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I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 20, 2011

by Ethan Alter December 20, 2011 5:45 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rocky gets an MMA-makeover with Warrior.

Warrior
Despite being stitched together out of the well-worn clichés of other sports movies -- a little On the Waterfront here, a little Rudy there, a whole lot of Rocky everywhere -- Warrior manages to be a rousing piece of entertainment on its own terms. Credit leading men Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy, who play a pair of estranged brothers forced to battle each other in and out of the mixed-martial arts ring. Nick Nolte also does nice work as the siblings' ex-alcoholic father, though Jennifer Morrison never quite out-Adrian's the original Adrian, Talia Shire. While the melodrama is addictive, the fight sequences are where Warrior delivers the goods. Even if you're not a regular MMA-viewer, you may find yourself downloading a few pay-per-view specials after the credits roll here.
Extras: Two behind-the-scenes documentaries and three additional featurettes, including one that schools the viewer in MMA strategy. There's also a gag reel, a deleted scene and a commentary track featuring Edgerton and the filmmaking team.

Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen's 42nd feature film as a director is also officially his highest-grossing movie to date. And while Midnight in Paris may not be an immortal classic on par with Annie Hall or even Sweet and Lowdown, it's still a strong effort from a filmmaker whose work has been -- to put it kindly -- erratic of late. Owen Wilson plays a successful screenwriter/frustrated novelist who travels with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams) to Paris and winds up magically transported back in time to that great city's past, specifically the roaring Twenties. Underneath the airy tone and clever references to the pop-culture icons of yesteryear (Fitzgerald! Dali! Hemingway!) there's a beautifully melancholy message about the danger of living in the past rather than the present. Nice job, Woody. We're legitimately excited for your next flick now.
Extras: As is typical with Allen's films, this DVD is fairly bare-bones. The only bonus feature is footage of the movie's premiere at the Cannes Film Festival back in May.

Colombiana
Based on her fierce performance in this Luc Besson-produced, Olivier Megaton-directed revenge picture, Zoe Saldana absolutely has the goods to be an action movie star. But she really needs to start picking better material than this. Cast as a female assassin tracking down the baddies that killed her parents, Saldana convincingly kicks ass and takes names, but even she is defeated by the movie's laughable script, which forces her into a chemistry-free romance with Michael Vartan and pits her against a series of unmemorable villains. Although it advertises itself prominently as being from the makers of Taken, Colombiana lacks that movie's hard-edged B-picture trashiness. Someone hook Saldana up with Tarantino, stat.
Extras: The Blu-ray version comes with four featurettes, most of which are understandably devoted to the movie's action set-pieces.

Straw Dogs
Rod Lurie essentially set himself up for failure when he opted to remake one of Sam Peckinpah's most controversial movies. A problematic picture even in its day, the material demands a sure hand that can navigate some it's more provocative (some would argue, offensive) plot elements. But Lurie decides to play it as a straight genre piece, pitting his nerdy guy hero (James Marsden) against a group of strapping good ol' Southern boys (led by True Blood hunk Alexander Skarsgard) with his lovely wife (Kate Bosworth) caught in the middle. The new Straw Dogs is a slicker affair than its predecessor, but it doesn't unnerve or challenge the viewer in the way Peckinpah did. Seek out the original and leave this remake on the shelf where it belongs.
Extras: Former film critic Lurie defends his film on a solo commentary track and in a separate featurette that compares the remake to the original film. Three other featurettes cover the cast, the set and the final siege sequence respectively.

Underworld Trilogy
With the fourth Underworld feature hitting theaters in January, here's a chance to catch up on the series to date, which depicts the unending war between vampires and Lycans a.k.a. werewolves. The first two Underworld outings follow killer vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and her vampire/Lycan hybrid boyfriend Michael (Scott Speedman) as they battle various legions of vamps and wolves dispatched to kill them. The third (and best) entry rewinds the clock and depicts the origins of the feud between the Lycans and the bloodsuckers. The set also comes with a new series of anime shorts entitled Underworld: Endless War, which features Selene hunting a trio of Lycans across the centuries.
Extras: Apart from the anime shorts, all of the bonus features included here have been ported over from earlier editions and include commentary tracks, behind-the-scenes featurettes and storyboards.

Also on DVD
Even die-hard Gleeks apparently avoided Glee: The Concert Movie during its limited theatrical release this past summer. Maybe they were just waiting to watch the movie on their TV screens just like they watch the show every week... or maybe, like us, they're over Glee. (We didn't receive a screener before press time, so look for a more extensive review next week.) J.C. Chandor's debut feature Margin Call got a lot of love for its depiction of a financial firm that collapses over the course of one very long night. While the cast of actors that Chandor assembled (including Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Paul Bettany) is impressive, his writing and directing falls on the dry side. Finally, the great sports doc Senna uses archival footage to re-tell the life story of Formula 1 racer Ayrton Senna, a brilliant, but temperamental driver and three-time world champion. Avoid Wiki-ing him if at all possible; let the movie take you through his impressive journey, turn by turn.

Think you're a TV or movie expert? Prove it! Play Trivia Without Pity, our new online trivia game with over 2,000 questions about the shows and films you love -- and love to hate.

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