OnVideo SEPTEMBER Video Reviews
AWAY WE GO
Funny and heartfelt film follows the journey of an expectant couple (John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph) as they travel the U.S. in search of the perfect place to put down roots and raise their family. Along the way they have misadventures and find fresh connections with an assortment of relatives and old friends who just might help them discover "home" on their own terms for the first time.
Director: Sam Mendes. Stars: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Allison Janney, Jeff Daniels, Catherine O'Hara, Jim Gaffigan, Carmen Ejogo, Josh Hamilton, Chris Messina, Melanie Lynskey, Paul Schneider. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 98 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $8.9 million, Universal. Available: 9/29.
BATTLE FOR TERRA
When the peaceful inhabitants of the beautiful planet Terra come under attack from the last surviving members of humanity adrift in an aging spaceship, the stage is set for an all-out war between the two species for control of the planet. During the upheaval, an unlikely friendship develops between a rebellious young Terrian (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood) and an injured human pilot (Luke Wilson). Each learns the two races are not so different from one another and together they must face the terrifying realization that in a world of limited resources, only one of their races is likely to survive.
Director: Aristomenis Tsirbas. Stars: Voices of Evan Rachel Wood, Brian Cox, Luke Wilson, David Cross, Justin Long, Amanda Peet, Dennis Quaid, Chris Evans, James Garner, Rosanna Arquette, Chad Allen, Danny Glover. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 100 min., Animated Science Fiction, Box office gross: $1.642 million, Lionsgate. Available: 9/22.
CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE
The indestructible hopped-up hitman Chev Chelios, played to the hilt once again by Jason Statham, returns in Crank 2: High Voltage, picking up where the first film left off -- except this time, Chelios is chasing a Chinese gangster who hijacked his heart and substituted it with a mechanical one that needs to be jolted with an electric charge to stay pumping.
Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor. Stars: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Corey Haim, Bai Ling, Dwight Yoakam, Efren Ramirez, Clifton Collins Jr., Reno Wilson, Simone Bargetze, Danna Hansen. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: R, 85 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $13.293 million, Lionsgate. Available: 9/8.
A young street dancer from the wrong side of the tracks and a beautiful young woman are brought together by their passion for dancing and put to the test in the mother of all dance battles in this send-up of the dance movie genre. Pokes fun at such hits as "Step Up" and "You Got Served" as well as the classic "Flashdance."
Director: Damien Dante Wayans. Stars: Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Damien Dante Wayans. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 83 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $25.615 million, Paramount. Available: 9/8.
Award-winning filmmakers Alastair Fothergill ("The Blue Planet") and Mark Linfield ("Planet Earth") employ the latest innovations in film techniques to bring "Earth's" stunning visuals to the screen. Narrated by James Earl Jones, the three-part documentary is the inaugural release from Disneynature. In the Arctic, a mother polar bear trailed by her two cubs searches for food as their icy hunting grounds melt away. A herd of African elephants slowly traverses the arid Kalahari Desert toward the water-rich Okavango Delta. A humpback whale and her calf make a 4,000-mile journey in an epic migration that takes them from tropical waters all the way to Antarctica. Remarkable high-definition footage follows these creatures and more to places human beings rarely see, capturing unique worlds populated by Mandarin ducks and birds of paradise, as well as a pride of lions and a vast caribou herd. Filled with surprising facts and extraordinary images, "Earth" is a dazzling portrait of life on our planet.
Noel Coward's play "Easy Virtue" was written in 1924 and had only been filmed once, as a silent production directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1928. In adapting Coward's witty comedy of manners for modern audiences, director Stephen Elliot wanted to make a modern film for modern audiences so he tried to give it a contemporary voice by scoring the film with period songs from the likes of Cole Porter and then added contemporary songs that were re-recorded with a 1920's flavor, several of which are sung by cast members Jessica Biel and Ben Barnes. When British playboy John brings his new wife Larita -- a race car-driving feminist from Detroit -- home to meet the family at their country estate, pretty much everyone's expectations are disappointed. His snooty mother is offended by Larita's carefree American ways, while Larita does everything she can to get her mother-in-law to loosen up, which only annoys her even more. John's sisters have diametrically opposed feelings about their new sister-in-law, but his father is intrigued to have finally found another who sees through the family’s façade -- and takes great perverse pleasure in watching his wife meet her match. An intelligent, well-acted, well-directed and thoroughly absorbing (and fun) film.
Director: Stephan Elliot . Stars: Jessica Biel, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, Ben Barnes, Kimberley Nixon, Katherine Parkinson. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $2.393 million, Sony. Available: 9/15.
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST
Celebrity photographer Connor Mead loves freedom, fun and women ... in that order. A committed bachelor who thinks nothing of breaking up with multiple women on a conference call, Connor's mockery of romance proves a real buzz-kill for his kid brother, Paul, and a houseful of well wishers on the eve of Paul's wedding. Just when it looks like Connor may single-handedly ruin the wedding, he is visited by the ghosts of his former jilted girlfriends, who take him on a revealing Odyssey through his failed relationships -- past, present and future. Together they attempt to find out what turned Connor into such an insensitive jerk and whether there is still hope for him to find true love ... or if he really is the lost cause everyone thinks he is.
Director: Mark S. Waters. Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Breckin Meyer, Lacey Chabert, Anne Archer, Amanda Walsh, Emma Stone, Michael Douglas, Robert Forster, Noureen DeWulf, Christa B. Allen. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 100 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $54.782 million, Warner. Available: 9/22.
