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.
As I look over this week's offerings, I cannot help but feel a little disheartened. There is nothing terribly special to be found among the stacks. My best guess as to why the release schedule is so light is that companies are trying to not have to compete with the just opened theatrical juggernaut called Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Another possibility is that next weekend is July 4th and few people will be sitting around watching DVDs. Why not save the big releases for a slower week?
Tokyo! Much like Paris Je T'aime, this film is a collection of shorter works on a theme from a variety of esteemed artists. The target this time is Tokyo, of course. This DVD is a collection of three short films centering on the city. The directors are Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Leos Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge), and Bong Joon-ho (The Host). The well regarded trio tackle the issue of whether people are shaped by the city, or the city by the people. I have not yet seen this, but the three directors involved have me greatly interested.
Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Fifth Season. The final season of the science fiction spin-off arrives on DVD. This show is the first spin-off of the long running original series (which, in turn, was based on a film) took a little while to get off the ground but really got a head of steam going once the characters were fully established. The series is set in the lost city of Atlantis, which also happens to be on another planet. The fifth season sees the base taken over by Woolsey (Robert Picardo), the final defeat of Michael, the introduction of rogue Asgaard, and a showdown with a Hive ship. In other words, plenty to hold your attention.
Eureka: Season 3.0. You know, I am not sure I have seen any of season three. Not sure how I missed it, but I cannot recall anything about it. I guess it is time to catch up. The show is a lot of fun, it is lighthearted in nature but still tells interesting stories. The series is set in a hidden town populated with the brightest scientific minds in the nation. They are there to experiment and create as they please (mostly), sometimes with disastrous results.
Eastbound & Down. This show is created by Jody Hill (Observe & Report) and stars Danny McBride (Pineapple Express, Land of the Lost). It is the story of a former major league baseball player who has returned to the hometown he had long since turned his back on to teach phys. ed. at his old middle school. I have heard good things and look forward to seeing this.
12 Rounds (also Blu-ray). If you have seen Die Hard with a Vengeance or Speed, you have a good idea where this is heading. You have a crazed killer with a vendetta against a heart of gold hero who is nigh unstoppable as he attempts to save the day. In the case of 12 Rounds, the battle between good and evil is framed with a 12-round gimmick (duh!). Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen), our bad guy, has kidnapped Fisher's fiancee (Ashley Scott) and is challenging Fisher to 12-round battle to save her. Fisher must do everything Jackson says – successfully – in order to have the opportunity to win her back. It is not a good movie, but you could do worse for some dumb entertainment.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (also Blu-ray). Speaking of dumb entertainment, here is one you can safely avoid. What I was hoping for was a bad but fun movie. What I got was a bad but stupid movie. I could not help but shake my head at some of the silly things that take place in it. I guess this world does not require any logic in its inhabitants. It centers on Chun-Li (Kristen Kreuk) and her desire to get revenge on M. Bison for the death of her father. It is complete and utter nonsense.
Samurai Champloo: The Complete Collection. I think I already own all of this series on the original discs, but I am not sure. Anyway, this series is a lot of fun. It comes from the same creator as the fantastic Cowboy Bebop and moves away from science fiction and jazz and into period samurai adventure and hip hop. If you want action, comedy, and drama this is a series to check out. It is well animated and voiced. It is a definite must have for your collection and worth checking out even if you aren't an anime fan.
Tunnel Rats. Is it possible that an Uwe Boll movie could be good? I doubt it, but I have read good things about this one, so maybe my assumption is wrong. At least this isn't another movie based on a video game. Michael Pare stars as a soldier during the Vietnam War who is a member of a team of soldiers sent into Viet Cong tunnels to engage in hand to hand combat. Perhaps I will have to check this out.