Out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week: Proof that making a comic book movie darker doesn't always help, plus Sarah Jane's swan song and the latest take on the world's most famous fire-spitting turtle monster.
It's less cartoony and more gritty than the original film...so does that mean it's more watchable? Actually, the absence of CGI excess and an interesting story--or, really, any story at all--means that there's nothing left in this film for anyone who's not a devoted conoisseur of Nicolas Cage brand ham.
Formats: Blu-Ray, 3-D, and DVD.
The story: As Johnny Blaze hides out in Eastern Europe, he is called upon to stop the devil, who is trying to take human form.
Starring: Nicolas Cage (Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider), Violante Placido (Nadya), Ciaran Hinds (Roarke), Idris Elba (Moreau), Johnny Whitworth (Ray Carrigan), Fergus Riordan (Danny), Spencer Wilding (Grannik), Sorin Tofan (Kurdish), Jacek Koman (Terrokov), Anthony Head (Benedict), Cristian Iacob (Vasil), Christopher Lambert (Methodius), Jai Stefan (Krakchev), Vincent Regan (Toma Nikasevic), Ionut Cristian Lefter (Young Johnny Blaze), Will Ashcroft (Grey Suited Man).
Directed by: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.
Features: Director's Expanded Video Commentary (1080p, 1:43:31); Deleted Scenes (1080p, 11:20); The Path to Vengeance; Previews; UV Digital Copy.
The final season of Sarah Jane Adventures is comprised of the three stories completed before Elisabeth Sladen's death in mid-production, and as I say in my DVD review it works well as a distillation of everything Sarah Jane was about..
The story: Season Five sees the bubbly Sky, the Starchild given to Sarah Jane by the Doctor to look after, settle into Bannerman Road and discover she has telekinetic powers... although she has no idea how to use them! Her loveable enthusiasm and zest for life combined with her natural curiosity give Sarah Jane more than one heart-stopping moment.
Starring: Elisabeth Sladen, Matt Smith.
Features: Goodbye Bannerman Road: Remembering Elisabeth Sladen featurette, featuring SJA cast and script editor plus Matt Smith.
This Dutch film, winner of various European art-house film awards, has been kicking around for a while, but is only now getting a small-distribution region 1 home video release.
Also Known As: Undercover Kitty.
The story: A cat who turns into a young woman helps a journalist protect their town from a factory boss with an evil plan.
Starring: Carice Van Houten, Theo Maassen, Sarah Bannier, Pierre Bokma.
Directed by: Vincent Bal.
Features: Kitty Bloopers; Trailers.
The concept is compelling even if the movie is not; and Caspsar Van Dien, wile not exactly Olivier, does have a knack for these sorts of rioles.
Also Known As: The Time Shifters.
The story: A reporter, learning of time travelers visiting 20th century disasters, tries to change the history they know by averting upcoming disasters.
Starring: Martin Sheen, Casper Van Dien, Catherine Bell, Catherine Van Dien, Peter Outerbridge, Theresa Saldana.
Directed by: Mario Azzopardi.
Gamera, the massive fire-spitting space turtle, is such an unlikely hero that the kids' films featuring his exploits are just adorable--especially now that all four MST3K Gameria episodes are out on DVD. This film is an attempt more to celebrate Gamera as a beloved family film franchise than to updatew it--but with solid (rather than spectacular) effects, and enough respect for the material to play it straight, not camp.
Format: New on Blu-Ray.
The story: Gamera The Brave is the story of a young boy and his cute pet turtle named Gamera. Only in this case, his cute pet turtle is over 250 feet tall, breathes fire, and can fly through the air! But when a giant evil dinosaur rises from the depths of the ocean and wreaks havoc, it’s up to Gamera to save not just his young friend, but all of Japan! The first new Gamera movie in over 6 years, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the original Gamera movie.
Starring: Kaho, Kanji Tsuda, Susumu Terajima.
Directed by: Ryuta Tazaki.
Features: TV Spots; Theatrical Trailer; Tokyo Shock Trailers; Director's Lecture: How To Make A Camera Film.
For the most part this movie comes across as a play adapted into indie filmdom, which is, of course, what it is--and as such is heavy on the crewy dialog. The strage aspects of the story as incidental to the central character and the journey he goes on thanks to the typical assortment ofg neighborhood eccentrics.
The story: When Leo invites Joel to join a small group of men who regularly gather in a small room to exchange stories, Joel sees it as a good opportunity to come out of his shell. But the more time that Joel spends with the group, the clearer it becomes that he was chosen to fill the space left by a dearly departed member who is deeply missed by his old friends. As the men grapple with their worries and unraveling lives, Joel finally learns their mysterious purpose.
Directed by: Ed Simpson.
Starring: John Cariani, Edward Asner, Jack Kehler, David Wells, Mark Fite.