OnVideo OCTOBER Video Reviews
A suspenseful apocalyptic film, "The Happening" follows a group of people on the run from an inexplicable and unstoppable event that threatens not only humankind -- but the most basic human instinct of them all - survival. The Happening begins with no clear warning, as a series of strange, chilling deaths that defy reason in their shocking destructiveness erupt in major American cities. Mark Wahlberg stars as an ordinary man trying to save his family from the terrifying, invisible killer. As the incidents begin to become more and more frequent, the fight for survival will become more and more desperate. As Elliot begins to discover the true nature of what is lurking out there, it soon becomes clear that no one -- and nowhere -- is safe.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan. Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Spencer Breslin, Ashlyn Sanchez, Betty Buckley. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: R, 91 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $$63.957 million, Fox. Available: 10/7.
INCREDIBLE HULK, THE
Edward Norton stars as scientist Bruce Banner, a man who has been living in shadows, scouring the planet for an antidote to the unbridled force of rage within him: the Hulk. But when the military masterminds who dream of exploiting his powers force him back to civilization, he finds himself coming face to face with his most formidable foe: the Abomination -- a nightmarish beast of pure aggression whose powers match the Hulk's own.
Director: Louis Leterrier. Stars: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, Lou Ferrigno as the voice of The Incredible Hulk. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min., Action, Box office gross: $134.189 million, Universal. Available: 10/21.
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
Set in 1957, the film follows famed archaeologist/adventurer Indy on a perilous adventure to find the coveted Crystal Skull of Akator. From the ivy-covered halls of Marshall College to the verdant jungles of South America, Indy is relentlessly pursued by sinister Soviet agents who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the eerie object of fascination.
Director: Steven Spielberg. Stars: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Shia LaBeouf. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 122 min., Adventure, Box office gross: $313.646 million, Paramount. Available: 10/14.
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
During a scientific expedition in Iceland, visionary scientist Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser), his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) and their beautiful local guide, Hannah (Anita Briem), are unexpectedly trapped in a cave from which their only escape is to go deeper and deeper into the depths of the Earth. Traveling through never-before-seen worlds, the trio comes face-to-face with surreal and unimaginable creatures -- including man-eating plants, giant flying piranha, glow birds and terrifying dinosaurs from days past. The explorers soon realize that as volcanic activity increases around them, they must find a way back to the earth's surface before it is too late. A contemporary twist on Jules Verne's original "Journey to the Center of the Earth."
KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL
Introduced in 2000 as the seventh American Girl historical character doll, Kit Kittredge is the first one to have her story adapted for a film, telling the story of the clever and resourceful Kittredge, a 9-year-old girl growing up in 1934 during America's Great Depression.
Director: Patricia Rozema. Stars: Abigail Breslin, Stanley Tucci, Joan Cusack, Chris O'Donnell, Julia Ormond, Glenne Headly, Jane Krakowski, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Wallace Shawn, Josette Halpert, Max Thieriot, Madison Davenport, Zach Mills, Willow Smith. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: G, 101 min., Family, Box office gross: $10,992 million, Warner. Available: 10/28.
Recounts the early life of Genghis Khan, who was a slave before going on to conquer half the world, including Russia, in 1206. Filmed in the very lands that gave birth to Genghis Khan, "Mongol" transports us back to a distant and exotic period in world history; to a nomad's landscape of endless space, climatic extremes and ever-present danger. In a performance of powerful stillness and subtlety, celebrated young Japanese actor Asano Tadanobu captures the inner fire that enabled a hunted boy to become a legendary conqueror. Based on leading scholarly accounts and written by Sergei Bodrov and Arif Aliyev, "Mongol" delves into the dramatic and harrowing early years of the ruler who was born as Temudgin in 1162. As it follows Temudgin from his perilous childhood to the battle that sealed his destiny, the film paints a multidimensional portrait of the future conqueror, revealing him not as the evil brute of hoary stereotype, but as an inspiring, fearless and visionary leader. "Mongol" shows us the making of an extraordinary man, and the foundation on which so much of his greatness rested: his relationship with his wife, Borte, his lifelong love and most trusted advisor. In Mongolian with English subtitles.
