OnVideo JUNE Video Reviews
Jake (James Franco) was raised to believe his future lay as a laborer in the Annapolis shipyards -- like everyone else in his family before him. But Jake has defied the odds and become one of the rare few accepted to the Annapolis Naval Academy along with some of the most elite young men and women in the country. When he arrives, his dream soon looks like it might turn into a nightmare. As a freshman "plebe," Jake is immediately thrown into a pressure-cooker atmosphere that threatens to be his undoing. Just as it seems Jake could become another Annapolis statistic, he takes one last shot at proving his potential. He meets an unlikely ally in his beautiful, stunningly strong military superior, Ali (Jordana Brewster), who also happens to secretly be a skilled boxing trainer. Jake decides to train for the legendary Navy boxing competition, a creator of future leaders known as the Brigade Championships. Now, there remains only one thing standing between Jake and the triumph he needs -- the steel-jawed company commander, Midshipman Lt. Cole (Tyrese Gibson). Everything Jake has ever hoped for stands in the balance -- the chance to make his father proud, the chance to stand up for his fellow plebes and, most of all, the opportunity to fight for a better future.
Director: Justin Lin. Stars: James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Donnie Wahlberg, Chi McBride. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 104 min.), Drama, 2006, Box office gross: $16.988 million, (Buena Vista), Available: 6/27.
Cute comedy about friendship and the foibles of love. It's the end of summer in a small Florida resort town and Claire (Emma Roberts) and Hailey (JoJo) have a major problem. In just five days, Hailey's family is moving half the world away. The girls need a major miracle, and they get one in the form of Aquamarine (Sara Paxton), a beautiful mer-gir who has set out on a journey to escape her predestined undersea life, insisting that true romance is more than just a myth. Washed ashore during a major tropical storm, she ends up in a swimming pool and is discovered by Claire and Hailey. Aquamarine takes a crash course in terrestrial life with her newfound friends, including non-stop shopping, dancing and meeting the hunky boy of her dreams. Sweet but clueless to the ways of romance, she offers to grant the girls one wish if they help. But when they attempt to reel in the cute local lifeguard for her, the result is something none of them expect É and they discover that sometimes what you wish for isn't what you really want after all.
Georges (Daniel Auteil), a television talk show host, and his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche), are living the perfect life of modern comfort and security. One day their idyll is disrupted in the form of a mysterious videotape that appears on their doorstep. On it they are being filmed by a hidden camera from across the street with no clues as to who shot it, or why. As more tapes arrive containing images that are disturbingly intimate and increasingly personal, Georges launches into an investigation of his own as to who is behind this. As he does so, secrets from his past are revealed, and the walls of security he and Anne have built around themselves begin to crumble. A tense thriller with a streak of social criticism. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Michael Haneke. Stars: uliette Binoche, Daniel Auteuil, Maurice Benichou, Annie Girardot, Bernard Le Coq, Nathalie Richard. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 118 min.), Suspense-Thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $3.381 million, (Sony), Available: 6/27.
DAVE CHAPPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY
A mix of Dave Chapelle's sketch comedy and musical interludes, inspired in part by the 1973 documentary Wattstax. Spotlights comedy superstar Chappelle as he presents a Brooklyn neighborhood with its very own once-in-a-lifetime free block party. Combination of comedy and music was shot on location. In addition to Chappelle performing all-new material, the roster of artists includes Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Dead Prez, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, the Roots, Cody ChesnuTT, Big Daddy Kane, and -- reunited for their first performance in over seven years -- the Fugees.
Director: Michel Gondry. Stars: Dave Chapelle, Talib Kweli, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, Bilal Ahmir, Big Daddy Kane, Cody Chestnutt, Common, Kool G. Rap, Wyclef Jean, Freeway, Fred Hampton Jr., James Gray, Leonard Hubbard, Tariq Trotter, Kanye West, Dante 'Mos Def' Smith, Erykah Badu. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 103 min.), Comedy Documentary, 2006, Box office gross: $11.694 million, (Universal), Available: 6/13.
