The best book in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series is at least a small spike in improvement for the quality of the movie adaptations after the bland Prince Caspian. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a lot of island-hopping spectacle that is about as preachy as Lewis’ text but somehow lacking the weight of the challenging temptations the characters must face. But hey, the added battle with a giant sea serpent is pretty good, and isn’t that what it’s all about? The answer: No, but it’ll have to do, for a series that started off promising and shows no signs of much improvement. My review is here. Available on DVD, 2-disc DVD, and Blu-ray.
This is really, truly, sincerely based on a true story, and though you might doubt that, it really, really is. Really. We almost expect this kind of reassurance from I Love You Phillip Morris, which tells the story of Steven Jay Russell (Jim Carrey), a con artist who’s escaped from prison multiple times. Its tone is all over the place, going from deeply ironic (as we learn his backstory) to genuinely sweet (as he falls in love with fellow inmate Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor)) territory only to whip back and forth and back and forth, until tonal whiplash sets in. It’s an interesting story–no doubt about that–but one without much reason to be told. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
You don’t need to watch the pedestrian documentary of a similar name (Casino Jack and the United States of Money) before venturing into Casino Jack, but it could be a help. You don’t need to because Norman Snider’s screenplay is heavy on expository dialogue filling in all the important details amidst the wheeling and dealing of “super-lobbyist” Jack Abramoff (Kevin Spacey, rising far above the material he’s in). It certainly weighs down this already complicated story, whittled to a shorthand exploration of corruption from a guy who, at least, isn’t as bad as some of those slimy politicians he helped. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
TRON: Legacy might play better on home video than it did in the theater, especially if you, like me, saw the the 3-D presentation. Whereas its almost 30-year-old predecessor was a bright tale about an entirely (and entirely silly) digital world, this one is dark and murky despite its graphics card upgrade. The best parts: Jeff Bridges’ occasional droll pseudo-philosophizing and Daft Punk’s techno-symphonic score, which suggests a movie far more engrossing than the one it accompanies. My review is here. Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and 3-D Blu-ray/Blu-ray/DVD Combo. (Fans of the original can opt for a 5-disc set with both movies, also available in a gift set.)
Confession: I liked both Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers. Little Fockers comes along and mucks the whole thing up in a way that smashes every, little positive thing about its predecessors except the fond memory of them. If the repeated usage of “god-Focker” doesn’t do you in, surely the scene in which Ben Stiller’s son-in-law injects adrenalin into Robert De Niro’s father-in-law–in the area directly affected by erectile dysfunction medication–certainly will. This is either a cruel hoax perpetrated by any variation of those involved or the result of nearly total incompetence. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Exorcise that focker of a mess with one of De Niro’s best, most iconic performances as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s searing look into the life of a psychopath. Taxi Driver was recently restored (It had a short run in theaters a couple weeks ago, which I missed (though I fondly remember a trip to the Music Box Theater to see a previous remastering back in the 1990s)) and is available for the first time on Blu-ray.