August 23 DVD Corner

Posted Aug. 26, 2008, at 2:39 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:50 p.m.

“End of Days” Blu-ray: Protect your daughters! Break out the chastity belts! Get thee to a nunnery! Set on the eve of the millennium, this 1999 throwback finds Satan popping the Viagra and going on the prowl to mate with a woman who not only will give birth to the anti-Christ, but who also will bring about the end of days. The movie pits Arnold Schwarzenegger against the devil (Gabriel Byrne), with director Peter Hyams delivering tense moments of action amid not-so-subtle choices for character development. To wit: Hyams has his suicidal police detective, Jericho Cane (Schwarzenegger), begin his day with coffee, a piece of moldy pizza peeled off a filthy floor and other unmentionables liquefied in a grimy blender. Delicious! So yes, Jericho is a butch, action-adventure stereotype, but he’s also a sensitive softy, as revealed when he clutches a ballerina music box and weeps openly for his dead wife and daughter. If these decisions push “End of Days” straight to the brink of cinematic hell, Hyams eventually settles down to the real business at hand: Satan is randy and he wants to mate. The unlucky soul chosen at birth to bear his child is Christina York (Robin Tunney), a neurotic yet likable piece of work who, as an infant, was suckled with snake’s blood in one of the film’s more bizarre sequences. Now aware of her fate, Christina fights Satan with Cane, a man whose faith was once shattered but which suddenly is renewed – rather predictably – just when he needs it most. Rated R. Grade: C+

“Entourage: Season Four”: Entre nous, the show only has gotten better. Beyond Jeremy Piven’s unhinged performance as Ari Gold, a high-strung Hollywood agent who steamrolls through this season in an effort to make sure his client, Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier), does well with his new movie, “Medellin,” what this fourth season gets right is what the show always has done well: While Vince and his three close friends (Kevin Dillon, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara) are otherwise everyday guys having the time of their lives in Hollywood, there always is the sense that this dream world in which they live could be taken away from them in an instant. “Entourage” builds on the fear inherent in that, and it uses it to its benefit. Grade: A-

“Miami Vice” Blu-ray: Mullet mediocrity. This rough-and-tumble version of Michael Mann’s “Miami Vice” never finds a story that competes with Miami itself, which looks at once hot and cool, dangerous and seductive. Those same qualities should apply to the story, and while they occasionally do, it’s only when the characters connect. They don’t with vice cops Sonny Crockett (Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx, barely registering), who have zero chemistry here. Instead, it’s Crockett and the mysterious Isabella (the terrific Gong Li) that gives the movie the soul it otherwise would have lacked. Rated R. Grade: C

“U-571″ Blu-ray: Jonathan Mostow’s submarine potboiler follows a bunch of cardboard cutout Chippendale dancers who lay audiences flat with performances that are so rote – and dialogue that’s so corny – they effectively torpedo what could have been an engrossing film. In the movie, a German U-boat carrying the Nazi Enigma machine has been damaged in the mid-Atlantic. With the United States desperate to retrieve the machine so it can crack the Nazi radio codes, Lt. Andrew Tyler (Matthew McConaughey) and his men devise a mission to remove it from the crippled boat and get it into the hands of the U.S. Navy. Predictably, nothing goes as planned. Mostow proves masterful in swinging his camera around the claustrophobic ship and he does get a fair performance from McConaughey, but the dialogue sinks, he wastes Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi is reduced to showcasing his jawline, and Bill Paxton delivers a performance that’s so nauseating, some might wish that a twister would just touch down and sweep him out to sea for good. Rated PG-13. Grade C-

“What Happens in Vegas” DVD, Blu-ray: Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz are Jack and Joy, two good-looking New Yorkers who know nothing about each other when they meet while on vacation in Las Vegas, and who know only slightly more about each other when they return home as a not-so-happily married couple. Turns out very little is enough for marriage, particularly for these two desperate souls, each of whom was on the rebound before going to Vegas. So, what better way to cap off a bad week than with a fantastic night out on the town that results in a quickie wedding? Moreover, what better way to screw up your life than with the complications that ensue when Jack uses Joy’s money to unexpectedly win $3 million on a slot pull? Since Jack wins the jackpot the day after their impromptu wedding, that money now belongs to both, and – go figure – they’re willing to fight for their share of it. From Dana Fox’s fizzy, formulaic script, the film offers more smiles than big laughs, but it’s never short on charm and it gets points for not being the gross-out comedy the genre usually attracts. Since nobody coming to the movie will be surprised by what eventually occurs between Joy and Jack, it’s to Kutcher’s and Diaz’s credit that they make this greased slope of silliness as light and as enjoyable as it is. Rated PG-13. Grade: B-

Also on DVD and Blu-ray:

Fans of science fiction with a British twist should look to the three recent editions from the Doctor Who series, including “Doctor Who: The Time Meddler,” “Doctor Who: Black Orchid,” and the 25th anniversary edition of “Doctor Who: The Five Doctors.” Each is entertaining and appropriately surreal, but they have nothing on the weirdness that’s unleashed in “Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Tour 3D.” Available on DVD and Blu-ray from Disney, “Worlds” features a performer who’s such an annoying, unstoppable little juggernaut of good times and cheer, tweens likely will be fainting in the aisles at the prospect of owning another piece of her. I don’t get it, but I’m not supposed to. Likewise for “Camp Rock” ( DVD, Blu-ray), which features the music of the Jonas Brothers paired opposite that other pop sensation, Demi Lovato, all of whom rolled off Disney’s assembly line to bang their heads just long enough to secure their futures until the next sensations come along. Hopefully sooner than later.

Christopher Smith’s reviews appear Mondays, Fridays and weekends in Lifestyle, as well as on bangordailynews.com.

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