DVD-Video Reviews, Part 2 of 3

by | Mar 1, 2004 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Pt. 2 of 3 March 2004

[Part 1] [Part 3]

Now Showing: Unforgettable Moments from the Movies (2003)
[Illustrated Book and DVD]

Author: Joe Garner
Hosted and Narrated by: Dustin Hoffman
Published by: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Garner Creative Concepts Inc.
DVD: Video: 4:3 with letterbox display of widescreen films
Audio: Dolby Digital stereo
Extras: The book
Length: 2 hrs.
Rating: ****

Now Showing: Unforgettable Moments from the Movies by Joe Garner features scenes and commentary on twenty five movies from 1939’s Wizard of Oz to 2002’s Lord of the Rings. We get a package of a 160 page book with many photographs as well as a companion DVD hosted and narrated by Dustin Hoffman and including two hours of scenes from each of the twenty five featured films. We see memorable scenes and stills from each film as Hoffman gives a summary of the plot and intriguing commentary on the making of each film.

It was very valuable to me to note films I have missed and now feel compelled to see, such as Five Easy Pieces, On the Waterfront and Wall Street to name a few. Although I swore I would never see the very long Lord of the Rings trilogy which movie goers seem to revere or hate, I now have added it to my must see category. I learned it has more than 500 visual effects in the first film. The DVD scenes are riveting featuring the confrontation between Gandalf and the Balrog and a scene with the Gollum illustrating poignantly the tragedy of this strange character.

It was equally fascinating to read about movies I still have no intention of seeing such as Alien, Dirty Harry or Animal House, but to read the analysis of what made these films special was a great treat. To find it absorbing to read about a sports movie, Field of Dreams, was a shock for this not a sports fan.

Yet a third category would be films I now will have to add to my must see again list, like The Godfather, When Harry Met Sally, and Thelma and Louise. So many movies, as they say, so little time.

I loved seeing the memorable scenes from movies that I’ve liked such as the chilling first conversation between Hannibal Lecter and Clareece Starling (Silence of the Lambs), when Indiana Jones grabs the golden idol and outruns the boulder (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Meg Ryan’s hilarious fake “orgasm” scene in the New York deli (When Harry Met Sally), the touching training sequences in Rocky. Michael Douglas’ “greed is good” speech from Wall Street and Marlon Brando’s heartbreaking “I coulda been a contender” conversation with Rod Steiger in On the Waterfront piqued my interest in finally seeing those films.

Garner provides information and insights regarding films underrated at the time of their release, such as Psycho and Wizard of Oz, as well as films that were immediate and enduring hits like The Graduate and Casablanca. He also discusses films that have been influential on other filmmakers as well as films that turned around careers or created stars.

The book was simply captivating, even more so in terms of interesting detail, than the DVD. Think of the book as the main course and the DVD as a platter of tantalizing appetizers. There is a viewer discretion notice at the beginning of some of the scene selections which is helpful for people viewing the DVD with younger children.

I enjoyed learning more about how The Godfather became an icon of American culture and the difficulties Frances Coppola faced making the film, how Steven Spielberg became the new master of suspense in creating Jaws, the parallel story of Sylvester Stallone’s beating the odds with his film Rocky, how Alien elevated the sci-fi genre to high art, the journey in the making of Silence of the Lambs, a film once considered too gruesome to make, yet winning 5 Oscars-best actor, actress, screenplay, picture and director. And this list is just for starters.

At the conclusion of each film in the book, we are presented with another set of unforgettables, usually 4 or 5 descriptions of other films, such as “Humphrey Bogart Moments”, “Marlon Brando Moments”, “Unforgettable Movie Soundtracks, “ “Jack Nicholson Moments”, “Buddy Movies” (8 of those), “Sports Moments”, “Romantic Comedies”, etc.

Other movies not yet mentioned here but also with great material are: Some Like it Hot (“cleared the way for future gender bending comedies”). The Exorcist (“the factual underpinning made it even more terrifying”). E.T. (“the most personal movie of Spielberg’s career”). Jaws (production problems were so bad the crew called it Flaws). Pulp Fiction (I personally abhorred the experience of seeing it but reading about Tarantino’s filmmaking was illuminating). There’s Something About Mary (“reviving classic elements of slapstick to make one of the most tasteless yet touching comedies in a generation”). And finally Cast Away, which featured Tom Hanks on screen alone for two-thirds of the film as well as acting without words most of the time. The transfers to DVD from the various films vary somewhat in quality, due to the different sources, but are generally good. Any movie buff would love owning this book and DVD.