Thrilling and heartwarming adventure of loyalty, courage and the bonds of friendship between eight incredible sled dogs and their human leader. In Antarctica during the most unforgiving winter on the planet, members of a scientific research station suffer a sudden accident and are forced to leave behind their team of beloved sled dogs. Alone and stranded, the dogs courageously struggle to survive for six months in the intense frozen wilderness, relying only on each other. The intelligent, courageous dogs -- including noble pack leader Maya, rambunctious rebel Shorty and rising leader Max -- fight overwhelming odds. Driven by unwavering bonds of friendship, both the dogs and their human handler -- who stops at nothing to attempt a rescue mission -- make incredible journeys to reunite with each other.
Director: Frank Marshall. Stars: Paul Walker, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood, Jason Biggs. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 120 min.), Adventure, 2006, Box office gross: $79.172 million, (Disney), Available: 6/20.
END OF THE SPEAR
True story about the slaughter of missionaries by Ecuador indians in the mid-1950s. Mincayani is born into the most violent society ever documented by anthropologists, the Waodani in the eastern rainforest of Ecuador. As he grows he learns what every Waodani understands, he must spear and live or be speared and die. Mincayani's world changes in 1956 when he and his family kill five missionaries -- Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming and Roger Youderian -- believing all foreigners are cannibals. This incident propels Mincayani's family group down an extraordinary path that culminates in them not only departing from violence, but also caring for the enemy tribe they had once violently raided. Nate Saint's son Steve was a boy when his father and friends were killed. He returns to the Waodani as an adult and finally learns from Mincayani what happened during the last minutes of his father's life. Together Mincayani and Steve find that what Nate accomplished in his death gave them both a new life and Steve's family becomes part of Mincayani's family.
Director: Jim Hanon. Stars: Louie Leonardo, Chad Allen, Jack Guzman, Christina Souza, Chase Ellison. CC, (MPAA rating: NR, 111 min.), Drama, 2006, Box office gross: $11.703 million, (Fox), Available: 6/13.
FAILURE TO LAUNCH
Matthew McConaughey stars as thirtysomething yacht broker Tripp who still lives with his parents. Life can't be any more easier -- all his material and emotional needs are met by his parents, in particular his mother, who waits on him hand and foot. And when he tires of his female trysts, its all so easy to use his parents as an excuse to break up any threatening involvement. But now his desperate parents have had enough. They hire the gorgeous and talented Paula (Sarah Jessica parker) -- who makes a living by getting young men to leave their parent's nests -- to get him to move out of the house. For Tripp, Paula turns out to be the woman of his dreams, until he begins to suspect she was hired by his parents. For Paula, her professional duties start to falter as she falls for Tripp. A moderate, low-key romantic comedy.
Director: Tom Dey. Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper, Terry Bradshaw, Kathy Bates. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min.), Comedy, 2006, Box office gross: $85.604 million, (Paramount), Available: 6/26.
FIND ME GUILTY
It was the longest criminal trial in U.S. history: After years of federal investigation, 20 members of New Jersey's notorious Lucchese crime family were brought to court on 76 different charges. Lasting 21 months during 1987-88, the Lucchese trial became the longest in U.S. criminal history. It has continued to stand out over the years as an epic moment in courtroom history: 20 defendants, 20 defense attorneys (one for each defendant), eight jury alternates (due to the anticipated length of the trial and the fear of bribery), and unusually extensive summations (one defense lawyer's closing statement ran for five days). In fact, most of the courtroom testimony in the movie is drawn from actual trial transcripts. The film revolves around Giacomo "Jackie Dee" DiNorscio (Vin Diesel), a member of the Lucchese crime family. Already in the midst of serving a 30-year sentence, Jackie is offered an opportunity to shorten his time by testifying against many of his closest friends. Disgusted with the legal system bureaucracy, and refusing to betray his "family," Jackie stands trial as defendant and attorney. "I'm no gangster, I'm a gagster," insists Jackie as he overcomes the complicated politics of the courtroom, and comfortably takes over the spotlight. With his outrageous sense of humor, raw determination and unconditional loyalty, Jackie proceeds to turn the courtroom upside down in a fight that culminates in one of the most shocking verdicts in judicial history.
Director: Sidney Lumet. Stars: Vin Diesel, Peter Dinklage, Linus Roache, Ron Silver, Annabella Sciorra, Alex Rocco. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 124 min.), Comedy, 2006, Box office gross: $1.173 million, (Fox), Available: 6/27.
