Some DVD recommendations for you

August 8, 2008

I know it’s been a few days since you have heard from me.  Life has a way of requiring you to take care of business.  While I haven’t been out to the theaters much since MAMMA MIA!, I have been scouting out movies now on DVD and available through your On Demand service that are worth a look.

For the kids and family, Warner Brothers has recently released a two disc set including QUEST FOR CAMELOT and CATS DON’T DANCE.  These are two very different movies, but both worth watching.  QUEST is the story of a young lady whose father is killed while defending King Arthur and his sword Excalibur.  When Excalibur gets lost in a dangerous forest where just about everything comes to life, the young lady decides to go after it, in the hopes of returning the sword to Arthur and becoming a knight herself.  She enlists the assistance of a blind hermit who, himself would have been a knight had he not lost his sight in a terrible accident.  Don Rickles and Eric Idle provide great comic relief as a two-headed dragon that seems at odds with itself at every turn.  There’s also a terrific score by Stephen Foster and Carole Bayer-Sager, that features a couple of songs that managed to get some radio airplay while the movie was in theaters

CATS DON’T DANCE, on the other hand is a joke-filled fast-paced musical comedy that is one of my all-time favorites.  Danny (Scott Bakula) is a cat from Kokomo Indiana who wants to make it big as a movie star in Hollywood.  There’s just one problem:  The powers that be in Hollywood believes that animals should do nothing more in movies than behave like animals.  That means dogs only bark, cats only meow, elephants only trumpet, etc.  But that doesn’t stop Danny.  He lands a meowing part in child star Darla Dimple’s latest sugar-coated epic:  “Little Ark Angel”, and totally upstages the pint-sized diva.  What I love about darla is that she’s a mean little cuss, and everyone knows it, but she still gets her way, because of her Empire State Building-sized butler Max.  Darla hatches a plan to rid Hollywood of animal actors once and for all, with Danny as her unwitting stooge, but winds up with more than just egg on her face.  There are a TON of references to the golden age of Hollywood that older audiences will appreciate, and Randy Newman is at the top of his game with the songs he wrote.

For older audiences, and for those of you with a hankering for action and drama, my first recommendation is WARGAMES:  THE DEAD CODE.  I’ll admit that as a rule, I’m no fan of direct-to-DVD sequels, they tend to fall very short of the original.  Disney has finally learned this lesson, but they had to have some very disappointing sales hit them before they learned this.  But I am thrilled to say that THE DEAD CODE delivers some great action.  In the sequel to the classic WARGAMES, we are once again introduced to a computer that can supposedly corner and eliminate our worst enemies.  In this case, it is suspected terror cells that would launch a biochemical attack on the US.  Just as in the original, there’s a back-door gaming program that triggers the computer’s programming.  In this case, it’s an online wager-based war game in which a player who reaches the fifth level will receive his or her winnings, and a nasty missile attack when located.  Unfortunately, the hero, Will Farmer (Matt Lanter) doesn’t know this, and reaches the fatal level five.  Soon he’s on the run from the government, and the computer system starts taking over the government agency that is supposed to control it.  Farmer learns that this computer was a follow-up to the “Joshua” project started by Stephen Falken, and that Falken had real concerns about this new system, and once again staged his own death.  And yes, we do catch up with Falken and Joshua.  I just wish John Wood had been available to reprise his role for this follow up, but you can’t have everything, I guess.

Finally, I recommend STOP-LOSS, but with a strongly worded caution to parents and guardians.  This is NOT, I repeat NOT a movie for children to see.  It is horrific, gruesome, too-realistic at times, and full of strong language.  So why am I recommending it?  It is one of the most fearless, honest, and passionately anti-war movies I have ever seen.  Imagine having done a few tours of duty in the most dangerous part of the world, but doing so knowing that after the last one is done, it IS the last one and you’re coming out of the service.  That’s what Ryan Philippe’s character Staff Sergeant Brandon King believes anyway.  King is welcomed home with a parade, two medals and a party.  But when he goes to the base on the following Monday, he learns that he’s been “stop-loss”ed, which means that he has to go BACK to the Middle East for another tour.  King has seen his friends either badly hurt to the point of losing limbs or killed.  He’s had enough of this and doesn’t want to go.  Unfortunately, his commanding officers, and even his closest friend don’t care that King is essentially burned out from the violence.  King goes on the run, and the movie comes to a climax that refuses to offer an easy answer or a tidy solution.  Truthfully I wish MTV Films would make more honest dramas like this than their desire for soundtrack dance movies or movies featuring people acting like total idiots.  In their defense, they did give us the very enjoyable FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS a few years back, so you know they can do it when they try.  With any luck, next weekend I’ll be able to review FLY ME TO THE MOON, a 3-D computer animated comedy.

One last bit of housekeeping regarding comments.  As always, I’m grateful to those of you who write.  But understand that each e-mail I receive from WordPress involving a comment has a means for me to visit any website you might include in your information.  If I visit the site and find inappropriate content, I will NOT approve the comment for posting.  I say this because I did receive a comment about a recent article, and there was a URL link in the e-mail.  When I clicked on the link, I was directed to a site that linked to VERY inappropriate videos that I will not describe here.  This is a family-friendly blog site and it will continue to be so, and that includes links posted in your comments.  I appreciate your understanding.


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