— Donna Dorsett

The Critic – Complete Series (1994-1995)

Studio: Columbia Tri Star Home Entertainment
Video: 4:3 fullscreen
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles and Captions: English Closed Captions
Extras: Cast and crew commentary on select episodes, trailers for Contemporary TV and Original Programming TV, storyboard comparison on select episode, “Creating The Critic” featurette, trailer parodies, Top Ten List, ten webisodes, episode access
Length: 520 minutes
Rating: ****

The Critic was an animated television show that originally ran during 1994-1995 from the producers of The Simpsons. [But with a completely different look and stance from that animation hit…Ed.] The show’s main character, a New York movie critic named Jay Sherman, has his own cable television show. Jay rarely finds anything that he likes about the movies he reviews – it always opens with a frame on the screen parodying a recent movie and Jay saying “It stinks!” Similarly, he finds little to like about his own life. He has a tough boss (something of a parody of Ted Turner), an uncaring ex-wife, a sharp-tongued elderly makeup lady, and even his odd, wealthy adoptive parents fail to treat him with love and respect. Jay’s only saving graces are his young son Marty and his best friend Jeremy Hawke, an Australian film star (a parody of Paul Hogan’s Crocodile Dundee character).

Memorable moments from The Complete Series find Jay: (a) falling in love with a beautiful film actress whose awful film Jay is about to review; (b) being held prisoner by an obsessed fan; and (c) traveling to Hollywood to sell his new screenplay. The entire 23 episodes from the 1994-1995 seasons are spread out over three discs. (Disc One: Pilot, Miserable, Marty’s First Date, Dial “M” For Mother, A Little Deb Will Do Ya, Eye On The Prize, Every Doris Has Her Day, Marathon Mensch, plus special features. Disc Two: L.A. Jay, Dr. Jay, A Day At The Races And A Night At The Opera, Uneasy Rider, A Pig-Boy And His Dog, Sherman Woman And Child, Sherman Of Arabia, A Song For Margo, plus special features. Disc Three: From Chunk To Hunk, Lady Hawke, Frankie And Ellie Get Lost, Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice, All The Duke’s Men, Dukerella, I Can’t Believe It’s A Clip Show, plus special features).

The overall video quality for this DVD set i good. [Images are clean but a bit soft-focus, as seen with many transfers of both animated and live action TV series to DVD. I was surprised that the commentary tracks by the voice talents continued for every one of the 23 episodes. The first couple were interesting, revealing among other things that the producers shot video footage of the voices while recording them to aid the animators later. But after a while the voice-over-industry gossip got a bit repetitive; can’t imagine anyone listening to all 23! – even if they’ve already seen the shows without the commentary…Ed.] Colors are bright and vibrant with well- saturated hues. Black levels are consistently dark throughout. Picture defect mastering is solid with no major flaws or compression artifacts. The overall audio quality is above average with the English Dolby Digital 2.0 track serving as the basis for this review. Dialogue is crisp and intelligible.

Reference equipment: [Video monitor- NetTV DTV-34XRT; Video scaler- Silicon Image iScan Pro; DVD player- Philips Q35AT; A/V Receiver- Sherwood Newcastle R-963T; Speakers- BIC Venturis; Tactile Transducer- Clark Synthesis Gold; Cables and Wires- www.bettercables.com ]

– Calvin Harding, Jr.

The Emperor’s New Clothes (2002)

Starring: Ian Holm, Iben Hjejle
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Studio: Paramount
Video: Widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs
Audio: Dolby Digital, English 5.1 Surround, English Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English
Length: 106 min.
Rating: *** 1/2

This 2002 film is prefaced by “After his defeat at Waterloo, the great Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the remote island of St. Helena where he died on May 5, 1821.” Although somewhat unbelievable, this fantasy tale, adapted from a novel by Simon Leys, about Napoleon’s return to France after six years of exile is nevertheless conceivable. This odyssey could have occurred with the right mix of luck and scheming that unfolds in this well executed story.

The excellent and accomplished actor, Ian Holm, (The Lord of the Rings, Chariots of Fire) appears in the title role as well as in the role of his double, Eugene Lenormand, a commoner. In the opening scene, a young boy is viewing some scenes from Napoleon’s life on magic lantern slides. A mysterious figure appears, telling the boy that events did not occur as portrayed on the slides and that he will tell him what really happened.

