“Super 8” (Paramount) has the DNA of a Steven Spielberg tale: creative kids, a love of movies, an alien visitor, a military conspiracy. mystery, wonder and adventure from the perspective of a child. Too bad that director J.J. Abrams pays more attention to the pyrotechnics than to the kids in the middle of it. But he does get some superb performances from his young cast, especially Elle Fanning. Videodrone’s review is here.
“Conan the Barbarian” (Lionsgate) casts Jason Momoa in the role of Robert E. Howard’s pulp fiction hero, made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger, for this attempt to reboot the franchise for a new generation. Robert Rodriguez returns to his juvenile James Bond series with Jessica Alba and Joel McHale in the lead in “Spy Kids: All The Time In The World” (Anchor Bay)
Dominic Cooper delivers his breakout performance as Uday Hussein and his civilian lookalike in “The Devil’s Double” (Lionsgate), directed by Lee Tamahori. Kristin Scott Thomas stars in “Sarah’s Key” (Anchor Bay), a World War II mystery based on the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay.
Plus “Trigger” (Wolfe) is Bruce McDonald’s rock and roll indie from Canada with Molly Parker and Tracy Wright, “Carjacked” (Anchor Bay) stars Mario Bello and Stephen Dorff, and “Flypaper” (IFC) stars Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd.
TV on DVD:
“Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Series” (BBC) features all 13 episodes plus the Christmas special from most recent series of the erstwhile British sci-fantasy show, now under the creative wing of writer/producer Stephen Moffat and Doctor Matt Smith. It’s a season to remember. Videodrone remembers is here.
“The Office: Special Edition” (U.K.) (BBC) is a new edition of the original British incarnation of workplace sitcom with Ricky Gervais as a most insufferably self-satisfied office manager on television. This set features new interviews and a retrospective documentary. Videodrone’s review is here.
“The Adventures of Tintin: Season One” (Shout! Factory) is an animated series produced in Europe in the early 1990s and based on the original books by Herge, including two that form the basis of the new Steven Spielberg film. “Perry Mason: Season Six, Volume Two” (Paramount) features 14 more episodes of courtroom brilliance from Raymond Burr’s definitive TV lawyer. The documentary “These Amazing Shadows: The Movies That Make America” (PBS), originally produced for public television, surveys the films on the National Film Registry.
Cool, Classic and Cult:
Henry Fonda calms “12 Angry Men” (Criterion) in the classic 1957 courtroom drama set entirely in the jury room. Sidney Lumet made his feature debut in the big screen adaptation of the original live TV production. The Criterion debut features both versions and plenty of supplements. Videodrone’s review is here.
Two D.W. Griffith silent movie landmarks receive newly remastered editions on DVD and Blu-ray debuts: “Birth of a Nation” (Kino), the original American cinema epic (as influential as it is controversial), and the thrilling melodrama “Way Down East” (Kino) with Lillian Gish.
“¡Three Amigos! 25th Anniversary Edition” (HBO), starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short as intellectually-challenged actors in silent movie westerns mistaken for genuine heroes, may be the forgotten John Landis comedy classic. It’s certainly the sweetest of the American western parodies, and it is a loving tribute to the innocence of the early westerns.
“Rushmore” (Criterion), Wes Anderson’s second feature, the original “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (MGM) with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, and the sprawling 1958 western “The Big Country” (MGM) with Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston and Jean Simmons also debut.