Harrison Ford stars as bank security expert Jack Stanfield, whose specialty is designing infallible theft-proof financial computer systems. But there's a hidden vulnerability in the system that he didn't account for -- himself. When a ruthless criminal mastermind (Paul Bettany) kidnaps his family, Jack is forced to find a flaw in the system and steal $100 million. With the lives of his wife and children at stake and under constant surveillance, he has only hours to find a loophole in the thief's own impenetrable system of subterfuge and false identities to fight back and beat him at his own game.
Director: Richard Loncraine. Stars: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Robert Patrick, Robert Forster, Alan Arkin, Carly Schroeder, Jimmy Bennett. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min.), Thriller, 2006, Box office gross: $47.775 million, (Warner), Available: 6/6.
Josh Lucas stars as Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins, in the true story of the team that changed the game of basketball forever. In the 1960's, Texas Western (now the University of Texas El Paso) hires Haskins to coach a small-time, losing basketball program. Through vigorous recruiting, Haskins assembles a line-up with many African-Americans, a novelty in college basketball at the time. With a grueling coaching regime and tough love, Haskins molds his recruits into a promising team. Amidst the country's burgeoning civil-rights movement, the players and coaches endure racially-charged insults as they go forward in the national college tournaments. Haskins fields the first all African-American starting line-up in a championship game, and together they defy the odds and win the 1966 NCAA Championship.
Director: James Garner. Stars: Josh Lucas, Derek Luke, Mehcad Brooks, Emily Deschanel, Al Shearer, Tatyana Ali, Jon Voight. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 118 min.), Biodrama, 2006, Box office gross: $41.672 million, (Disney), Available: 6/6.
HILLS HAVE EYES, THE
The dysfunctional Carter family sets off on a cross-country road trip in a weathered Suburban pulling an '88 Airstream trailer. Heading West, they take an unexpected detour on a desolate stretch of desert, with nothing seemingly alive for miles. When they run into a little unexpected vehicle trouble, they realize they are in dire straits, far from help, with a relentlessly sweltering desert sun overhead. But even as they fight to survive the deadly desert, a far greater threat emerges. Now the Carters become aware that they are not quite as alone as they first thought. There is another group of survivors in the hills surrounding the desert: a genetically mutated, insatiably hungry, blood-thirsty clan -- the terrifying offspring of miners left behind in the days when atomic tests spread radioactive fallout across the desert -- who will stop at nothing to prey on the Carters one by one. Facing the very depths of savagery, the Carter family must pull together if they are to find any hope of returning to civilized life again ... alive. Modern take on Wes Craven's 1977 cult classic.
Director: Alexandre Aja. Stars: Michael Bailey Smith, Ted Levine, Kathleen Quinlan, Dan Byrd, Emilie de Ravin, Aaron Stanford, Vinessa Shaw, Billy Drago. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 108 min.), Horror, 2006, Box office gross: $35.717 million, (Fox), Available: 6/20.
KISS KISS BANG BANG
Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) is basically a decent guy. Sure, he's a petty thief who skates through life on a shaky cocktail of dog-eared charm and cockeyed optimism, but he wants to do the right thing. He just doesn't know how, exactly. Harry's perpetual bad luck takes a turn for the better when he and his partner are doing some after-hours Christmas "shopping" at a New York City toy store and the security alarm breaks up the party. In making his frantic getaway from the cops, Harry inadvertently stumbles into an audition for a Hollywood detective movie, and faster than you can say Jack Robinson, the producer flies him to Los Angeles for a screen test.
Director: Shane Black. Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen, Dash Mihok, Larry Miller, Rockmond Dunbar, Shannyn Sossamon. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 103 min.), Comedy, 2006, Box office gross: $4.243 million, (Warner), Available: 6/13.
MADEA'S FAMILY REUNION
Based on Tyler Perry's acclaimed stage production, "Madea's Family Reunion" continues the adventures of southern matriarch Madea begun in the hit 2005 film "Diary of a Mad Black Woman." An unstoppable force of nature, Madea (played by Perry) may have finally taken on more than she can chew. She has just been court ordered to be in charge of Nikki, a rebellious runaway; her nieces Lisa and Vanessa are suffering relationship trouble; and through it all she has to organize her family reunion. As the reunion approaches, secrets are revealed and tensions rise. Madea must use every tactic in her arsenal to not only keep the peace, but keep her family together.