We are transported to the island of St. Helena where Napoleon holds forth on past victories and glories of battle with several French and English officers and servants in attendance. The plan is simple. With the cooperation of a very few operatives in France, Napoleon and his allies on the island have put together a grand plan to return Napoleon to power. A double is found and placed on the island to represent Napoleon who is sent, posing as a deckhand (Eugene) on a ship bound for France.

Understandably, this lowly commoner isn’t a quick study as far as behaving like an emperor goes, but eventually he manages much too well. It would have enhanced the humorous aspects of this romantic comedy if we could learn a bit more about how Eugene was recruited and if we could experience more of the hilarious scenes of Eugene learning how to behave properly so as to keep the ruse on the island going until time to reveal himself.

Nothing goes according to plan, either with Napoleon with his new identity as he attempts to make his way back on European soil as Eugene or with Eugene who becomes very happy with his new glamorous role back on the island. Napoleon occasionally uses as a password “the eagle flies from belfry to belfry”, a phrase sometimes recognized, sometimes not. It is a heartwarming and amusing story, sufficiently clever for adults and fine for older children as well. There’s a chilling and errie scene at an asylum where all the insane inhabitants believe themselves to be Napoleon.

A particularly charming and memorable scene, the best in the film, occurs when Napoleon uses all his commanding talents to save the day with some unsuspecting produce vendors who have become his friends in Paris as they flounder with the marketing of their melons. He is like an inspiring general marshaling his forces once again.

His love interest (Iben Hjejle), the beautiful Pumpkin who takes him in, runs a produce business. Her recently deceased husband was going to be one of Napoleon’s major contacts. In a particularly moving scene, she reveals to him how much she hates Napoleon for taking her husband away from her to do battle so many years and how Napoleon filled France with widows and orphans.

This is a fine romantic comedy, particularly for anyone interested in the time of history represented or in Napoleon’s complex and fascinating rise and fall. The cinematography was beautifully done and the costumes typical of a good costume drama. The images were authentic with some shot to look like paintings of the period. The music by Rachel Portland was suitably stirring and suggestive of the style of French music of the period. Use of surrounds for realistic sound environments was minimal. The colors are lovely and the transfer to DVD without major artifacts.

— Donna Dorsett

I Love You to Death (1990)

Starring: Kevin Klein, Tracey Ullman, William Hurt, River Phoenix, Joan Plowright, Keanu Reeves
Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan
Studio: Tri Star
Video: Choice of Widescreen 1.85:1 or Fullscreen 4:3
Audio: Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, French, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai
Extras: Bonus trailers
Length: 1 hour 37 minutes
Rating: ***

In the opening scene of this based-on-a-true-story 1990 film, Joey Boca (Kevin Klein) is in confession with his priest obsessing over how many times and with whom in regard to his most recent adulterous escapades. Joey owns a successful pizza restaurant with his wife Rosalie (Tracey Ullman) where they both work cheerfully and hard. They live with their two young children and Rosalie’s mother played by Joan Plowright (Enchanted April) who almost steals the show with her hilarious one liners delivered in a thick Croatian accent. Ullman is best known as an extremely talented comedienne who transforms herself through startling physical changes and a variety of accents. Here in her first American film she is playing straight woman to Kevin Klein who is a very convincing as an Italian male.

The Plowright and Klein characters have an antagonistic relationship which provides a fair amount of lowbrow comedy. This entire film is filled with lowbrow comedy that doesn’t work ultimately as the premise is built around a woman who chooses to attempt to murder her philandering husband rather than divorce him. It may not be a very funny concept to some. It helps to experience this movie as a farce.

Joey appears to have an absurd amount of energy for work and sex. He tells his two kids “we can live safe and have a good life in America, work hard, pay taxes, obey the law, you can have anything you want.” But Joey has an enormous blind spot around fidelity. When one of his paramours asks him why he commits adultery if he’s such a good Catholic, he doesn’t miss a beat. “I’m a man. I gotta lotta hormones in my body.” To him it is perfectly acceptable to cheat on his beloved wife who adores him.

Rosalie sees Joey as a husband who likes to look but would never be unfaithful. After all, “he’s Italian.” (I got weary of the frequent ethnic stereotyping.) One day at the public library she spies him in the stacks arranging one of his trysts. Stunned disbelief turns quickly to plans for the ultimate revenge for his many years of compulsive straying. The best scene of this Don Juan in action is with Kline’s real life wife, Phoebe Cates (in an uncredited role) as he sweet talks her in a nightclub. Some of the most amusing scenes are of Rosalie and Mama Nadja plotting and recounting Joey’s faults. (“He deserves to die. Leaves dirty towels everywhere.”)

