If you didn't see today's movie DVD releases in the theaters, don't worry -- you didn't miss much. In fact, most of these movies are best enjoyed on DVD, for both financial and multi-tasking reasons. Put them on in the background as you crochet and/or drink.
If, in the future, surrogate robots are known as "surries," does that make Bruce Willis' hideously toupeed replicant the "surrie with the fringe on top"? Goonies hairpiece not withstanding, this whodunit has a bunch of flaws, not least of which is the fact that all of the commercials gave away the ending of the movie. The whole idea of a schism between those who can afford to purchase a life-sized robot, recharger and operating system and those who can't could have been an interesting commentary on the differences between people in different income brackets, but instead we get surrie-haters choosing to live in surrie-free war zones simply because surries are "unnatural." On the other hand, it also has both robot and human versions of Bruce Willis getting the crap beat out of them, and Ving Rhames with a full head of dreadlocks. Bonus features are slim (like the movie) and include only a music video and a commentary by the director of Terminator 3 and this movie, if you're into that sort of thing.
Saw VI (Widescreen Unrated Edition)
Every copy of Saw VI comes with a free copy of Saw I, and while I certainly appreciate the chance to witness Cary Elwes' finest acting moments again, it should have come with copies of Saw II, III, IV and V, as well. The plot of Saw VI is so wrapped up in the plot of the previous installments that you really need a refresher course in Advanced Saw Theory before you watch it. That makes it different from most horror franchises, but it also prevents you from really enjoying a single installment on its own merits. Couldn't they have included a family tree in the case, only instead of showing who gave birth to whom, it can show who killed whom, and why?
This movie may not really have much heft to it -- what little conflict there is in the film can be solved by a fresh-faced roller derby noob performing a simple slingshot maneuver. That move may defeat any and all rival teams, as well as winning the support of the crowd, but a little more drama on the screen and a little less playful romping (marco polo in a field, making out underwater, food fight) would have been welcome. Still, Marcia Gay Harden is great as the strict-but-kinda cool mom of Ellen Page's derby girl, and the DVD includes deleted scenes and an alternate opening.
Michael's Jackson's This Is It
Yes, this is it, the minimally edited behind-the-scenes footage of Jackson's never-realized concert extravaganza. They obviously don't have much to work with, so get used to seeing Jackson in several familiar-looking outfits singing (sometimes barely singing) and dancing his way through his greatest hits. A fitting document of his final days as the world's greatest performer.
The Donner Party
Crispin Glover will always entertain, if only to see how much emotion he can inject into the most ordinary of dialogue. As the wealthy Westward-bounder who gets his wagon train snowed in in the Rockies, he is totally the bad guy of the film, even as he leads a small group of soon-to-be cannibals to seek rescue. (The cannibalism? Totally his idea.) Luckily, the good guys include Christian Kane (of Angel and Leverage fame) and Mark Boone Jr. (Bobby on Sons of Anarchy). Sadly, they cannot stop the cannibalism.
The Boys Are Back
Clive Owen plays a man whose wife dies, and for what must be the first time in the history of his film career, he doesn't carve a bloody path through the city hell-bent on his mission of revenge.
This low-budget zombie movie saves money on zombies by sealing itself inside a small-town radio station, where it gets its reports from callers, but it keeps the danger real by having the illness travel through a new and unique method. A weird-but-fun flick.
Also out this week:
Prom Night in Mississippi Filmmaking Rule #1: When Morgan Freeman integrates a segregated prom (or African nation), you'd better make a movie out of it.
B-Girl Veterans of Step Up, Stomp the Yard, You Got Served, So You Think You Can Dance and America's Best Dance Crew star in this breakdancing movie about a B-girl who moves to Cali from New York.
Bright Star We already have to listen to poets drone on about love, do we have to watch them, too?
Little Ashes Robert Pattinson. Playing Salvador Dali. With a little mustache. Where's Luis Bunuel with that razor blade...
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell If HIMYM's Barney Stinson was a real person... he'd be kind of an A-hole.
St. Trinian's Why is Colin Firth in this British schoolgirl romp? We know why Russell Brand is in it.
Sherlock Holmes No, silly, not that Sherlock Holmes -- this is the one where he fights dinosaurs, and Watson is played by Ianto Jones! Dur!