a gorgeous Park Avenue Hottie (Evans), and she's forced to explore her identity as never before. Adapted from the best-selling book.
Director: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini. Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Paul Giamatti, Donna Murphy, Alicia Keys, Chris Evans. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 106 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $25.847 million, Weinstein Co./Genius Products. Available: 12/4.
Romantic music-infused story of two struggling musicians. When a brokenhearted street musician clicks with a beautiful and feisty keyboardist, the unlikely couple decides they have nothing -- and everything -- to lose. Over the course of one electric week, the duo writes, performs and records an incredible cycle of songs every bit as spontaneous and soulful as their improbable romance. Stars singer, songwriter and current Billboard chart-topper Glen Hansard ("The Frames") and newcomer Marketa Irglova as the street musician and a Czech immigrant, respectively, as they write, rehearse and record songs that artistically reveal their unique love story. Written and directed by Hansard's former band-mate John Carney.
Director: John Carney. Stars: Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova, Bill Hodnett, Danuse Ktrestova.. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 86 min., Musical Drama, Box office gross: $9.087 million, Fox. Available: 12/18.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END
Second sequel to the blockbuster swashbuckler based - of all things - o a theme park ride. Still, a delightful and involving finale to the trilogy. It is a dark time as the Age of Piracy nears to a close. Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) of the East India Company has gained control of the terrifying ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman, and its malevolent, vengeful Captain, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). The Dutchman now roams the seven seas, unstoppable, destroying pirate ships without mercy, under the command of Admiral Norrington (Jack Davenport). Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) embark on a desperate quest to gather the Nine Lords of the Brethren Court, their only hope to defeat Beckett, the Flying Dutchman, and his Armada. But one of the Lords is missing -- Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), either the best or worst pirate ever, now trapped in Davy Jones Locker, thanks to his encounter with the monstrous Kraken. In an increasingly shaky alliance, the trio must first travel to dangerous, exotic Singapore and confront Chinese pirate Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) to gain charts, and a ship, that will take them off to world's end, to rescue Jack. But even if Captain Jack is successfully rescued, the gathering of the legendary Brethren Court may not be enough to hold back the fearsome tide of Beckett, Davy Jones and their powerful Armada ... unless the capricious sea goddess Calypso, imprisoned in human form, can be freed and convinced to come to their aid. As betrayal piles upon betrayal, it becomes clear that Jack, Will, Elizabeth, Sao Feng, and Barbossa each have their own agenda, and no one can be trusted. Yet each must choose a side, and make their final alliances for one last battle, in a titanic showdown that could eliminate the freedom-loving pirates from the seven seas -- forever.
Director: Gore Verbinski. Stars: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Stellan Skarsgard, Jack Davenport, Bill Nighy, Kevin R. McNally, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Andy Beckwith, Reggie Lee, Chow Yun-Fat, Tom Hollander. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 168 min., Drama, Box office gross: $301.725 million, Disney. Available: 12/4.
RUSH HOUR 3
Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker reunite with director Brett Ratner for an all new adventure that takes them to Paris where they confront deadly Triads, beautiful women, an angry cabbie and an invasive French inspector to uncover the secret at the heart of the Triad syndicate. Half a world away in Los Angeles, Ambassador Han is about to disclose it. In his possession is explosive new evidence about the inner workings of the Triads -- the most powerful and notorious crime syndicate in the world. The Ambassador has discovered the identity of Shy Shen, the very crux of the wide-ranging crime ring, and he's about to reveal it to the World Criminal Court -- until he is silenced by an assassin's bullet. The Triads will go to any lengths to make sure their secrets stay buried, and there's only one hope for stopping them. Here come Detective Carter and Inspector Lee, who head to the City of Lights to stop the global criminal conspiracy and save the life of the Ambassador's now-grown daughter, Soo Yung. They don't know the city, the language or even exactly what they're looking for, but their race will take them across the city, from the depths of the Paris underground to the breathtaking heights of the Eiffel Tower, as they fight to outrun the world's most deadly criminals and save the day.
Director: Brett Ratner. Stars: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Tom Wilkinson, Elizabeth Pena, Tzi Ma, Julia Hsu. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 90 min., Action Comedy, Box office gross: $128.721 million, New Line. Available: 12/26.
