OnVideo NOVEMBER Video Reviews
Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) has lived almost his entire life in his little brother's very large shadow. Fred tried, but he could never live up to the example set by the younger Nicholas (Paul Giamatti), who was just a perfect ... well ... Saint. True to form, Nicholas grew up to be the model of giving, while Fred became the polar opposite: a repo man who then steals what he repossesses. Now Fred's dirty dealings have landed him in jail. Over Mrs. Claus's objections, Nicholas agrees to bail his big brother out on one condition: that he come to the North Pole and work off his debt making toys. The trouble is that Fred isn't exactly elf material and, with Christmas fast approaching, this one bad seed could jeopardize the jolliest holiday of the year.
Director: David Dobkin. Stars: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, John Michael Higgins, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 116 min., Family Comedy, Box office gross: $72.000 million, Warner. Available: 11/15.
CONTROL agent Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) is sent on his most dangerous and important mission: to thwart the latest plot for world domination by the evil crime syndicate known as KAOS. It also happens to be his very first mission. When the headquarters of secret U.S. spy agency CONTROL is attacked and the identities of its agents compromised, the Chief (Alan Arkin) has no choice but to promote his ever-eager analyst Maxwell Smart, who has always dreamt of working in the field alongside his idol, stalwart superstar Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson). Smart is partnered instead with the only other agent whose identity has not been compromised: the lovely-but-lethal veteran Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). As Smart and 99 get closer to unraveling KAOS' master plan -- and each other -- they discover that key KAOS operative Siegfried (Terence Stamp) and his sidekick Shtarker (Ken Davitian) are scheming to cash in with their network of terror. With no field experience and little time, Smart -- armed with nothing but a few spy-tech gadgets and his unbridled enthusiasm -- must defeat KAOS if he is to save the day.
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY
After an ancient truce existing between humankind and the invisible realm of the fantastic is broken, hell on Earth is ready to erupt. A ruthless leader who treads the world above and the one below defies his bloodline and awakens an unstoppable army of creatures. Now, it's up to the planet's toughest, roughest superhero to battle the merciless dictator and his marauders. He may be red. He may be horned. He may be misunderstood. But when you need the job done right, it's time to call in Hellboy (Ron Perlman). Along with his expanding team in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Development -- pyrokinetic girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair), aquatic empath Abe (Doug Jones) and protoplasmic mystic Johann -- the BPRD will travel between the surface strata and the unseen magical one, where creatures of fantasy become corporeal. And Hellboy, a creature of two worlds who's accepted by neither, must choose between the life he knows and an unknown destiny that beckons him.
Director: Guillermo del Toro. Stars: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor, Luke Goss, John Hurt, John Alexander, Seth MacFarlane, Anna Walton, Brian Steele. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 120 min., Fantasy Adventure, Box office gross: $75.754 million, Universal.Available: 11/11.
Will Smith plays Hancock, an edgy, sarcastic, hard-living - and misunderstood -- superhero who has fallen out of favor with the public. Hancock's well-intentioned heroics might get the job done and save countless lives, but he always seems to leave jaw-dropping damage in his wake - and people are getting fed-up with him. Hancock isn't the kind of man who cares what other people think -- until the day that he saves the life of PR executive Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman): the sardonic superhero begins to realize that he may have a vulnerable side after all. When Hancock grudgingly agrees to an extreme makeover from the idealistic publicist, his life and reputation rise from the ashes and all seems right again -- until he meets a woman with similar powers to his and the key to his secret past.
Director: Peter Berg. Stars: Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron, Daeg Faerch, Lauren Hill, Darrell Foster, Valerie Azlynn, Kate Clarke, David Mattey, Lily Mariye, Shea Curry. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 92 min., Action Comedy, Box office gross: $226.357 million, Sony. Available: 11/15.
KUNG FU PANDA
Jack Black heads the voice cast as Po the Panda, the laziest of all the animals in the Valley of Peace. With powerful enemies at the gates, all hope has been pinned on an ancient prophecy that a hero will rise to save the day. But among all the martial arts masters who come forward, none has shown the mark of The Chosen One ... until now. Enthusiastic, big and a little clumsy, Po is the biggest fan of Kung Fu around...which doesn't exactly come in handy while working every day in his family's noodle shop. When Po unwittingly shows up in the midst of the competition, the masters are shocked to see that this unmotivated panda bears the mark of The Chosen One. Po's dreams become reality when he joins the masters and studies alongside his idols, the legendary Furious Five -- Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey -- under the leadership of their guru, Master Shifu. But before they know it, the vengeful and treacherous snow leopard Tai Lung is headed their way, and it's up to Po to defend everyone from the oncoming threat. Can he turn his dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master into reality? Po puts his heart -- and his girth -- into the task, and the unlikely hero ultimately finds that his greatest weaknesses turn out to be his greatest strengths. Packaged with a direct-to-video sequel, "Secrets of the Furious Five,"
Directors: John Stevenson, Mark Osborne. Voices: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Ian McShane, David Cross, Seth Rogen, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim, Dan Fogler. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 88 min., Animated, Box office gross: $ 213.762 million, Paramount. Available: 11/9.
Seeking a way to save their doomed world, a crew of tiny, human-looking aliens arrives on the Earth in the perfect disguise -- a spaceship shaped like an ordinary man - named Dave. Dave and his miniature crew must make the ship look and act like an Earthlings, and Dave must learn the intricacies involved in crossing the street, greeting somebody for the first time and even participating in an American staple -- a hot dog eating contest. But when Dave falls for an Earth woman, things go haywire.