The mother and daughter are absurdly stupid criminals (sleeping pills in his pasta sauce?) as they repeatedly try to do Joey in. Their
stupidity is surpassed only by several bunglers whose help they enlist along the way including, Devo (River Phoenix as a New Age busboy) at the pizza place. Two would be assassins, drug addled cousins Harlan and Marlan, (William Hurt and Keanu Reeves) are quite funny. Before shooting the sleeping Joey, Harlan and Marlan recall the Pledge of Allegiance so they can find on which side the heart is located. (They pick the wrong side, one of several errors which save Joey’s life.) The pace is fine until the last third of the film at which time it begins moving too slowly.

I won’t give away the ending except to say it is totally implausible although somewhat satisfying when Joey gets his comeuppance. The credits give the names of three of the real life people on whom the story is based. The murderous wife served four years for criminal solicitation. Consequences are generally quite different in real life. Albeit dark, this is, after all, a comedy. It’s always nice to see love conquer all even if it’s unbelievable.

Other than three comedy trailers with murder mystery themes, there were no extras. For me, the best thing about seeing this movie was being reminded of Manhattan Murder Mystery, one of the trailers, a Woody Allen movie I somehow missed. Nevertheless, an excellent array of acting talent, several memorably funny scenes, but not a terribly worthwhile plot. It was disappointing to see Tracey Ullman so unfunny, not in a role for displaying her amazing comedic talents. The audio and video quality was fine with a good transfer to DVD but almost no use of the surrounds as often found with Dolby Surround.

— Donna Dorsett

Once Upon A Time In Mexico (Special Edition) (2003)

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, Salma Hayek, Willem Dafoe, Ruben Blades, Mickey Rourke, Eva Mendes
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Studio: Columbia Tri Star Home Entertainment
Video: 1.78:1 Widescreen enhanced for 16:9
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, French plus English closed captions
Extras: Director commentary, music and sound design track, eight deleted scenes, two preview trailers, six featurettes (“Ten Minute Flick School”, “Ten Minute Cooking School”, “Inside Troublemaker Studios”, “The Anti-Hero’s Journey”, “Film is Dead: An Evening with Robert Rodriguez”, “The Good, The Bad, and The Bloody: Inside KNB FX”), filmographies, DVD-ROM
Length: 101 minutes
Rating: ***

Once Upon a Time in Mexico is the third installment in Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi film trilogy. Here we find a CIA operative called Sands luring the suave guitar player/gunfighter, El Mariachi, out of hiding for a final mission. It seems as though a powerful drug lord named Barillo is attempting to assassinate the President of Mexico in a coup. Sands approves of the assassination but he wants El Mariachi to kill the druglord’s general immediately thereafter. El Mariachi has plans of his own though and tries to prevent the assassination altogether. I have mixed feelings about this movie. To its detriment, the plot of this film is a little convoluted and the character development lacking. To its credit though, there are nice stunt sequences, plenty of action, and some amusing dialogue (primarily from Johnny Depp’s character, Sands). Fans of the film will definitely want to own this feature-laden DVD while casual viewers might want to check it out as a rental first.

The video quality of this DVD is excellent. Images are pristine with razor sharp detail. Blacks are luscious and deep. Colors are vibrant and rich with well saturated hues. Picture defect mastering is perfect with no major flaws or digital compression artifacts. The overall audio quality is also excellent with the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track serving as the basis for this review. The soundtrack actively incorporates all of the discrete channels into the mix. Dialogue is crisp and securely anchored in the center channel. The surround channels are aggressively utilized for both music and ambient sounds, and also include several split rear effects. Low frequency bass is punchy and tight. Tactile sound effects are present in about half of the DVD’s chapters and appear as subtle to moderate impacts from both the sound effects and the music soundtrack.

