video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Dorian Gray (National Entertainment Media)

Director Oliver Parker’s adaptation of the Oscar Wilde classic stars Ben Barnes in the title role, the handsome hedonist who remains eternally youthful while his portrait reflects the effects of a debauched, decadent lifestyle.

Unlike Albert Lewin’s 1945 screen version — and, to an extent, Wilde’s original story — which only hinted at the depths of Dorian’s depravity, this (moderately revisionist) rendition goes for broke. It’s lavish and lusty, brooding and blood-soaked.

Barnes certainly looks the part of the diabolical Dorian, yet it’s a difficult role for any actor, as the character is a study in soulless vanity. Colin Firth walks away with every scene he’s in as Lord Henry Wotton, the cynical mentor who watches Dorian (with both admiration and jealousy) as he descends to moral depths even he couldn’t dream of. Ben Chaplin plays Basil Hallward, the artist who paints Dorian’s portrait and eventually pays dearly for it.

The line-up of Victorian ladies who succumb to Dorian, in one way or another, includes Rachel Hurd-Wood, Fiona Shaw, Caroline Goodall, Emilia Fox and Maryam d’Abo, with Rebecca Hall as Lord Henry’s daughter, who truly captures Dorian’s heart.

There’s excellent cinematography by Roger Pratt, although the CGI climax is a bit much, and polished period detail. All told, a respectable screen rendition of Wilde’s story, and a good bet for horror fans. Rated R.

