this week’s dvd releases are topped by films about people who fight injustice and evil.
ATTACK The Block: Director Joe Cornish offers a fresh look at the aliensvs-humans genre with this tale of what happens when a housing complex becomes the subject of an attack. Instead of the military, it’s a gang of South London teens who have to save the day.
Cornish does a marvelous job of building tension, like a 1950s sci-fi film, while creating some very interesting characters. The story is presented with just the right dash of humour to keep it from becoming too dark.
The biggest hurdle: The accents of the actors, which are so thick that there was some consideration given to subtitles.
Don’t worry. It’s not what they say, but what they do that makes this film fun.
> Captain America: The First Avenger: Chris Evans – the guy who put the heat in the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies – steps into the boots of the latest comicbook-inspired film champion.
He plays Steve Rogers, a 40-kg weakling who, through the magic of science, becomes the hunky Captain America. The film isn’t a major
disaster, but it generally could use some work. Director Joe Johnston’s uneven direction, combined with some iffy special effects, has the film spinning from heroic to horrific.
Evans always looks like he showed up late at a costume store and had to wear whatever could be cobbled together.
Everything about Captain America: The Last Avenger is uneven. There are moments of focus when the film is a battle royal, but it’s not sustained, leaving this latest comic book effort a candidate for a dishonourable discharge.
> Barney Miller: The Complete Series: The DVD contains all eight seasons of this television classic. The show’s a smart comedy that created a blueprint for the gritty portrayal of police departments used in many dramas.
The strength of Barney Miller is the writing and acting. Typical plotlines are elevated by the intelligent – and still goofy – approach used to deal with each situation. Hal Linden and the first-rate cast – which also includes Abe Vigoda, Ron Glass and Max Gail – take the stories and give them heart through their marvelous performances.
The series is one of television’s all-time best.
Also new on DVD this week
> Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection: The 10-disc set includes
58 shorts and feature films.
> Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy: British TV’S version of the John le Carre’s classic Cold War-era spy drama.
> Dennis The Menace: Season Three: Dennis keeps causing problems.
> The People Vs George Lucas: Documentary that looks at the mixed feelings of Star Wars fans.
> Imagine It!: Documentary that pushes young people to think outside the box.
> Mardi Gras Spring Break: Three college students travel to New Orleans to attend Mardi Gras. Carmen Electra stars.
> The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: Volumes 3 and 4 focus on Iron Man and Thor.
> Winnie the Pooh: The gang from the Hundred Acre Wood goes on another adventure.
> Bill Moyers: On Our Own Terms: Bill Moyers interviews dozens of terminally ill patients.
> Tom & Jerry: The Golden Collection Volume 1: Includes 37 re-mastered cartoons.
> Father Of Invention: A TV pitchman tries to redeem his name.
> The Gathering: Ed Asner and Maureen Stapleton star in the 1977 TV movie. > Shaolin: Jackie Chan stars. > Luther 2: John Luther (Idris Elba) is a genius detective who struggles with his own demons.
> Jurassic Park: The trilogy is now available as a Blu-ray set.
> Roger Corman’s Cult Classics: DVD set includes Firecracker, TNT
Jackson and Too Hot To Handle.
> The Conversation: The Gene Hackman classic is available on Bluray for the first time.
> Joseph Campbell: Mythos III, The Shaping Of The Western Tradition: Susan Sarandon hosts this look at subjects ranging from Arthurian romances to modern myth.
> The Original Christmas Classics: Contains Blu-ray versions of Frosty The Snowman, Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town and Frosty Returns.
> Conscience Of Fire: A lethal car accident turns into a more complicated case. – The Fresno BEE/MCT Information Services