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OnVideo JULY Video Reviews

"Bride and Prejudice" puts an entirely different spin on Jane Austen's story of spirited courtship -- Bollywood-style. Music, dance and spectacle merge with love, vanity and social pressures, as director Gurinder Chadha transports the comic tale of a witty young woman trying to find a suitable husband to a cross-cultural setting that spans 21st century India, London and America. It all begins in a modest Indian village when the determined Mrs. Bakshi sets out to find marriage matches for her four beautiful daughters while there's a lavish wedding party in town. Right away, the smart and headstrong Lalita (Aishwarya Rai) announces she will only marry for love, giving her mother nightmares. Then Lalita meets the wealthy American Will Darcy (Martin Henderson) and sparks immediately fly. But is it love or hate? Darcy comes off to Lalita as an arrogant California snob. Lalita looks to Darcy like a small-town Indian beauty who knows nothing of the world. Alternately enchanted by and suspicious of one another, Lalita and Darcy nearly fall prey to assumptions, gossip and a comedy of errors ... until pride is humbled and prejudice overcome so that love can triumph.

Director: Gurinder Chadha. Stars: Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, Nadira Babbar, Anupam Kher, Naveen Andrews, Namrata Shirodkar, Daniel Gillies. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 111 min.), Musical romance comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $6.231 million, (Buena Vista), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/5.

3 stars go back

photo Based on the DC/Vertigo comic book "Hellblazer," "Constantine" tells the story of irreverent supernatural detective John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), who has literally been to hell and back. Born with a gift he didn't want, the ability to clearly recognize the half-breed angels and demons that walk the earth in human skin, Constantine was driven to take his own life to escape the tormenting clarity of his vision. But he failed. Resuscitated against his will, he found himself cast back into the land of the living. Now, marked as an attempted suicide with a temporary lease on life, he patrols the earthly border between heaven and hell, hoping in vain to earn his way to salvation by sending the devil's foot soldiers back to the depths. But Constantine is no saint. Disillusioned by the world around him and at odds with the one beyond, he's a hard-drinking, hard-living bitter hero who scorns the very idea of heroism. Constantine will fight to save your soul but he doesn't want your admiration or your thanks -- and certainly not your sympathy. All he wants is a reprieve. When Constantine teams up with skeptical policewoman Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to solve the mysterious suicide of her twin sister (also played by Weisz), their investigation takes them through the world of demons and angels that exists just beneath the landscape of contemporary Los Angeles. Caught in a catastrophic series of otherworldy events, the two become inextricably involved and seek to find their own peace at whatever cost.

Director: Francis Lawrence. Stars: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Max Baker, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gavin Rossdale, Tilda Swinton, Peter Stormare. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 121 min.), Horror thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $75.390 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/19.

3 stars go back

Robert De Niro stars as David Callaway, a troubled father and widower, and Dakota Fanning portrays his young daughter Emily, who is hiding an incredible secret. As the story opens, Callaway's wife Alison (Amy Irving) dies suddenly, traumatizing Emily. Father and daughter move to Upstate New York to distance Emily from the memories of her life in Manhattan with her mother. Soon thereafter, Emily develops a Hide and Seek game friendship with an imaginary friend named Charlie. At first, David sees Charlie as a positive way for Emily to express herself. But a series of terrifying acts lead him to imagine the unimaginable: Charlie may actually be real ... and if so, he must be stopped.

Director: John Polson. Stars: Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elisabeth Shue, Amy Irving, Dylan Baker, Melissa Leo. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 101 min.), Horror, 2005, Box office gross: $50.977 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/5.

3 stars go back

photo A high-school bookworm transforms into a swan in this family entertainment. Brainy Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) has never quite fit in. Caught between her fantasy of becoming a championship figure skater and her strong-willed mother (Joan Cusack), who has her on the fast track to Harvard, she can only hope to be like Nikki, Tiffany and Gen -- three elite skating prodigies who are ruthlessly competing on the U.S.Figure Skating circuit (and have attitudes to match). But when Casey gets the chance to train with Gen (Hayden Panettiere) and her coach, a disgraced former skating champion who also happens to be Gen's mother (Kim Cattrall), she must dash her own mother's hopes in order to pursue her dream. Now, with only the support of Gen's teenage brother, a hunky Zamboni driver (Trevor Blumas), Casey takes on the challenge of her life when she finds herself competing against the best to make it into the championship circuit and become a real "ice princess."

