OnVideo MAY Video Reviews
CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, THE
"I was born under unusual circumstances." And so begins "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards: a man, like any of us, who is unable to stop time. We follow his story, set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918, into the 21st century, following his journey that is as unusual as any manís life can be. It's a wonderful tale of a not-so-ordinary man and the people and places he discovers along the way, the loves he finds, the joys of life and the sadness of death, and what lasts beyond time.
Director: David Fincher. Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Taraji P. Henson, Jason Flemyng, Elias Koteas, Julia Ormond. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 167 min., Fantasy Drama, Box office gross: $126.5 million, Paramount. Available: 5/5.
LAST CHANCE HARVEY
New Yorker Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman) is on the verge of losing his dead-end job as a jingle writer. Warned by his boss (Richard Schiff) that he has just one more chance to deliver, Harvey goes to London for a weekend to attend his daughter's wedding but promises to be back on Monday morning to make an important meeting -- or else. Harvey arrives in London only to learn his daughter (Liane Balaban) has chosen to have her stepfather (James Brolin) walk her down the aisle instead of him. Doing his best to hide his devastation, he leaves the wedding before the reception in hopes of getting to the airport on time, but misses his plane anyway. When he calls his boss, he is fired on the spot. Drowning his sorrows at the airport bar, Harvey strikes up a conversation with Kate (Emma Thompson), a slightly prickly, 40-something employee of the Office of National Statistics. Kate, whose life is limited to work, the occasional humiliating blind date and endless phone calls from her smothering mother (Eileen Atkins), is touched by Harvey, who finds himself energized by her intelligence and compassion. The growing connection between the pair inspires both as they unexpectedly transform one anotherís lives.
Director: Joel Hopkins. Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Eileen Atkins, Liane Balaban, James Brolin, Kathy Baker, Richard Schiff. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 93 min., Romantic Comedy, Box office gross: $13.694 million, Anchor Bay. Available: 5/5.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D
Ten years ago, a tragedy changed the town of Harmony. Tom Hanniger, an inexperienced coal miner, caused an accident in the tunnels that trapped and killed five men and sent the only survivor, Harry Warden, into a permanent coma. But Harry Warden wanted revenge. Exactly one year later, on Valentine's Day, he woke up and brutally murdered 22 people with a pickaxe before being killed himself. Ten years later, Tom Hanniger returns to Harmony on Valentine's Day, still haunted by the deaths he caused. Struggling to make amends with his past, he grapples with unresolved feelings for his ex-girlfriend, Sarah, who is now married to his best friend, Axel, the town sheriff. But tonight, after years of peace, something from Harmony's dark past has returned. Wearing a miner's mask and armed with a pickaxe, an unstoppable killer is on the loose. And as his footsteps come ever closer, Tom, Sarah and Axel realize in terror that it just might be Harry Warden who's come back to claim them. Remake of the 1981 thriller.
Director: Patrick Lussier. Stars: Jaime King, Jensen Ackles, Kerr Smith, Edi Gathegi, Kevin Tighe, Megan Boone, Betsey Rue. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: R, 101 min., Horror, Box office gross: $51.527 million, Lionsgate. Available: 5/19.
NEW IN TOWN
A high-powered consultant in love with her upscale Miami lifestyle is sent to a middle of nowhere town in Minnesota to oversee the restructuring of a blue collar manufacturing plant. After enduring a frosty reception from the locals, icy roads and freezing weather, she warms up to the small town's charm, and eventually finds herself being accepted by the community. When she's ordered to close down the plant and put the entire community out of work, she's forced to reconsider her goals and priorities, and finds a way to save the town.
Director: Jonas Elmer. Stars: Renee Zellweger, Harry Connick Jr., J.K. Simmons, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Frances Conroy, Mike O'Brien, Rashida Jones. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 96 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $16.699 million, Universal. Available: 5/26 .
PAUL BLART: MALL COP
In the surprise smash comedy hit "Paul Blart: Mall Cop", Kevin James stars as the title character, a single, suburban dad, trying to make ends meet as a security officer at a New Jersey mall. Though no one else takes his job seriously, Paul considers himself on the front lines of safety. With a heart that won't quit, a stomach that won't stop gurgling and a self-sworn oath to protect his turf, mild-mannered Paul Blart has always had huge dreams of becoming a State Trooper. Until then, he patrols the mall with his closely cropped moustache, personal transporter and gung-ho attitude. But everything changes when a team of thugs raid the mall and take hostages. Untrained, unarmed and a super-size target, Blart decides now's the time for the big guy to show everyone he's the biggest cop of the mall as he tries to save the day.
Director: Steve Carr. Stars: Kevin James, Jayma Mays, Shirley Knight, Raini Rodriguez, Stephen Rannazzisi, Adam Ferrara. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 91 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $137.785 million, Sony. Available: 5/19.
Liam Neeson stars as Brian Mills, a former secret agent trained in hand to hand combat who struggles as a divorcee and father of 17-year old Kim (Maggie Grace). Living with Brianís ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), Kim rarely gets the chance to see her father, but when she does he is often smothering and overbearing. When the opportunity arises to travel to Europe with her best friend, Kim convinces her dad to let her go on the trip by leaving out some very important details. The first stop for the girls is Paris, but hours after they arrive they are victims of a disturbing break-in and abducted by an Albanian criminal organization. Now, with only 96 hours to find his daughter before she will disappear forever, time is running out and Mills must put his CIA expertise to the test before it's too late.
Director: Pierre Morel. Stars: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Goran Kostic, Katie Cassidy. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 90 min., Action Thriller, Box office gross: $141.107 million, Fox. Available: 5/12.
UNDERWORLD 3: RISE OF THE LYCANS
This prequel delves into the origins of the centuries-old blood feud between the aristocratic vampires, known as Death Dealers, and the barbaric Lycans (werewolves). A young Lycan, Lucian (Michael Sheen), emerges as a powerful leader who rallies the werewolves to rise up against Viktor (Bill Nighy), the cruel vampire king who has persecuted them for hundreds of years. Lucian is joined by his secret lover, the beautiful vampire Sonja (Rhona Mitra), in his battle to free the Lycans from their brutal enslavement.
In a country in the grips of evil, in a police state where every move is being watched, in a world where justice and honor have been subverted, a group of men hidden inside the highest reaches of power decide to take action. "Valkyrie" is based on the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) and the daring and ingenious plot to eliminate one of the most evil tyrants the world has ever known: Adolph Hitler. A proud military man, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg is a loyal officer who serves his country all the while hoping that someone will find a way to stop Hitler before Europe and Germany are destroyed. Realizing that time is running out, he decides that he must take action himself and joins the German resistance. Armed with a cunning strategy to use Hitlerís own emergency plan -- known as Operation Valkyrie -- these men plot to assassinate the dictator and overthrow his Nazi government from the inside. With everything in place, with the future of the world, the fate of millions and the lives of his wife and children hanging in the balance, von Stauffenberg is thrust from being one of many who oppose Hitler to the one who must kill Hitler himself.
Director: Bryan Singer. Stars: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Eddie Izzard, Halina Reijn, Kevin McNally, Christian Berkel, Terence Stamp, David Schofield. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 120 min., Action, Box office gross: $82.989 million, MGM. Available:5/19 .
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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May 1, 2009