OnVideo: JUNE's Top Movies
ALICE IN WONDERLANDFrom visionary director Tim Burton comes a new 3D fantasy adventure take on "Alice in Wonderland," a magical and imaginative twist on Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" (1865) and "Through the Looking Glass" (1871). Johnny Depp stars as the Mad Hatter and Mia Wasikowska as 19-year-old Alice, who returns to the whimsical world she first encountered as a young girl, reuniting with her childhood friends: the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Dormouse, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, and of course, the Mad Hatter. Alice embarks on a fantastical journey to find her true destiny and end the Red Queen's reign of terror. The film uses stunning, avant-garde visuals and 3D to create a wonderful, immersive experience that brings Alice and Wonderland to life in a brand new way.
Director: Tim Burton. Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Barbara Windsor. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 108 min., Fantasy Adventure, Box office gross: $319.000 million, Disney. Available: 6/1.
THE BOOK OF ELIA post-apocalyptic tale in which a lone man (Denzel Washington) fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind. In the not-too-distant future, some 30 years after the final war, a solitary man walks across the wasteland that was once America. Empty cities, broken highways, seared earth -- all around him, the marks of catastrophic destruction. There is no civilization here, no law. The roads belong to gangs that would murder a man for his shoes, an ounce of water ... or for nothing at all. A warrior not by choice but necessity, Eli (Washington) seeks only peace but, if challenged, will cut his attackers down before they realize their fatal mistake. It's not his life he guards so fiercely but his hope for the future; a hope he has carried and protected for 30 years and is determined to realize. Only one other man in this ruined world understands the power Eli holds, and is determined to make it his own: Carnegie (Gary Oldman), the self-appointed despot of a makeshift town of thieves and gunmen. Meanwhile, Carnegie's adopted daughter Solara (Mila Kunis) is fascinated by Eli for another reason: the glimpse he offers of what may exist beyond her stepfather's domain. But neither will find it easy to deter him. Nothing -- and no one -- can stand in his way. Eli must keep moving to fulfill his destiny and bring help to a ravaged humanity.
Director: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes. Stars: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals, Evan Jones. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 118 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $92.524 million, Warner. Available: 6/15.
CRAZIES, THESomething strange is happening in the picture-perfect Midwestern town of Ogden Marsh. One by one, the inhabitants are transforming into mindless killers ... and no one is immune ... in this reinvention of the George A. Romero classic. When a mysterious toxin accidentally enters the water supply, one by one the townspeople fall victim to an uncontrollable urge for sadistic violence and horrific bloodshed. In an attempt to contain the epidemic, the military steps in, using deadly force to close off access into and out of town, but also abandoning the few healthy citizens to the escalating carnage. For Sheriff Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), his pregnant wife Judy (Radna Mitchell), medical assistant Becca (Danielle Panabaker) and deputy Russell (Joe Anderson), Ogden Marsh is now a bloody arena bordered by wheat fields and farms. Unable to trust former neighbors and friends, targeted by the authorities and terrified of contracting the illness themselves, they are forced to band together in a desperate attempt to escape both their murderous neighbors -- and their government captors.
Director: Breck Eisner. Stars: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 101 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $38.471 million, Anchor Bay. Available: 6/29.
FROM PARIS WITH LOVEA personal aide to the U.S. Ambassador in France, James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) has an enviable life in Paris and a beautiful French girlfriend, but his real passion is his side job as a low-level operative for the CIA. All James wants is to become a bona fide agent and see some real action. So when he's offered his first senior-level assignment, he can't believe his good luck -- until he meets his new partner, special agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta). A trigger-happy, wisecracking, loose cannon who's been sent to Paris to stop a terrorist attack, Wax leads James on a white-knuckle shooting spree through the Parisian underworld that has James praying for his desk job. But when James discovers he's a target of the same crime ring they're trying to bust, he realizes there's no turning back ... and that Wax himself might be his only hope for making it through the next 48 hours alive.
Director: Pierre Morel. Stars: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kasia Smutniak, Richard Durden, Yin Bing, Amber Rose Revah, Eric Godon, Francois Bredon, Chems Dahmani, Sami Darr. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $21.200 million, Lionsgate. Available: 6/8.
