video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Green Zone ( Universal studios Home entertainment)

After scoring hits with The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass reunited for this intelligent, topical combination of fact and fiction that earned solid reviews but less-than-stellar box-office, perhaps hitting too close to home for audiences that prefer thrillers more fanciful than factual.

Set in Baghdad in 2003, the film follows soldier Roy Miller (Damon) as he detects a worrisome recent trend in his Us Army team’s ongoing mission to uncover weapons of mass destruction: The intelligence reports they’re being given is faulty, if not outright false. even more troubling is that no one in authority, least of all Washington propagandist Clark Poundstone (Greg kinnear), seems very concerned.

Greengrass brings his trademark kinetic energy to the action scenes, as Miller delves deeper into the mystery, trying to discover why the administration’s war team and the CIA appear to be working at cross purposes. Given the history of the conflict in Iraq, there’s a depressing undercurrent to the proceedings. This is a conspiracy movie, and the conspirators are on our side.

Damon is earnest and no-nonsense, yet undeniably likable, as Miller, matched by kinnear’s smug turn as Poundstone. There’s nice work too from Amy Ryan as a gullible Wall Street Journal correspondent, Jason Isaacs as a military hatchet man who obeys his orders to the letter, and reliable Brendan Gleeson as a CIA operative overly (and duly) concerned with the eventual consequences of their actions. Rated R.


CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE (lionsGate Home entertainment): Detroit cops Chris klein and Adam Rodriguez confront gang warfare and police corruption in this choppy but sometimes effective melodrama that gets better as the plot unfolds… and seems vaguely reminiscent of the 2008 Robert De Niro/Al Pacino vehicle Righteous Kill. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (who was in Righteous Kill) co-stars as a gang lord and was the executive producer. Rated R.

COP OUT (Warner Home Video): A weak throwback to the buddy/cop genre, with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as mismatched detectives on the trail of a priceless baseball card. A real letdown coming from director/editor kevin smith. kevin Pollak, Michelle Trachtenberg, Rashida Jones, seann William scott, Jason lee, Adam Brody and Fred Armisen are also on hand, but the laughs are in short supply. Rated R.

THE CRAZIES (Anchor Bay entertainment): Director Breck eisner’s well-made remake of George A Romero’s 1973 cult favorite stars Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell as a small-town couple who begin to realize that a chemical spill is slowly turning the residents into homicidal maniacs. A better-than-expected first half eventually gives way to a protracted and excessive finale. still, it’s got its moments. Romero earns a token executive-producer credit, and look fast for the original film’s leading lady, lynn lowry, in a cameo role. Rated R.

CSNY/D’J’ VU (lionsGate Home entertainment): Neil Young, under pseudonym Bernard shakey, directed this documentary feature tracing the 2006 Freedom of Speech reunion tour of Crosby, stills, Nash 7 Young, focusing as much on the message as the music (or the men behind it), as well as its unmistakable parallels to the Vietnam era. Rated R.

DIRTY DANCING (lionsGate Home entertainment): A “limited keepsake edition” ($29.98 retail DVD, $34.99 retail Blu-ray) of the much-beloved, overrated 1987 tearjerker about romance between a hunky dance teacher (Patrick swayze) and a teenager (Jennifer Grey, 27 at the time) vacationing in the Catskills circa 1963 (although much of it was filmed in North Carolina). Unbelievably hokey but tolerable, thanks in part to sincere performances, the presence of vets Jerry Orbach and Jack Weston, and admittedly impressive dance numbers. One of the definitive “chick flicks” of the late 20 th century. some of the songs are good and some aren’t, but most are incessantly played on the radio to this day — like “(I’ve Had) The Time of My life,” which won the Oscar as Best song. Followed by a shortlived TV series and a belated 2004 prequel, with a remake long on the drawing board. Remember: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” How could we forget (much as we’ve tried)? Rated PG-13.

“HEROES”: SEASON 4 (Universal studios Home entertainment): A boxed set ($59.98 retail on DVD, $79.98 retail on Blu-ray) containing all 18 episodes from the 2009-’10 season of the award-winning, prime-time NBC-TV fantasy series about a group of people, each of whom possess amazing abilities, and their ongoing struggle against evil. The ensemble cast includes Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman, Adrian Pasdar and Milo Ventimiglia. emmy nomination for Outstanding Art Direction for a single Camera series (for the episode “Brave New World”).

JIM HENSON’S DOG CITY: THE MOVIE (lionsGate Home entertainment): Originally broadcast on “The Jim Henson Hour,” this enjoyable Muppets spoof of ’30s-era gangster films is set in the title town, inhabited by toughtalking, cigar-chomping canines. Henson won the emmy Award for Outstanding Direction in a Variety or Music Program. A short-lived children’s series followed in 1993.

LIONSGATE BLU-RAYS (lionsGate Home entertainment): The Blu-ray debuts of the 1992 Rodney Dangerfield comedy Ladybugs (rated PG-13); Barry levinson’s 1994 comedy Jimmy Hollywood (rated R), with Joe Pesci (in the title role) and Christian slater; sylvester stallone squares off against Donald sutherland in the disappointing 1989 prison melodrama Lock Up (rated R); Mickey Rourke plays the title role in Walter Hill’s vastly underappreciated 1989 adaptation of Johnny Handsome (rated R), with a star-studded supporting cast including Morgan Freeman, ellen Barkin, elizabeth McGovern, Forest Whitaker, lance Henriksen and scott Wilson (the latter two I have had the pleasure of interviewing, as well as Walter Hill); the unrated extended version of the 2008 Rambo, which stallone directed, co-wrote and (of course) starred in. each Blu-ray retails for $19.99. lionsGate is also releasing the Blu-ray boxed set Rambo: The Complete Collection, which includes all four films and retails for $54.99.

“MERCY”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Universal studios Home entertainment): Taylor schilling, Jaime lee kirchner and Michelle Trachtenberg portray three nurses who balance the rigors of life and career, in all 22 episodes from the 2009-’10 (and only) season of the prime-time NBC-TV drama series. This five-DVD boxed set retails for $44.99.

NINJA’S CREED (lionsGate Home entertainment): Originally titled Royal Kill, this dis mal martial-arts thriller involved reincarnation and possession — and none of it makes a bit of sense. Pro wrestler Gail kim co-stars with eric Roberts (in a throwaway role) and Pat Morita (in his final role). Rated PG-13. No stars.

UNRIVALED (lionsGate Home entertainment): Yet another bone-crunching, clich’-riddled melodrama about an underdog who enters a mixed martial-arts tournament and confounds the odds to become a winner. This one stars Hector echavarria (also a screenwriter), who has played this type of role before; an unrecognizable Nicholas Campbell as a grizzled trainer, and actual professional fighters including Rashad “sugar” evans, Nate “The Great” Marquardt, Forrest Griffin and keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine. Rated R.

WOLF MOON (lionsGate Home entertainment): This dim, unconscionably overlong (over two hours!) Twilight knock-off stars Ginny Weirick as a small-town teen who falls for a mysterious drifter (Chris Divecchio) who suffers from full moon madness by turning into a werewolf — a trait handed down by his murderous dad (Max Ryan). This was “created” by writer/director Dana Mennie, who also supervised the music, and a wasted supporting cast includes lin shaye, Maria Conchita Alonso, Chris Mulkey, sid Haig and Billy Drago (the latter four and Ryan are also credited as co-producers). Originally titled Dark Moon Rising, although Bad Moon Rising or Bad Movie Rising would be more appropriate. Rated R.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2010, Mark Burger