DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: THE ISLAND (Shout! Factory)
Having scored huge box-office with Peter Benchley’s best-seller Jaws in 1975, producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown reteamed with the author for this heavily-hyped 1980 adaptation of his subsequent seafaring bestseller, directed by the talented Michael Ritchie on a (reported) healthy $15 million budget.The result was rejected by audiences and critics alike. It’s tacky and vulgar, yet there’s a misguided, thorny charm to the proceedings. Every so often, a film entertains in spite of itself. This is one of those films.Benchley solves the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle in succinct fashion: A bloodthirsty band of latter-day (and exceedingly grubby) pirates rules the region, and woe to those unwary enough to trespass. Enter Michael Caine as a magazine reporter who stumbles across this story of a lifetime in the company of his bratty young son (Jeffrey Frank, in his first — and only — screen role). The pirates, led by reliable David Warner (even he looks embarrassed), quickly brainwash the boy and subject Caine to all sorts of random indignities which he cruises through with customary aplomb. The man cannot give a bad performance.For the Big Ending, which takes some time to get to, Our Hero pays the pirates back big-time for what has come before in a bullet-riddled, blood-splattered finale aboard a captured Coast Guard cutter. That’s Michael Caine; he never disappoints. (The DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $26.99.) Rated R.
41 (HBO Home Entertainment):Veteran producer and Bush backer Jerry Weintraub produced writer/director Jeffrey Roth’s in-depth look at the life and career of George HW Bush, the 41st President of the United States. The DVD retails for $19.98.
“ANGRY BOYS” (HBO Home Entertainment): Award-winning actor/ comedian Chris Lilley created, directs, executive-produces and stars (in multiple roles) in this “mockumentary” comedy series, aired in the US by HBO, that examines the lives of average boys and men in contemporary Australia. The DVD boxed set retails for $29.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $39.98.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (Warner Home Video): Christopher Nolan closes out his Batman trilogy in triumphant fashion, with Christian Bale back in action as Bruce Wayne and his alter ego the Caped Crusader — this time trying to save Gotham City from the dastardly Bane (Tom Hardy). Series regulars Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman are joined by Anne Hathaway (as Catwoman), Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Conti, Matthew Modine, William Devane and some surprise cameos. One of the year’s best films and maybe the best Batman film ever. Rated PG-13.
“GIRLS”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (HBO Home Entertainment): The lives and loves of four young women in New York City are depicted in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2012 season of the acclaimed HBO comedy series created by series star Lena Dunham. Emmy winner for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, with additional nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series and three for Dunham: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $49.99.
“GREEN LANTERN: THE ANIMATED SERIES — RISE OF THE GREEN LAN- TERNS (SEASON 1 PART 1)” (DC Entertainment/Warner Home Video): The DC Comics superhero (voiced by Josh Keaton) and his Green Lantern Corps embark on interstellar missions of heroism in the first 13 episodes from the 2011-’12 season of the animated “DC Nation” series broadcast on the Cartoon Network. The two-DVD boxed set retails for $19.97.
HIROKIN: THE LAST SAMURAI (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Writer/producer/director Alejo Mo-Sun’s laughably absurd feature debut is a space fantasy involving a rebellion on the planet Aradius against a tyrannical dictator (typecast Julian Sands) led by the title swordsman (a miscast Wes Bentley). “There is nothing foolish about the struggle for freedom” intones Angus Macfadyen, but there’s plenty foolish about this hackneyed hackwork, replete with slow-motion swordplay. Rated R.
“LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT”: THE NINTH YEAR (Shout! Factory): A DVD collection ($44.99 retail) of all 16 episodes from the 2010 season of the award-winning police procedural, which jumped ship from NBC to USA Network midway through its run. The regular cast includes Vincent D’Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe, Saffron Burrows and Jeff Goldblum.
THE MAN NOBODY KNEW: IN SEARCH OF MY FATHER, CIA SPY- MASTER WILLIAM COLBY (First Run Features): Producer/director Carl Colby’s fascinating (if awkwardly titled) documentary traces the life, career and death — all shrouded in mystery — of longtime CIA operative William Colby, who ascended to the director’s position in 1973. A must for history and espionage buffs that offers a unique, not always pleasant, insight into this government’s intelligence community.
THE MOTH DIARIES (IFC Films/MPI Media Group): Mary Harron’s adaptation of Rachel Klein’s bestseller about supernatural doings at an exclusive girls’ school. Luscious Lily Cole heads a cast that includes Sarah Bolger, Sarah Gadon, Judy Parfitt and Scott Speedman. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R.
OBAMA’S AMERICA 2016 (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Writer/directors Dinesh D’Souza and John Sullivan’s documentary ($19.98 retail), based on D’Souza’s best-seller, postulates various (mostly negative) ideas about where the US is headed under Barack Obama’s presidency. It grossed $30 million but didn’t seem to impact Obama’s re-election. Rated PG.
THE PACT (IFC Midnight/MPI Media Group): Writer/director Nicholas McCarthy’s debut feature stars Caity Lotz as a young woman who returns home for her mother’s funeral and encounters ghostly goings-on. Agnes Bruckner, Casper Van Dien and Haley Hudson also get spooked… and perhaps worse. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT/ SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 (Anchor Bay Entertainment): A DVD double-feature ($14.98 retail) of the unrated version of the controversial 1984 yuletide shocker about a deranged young man (Robert Brian Wilson in his screen debut) who snaps on Christmas Eve and its cheapjack, R-rated 1987 sequel, which relies heavily on footage from the first film.
SNOWMAGEDDON (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Something’s amiss in the wintry town of Normal, as a cursed snow globe causes actual catastrophes to occur. Why the snow globe is cursed is never explained in this sub-standard time-killer, although the CGI effects aren’t all bad. Rated PG-13.
SUDDENLY (Image Entertainment): The Blu-ray bow ($19.98 retail) of the 1954 thriller starring Frank Sinatra as a potential presidential assassin who holes up in the small town of Suddenly and matches wits with local lawman Sterling Hayden. Quite controversial in its day, this has been released on various public-domain labels over the years, but this version is fully restored and features audio commentaries.
THE WATCH (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade enjoy good onscreen chemistry, which keeps this slim, knockabout farce afloat, in which a group of Ohio suburbanites band together to form a neighborhood watch — only to discover that an actual alien invasion is taking place. Rated R.
WHY STOP NOW (IFC Films/MPI Media Group): On the road to rehab with Jesse Eisenberg as a musical prodigy and Melissa Leo as his mostly-loaded mother, in this comedy written and directed by Phil Dorling and Ron Nyswaner. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2012, Mark Burger.