Director: Brian Robbins. Stars: Eddie Murphy, Gabrielle Union, Ed Helms, Elizabeth Banks, Judah Friedlander, Pat Kilbane. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 90 min., Sci-Fi Comedy, Box office gross: $11.644 million, Fox. Available: 11/15.
PERFECT HOLIDAY, THE
The story of Nancy (Gabrielle Union), a divorced mother of three who's so busy raising her children that she's forgotten to take care of herself. With Christmas fast approaching, she decides to take her kids to the mall to meet Santa Claus, not knowing that her youngest daughter Emily (Khail Bryant) has sensed her mother's sadness and is determined to use her time with Santa to make her mom happy again. Just a few days prior, Emily heard her mom say that all she wanted for Christmas was a compliment from a man, so that's exactly what she tells Santa. Ironically, Santa, as it turns out, is office supply salesman and struggling songwriter Benjamin (Morris Chestnut), who ends up giving Nancy just what she wants for Christmas, and much, much more. Throw in an oversized elf (Faizon Love), a crazy record executive (Katt Williams), Mrs. Christmas (Queen Latifah) and Bah Humbug (Terrence Howard).
Director: Lance Rivera. Stars: Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnut, Queen Latifah, Terrence Howard, Malik Hammond, Charlie Murphy, Faizon Love, Jeremy Gumbs, Jill Marie Jones, Rachel True, Khail Bryant, Katt Williams. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 96 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $5.809 million, Sony. Available: 11/11.
SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS 2, THE
In "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2," based on Ann Brashares' best-selling series of novels, four young women continue the journey toward adulthood. Now three years later, these lifelong friends embark on separate paths for their first year of college and the summer beyond, but remain in touch by sharing their experiences with each other as they always have -- with honesty and humor. Bridget (Blake Lively) journeys to Turkey on an archeological dig. Carmen (America Ferrera) plunges into the hectic, creative world of summer theater in Vermont. Lena (Alexis Bledel) discovers new love and old heartbreak at the Rhode Island School of Design. And in the Big Apple, Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) takes a big step in her relationship with Brian.
Director: Sanaa Hamri. Stars: Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn, Jesse Williams. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 119 min., Romance, Box office gross: $43.504 million, Warner. Available: 11/18.
CGI animated comedy centers on the revolves around Ham III, the "slacker" grandson of the first chimpanzee in space, who is recruited to join two NASA chimps, the fearless Lieutenant Luna and the uptight by-the-book commander Titan, on an important mission to retrieve a wayward craft. Things get a little hairy when they find out that they were sent on a space ship with no plans to return to earth. When they crash-land on on a strange planet, Ham has to muster the courage and channel his inner chimp to get them home, while saving the peaceful inhabitants of the planet from their evil dictator.
Director: Kirk De Micco. Voices of Jeff Daniels, Stanley Tucci, Patrick Warburton, Cheryl Hines, Andy Samberg, Kristin Chenoweth. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: G, 81 min., Family, Box office gross: $28.378 million, Fox. Available: 11/15.
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS
"The Clone Wars" takes place between "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" and "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith." Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi continue their journey across the galaxy amongst the Clone Wars, meeting up with familiar villains, such as Count Dooku, General Grievous and Asajj Ventress. The Grand Army of the Republic, led by Yoda, Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and other Jedi Knights, must fight the New Droid Army of the Separatists.
Director: David Filoni. Stars: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Nika Futterman, Ian Abercrombie, Corey Burton, Catherine Taber. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 98 min., Animated, Box office gross: $34.477 million, Warner. Available: 11/11.
Comedy that captures the essence of family relationships: the Whitfields must come together to battle a host of challenges, secrets and escapades. All the siblings have come home for the first time in ages and they've brought plenty of baggage with them. As their lives converge, they join together and help each other discover the true meaning of family.
Director: Preston A. Whitmore II. Stars: Laz Alonso, Chris Brown, Loretta Devine, Idris Elba, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Mekhi Phifer, Columbus Short. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 119 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $26.341 million, Company. Available: 11/11.
Wacked-out action-comedy has Ben Stiller playing a pampered action superstar cast in the biggest, most expensive war movie ever produced. He sets out to Southeast Asia with a "Who's Who" of celebrity co-stars but soon after the production begins the actors are thrown into a real-life situation and are forced to become the fighting unit they're portraying, in order to find a way out of the jungle in one piece. Controversial spoof of Hollywood, moviemaking, and politically correctness.
Director: Ben Stiller. Stars: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Nick Nolte, Brandon Jackson, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Jay Baruchel, Matt Levin, Andrea De Oliveira, Reggie Lee, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Cruise. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: R, 122 min., Drama, Box office gross: $109.876 million, DreamWorks. Available: 11/18.
What if mankind had to leave Earth, and somebody forgot to turn the last robot off? Pixar Animation Studios transport moviegoers to a galaxy not so very far away for a new computer-animated cosmic comedy about a determined robot named WALL-E. After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, WALL-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) discovers a new purpose in life (besides collecting knick-knacks) when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. EVE comes to realize that WALL-E has inadvertently stumbled upon the key to the planet's future, and races back to space to report her findings to the humans (who have been eagerly awaiting word that it is safe to return home). Meanwhile, WALL-E chases EVE across the galaxy. Joining WALL-E on his fantastic journey across a universe of never-before-imagined visions of the future is a hilarious cast of characters including a pet cockroach and a heroic team of malfunctioning misfit robots.
Director: Andrew Stanton. Voices: Fred Willard, Jeff Garlin, Ben Burtt, Sigourney Weaver, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: G, 98 min., Family, Box office gross: $214.129 million, Disney. Available: 11/18.
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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November 1, 2008