THIS WEEK IN DVD’S – Mar 20, 2008
After an anemic theatrical run in the United States, Guy Ritchie’s Revolver is finally on DVD, and it’s a wild one. I’ll keep the Swept Away jokes for next time – instead I’ll just focus on how with this crime-caper tale it is apparent that Ritchie seems perfectly content making the exact same film over and over. Jason Statham plays the ex-con trying to straighten up and fly right; Ray Liotta is the nasty-ass shark who wants Statham’s character dead, and then there’s a weird, escalating caper planned by Andre 3000 and Vincent Pastore that quickly spirals out of control. It goes without saying that Ritchie’s movies look like fun – how fun would it be to work with him? – but the end result is kind of just another warmed-over kooky criminal flick.
Highlander: The Source (Lionsgate)
The Fugitive: Season One, Volume Two (Paramount)
Oh, Highlander. That first movie was killer – with the Queen music and cool fights and everything – but pretty much everything that came after it has been…yikes. And Highlander: The Source is no exception – yes, long-haired brooder Adrian Paul is back as Dunan MacLeod, but that’s pretty much all this writer could decipher from this labyrinthine narrative that careens quickly from making very little sense to being completely incomprehensible.
Far more enjoyable is the latest installment of The Fugitive. Yes, it’s still a pain in the ass that Paramount continues to release these hour-long shows in double-installments (Season One, Volume One was released late last year), but even while pouting over presentation, this series is a pretty good time. The Harrison Ford remake was far more exciting, but the great thing about shows like The Fugitive is that even if the content is so-so, once you get hooked, you get HOOKED.
Life After People (A&E)
In the Shadow of the Moon (ThinkFilm)
The UCLA Dynasty (HBO)
Los Angeles Dodgers 1988 World Series Collector’s Edition (A&E)
Daytona 500: 50 Years of the Great American Race (A&E)
Coma isn’t exactly a hilarious documentary – this look at the ins and outs of traumatic brain injuries is as devastating as it is informative – but director Liz Garbus allows a perspective on her subjects that makes for an exceptional documentary experience. It’s that unique brand of doc that is both savvy and exceptionally-made.
On a broader scale, Life After People is an intellectual feast for the eyes that utilizes both attuned scientific draw and amazing special effects to create a one-of-a-kind viewing experience. Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us is the better overall achievement – his tale of what the world would be like if human beings disappeared – but as a side note, this quick, cool-looking History Channel doc is a great way to inspire your mind to simply REEL with possibility.
This leads nicely into In the Shadow of the Moon, the new doc about the America’s drive into space between 1968 and 1972. The good news is that the film is chock-full of mind-bending footage from the NASA archives that allows a fantastic look at the almost mystical powers of rockets and the universe – the bad news is that until its last twenty minutes, this is talking-heads PBS doc stuff and little more. It’s no doubt a fantastic teaching tool, but as a film, it doesn’t fully take off.
The UCLA Dynasty is a doc with less harrowing themes than these others, but this analysis of the 1964-1975 record-setting NCAA basketball seasons is a smorgasbord for sports lovers. But to just call The UCLA Dynasty an extended SportsCenter report is to demean its more nuanced points – there are moments in this documentary that mediate on the culture of the time, the Civil Rights movements that were flaring and the pox of Vietnam to accent the achievements of the Bruins and the coaching of John Wooden with marvelous, comprehensive power. I can’t believe I’m saying such nice things about a film involving UCLA (this writer is a proud Cal grad), but I guess you gotta call a spade a spade – this is a killer doc. Go Bears!
And speaking of saying nice things about rival teams, the new baseball box set featuring the 1988 Dodgers/A’s matchup is a staggeringly fun way to waste a weekend. Again, this writer’s a California boy, so I can’t say I’d shed a tear if the entire Dodgers franchise was suddenly eaten by Godzilla, but to be able to watch this suspenseful, well-played game (what can I say? Those stupid Dodgers outplayed the A’s and deserved to win!) with all the bonus features that come along with it is a kick-ass way to jumpstart baseball season.
And just to make sure us baseball fans don’t get too comfy with our favorite sport, there’s Daytona 500, a 2-DVD set of footage from the iconic NASCAR event’s 50 years. And for anybody with a yen for fast cars, this is a pretty illuminating collection: With tons of interviews, a few really well-put-together documentaries on some of the sport’s more notable luminaries and a cool My Race interactive format, this one may not be a must-own, but it’s sure as Hell worth watching once.