DVD Corner: “Bangkok Dangerous” DVD, Blu-ray

Posted Jan. 02, 2009, at 5:34 p.m.

“Bangkok Dangerous” DVD, Blu-ray: What fresh fright wig is this? In this dumb remake of the 1999 Thai film of the same name, Nicolas Cage once again turns himself into such a hard-looking wreck, it’s difficult to watch the movie without being distracted by how jarringly bad he looks. Here’s a tip to Cage: Your stylist hates you. Look into it. While you’re at it, consider that good lighting, better dentures and a new weave that doesn’t look as if the Black Death fell on your head will save you from being a horror show in your next picture. Here, Cage is Joe London, an international assassin who looks like Amy Winehouse after setting her beehive ablaze. He’s in Bangkok for a working vacation, which means he will enjoy the city while taking down four men for Surat (Nirattisai Kalijaruek). Along the way, Joe hires Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm), a street thief eager to learn the ropes, and falls for a beautiful deaf-mute named Fon (Charlie Young), whose sweetness heals his wounds, including the scars etched into his heart. If that last line made you gag, so will parts of the movie, such as the awkward stalker scenes in which Joe tries to get his game on by picking up Fon at the pharmacy where she crushes meds. Since Joe looks twice her age and tends to slink through the pharmacy’s aisles in an effort to catch glimpses of Fon, the film’s forced love angle feels uneasy at best, queasy at worst. What does Fon see in him, anyway? His life insurance policy? Given their language barrier, Joe’s inability to communicate beyond lines like “Thai food hot,” and his discount wicked witch wig, you have to wonder. It goes predictably sour for all involved, with Cage only showing up for a paycheck and barely willing to go through the motions to earn it. Rated R. Grade: D

“Dexter: Complete First Season” Blu-ray: What’s a serial killer to do when he also happens to be a forensics expert for the Miami Police Department? For Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), the answer is to take a bite out of crime — literally. That’s the show’s hook; Dexter routinely slaughters criminals he can’t bring to justice. And here’s the thing — he’s so likable, the irony is that you cheer him on. Beyond that weirdness, this first season of the show, now on high-definition Blu-ray, explores Dexter’s personality by his interactions with his girlfriend, Rita (Julie Benz), as well as his quest to bring down the Ice Truck Killer. It’s all smart and engaging, a savage little show that’s at once human and darkly comic, with the fine writing and excellent cast making the unthinkable work. Grade: A-

“Event Horizon” Blu-ray: Paul Anderson’s stylish, good-looking “Event Horizon” offers an involving buildup, but it suffers from an ending that’s so convoluted it undermines all the good that came before it. Set in the year 2047, the film follows a rescue party on a mission to learn what happened to the Event Horizon, a spaceship that vanished somewhere near Neptune seven years earlier. Led by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), a scowling man unhappily under the technical advisement of the Event Horizon’s mad designer, Weir (Sam Neill), the crew finds the lost ship, boards it, and eventually learns that when the ship vanished, it vanished into hell. Now back and possessed by the devil, the ship begins turning against those who board it, with grisly results. If you think this sounds like “Sphere” or like Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film “Solaris,” that’s because “Event Horizon” is of the same family. It doesn’t present any original ideas, yet it works the way an old tire works — its tread, pockmarked with age, isn’t completely useless, but it’s also not as fresh as it was when it first rolled off the showroom floor. Rated R. Grade: C

“Pineapple Express” DVD, Blu-ray: For the pot-smoking stoner, there are some important messages to glean from “The Pineapple Express.” First, smoking pot isn’t good for you. No surprise there. Second, because the substance is illegal, chasing it down and becoming addicted to it can lead to all sorts of havoc. It’s the latter that is the movie’s main focus, with the film’s characters either busy creating chaos or trying to avoid it. Usually both. The result is an occasionally funny film laced with likable characters and unseemly villains who ultimately don’t have the nerve to fully embrace the counterculture it promotes. If it had, it would have made for a more memorable, daring experience. With Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Danny McBride, Amber Heard, Ed Begley Jr. and Nora Dunn. Rated R. Grade: C+

“The Truman Show” Blu-ray: This 1998 social satire from Peter Weir stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, a naive, 30-year-old man whose entire life has been a television series broadcast 24 hours a day to hundreds of millions of viewers around the globe. By far, Truman is the most famous person on the planet, though he doesn’t know it. Everyone in his life is a paid actor sneaking in product endorsements throughout the day. When Truman begins to suspect that things aren’t what they seem, that the God of this world is in fact a sinister man named Christof (Ed Harris), he pushes to escape from the 5,000 cameras hidden around the fictional town of Seahaven, Fla., and move into a world beyond the great dome that has imprisoned him since childhood. Carey is good here — toned down, wings clipped, at times moving — but in skipping the tracks from comedy to drama, he often lands in a puddle of self-consciousness. The good news is that the movie and its themes have held up. For better or worse, we’re a nation consumed by television, a country roped in by spectacle, imprisoned by counterfeit reality. Weir sees straight through that, and he lays it bare. Rated PG. Grade: B+

WeekinRewind.com is the site for Bangor Daily News film critic Christopher Smith’s blog, DVD giveaways and archive of movie reviews. Smith’s reviews appear Mondays, Fridays and weekends in Lifestyle, as well as on bangordailynews.com. He may be reached at Christopher@weekinrewind.com.

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business

Similar Articles

More in Living