Director: Tyler Perry. Stars: Tyler Perry, Blair Underwood, Lynn Whitfield, Boris Kodjoe, Henry Simmons, Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Maya Angelou, Rochelle Aytes, Jenifer Lewis, Tangi Miller, Keke Palmer, Cicely Tyson. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min.), Comedy, 2006, Box office gross: $63.126 million, (Lionsgate), Available: 6/27.
NEAL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD
Director Jonathan Demme's intimate musical portrait of legendary singer-songwriter Neil Young, filmed on the occasion of the world premiere of Young's Prairie Wind concert at Nashville's hallowed Ryman auditorium in the summer of 2005. Young's music provides an emotionally rich view into this unique artist's relationship to family, friends, mortality and the passage of time. Young is accompanied on stage by many longtime musical companions, including country star Emmylou Harris, Neil's wife Pegi Young, and band leader/steel guitarist Ben Keith. A groundbreaking union of film and music, it's the permanent record that emerged from these two concerts at the Ryman. Young, accompanied by musicians -- strings, horns, and singers, including a gospel choir -- performed, in its entirety, "Prairie Wind," the album Young had finished recording only months earlier. Following that, Young offered a selection of other songs, mostly from the "Harvest" and "Harvest Moon" albums, which, taken with "Prairie Wind," together feels like a trilogy. This was not, however, just another concert of new work and past hits randomly patched together. All of the works melded into a rational whole, a connected body of work.
The first installment of a remarkable mind-bending trilogy based on the best-selling sci-fi novels of Sergei Lukyanenko, "Night Watch" features the cinematic vision of cutting-edge director-writer Timur Bekmambetov, who uses a dazzling mix of state-of-the-art visual effects, amazing action sequences, and nail-biting horror to depict the epic battle between the forces of good and evil. Shattering all boxoffice records in its native Russia, the film was also the official Russian contender for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2004 Academy Awards. The forces of Light and Darkness have co-existed in a delicate balance for hundreds of years ... until now. For centuries, the undercover members of the Night Watch have policed the world's Dark Others -- vampires, witches and shape-shifters that wage treachery in the night. But now in modern-day Moscow, a chain of mysterious events triggers a dreaded, age-old prophecy: an immortal with special powers will come to switch sides, shattering the balance between good and evil, unleashing an apocalyptic war unlike any the world has ever known.
Director: Timur Bekmambetov. Stars: Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Valeri Zolotukhin, Mariya Poroshina. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 114 min.), Horror-Thriller, 2006, Box office gross: $1.454 million, (Fox), Available: 6/20.
PINK PANTHER, THE
A reworking of Blake Edwards' "The Pink Panther," set up as a prequel rather than a redo. A world-famous soccer coach has been murdered and his priceless, legendary ring with the stunning diamond known as the "Pink Panther" has been stolen. Bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Steve Martin) tries to solve the crime and recover the gem. One by one, Clouseau narrows his search and tracks down the most likely suspects. Clouseau and his new assistant, the steadfast, stoic Gendarme Gilbert Ponton (Jean Reno), follow a tangle of clues that leads them all over Paris and, eventually, New York City. The suspects include a stunning pop star (Beyonce Knowles), a spurned soccer player, a millionaire casino owner and a flirtatious publicist. Clouseau and Ponton must unmask the murderer and keep their boss, Dreyfus (Kevin Kline), from taking credit for the victory, all without bringing the French legal system to a screeching halt.
Director: Shawn Levy. Stars: Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyonce Knowles, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Henry Czerny, Kristin Chenoweth. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 93 min.), Comedy, 2006, Box office gross: $80.752 million, (Sony), Available: 6/13.
After a drug deal goes wrong and some dirty cops end up dead, low-level mobster Joey (Paul Walker) has to dispose of the guns from the shootout. Things get complicated when his neighbor's young son snatches the gun and uses it to shoot his father. Once this happens, Joey has to race all night to find the kid, cover up the shooting, and get the gun back -- all while keeping both his own mob associates and the cops at bay.
Director: Wayne Kramer. Stars: Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, Vera Farmiga, Chazz Palminteri, Johnny Messner. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 122 min.), Thriller, 2006, Box office gross: $6.651 million, (New Line), Available: 6/6.
THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA, THE
Pete Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones) is a veteran cowboy who embodies the values of the Old West, living in a small Texas town bordering the U.S. and Mexico. He hires Melquiades Estrada as a ranch hand and quickly befriends the man. But when Estrada is gunned down under mysterious circumstances, Perkins takes justice into his own hands and kidnaps a trigger-happy border patrolman (Barry Pepper), forcing Perkins to unearth Estrada's body and accompany Perkins on horseback on the long and treacherous journey through the frontier mountains and back roads of Mexico to bring his friend's body home. A modern-day Western directed by Jones.
Bruce Willis plays Jack Mosley, a broken-down, aging New York City police detective assigned to escort a petty criminal (Mos Def) from the precinct to the courthouse. The seemingly simple 16-block journey becomes a test of character for them when Jack's ex-partners attempt to stop them. Battling against time and the corrupt cops gaining on their every move, Jack and Eddie fight their way to the courthouse block by gut-wrenching block. It's a gripping tale of how two men change each other during a tense 118-minute struggle between life and death.
Director: Richard Donner. Stars: Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse, Jenna Stern, Casey Sander. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min.), Action-Thriller, 2006, Box office gross: $36.212 million, (Warner), Available: 6/13.
Set in the late 21st century, a subculture of humans have emerged who have been modified genetically by a vampire-like disease (Hemophagia), giving them enhanced speed, incredible stamina and acute intelligence, and as they are set apart from "normal" and "healthy" humans, the world is pushed to the brink of worldwide civil war (a war between humans and hemophages) aimed at the destruction of the "diseased" population. In the middle of this crossed-fire is - an infected woman - Ultraviolet (Jovovich), who finds herself protecting a nine-year-old boy who has been marked for death by the human government as he is believed to be a threat to humans.
Director: Kurt Wimmer. Stars: Milla Jovovich, Cameron Bright, Nick Chinlund, Sebastien Andrieu, Ida Martin, William Fichtner. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 88 min.), Science Fiction, 2006, Box office gross: $18.500 million, (Sony), Available: 6/27.
The sequel to the $100 million, "Underworld: Evolution" continues the saga of war between the aristocratic Death Dealers (vampires) and the barbaric Lycans (werewolves). The film traces the beginnings of the ancient feud between the two tribes as Selene (Kate Beckinsale), the beautiful vampire heroine, and Michael (Scott Speedman), the lycan hybrid, try to unlock the secrets of their bloodlines. Selene and Michael's quest for peace, truth and the destruction of the evil powers lurking on the seat of the vampire throne takes them into the battle to end all wars as the immortals finally face their retribution.
Director: Len Wiseman. Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Shane Brolly, Derek Jacobi, Bill Nighy. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 106 min.), Horror thriller, 2006, Box office gross: $62.318 million, (Sony), Available: 6/6.
WHY WE FIGHT
Named after the series of short films by legendary director Frank Capra that explored America's reasons for entering World War II, "Why We Fight" surveys a half-century of military conflicts, asking how -- and answering why -- a nation of, by and for the people has become the savings-and-loan of a government system whose survival depends on an Orwellian state of constant war. "Why We Fight" features interviews and observations by a "who's who" of military and Washington insiders including Senator John McCain, Gore Vidal, and Dan Rather. Beginning with President Dwight D. Eisenhower's prescient 1961 speech warning of the rise of the "military industrial complex," "Why We Fight" moves far beyond the headlines of various American military operations to the deeper questions of why America seemingly is always at war. What are the forces -- political, economic, and ideological -- that drive us to clash against an ever-changing enemy? Just why does America fight? Unforgettable, powerful and at times disturbing, "Why We Fight" will challenge viewers long after the last fade-out.
WORLD'S FASTEST INDIAN, THE
Centers on the life of Burt Monro, a New Zealander who invested several decades perfecting his classic 1920 Indian motorcycle. In the 1960s Burt sets off from New Zealand to clock his bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. With all odds against him Burt puts his kiwi spirit to the test, braving the new world on a shoestring budget. Burt's quest culminates in an unlikely conclusion and remains legendary within the motorcycle community to this day: in 1967 he set the land-speed world record of 183.586 mph.
Director: Roger Donaldson. Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Saginaw Grant, Diane Ladd, Walton Goggins. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 127 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $3.380 million, (Magnolia Home Entertainment), Available: 6/13.
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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May 30, 2006