Director: Tim Fywell. Stars: Joan Cusack, Kim Cattrall, Michelle Trachtenberg, Hayden Panettiere, Trevor Blumas, Connie Ray, Kirsten Olson. CC, (MPAA rating: G, 92 min.), Family, 2005, Box office gross: $20.942 million, (Buena Vista), $29.99 VHS SRP, Available: 7/19.

3 stars go back

A successful and wealthy businessmen, with plenty of attitude to spare, Malcolm (Anthony Anderson) has made more than his share of enemies over the years, including his soon-to-be ex-wife (Kellita Smith) and his overworked, under-appreciated employees. Not wanting to go through a messy and expensive divorce played out in the media, Malcolm devises a plan to save his money from his wife's eager hands. Along with the help of his mistress, Peaches (Regina Hall), Malcolm plots his own kidnapping in order to secure a fictitious ransom so extremely high that, once paid, the public will think he's broke and unable to meet his wife's financial demands. But unbeknownst to Malcolm, he's not the only one with a kidnapping plan. Not only his wife, but one of his long-suffering employees (Nicole Parker) and a dim-witted local bumpkin (Jay Mohr), have all cooked up separate schemes of their own, each more ridiculous than the next.

Director: Jeff Byrd. Stars: Anthony Anderson, Jay Mohr, Kellita Smith, Nicole Ari Parker, Regina Hall, Loretta Devine, Donald Faison. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $2.137 million, (New Line), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/26.

2 stars go back

photo A by-the-book Texas Ranger Roland Sharp (Tommy Lee Jones) tracks down a key informant with the help of an ex-con turned preacher Percy Stevens (Cedric the Entertainer). But when the informant is offed, the hard-headed Sharp is assigned to protect the only witnesses to the crime -- a group of University of Texas cheerleaders -- by going undercover and moving in with the five uncontrollable college coeds. For a guy used to ducking bullets and confronting heavily armed drug dealers, he's now up to his elbows in poms- poms.

Director: Stephen Herek. Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Cedric the Entertainer, Christina Milian, Paula Garces, Monica Keena, Vanessa Ferlito, Kelli Garner, Anne Archer. CC, (MPAA rating: Pg-13, 97 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $19.118 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/19.

2 stars go back

Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) has trained and managed some incredible fighters during a lifetime spent in the ring. The most important lesson he teaches his boxers is the one that rules his life: above all, always protect yourself. In the wake of a painful estrangement from his daughter, Frankie has been unwilling to let himself get close to anyone for a very long time. His only friend is Scrap (Morgan Freeman), an ex-boxer who looks after Frankie's gym and knows that beneath his gruff exterior is a man who has attended Mass almost every day for the past 23 years, seeking the forgiveness that somehow continues to elude him. Then Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) walks into his gym. Maggie's never had much, but there is one thing she does have that very few people in this world ever do: she knows what she wants and she's willing to do whatever it takes to get it. In a life of constant struggle, Maggie's gotten herself this far on raw talent, unshakable focus and a tremendous force of will. But more than anything, what she wants is for someone to believe in her. The last thing Frankie needs is that kind of responsibility -- let alone that kind of risk. He tells Maggie the blunt hard truth: she's too old and he doesn't train girls. But "no" has little meaning when you have no other choice. Unwilling or unable to give up on her life's ambition, Maggie wears herself to the bone at the gym every day, encouraged only by Scrap. Finally won over by Maggie's sheer determination, Frankie begrudgingly agrees to take her on. In turns exasperating and inspiring each other, the two come to discover that they share a common spirit that transcends the pain and loss of their pasts, and find in each other a sense of family they lost long ago. What they don't know is that soon they will both face a battle that's going to demand more heart and courage than any they've ever known.

