The Karate Kid – A surprise box office hit this summer, The Karate Kid is a remake of the original (although this version should really be called The Kung-Fu Kid) and stars Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. The film differs slightly from the original as it starts out with Smith and his mom (played by Taraji P. Henson) moving to China, but from this point on, the film sticks pretty close to the original. Smith encounters some bullies who pick on him. When the janitor of the building he lives in sticks up for the boy, Smith convinces him to teach him kung-fu. The movie is better than expected, and it is nice to see an American film set in modern-day China as there are some really great visuals in the film (don’t go expecting to see an expose on the many problems of China, as this is a Hollywood blockbuster, after all). The big revelation in The Karate Kid is Jackie Chan, who is absolutely outstanding. Some critics complained that the film loses the surprise of the original because no one expected Pat Morita to know karate. I say the fact that you know Jackie Chan is a master of martial arts helps the film, as it’s an in-joke for the audience that the janitor is going to beat up the bullies. There are also some strong dramatic moments by Chan that I was quite impressed with, as he’s not know for his acting chops. I have two spoilers for you, one major and one minor. The minor one is the song “You’re the Best Around” does not appear in the film, even though it is in the trailer. The major one is that there is no “crane kick”. Still, this is Hollywood entertainment done right.
A Nightmare on Elm Street – Another remake comes to DVD shelves today and this one is an update of the iconic horror franchise. Jackie Earle Haley takes over the role of Freddy Krueger, a former child molester who was burned to death and now haunts the people who killed him by going into their children’s dreams and killing them. The film is average at best, but there are two reasons why you should give it a shot. The first is to see Jackie Earle Haley’s performance, which I thought was quite good, especially in the flashback sequences. The second is for fans of The Millenium Trilogy as Rooney Mara is in this film, and she will be playing Lisbeth Salander in the trilogy, so you can check out her work now.
Beauty and the Beast – My favourite Walt Disney animated film gets re-released on DVD today, mainly because it is getting a release on Blu-Ray as well. The story follows a prince who is a put under a spell and becomes a beast. The only way for the spell to be broken is for him to love and be loved in return. If a magical rose loses all its petals before this happens, he will be a beast forever. That’s the setup and the film takes off from that great opening sequence with a ton of musical numbers, some action, some romance and some great comedy supplied by the supporting characters. This film is part of the Disney Renaissance period which made Disney animated films relevant in pop culture once more. This is the must-have DVD of the week.
The Trotsky – This Canadian film stars Jay Baruchel as a student at a Montreal high school, who believes that he is the reincarnation of the famous iconoclast Leon Trotsky. When Baruchel’s character leads a hunger strike at his father’s factory, the father punishes him by sending him to a public school. This only adds fuel to the fire as he begins to change the high school by becoming an activist. Definitely a film that will not appeal to everyone, but Baruchel picks quirky roles, so it should be interesting to say the least.
The Secret of Kellis – This film (which was nominated at this year’s Academy Awards in the Best Animated Feature category) follows the story of a young boy who is recruited by an illuminator to help finish The Book of Kells that he is working on. The young boy is fascinated by the world that the illuminator exposes him too as he becomes more interested in art and fantasy. The young boy is forced to leave his home to get ink to finish the book, which angers his uncle who hopes the boy will help him build a wall to keep out the Vikings. The film might not be for everyone, but it is pretty magical to look at (at least from the trailer).
The Human Centipede – The horror film that most everyone has heard about, but few have seen, arrives on DVD today. The film follows a mad doctor who is obsessed with creating a new creature. He has experimented on animals, but now he wants to experiment on humans to make them centipedes. He wants to create a fully working creature by attaching three humans together, by sewing their mouths to another person’s anus. This film is really not for everyone, but I’m sure it will be a film that you hear about in your office.
Grindhouse – Finally, a proper release of the 2007 film that includes everything that was in theatres and then some. We get the fake trailers, a ton of behind-the-scenes features and the two films in one package that fans have long waited for. I know this will be in my collection today.
30 Days of Night: Dark Days – This Direct-to-DVD sequel picks up where the original film left off. Stella leaves Alaska and moves to Los Angeles. She goes to L.A. with a plan to avenge her husband’s death. Her plan is to intentionally attract the vampires in L.A. (that doesn’t sound like much of a plan to me). She teams up with some local vampire hunters in her quest to rid the world of blood suckers. The major stars of the original do not appear in this one (including Melissa George).
TV ON DVD
All in the Family: The Complete Seventh Season
Bones: The Complete Fifth Season
Caprica: Season 1.0
The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Seventh Season
Medium: The Sixth Season
SG.U (Stargate: Universe): The Complete First Season
Until Next Tuesday!