BIKINI FRANKENSTEIN (RetromediaEntertainment/Infinity Entertainment Group):Fred Olen Ray’s softcore spin on MaryShelley’s classic stars Frankie Cullen as thehunky young Dr. Frankenstein, who takes timeoff from seducing college co-eds to create theperfect woman (Jayden Cole, who certainlyqualifies). Pulchritude and in-jokes abound, asdo the familiar faces found in Ray’s ongoingseries of low-budget sex comedies: ChristineNguyen, Brandin Rackley, Alexis Texas, RonFord and Ted Newsom as Prof. Van Sloane, thecollege dean. (It must be some institution ofhigher learning!) BURNING BRIGHT (LionsGate HomeEntertainment): Briana Evigan must protectautistic little brother Charlie Tahan from a ravenoustiger loose in their house — and duringa hurricane, no less! Well-made and sometimessuspenseful, but this is a tough idea to stretchto feature length. Rated PG-13. “DEXTER”: THE FOURTH SEASON (CBSDVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): MichaelC Hall is back as everyone’s favorite forensicsspecialist and serial killer — now a new father— in all 12 episodes from the 2009 season ofthe critically acclaimed Showtime series. JenniferCarpenter (Hall’s real-life wife) plays Dexter’s sister,and the cast also includes Julie Benz, DesmondHarrington, Lauren Velez, James Remar and thegreat John Lithgow. Nominated for eight EmmyAwards including Outstanding Drama Series andOutstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Hall),with wins for Outstanding Guest Actor in a DramaSeries (Lithgow) and Outstanding Directing fora Drama Series (Steve Shill, for the episode “TheGetaway”). The DVD boxed set retails for $49.99,the Blu-ray boxed set for $64.99. FANGORIA FRIGHTFEST (LightningMedia): Fangoria, the premier horror moviemagazine (I’ve been a subscriber longer than Icare to remember), rings in the Halloween seasonwith eight feature films available on DVD,VOD and Digital Download: Calista Flockhartstars in director Jaume Balaguero’s awardwinningFragile (rated PG-13); Wes Bentley, EricRoberts and Michael Madsen star in The Tomb(rated R), also known as Ligeia and based onEdgar Allan Poe’s classic The Tomb of Ligeia; KeriRussell headlines the award-winning GrimmLove (rated R), also known as Rohtenburg andButterfly: A Grimm Story; Dean Francis’ RoadKill (rated R), starring Xavier Samuel and alsoknown as Road Train; writer/producer/directorDarin Scott’s award-winning Dark House(rated R), starring Jeffrey Combs; Lori Heuringstars in Hunger (rated R); director James Isaac’saward-winning Pig Hunt; and Elio Quiroga’saward-winning The Haunting (rated R), alsoknown as No-Do: The Beckoning. Each DVDretails for $19.99, a boxed set of all eight retailsfor $159.92.NFL GREATEST RIVALRIES (NFL Films/Warner Home Video): With football season infull swing, the NFL is celebrating some its morestoried and intense rivalries. The self-explanatory“Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins(Cowboys Defeat Redskins)” is countered bythe equally self-explanatory “WashingtonRedskins vs. Dallas Cowboys” (Redskins DefeatCowboys).” There’s also “Chicago Bears vs.Green Bay Packers (Bears Defeat Packers)” andthe obligatory “Green Bay Packers vs. ChicagoBears” (Packers Defeat Bears).” Each DVD boxedset retails for $26.95. NFL Films/Warner HomeVideo will also commemorate the 50th anniversaryof the Twin Cities’ NFL franchise in the two-DVD boxed set “NFL History of the MinnesotaVikings,” which also retails for $26.95. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (WarnerHome Video): Jackie Earle Haley is the “new”Freddy Krueger in this unnecessary and underwhelmingremake of Wes Craven’s 1984 horrorclassic. The budget may be bigger and the specialeffects more elaborate, but otherwise this isinferior in every way. But it made money and asequel is in the works. Horrors! Rated R. OPEN HOUSE (LionsGate HomeEntertainment): Writer/director Andrew Paquin’sdebut feature is a well-made but one-notepsychological shocker starring Brain Geraghtyand Tricia Helfer as a psychopathic couple thattakes suburbia by storm, with Rachel Blanchardas their increasingly desperate hostage. Paquin’sreal-life sister Anna and her “True Blood”squeeze (and new husband) Stephen Moyerturn up briefly. Rated R. PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME(Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment):There has never been a good movie based on,or inspired by, a video game — and this JerryBruckheimer production (one of his worst)enforces that notion with a vengeance. The illusedcast includes a buff Jake Gyllenhaal, AlfredMolina, Gemma Arterton and Ben Kingsley,whose eye-rolling histrionics can’t even to saveit on a camp level. One of the year’s worst movies.Available, for those who care, as a singlediscDVD ($29.99 retail), a Blu-ray disc ($39.99retail), or as a three-disc combo pack ($44.99retail). Rated PG-13. “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE” (LionsGateHome Entertainment): The latest releases showcasingthe most popular sketches from favoritestars of NBC-TV’s long-running late-night comedyseries: “The Best of Will Ferrell,” “The Best ofTracy Morgan,” “The Best of Eddie Murphy” and“The Best of Adam Sandler,” each DVD retailingfor $14.98. “SMALLVILLE”: THE COMPLETE NINTHSEASON (Warner Home Video): The mostsuccessful small-screen “Superman” franchisecontinues, with this collection of all 22 episodesfrom the 2009-’10 season of the award-winningCW Television Network fantasy series based onthe classic DC Comics character, starring TomWelling as the Man of Steel and his alter-ego,reporter Clark Kent, with Allison Mack (in herfinal season), Cassidy Freeman, Callum Blue,Kristin Kreuk, Justin Hartley and Erica Duranceas Lois Lane. Reportedly, Season 10 will be thelast one. The DVD boxed set retails for $59.98,the Blu-ray boxed set for $69.97. WALL STREET (Twentieth Century FoxHome Entertainment): An “insider trading” specialedition of Oliver Stone’s 1987 drama, withMichael Douglas in his Oscar-winning role asWall Street tycoon Gordon Gekko, backed by astar-studded cast including Charlie and MartinSheen, Hal Holbrook, Terence Stamp, DarylHannah, James Spader, Sean Young, JamesKaren and Stone standby John C. McGinley.“Greed is good” — and so is this movie. Thesequel, reuniting Douglas and Stone, recentlyopened in theaters. Rated R. “WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN:FINAL CRISIS TRILOGY” (LionsGate HomeEntertainment): The latest installment of theanimated Nicktoons series sees the popularMarvel Comics character (voiced by Steve Blum)doing battle in the present and future in thisthree-episode season finale. This special-editionDVD retails for $14.98.