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DVD Pick of the Week: Escape from New York

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Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles, and what follows are not necessarily reviews, but opinions based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.

Escape from New York (Blu-ray). I am looking forward to seeing it again. The cult favorite is making its high definition debut this week and easily clawed its way to the top of the pile. John Carpenter wrote and directed this dystopian future film that sees Kurt Russell bring one of cinemas most enduring bad assess to the big screen. Anti-hero Snake Plissken is charged with finding and rescuing the President, who has crashed on Manhattan island, now a maximum security prison.

Kick-Ass. I did not quite love this the way I really hoped I would, but there is no denying how strong a film it is. Well, maybe there is but you won’t hear it from me. The movie is an interesting deconstruction of the superhero genre that falls into the same conventions it is trying to deconstruct. It is exciting and brutal, featuring characters of questionable morality on both sides of the equation. The movie sees a teenager don a costume and attempt to fight crime while the “genuine” superheroes do it for real. Their paths cross and they join forces to battle the criminal element of their city. It is a brightly colored film that should look pretty sharp in high definition.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I never did see this one. This film adapts the first of a series of kids books about a young boy during his first year in middle school as he deals with all that comes with it. I have heard it is pretty good and is faithful to the story. Perhaps I should give it a shot. Has anyone out there seen it?

The Ghost Writer. Roman Polanski’s latest feature stars Ewan MacGregor as an author hired to write the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan). While doing his job, he begins to uncover secrets that are best left hidden that could cost him his life. I have not yet seen this, but have heard it is a very good thriller.

Heroes: Season 4. What is there to say? This series really lost its way after the first season. Too many new characters and too many fractured storylines sank this once promising ship. I will say that I did like the carnival thread that wound through this season. Still, I am sad to say that I will not miss it.

The Breakfast Club (Blu-ray). As touchstone of ’80s-era teen movies this is a must see. A group of kids who could not be more different team up to get out of detention. I am not so sure that it needs the high definition treatment, but if you haven’t seen it, this is probably the way to go if you want to (and I suggest you do).

Road to Perdition (Blu-ray). This is one of those strong films that I always seem to forget about. Set during the Great Depression, it features Tom Hanks as a mob enforcer. When his son witnesses how Dad makes his living, they both find themselves on the run, targets themselves, while also on the road for revenge. Co-stars include Paul Newman, Jude Law, and Daniel Craig.

James and the Giant Peach (Blu-ray). On the heels of The Nightmare Before Christmas comes this stop motion animated tale from director Henry Selick (who recently made the fantastic Coraline). It is based on a story by Roald Dahl about an orphan who befriends human-like insects inside a peach who journey together to New York City.

Humanoids from the Deep. This Roger Corman production is one I feel the need to see. Featuring mutated fish that attack a small fishing town, where they kill the men and rape the women, it sounds ridiculous already. Frankly, I think that is all you need to know to be interested in a movie like this.

After.Life. Liam Neeson, Justin Long, and Christina Ricci star in this film about what happens to you between dying and being buried. Neeson has the ability to communicate and Ricci finds herself dead and unable to understand that fact. It sounds pretty interesting.

Piranha. Another Corman-produced classic that feature killer fish. It is here just in time to get us ready for the new Pirahna 3D coming later this month. Directed by Joe Dante, this story sees the killer fish accidentally let loose in a vacation community. Let the feasting begin!

Kalifornia (Blu-ray). This killer movie features an early role from Brad Pitt. The story follows two journalists, played by David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes, as they visit serial killer landmarks with a couple of strangers, played by Pitt and Juliette Lewis. This is another movie I have not seen in a long time; it is making its high definition debut.

Versus (Blu-ray). From director Ryuhei Kitamura, this movie sees features an escaped prisoner seeking freedom in a strange forest. He soon finds himself in the midst of an age-long battle between good and evil that takes place in the forest. This is a fun film filled a ton of action.

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