GREEN ZONEMatt Damon and director Paul Greengrass reteam ("The Bourne Supremacy," "The Bourne Ultimatum") on this action thriller set in the chaotic early days of the Iraqi War when no one could be trusted and every decision could detonate unforeseen consequences. During the U.S.-led occupation of Baghdad in 2003, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Damon) and his team of Army inspectors were dispatched to find weapons of mass destruction believed to be stockpiled in the Iraqi desert. Rocketing from one booby-trapped and treacherous site to the next, the men search for deadly chemical agents but stumble instead upon an elaborate cover-up that inverts the purpose of their mission. Spun by operatives with intersecting agendas, Miller must hunt through covert and faulty intelligence hidden on foreign soil for answers that will either clear a rogue regime or escalate a war in an unstable region. And at this blistering time and in this combustible place, he will find the most elusive weapon of all is the truth.
Director: Paul Greengrass. Stars: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, Amy Ryan, Khalid Abdalla. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 115 min., War Action Thriller, Box office gross: $34.218 million, Universal. Available: 6/22.
HOT TUB TIME MACHINEFollows a group of best friends who've become bored with their adult lives: Adam (John Cusack) has been dumped by his girlfriend; Lou (Rob Corddry) is a party guy who can't find the party; Nick's (Craig Robinson) wife controls his every move; and video game-obsessed Jacob (Clark Duke) won't leave his basement. Returning to the ski resort where they used to party, they spend a crazy night of drinking in a hot tub and wake up in 1986 into the bodies of their younger selves. Now they have to decide whether they should change their futures while wading through a sea of spandex, blue eye shadow and heavy metal hair bands. This is their chance to kick some past and change their futures: one will find a new love life, one will learn to stand up for himself with the ladies, one will find his mojo, and one will make sure he still exists. Unrated.
THE LAST STATIONBased on Jay Parini's 1990 novel, the film explores the turbulent final year in the life of the Russian writer and philosopher Leo Tolstoy and his troubled marriage to wife, Sofia. Having renounced his title and property, Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) makes plans to donate his royalties to the Russian people, supported by his trusted disciple Chertkov (Paul Giamatti). Tolstoy's outraged wife (Helen Mirren) wages a one-woman war to challenge her husband's extreme act of idealism. James McAvoy stars as Valentin, the novelist's worshipful assistant, whose romance with a free-spirited young woman (Kerry Condon) puts Tolstoy's notion of ideal love to the ultimate test.
Director: Michael Hoffman. Stars: Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, James McAvoy, Paul Giamatti, Kerry Condon. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 113 min., Drama, Box office gross: $6.497 million, Sony. Available: 6/22.
PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEFBased on the popular book series by Rick Riordan, the film follows trouble-prone Percy Jackson who finds himself having problems in high school... but that's the least of his challenges. It's the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus have walked out of the pages of his Greek mythology texts and into his life, and they're not happy -- Zeus' lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Learning he is the son of Poseidon, the young teen finds himself caught between angry and battling gods, and embarks on a cross-country adventure to catch the true lightning thief and unravel a mystery more powerful than the gods themselves.
Director: Chris Columbus. Stars: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Abel, Sean Bean, Rosario Dawson, Steve Coogan, Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan, Catherine Keener, Joe Pantoliano, Kevin McKidd. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 118 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $86.695 million, Fox. Available: 6/29.
SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUEKirk, a smart and sweet underachiever working at a seemingly dead-end job as an airport security agent, can't believe his luck when the successful and gorgeous Molly falls for him. But now that he's got the girl, he has to contend with his own insecurities and the incessant barrage of ego-deflating "support" from his smart-ass friends, crazy family and obnoxious ex-girlfriend and figure out how to make the relationship work.
Director: Jim Field Smith. Stars: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, Mike Vogel, Nate Torrence, T.J. Miller.2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $30.959 million, Paramount. Available: 6/22.
SHUTTER ISLANDThe year is 1954, at the height of the Cold War, when U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are summoned to Shutter Island to investigate the implausible disappearance of a brilliant multiple murderess from a locked room within the impenetrable Ashecliffe Hospital. Surrounded by probing psychiatrists and dangerously psychopathic patients on the remote, windswept isle, they arrive into an eerie, volatile atmosphere that suggests nothing is quite what it seems. With a hurricane bearing down on them, the investigation moves rapidly. Yet, as it mounts, the mysteries multiply. There are hints and rumors of dark conspiracies, sordid experimentation, repressive mind control and secret wards, but elusive proof. Moving in the shadows of a hospital haunted by the terrible deeds of its slippery inhabitants and the unknown agendas of its equally ingenious doctors, Teddy begins to realize that the deeper he pursues the investigation, the more he will be forced to confront some profound and devastating fears: he wonders whether he hasn't been brought there as part of a twisted plot by hospital doctors whose radical treatments range from unethical to illegal to downright sinister. Soon Teddy begins to doubt everything -- his memory, his partner, even his own sanity.