Director: Clint Eastwood. Stars: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter, Lucia Rijker, Brian F. O'Byrne. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 132 min.), Drama, 2004, Box office gross: $97.825 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/12.

4 stars go back

photo Joan Allen stars as the sharp-witted Terry Wolfmeyer, a suburban wife and mother whose life takes an unusual turn when her husband unexpectedly disappears. Struggling to deal with his sudden absence, Terry finds herself increasingly at odds with her four headstrong daughters (Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell and Alicia Witt) and regularly drowning her anger in alcohol, until she develops an offbeat relationship with her next-door neighbor, Denny (Kevin Costner). A once-great baseball star turned radio DJ, Denny becomes a drinking buddy for Terry and slowly evolves into her source of strength, as well as an ad-hoc father to her daughters. But things get complicated as Terry's daughters grow accustomed to having Denny around while attempting to juggle not only their mother's romantic dilemmas, but their own.

Director: Mike Binder. Stars: Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt, Mike Binder. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 118 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $18.204 million, (New Line), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/26.

3 stars go back

From the director and star of "Amelie" (Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Audrey Tautou) comes a very different love story. Based on the acclaimed novel by Sebastien Japrisot, the film is set in France near the end of World War I in the deadly trenches of the Somme, in the gilded Parisian halls of power, and in the modest home of an indomitable provincial girl. As World War I draws to an end, a young French woman's (Tautou) greatest fight is about to begin. Mathilde has received word that her fiance Manech is one of five wounded soldiers who have been court-martialed and pushed out into the no-man's land between the French and German armies -- and almost certain death. Unwilling to accept that her beloved Manech is lost to her forever, Mathilde embarks on an extraordinary journey to discover the fate of her lover. At each turn, she receives a different heartbreaking variation on how Manech must have spent those last days, those last moments. Still, she never gets discouraged. With a steadfast faith, strengthened by hope and a stubbornly cheerful disposition, Mathilde follows her investigation to its conclusion, convincing those who might help her and ignoring those who will not. It's an investigation into the arbitrary nature of secrecy, the absurdity of war, and the enduring passion, intuition and tenacity of the human heart. In French with English subtitles.

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Stars: Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Jean-Pierre Becker, Dominique Bettenfeld. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 134 min.), Drama, 2004, Box office gross: $6.167 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/12.

3 stars go back

photo A follow-up to the blockbuster 2002 film starring Vin Diesel. In this lackluster sequel, the winds of political change are rumbling through the halls of the Capitol as a popular president is being targeted for assassination by a radical splinter group of dissenters deep within the United States government. Only two people stand between anarchy and freedom: One of them, Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson), has just survived a hit on the National Security Agency's top-secret headquarters and is on the run. The other, a decorated Special Ops soldier, Darius Stone (Ice Cube), sits under close guard in a military prison. Gibbons aids in Stone's daring escape from prison and convinces him to become a new xXx agent to stop the overthrow of the U.S. government. At the White House, the centrist President Sanford (Peter Strauss) butts heads with his radical Secretary of Defense, George Deckert (Willem Dafoe), a former general with past ties to both Gibbons and Stone. When Deckert attends a government gala, Stone impersonates a waiter in the hopes of overhearing insider information. Stone then is pursued by FBI agent Kyle Steele (Scott Speedman), an ambitious up-and-comer who considers Stone a dangerous criminal. To aid him in his mission, Stone turns to two old friends from his days on the streets of Washington: Lola (Nona Gaye), a former flame who now owns a high-end car dealership, and Zeke (Xzibit), a renegade chop-shop operator with access to both weaponry and personnel. When President Sanford is kidnapped after a brazen attack on the U.S. Capitol, Stone and his compatriots must unite to oppose one of the most formidable threats to American freedom ever mounted, led by an enemy with the ultimate in modern firepower and manpower at its disposal.

Director: Lee Tamahori. Stars: Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson, Willem Dafoe, Scott Speedman, Peter Strauss, Xzibit. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 101 min.), Action thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $25.607 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/26.

2 stars go back

All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, 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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July 1, 2005