SIMPSONS MOVIE, THE
In the eagerly-awaited film based on the hit television series, Homer must save the world from a catastrophe he himself created. It all begins with Homer, his new pet pig, and a leaky silo full of droppings -- a combination that triggers a disaster the likes of which Springfield has never experienced. As Marge is outraged by Homer's monumental blunder, a vengeful mob descends on the Simpson household. The family makes a narrow escape, but is soon divided by both location and conflict. The Springfield citizenry has every reason to be out for Simpson blood. The calamity triggered by Homer has drawn the attention of U.S. President Arnold Schwarzenegger and Environmental Protection Agency head Russ Cargill. "You know sir," Cargill tells the president, "when you made me head of the EPA, you were applauded for appointing one of the most successful men in America to the least successful agency in government. And why did I take the job? Because I'm a rich man who wanted to give something back. Not the money, but something." That "something" is a devil's plan to contain the disaster. As the fates of Springfield and the world hang in the balance, Homer embarks on a personal odyssey of redemption -- seeking forgiveness from Marge, the reunion of his splintered family, and the salvation of his hometown.
Director: David Silverman. Voices: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille, Albert Brooks, rock band Green Day, Tom Hanks. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13,87 min., Animated Comedy, Box office gross: $180.272 million, Fox. Available: 12/18.
STARDUST Based on the best-selling graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, "Stardust" is an fantasy adventure tale that begins in a village in England and ends up in places that exist in an imaginary world. A young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) tries to win the heart of Victoria (Sienna Miller), the beautiful but cold object of his desire, by going on a quest to retrieve a fallen star. His journey takes him to a mysterious and forbidden land beyond the walls of his village. On his odyssey, Tristan finds the star, which has transformed into a striking girl named Yvaine (Claire Danes). However, Tristan is not the only one seeking the star. A king's (Peter O'Toole) four living sons -- not to mention the ghosts of their three dead brothers -- all need the star as they vie for the throne. Tristan must also overcome the evil witch, Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), who needs the star to make her young again. As Tristan battles to survive these threats, encountering a pirate named Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro) and a shady trader named Ferdy the Fence (Ricky Gervais) along the way, his quest changes. He must now win the heart of the star for himself as he discovers the meaning of true love.
Director: Matthew Vaughn. Stars: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Peter O'Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Ian McKellen (narrator). 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 128 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $38.3345 million, Paramount. Available: 12/18.
Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) want nothing more than to lose their virginity before they head off to college. To do that, though, they need to get liquor for the big party that night. With the help of their friend Fogell, a.k.a. McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), and his fake I.D., the three of them go on a chase for that elusive booze, dodging incompetent cops (Knocked Up's Seth Rogen and Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader) while attempting to reverse a lifelong losing streak in one hilarious night.
Director: Greg Mottola. Stars: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Martha MacIsaac, Emma Stone, Aviva, Joe Lo Truglio, Kevin Corrigan. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 114 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $116.181 million, Sony. Available: 12/4.
Based on the 1964-73 TV series. Superhero Underdog's mysterious origins begins in the wake of an accident in the high-tech lab of the maniacal scientist Dr. Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage). Suddenly, an ordinary, down-and-out young Beagle named Shoeshine finds himself with extraordinary powers, not to mention the unexpected ability to turn his bark into real speech. Now, armed with a "fetching" superhero costume, this unlikely caped crusader and humbly self-described Underdog (voiced by Jason Lee) vows to protect the beleaguered citizens of Capitol City -- especially one beautiful Spaniel named Polly Purebred (voiced by Amy Adams). When a sinister plot by Barsinister and his overgrown henchman Cad (Patrick Warburton), threatens to destroy Capitol City, only Underdog can save the day.
Director: Frederik Du Chau. Stars: Jim Belushi, Peter Dinklage, John Slattery, Patrick Warburton, Brad Garrett, voices of Jason Lee and Amy Adams. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 81 min., Family, Box office gross: $43.256 million, Disney. Available: 12/18.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Rotel RDV-1060 DVD Audio/Video 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.
| Contents/Site Map | Home | Resources | Calendar | Sell-Through | DVD | Reviews |
© 1996 -- 2007 OnVideo. All rights reserved
November 30, 2007