Director: Martin Scorsese. Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine, John Carroll Lynch. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 138 min., Psychological Thriller, Box office gross: $125.800, Paramount. Available: 6/8.
WHEN IN ROMEAn ambitious young New Yorker (Kristen Bell), disillusioned with romance, takes a whirlwind trip to Rome where she defiantly plucks magic coins from a "foolish" fountain of love, inexplicably igniting the passion of an odd group of suitors: a sausage magnate (Danny DeVito), a street magician (Jon Heder), an adoring painter (Will Arnett) and a self-admiring model (Dax Shepard). But when a charming reporter (Josh Duhamel) pursues her with equal zest, how will she know if his love is the real thing?
Director: Mark Steven Johnson. Stars: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Anjelica Huston, Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard, Alexis Dziena, Kate Micucci, Peggy Lipton, Luca Calvani. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 91 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $29.354 million, Disney. Available: 6/15.
WHITE RIBBON, THEOn the eve of World War I, strange accidents in a small Protestant village in Northern Germany involve the children and teenagers of a choir run by the schoolteacher and their families. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery as the events gradually take on the character of a punishment ritual. Winner of the 2010 Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and an Academy Award-nominee for both Best Foreign Language Film and Best Achievement in Cinematography. In German with English subtitles.
WOLFMAN, THEIn this redo of the 1941 "The Wolf Man," Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father (Anthony Hopkins), Talbot sets out to find his brother ... and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself. Talbot's childhood ended the night his mother died. After he left the sleepy Victorian hamlet of Blackmoor, he spent decades recovering and trying to forget. But when his brother's fiancee, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), tracks him down to help find her missing love, Talbot returns home to join the search. He learns that something with brute strength and insatiable bloodlust has been killing the villagers, and that a suspicious Scotland Yard inspector named Aberline (Hugo Weaving) has come to investigate. As he pieces together the gory puzzle, he hears of an ancient curse that turns the afflicted into werewolves when the moon is full. Now, if he has any chance at ending the slaughter and protecting the woman he has grown to love, Talbot must destroy the vicious creature in the woods surrounding Blackmoor. Though the special effects are spectacular, especially on the Blu-ray version, the film plods along, at times imitating the 1941 original, at other times burnishing the story with plot points clearly chosen solely to titillate modern audiences. Director Joe Johnston brings in a surrealistic sequence of gory events in a London insane asylum and in the streets of that city, then adds in a bit of a dysfunctional father-son relationship between Talbot and his dad (with Hopkins in aging 'Hannibal Lecter mode). Worse, the acting is listless at best. In the end, this version just leaves us howling at the moon.
Director: Joe Johnston. Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving, Simon Merrells, Gemma Whelan, Mario Marin-Borquez, Asa Butterfield, Cristina Contes, Art Malik, Malcolm Scates. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 125 min., Horror, Box office gross: $60.410 million, Universal. Available: 6/1.
YOUTH IN REVOLTTale of a young man who gets in touch with his inner bad boy in order to win the girl of his dreams. Nick Twisp is a unique, but affable teen with a taste for the finer things in life -- like Sinatra and Fellini -- who falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful, free-spirited Sheeni Saunders while on a family vacation. But family, geography and jealous ex-lovers conspire to keep these two apart. With Sheeni's encouragement, Nick abandons his dull, predictable life and develops a rebellious alter ego: Francois. With his ascot, his moustache and his cigarette, Francois will stop at nothing to be with Sheeni, and leads Nick Twisp on a path of destruction with unpredictable consequences.
Director: Miguel Arteta. Stars: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Erik Knudsen, Adhir Kalyan, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, Ari Graynor, Ray Liotta, M. Emmet Walsh. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 90 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $15.281 million, The Weinstein Co./Sony. Available: 6/15.
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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June 1, 2010