Reference equipment used for this review: [Video projector- Studio Experience Cinema 17SF Projection screen- Da-Lite 106” Da-Snap; DVD player- V, Inc. Bravo D1; A/V Receiver- Sherwood Newcastle R-963T; Speakers- BIC Venturi 6.1 channel system; Tactile Transducers- Clark Synthesis Gold; Video Switcher- Key Digital SW4x1; Cables and Wires- www.bettercables.com ]

— Calvin Harding Jr.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Collector’s Edition) (1991)

Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Christopher Plummer, Kim Cattrall

Directed by: Nicholas Meyer
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Video: 2.0:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0, French DD 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English and English Closed Captions
Extras: Audio Commentary by Nicholas Meyer and Denny Martin Flinn, Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda, “The Star Trek Universe” (5 featurettes), “Stories from Star Trek VI” (6 featurettes), “The Perils of Peacemaking” featurette, “Farewell” (2 featurettes), teaser and theatrical trailers, production gallery, storyboards
Length: 113 minutes
Rating: ****

On the original Star Trek crew’s final mission, The Enterprise is sent to escort a Klingon ship carrying the Klingon Chancellor to a peace summit on Earth. Before arriving, the Klingon ship is attacked and the Chancellor murdered. All signs point to the Enterprise being responsible for the atrocity and as such, Captain Kirk is held accountable. The Enterprise crew must unravel this mystery and determine who is behind the attack before any additional murders lead to full-scale war with the Klingons. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is a fitting send off for the original series’ crew. The film has a good storyline that is laced with bits of humor and a climatic battle sequence. Easily one of the best entries in the six original crew movie voyages, this DVD is a highly recommended purchase for both Star Trek and science fiction fans alike.

The video quality of this DVD is excellent. Images are sharp with fine detail. Black levels are consistently dark throughout. Colors are vibrant and bold with well saturated hues. Picture defect mastering is solid with no major flaws or digital artifacts. The overall audio quality is very good with the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track serving as the basis for this review. The soundtrack mix has a nice balance that effectively incorporates all of the discrete channels. Dialogue is crisp and natural sounding. The surround channels are very active, used for both music and ambient sounds, and even include several split rear effects. The low frequency effects channel is given multiple opportunities to shine and is always up to the task with its deep, rumbling bass. Present in about half of the DVD’s chapters, tactile effects are in the form of light to heavy impacts and they originate from the sound effects and the music score.

Reference equipment used for this review: [Video projector- Studio Experience Cinema 17SF; Projection screen- Da-Lite 106” Da-Snap; DVD player- V, Inc. Bravo D1; A/V Receiver- Sherwood Newcastle R-963T; Speakers- BIC America Venturis; Tactile Transducers- Clark Synthesis Gold; Video Switcher- Key Digital SW4x1; Cables/Wires- www.bettercables.com ]

— Calvin Harding Jr.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead (1994)

Directed by: Hiroaki Mota, Yukari Hayashi, & Barrie Angus McLean
Animation Director: Ishu Patel
Studio: NHK of Japan, Mistral Film of France and The National Film Board of Canada/Wellspring
Video: 4:3 full
Audio: PCM stereo
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: ****

The Tibetan Book of the Dead, narrated by Leonard Cohen and shot over a four month period, is a two part production filmed in 1994 primarily in Ladokh, India. The cinematography is stunning, featuring snow covered mountains surrounding the village and many colorful scenes of village life and ceremonies. There is dramatic animation at certain points by Ishu Patel, illustrating some of the Tibetan Buddhist concepts of death and rebirth. Mesmerizing mandalla patterns convey the White Light experience of death and advanced meditation states. The music includes atmospheric New Age piano and soprano saxophone with Tibetan instruments heard at other times.

Cohen narrates in a relaxed, conversational, intimate style with no sense of a lecturing tone whatsoever. This 90 minute experience provides an illuminating explanation of the ancient Buddhist texts. It illustrates how the teachings are used in both daily life and at the time of death. The beliefs presented are timeless and beautifully and simply expressed. Even for those who do not accept the Buddhist philosophy, viewing of this film is a worthwhile intellectual and spiritual adventure.

In Part I, A Way of Life, some explanation is given for the origin of The Book of the Dead. According to Buddhist teaching a continual flow of uncertain transitions call bardos exist in life and death. When someone dies, consciousness is said to linger for 49 days. So portions of the bardo text are read aloud to encourage and guide the person’s spirit for 49 days. The Bardo Thotrol was translated into English at the beginning of the 20th century and called The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

The film begins with an elderly man who is close to death in Ladohk. We are able to follow the reading of the Bardo and the related rituals as the unconscious man is encouraged to accept his death, to abandon fear and terror and to look for a good human rebirth.

Included are some brief scenes about the use of these beliefs in the West with regard to finding meaning in the transition between life and death. Two dying men in a San Francisco hospice are featured as they listen to the readings and reflect on their impending deaths. The current Dalai Lama’s history is quickly given and he describes the book’s meaning in a brief interview, speaking of how he hopes to utilize the practices fully at the moment of his death.