PIRATES WHO DON'T DO ANYTHING, THE: A VEGGIETALES MOVIE
From the creators of 2002's successful "Jonah --- A VeggieTales Movie" comes a new story of heroism in the beloved VeggieTales' world. Garrrrr! Working at the Pieces of Ate Dinner Theater is less than exciting when you're a busboy. For three moping misfits -- Elliot, Sedgewick and George (Larry the Cucumber, Mr. Lunt and Pa Grape) -- all they dream of is the day when they can ditch their dishrags and take stage to star in the big pirate show. But with Elliot's timidity, Sedgewick's laziness and George's lack of self-confidence, it seems as if the day to prove who they really are will never come. Things are about to change when a mysterious ball drops from the sky and lands at the unlikely seafarers' feet. A "Helpseeker" sent from the past in search of heroes, the artifact sets in motion a series of events that drags the friends back to the 17th century -- and into the belly of certain danger. The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything must each face their fears -- becoming unlikely heroes in a battle to rescue a royal family from an evil tyrant, and themselves from living the life of common couch potatoes. The latest in a franchise that uses values-based lessons in teaching kids what it really means to be a hero.
Terrifying suspense thriller about a couple whose remote getaway becomes a place of terror when masked strangers invade. The confrontation forces the pair to go far beyond what they thought themselves capable of if they hope to survive.
Director: Bryan Bentino. Stars: Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Gemma Ward, Glenn Howerton, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: R, 85 min., Horror, Box office gross: $52.534 million, Universal. Available: 10/21.
YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN
Zohan Dvir (Adam Sandler) is an ex-Mossad super spy who fakes his death during a showdown with his diabolical arch nemesis in order to escape to New York and pursue his dreams of making the world "silky smooth" -- as a hairdresser. Now this skilled fighting machine who used to clip bad guys is out to prove he can make the cut as a top stylist. Rocking a throwback 1980s Paul Mitchell signature coif, Zohan loves to "make the bam-boom" with his clientele of the senior citizen variety and also exhibits a serious penchant for all things slathered in hummus. All goes silky smooth until his cover is blown when he's recognized by a Palestinian cab driver (Rob Schneider). Now, the Zohan must fight to live a peaceful new life in New York
Director: Dennis Dugan. Stars: Adam Sandler, Alex Luria, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Nick Swardson, Lainie Kazan, Rob Schneider, Sayed Badreya, Shelley Berman. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $98.319 million, Sony. Available: 10/7.
In a world of six billion people, it only takes one to change your life. Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) is a lonely man. Having lost his wife, as well as his passion for teaching and writing, he's merely going through the motions. He fills his empty days by trying (unsuccessfully) to play classical piano. When the college where he teaches sends him to attend a conference in Manhattan, Walter returns to the apartment he once shared with his wife ... and is startled to discover that a young couple is living there. Victims of a real-estate scam, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), a Syrian man, and his Senegalese girlfriend Zainab (Danai Gurira) have nowhere else to go. Reluctantly, Walter allows them to stay with him -- and thus begins an amazing, emotional journey for all of them. Touched by Walter's generosity, Tarek, a talented musician in his own right, insists on teaching Walter to play the African drum. This shared love of music deepens their friendship, with the differences in culture, age and temperament falling away. But when Tarek is arrested for being an undocumented resident and held for deportation, Walter is spurred into action, taking up his friend's cause with a passion he thought was long gone. When Tarek's beautiful mother, Mouna (Hiam Abbass), arrives in search of her son, Walter's personal commitment develops into an unlikely -- and unexpected -- romance.
Political satire set in Turaqistan, a country occupied by an American private corporation run by a former U.S vice president (Dan Aykroyd). In an effort to monopolize the opportunities the war-torn nation offers, the corporation's CEO hires a troubled hit man, played by John Cusack, to kill a Middle East oil minister. Now, struggling with his own growing demons, the assassin must pose as the corporation's Trade Show Producer in order to pull off this latest hit, while maintaining his cover by organizing the high-profile wedding of Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff), an outrageous Middle Eastern pop star, and keeping a sexy left wing reporter (Marisa Tomei) in check.
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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October 1, 2008