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.
Kingdom of the Spiders. Classic William Shatner cheese. I have not seen this in ages, and with a week filled with mediocrity I thought I would focus on something that those who are not genre fans would likely never hear about. This gem from the '80s tells the story of a town overrun with spiders, spiders that have organized themselves and have turned very aggressive. How can you not have fun with this? Add Shatner's inimitable line delivery and it is an instant classic! Looking forward to catching up with this one.
Whiteout (also Blu-ray). I am one of the few who enjoyed this, and I still do. It is not a great film and I am in the minority, but so what? The film finds Kate Beckinsale as a US Marshal stranded at an Arctic outpost with a killer on the loose. It is a pretty standard thriller, but it worked for me and I think it should be given a shot.
Pandorum (also Blu-ray). This is a good movie — not a great one, not a bad one. Ben Foster carries the dramatic weight and makes the story interesting while Christian Alvart delivers the slick sci-fi action. All things considered this is a good movie, one that genre fans will likely enjoy. No, not a classic, but why does everything have to be? If you are looking for some B-grade monster action with a little psycho-babble, this is it.
Gamer (also Blu-ray). The story feels a little like a combination of Running Man and Death Race 2000. In any case, it's the near future and a technology was developed that allows people to be controlled remotely, like a computer's IP address. It is a wild ride that uses a message about our methods of interaction as justification for an over-the-top assault on the senses.
The Invention of Lying (also Blu-ray). This movie is based on an interesting idea. It is too bad the concept does not go as far or as deep as it could. Instead, it lingers on the surface. It is not bad by a long shot, but it is not as good as it could have been. Still, Ricky Gervais is a funny guy. I hope his next project takes it to the next level.
Che (also Blu-ray, Criterion Collection). Steven Soderbergh's epic biography of the revolutionary Che Guevera did not get a very wide release and in some cases its 261-minute length was cut into two parts. Criterion has put together what will likely be a very nice package. I am not terribly interested, but I suspect I will check it out at some point.
Magnolia (Blu-ray). I never saw this P.T. Anderson film. I suppose I should get around to seeing it at some point. He is a fascinating and original voice and one of the finest directors working today. Now, tell me, why else should I see this?
Defying Gravity. I have heard good things about this Canadian science fiction series that was cut way too short (aren't they all?). In any case, I have every intention of catching up with the show.
Smokin' Aces 2: Assassin's Ball (also Blu-ray). The prequel to the Joe Carnahan-directed film is another exercise in style over substance. It has a very good shootout, but that is about it. Still, worth a peek for the curious.
The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum (Combo Disk). Universal is releasing the great series on their new flipper disk. I believe they were doing this when they supported HD-DVD. They have adapted the process to the Blu-ray format. I am looking forward to checking it out. It doesn't hurt that I still need these on Blu.
Blood Creek. This Joel Schumacher film has been kicking around for a while now. I have actually heard pretty good things about. Yes, it is Schumacher, but he isn't always bad. This film follows a man on a path of revenge who gets caught in an occult experiment that began with the Third Reich.
Across the Hall (Blu-ray). One of Brittany Murphy's last films, it tells the story of a standoff between a man, his fiancee, and his best friend. Hotel rooms, murder, and betrayal. Could be fun.