Primarily the film remains in one village and surroundings. A small crowd of villagers are interviewed about their beliefs and feelings about death and reincarnation and they eagerly respond. The story of a 96 year old man is featured as he talks of his often difficult life and devotion to the teachings. A visit with his great great grandchild illustrates the birth and death cycle. Interwoven throughout Part I is attention to the elderly man facing death. After his death, the book continues to be read to help the soul on its journey. On the final day of the reading, long after the cremation, the family gathers to pray for a fortunate rebirth.

Another feature of Part I is the story of a young boy believed to be the reincarnation of a revered monk who was shot to death by police while taking part in a demonstration for better working conditions in Ladohk. There are scenes at the monastery where he is in training and interviews with his family.

The Great Liberation, Part II of the film, begins with a passage on delusion and compassion. The narrative of this part focuses on a 13 year old novice monk and his teacher as they apply sutras, records of the Buddha’s words, to daily life. Again, we travel to the village in Ladohk where the boy and his teacher have gone to be of service with the Bardo Thotrol readings. A 42 year old family man has suddenly been taken ill and is near death. He is also, as the elderly man was, unconscious and surrounded by caring relatives. This is the first time the boy has been asked to assist for the 49 day readings and other rituals.

Throughout the film there is much detailed discussion about the bardos and the teachings. Throughout Part II the boy poses various questions, such as “Where does the consciousness go?” The monk instructs the unconscious man to listen carefully as they are there to help. Even after his cremation, the teacher advises the spirit not to be afraid and to recognize both the wrathful and the peaceful deities as projections of his own mind. He says “Wrathful deities are just part of us. They are the sharpness of our own clarity.”

Finally the question is posed by the narrator, “Since we are caught in the bardos of suffering and delusion, what can we do?” The concluding remarks are good advice for anyone attempting to make their journey thoughtfully through life. The final scene shows a wedding party approaching, reflecting hope and excitement about the future. The focus of the film is about compassionate living and conscious dying. The tone is elegant but down to earth. Advice near the conclusion suggests it also isn’t a bad idea to retain one’s sense of humor.

— Donna Dorsett

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)

Starring: Bernie Mac, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Demi Moore
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Video: 2.40:1 Widescreen Enhanced
Audio: DD 5.1, French 2.0
Extras: Animated Webisodes, Charlie’s Angels Game Demo, Trailers (Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Bad Boys II, Charlie’s Angels, Mona Lisa Smile, Something’s Gotta Give, S.W.A.T.), Audio Commentary (2), Angel-Vision Trivia Track, Featurettes (4), Angel, Filmographies (10), Cameo-Graphy, Full Throttle Jukebox, Music Video featuring Pink and William Orbit: “Feel Good Time”, Angel Film School 101 segments (click on the picture of the characters in the Special Feature menus)
Length: 107 minutes
Rating: **

Just thinking about this film makes me hear the tune in my head: “Where o where did my little script go…where o where can she be?” Even in an action film we’ve come to expect more as viewers. The DVD case says “Unrated—More Action!” It was as if the director said to the writers, “We want 15 fight scenes, 2 car chases, 6 bad guys, 2 plot twists, and a good character turned bad—make it happen.” I kept trying to sit back and just enjoy the film, but I kept thinking, “Wow, this is stupid.” The film starts off out of a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark in a bar in Northern Mongolia, but what does Diaz’s character riding a mechanical bull (dressed like a Swedish Pippy Longstocking in a porno movie) have to do with anything? And Drew Barrymoore barking? At least Liu perpetuating the stereotypical Chinese dragon queen role didn’t bother me…as much.

The pseudo-plot goes something like this: There is a list of the people in the witness protection program encrypted on two rings. The rings have been stolen and the nefarious person behind the theft is trying to sell the list to the head crime families. The Angels will use every method as they bumble through the film till everything is made clear near the end. Will Natalie get married? Will Dylan leave the Angels? What do you think?? In some ways the film is a continuation of the original in that Crispin Glover’s character and the Angels is further developed. Bill Murray is no longer playing Boz, but I actually thought that Bernie Mac did a decent job (under the circumstances) being as big an idiot as the rest of the characters in the film. Demi Moore and Bruce Willis in the same film? That’s weird. There are a few other cameos in the film making me wonder whom they bribed (or blackmailed)! The sound and the picture are very good, but as for the film; don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

-Brian Bloom


[Continue on to Part 3 of DVD Reviews]

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