MONSTERS VS. ALIENS
When California girl Susan Murphy is unexpectedly clobbered by a meteor full of outer space gunk, she mysteriously grows to 49-feet-11-inches tall and is instantly labeled a "monster" named Ginormica. The military jumps into action, and she is captured and held in a secret government compound. The world learns that the military has been quietly rounding up other monsters over the years. This ragtag group consists of the brilliant but insect-headed Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D.; the macho half-ape, half-fish The Missing Link; the gelatinous and indestructible B.O.B.; and the 350-foot grub called Insectosaurus. Their confinement time is cut short however, when a mysterious alien robot lands on Earth and begins storming the country. As a last resort, under the guidance of General W.R. Monger (on a desperate order from the President), the motley crew of Monsters is called into action to combat the aliens and save the world from imminent destruction.
Director: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon. Stars: Voices of Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, Kiefer Sutherland, Paul Rudd. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 94 min., Animated, Box office gross: $196.564 million, DreamWorks Animation. Available: 9/29.
NEXT DAY AIR
Smalltime hoods Brody (Mike Epps) and Guch (Wood Harris) have seen better days. But when a wacked-out courier accidentally brings them a box containing 10 kilos of high-quality cocaine meant for their next-door neighbors, it sets in motion a chain of events that could cost all of them their lives. Brody and Guch immediately arrange to sell the coke to Brody's drug dealer cousin and his tightlipped bodyguard. But when the intended recipients of the package, wannabe gangster Jesus and his feisty girlfriend, realize the box hasn't arrived, they set out on a desperate search to find it before ruthless drug kingpin Bodega Diablo notices it's missing. Furious over the loss of his shipment, Bodega will stop at nothing to get the drugs back. With Brody and Guch's drug deal about to go down, all parties are on an urban comedy collision course.
Director: Benny Boom. Stars: Mike Epps, Wood Harris, Donald Faison, Omari Hardwick, Emilio Rivera, Darius McCrary, Cisco Reyes, Yasmin Deliz, Mos Def, Debbie Allen . 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 84 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $10.017 million, Summit Entertainment. Available: 9/15.
OBSERVE AND REPORT
A darker version of "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," with Seth Rogen as bipolar mall security guard Ronnie Barnhardt called into action to stop a flasher from turning a shopper's paradise into his personal peep show. But when Barnhardt can't bring the culprit to justice, a surly police detective is recruited to close the case.
STATE OF PLAY
Russell Crowe leads an all-star cast in a thriller about a rising congressman and an investigative journalist embroiled in a case of seemingly unrelated, brutal murders. Crowe plays D.C. reporter Cal McAffrey, whose street smarts lead him to untangle a mystery of murder and collusion among some of the nation's most promising political and corporate figures. Handsome, unflappable U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is the future of his political party: an honorable appointee who serves as the chairman of a committee overseeing defense spending. All eyes are upon the rising star to be his party’s contender for the upcoming presidential race. Until his research assistant/mistress is brutally murdered and buried secrets come tumbling out. McAffrey has the dubious fortune of both an old friendship with Collins and a ruthless editor, Cameron (Helen Mirren), who has assigned him to investigate. As he and partner Della (Rachel McAdams) try to uncover the killer's identity, McAffrey steps into a cover-up that threatens to shake the nation's power structures. And in a town of spin-doctors and wealthy politicos, he will discover one truth: when billions are at stake, no one's integrity, love or life is ever safe.
Director: Kevin Macdonald. Stars: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels, Helen Mirren. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 132 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $37.083 million, Universal. Available: 9/1.
Coming-of-age tale that follows Miguel Santos, a.k.a. "Azucar" (Sugar), a pitcher from the Dominican Republic town of San Pedro de Macoris, who grew up poor but talented, always believing baseball was his ticket out of poverty. Playing professionally at the Kansas City Knights baseball academy, Miguel finally gets his break at age 19 when he advances to the United States' minor league system. Miguel travels to a small town in Iowa corn country, where he and other Latin American teammates are the only Spanish-speaking people. Despite the welcoming efforts of his host family, Miguel is faced with an isolation he never before experienced. When his performance on the mound falters, he begins examining more closely the world around him, his place within it, and ultimately questions his life's singular ambition.
VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR
Intimate and engaging fly-on-the-wall exploration of the singular world of one of Italy's most famous men, fashion designer and trend-setter Valentino. The film documents the colorful and dramatic closing act of Valentino's celebrated career, tells the story of his extraordinary life, and explores the larger themes affecting the fashion business today. At the heart of the film is the unique relationship between Valentino and his business partner and companion of 50 years, Giancarlo Giammetti. In production from June 2005 to July 2007, the filmmakers shot over 250 hours of footage with exclusive, unprecedented access to Valentino and his entourage.
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
Spanning over 150 years, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" chronicles young James Logan and his tortured past ... from boy, to man, to mutant. From conflicts with his half brother Victor Creed (aka Sabretooth), his membership in Team X, his infamous adamantium rebirth and the total memory loss that ultimately fuels his angry quest, the film paints the vivid and difficult journey of the legendary superhero. Along the way, Wolverine encounters many mutants, both familiar and new, including surprise appearances by several legends of the X-Men universe whose appearances in the film have long been anticipated. For diehard fans only.
Director: Gavin Hood. Stars: Hugh Jackman, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, will.i.am, Dominic Monaghan, Daniel Henney. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min., Action, Box office gross: $179.464 million, Fox. Available: 9/15.
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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September 1, 2009