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DrChocolate: DVD Capsule Reviews

I haven’t been to the theaters in what feels like forever. However, I have seen quite a few movies on the DVD machine lately. Some of these may have slipped by you unnoticed, or left you on the fence regarding whether they were worthwhile. Allow me to help.

An Education
If you haven’t rented this you need too. It’s whip smart, hilarious and touching. The incomparable Nick Hornby has written the smartest script I’ve seen on screen in ages and Carey Mulligan absolutely shines. A true cinematic gem. Rent. Now.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Never been the biggest fan of Wes Anderson’s self-referential irony. His films always seem so self-satisfied. Working from a Roald Dahl book always helps, but I found this to be immensely entertaining. I laughed heartily from beginning to end. Visually delightful with superb voice work. I was thoroughly charmed by this film. Enormously recommended.

Green Zone
Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass team up again for the action and it’s not as Bourne as you’d think. Exciting and tense, it’s better than I expected based on the buzz about the film. It’s dogmatic in its simplistic take on Middle Eastern politics and the outcome is a little anti-climatic, but it’s still a very solid action flick worth a rental.

Edge of Darkness
Mel may be insane, but I’ve always liked his work, both behind and in front of the camera. This isn’t his best thought. He’s good in the prototypical “Mel as a wronged man on a mission of violent retribution” role but the movie acts as if it has big secrets to spill but every reveal and twist can be seen from five miles out. Mediocre, revenge flick with solid direction at best. Danny Huston and Ray Winstone (each with their trademark imposing physicality’s) are wasted here too.

Hot Tub Time Machine
Meh. Hilarious first 30 minutes then it just runs out of bubbles (pardon the pun). The characters begin to grate and the 80’s references begin to feel shoe-horned in. Unnecessarily crude too. There is a fabulous bit of stunt casting, paired with a hysterical running joke, involving Cripsin “George Mcfly” Clover. It’s almost worth it for the Glover scenes but just watch The Hangover again to see this type of story done much better.

The Wolfman
I’m a sucker for old timey goth-monster-horror flicks but the plodding start had me reaching for the off switch. Be patient though. The film soon opens up and is actually quite a bit of fun (the campy climatic fight is a treat) and amusingly gory. The real reason to watch this is the art direction though; it has a superb smoky-velvety late 1800’s London gothic atmosphere, which suits Emily Blunt splendidly. I want to watch it again, sounded turned down, with a mix of Type O Negative, Pornography-era Cure, and Paradise Lost playing in the background. Recommended if you can get through the first 30 minutes or so. Cool end title sequence to boot.

50 Dead Men Walking

I promised a full-length on this previously, but let this suffice: It’s a slick (in the best way possible) action thriller involving The Troubles. The British Intelligence recruits a nicely unglamorous Jim Sturgess to do dangerous double agent duty inside the IRA; a strangely be-wigged Ben Kingsley is his handler. Based on a true story it’s gripping and entertaining. A nice companion piece to Hunger because it obviously sympathizes with the British and shows some of the harsher realities of life inside the IRA. Sturgess and Kingsley’s development of a father-son like bond sounds a completely wrong note however. It’s still very recommended.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
I know. I know. I know. What do you care, you already know if you’re going see this or not, right? Anyway, it’s not any better than New Moon was, but it’s nice that they finally got a director who can do a solid action scene. Some cool fights. Repetitive plot conflicts are seriously tedious. Apparently the beloved Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is a manipulative stalker who should be red flagged as a potential date rape perp. Bryce Dallas Howard falls flat on her face, big miscast. Kristen Stewart is getting better but the real star of this series is the effortless Billy Burke as her dad. Not terrible but not …oh whatever.