There’s a veritable buffet of new releases for the discerning cinematic connoisseur this week, ranging from a highly acclaimed battle for joystick supremacy (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters) to a not-so-highly acclaimed science fiction return of body snatchers (The Invasion). Read on, because there’s so much more!
One of last year’s best-reviewed films, The King of Kong — bought a year ago at the Slamdance Film Festival, soon to be adapted into a feature film by New Line — brings us up close and personal with the often hilarious real-life rivalry between two Donkey Kong champs. Hey, some people watch NASCAR; others watch grown men rack up record scores by jumping over barrels. Critics loved the film, full of humor and compelling drama, and the DVD release is chock-full of extras for fans of the Donkey Kong arcade game, its history, and the film’s stars themselves.
Some say the classic science fiction chiller Invasion of the Body Snatchers needed no twenty-first century update; after watching Oliver Hirshbiegel‘s The Invasion, most critics agreed. The Nicole Kidman–Daniel Craig vehicle, about a worldwide epidemic that turns people into creepily calm drones (who employ a disgusting means of inoculation-via-projectile vomit), seems to have gleaned no benefit from infamous story tweakings and reshoots by the Wachowski brothers and James McTeague. Besides a few standard featurettes, the bonus menu is acutely devoid of any presence by Hirshbiegel or his stars.
Oh, that Miley Cyrus. The daughter of Billy Ray stepped confidently into the shoes of her teen queen predecessors — wholesome former power tweens like Mary Kate, Ashley, and Hilary — to assume complete and total power over the hearts and minds of the Disney set. As Miley Stewart, a pop princess who moonlights under the stage name Hannah Montana, Cyrus injects humor and real-life celebrity sensibility into her series; soon we’ll be treated to the Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds concert documentary in 3D. But for now, indulge in the week’s guiltiest pleasure.
As a wise man once said, “[They] are the Aqua Teens, make the homeys say ho and the girlies want to scream” — and if you’re familiar with the Adult Swim fave about a trio of walking, talking snack food products living in Jersey, then you should already be out the door to pick up the latest collection of episodes from Season Four. With guest stars like Andrew W.K. and Tera Patrick, new characters like Meatwad’s dog Handbanana, and a predictably awesome set of DVD extras (including “Aqua Teen Respond to the Critics” and “Granny Takes Her Top Off”), this one is a must-buy for you sophisticated types.
Rivalry ran deep in the seedy underbelly of 1970s New York City, but especially so with drug kingpin Nicky Barnes and his competitor, Frank Lucas. Curiously, the antagonism continued long after both went to prison and turned state’s evidence; Lucas’ story, adapted into Ridley Scott‘s American Gangster, and Mr. Untouchable, Marc Levin’s documentary based on Barnes’ own memoirs, opened in theaters only a week apart. And as hip-hop mogul Damon Dash produced the Barnes doc, his former Roc-A-Fella Records partner Jay-Z recorded an album of songs inspired by the Lucas biopic. But both films also garnered the praise of critics, so if you enjoyed the Hollywood treatment, now give the documentary a shot.
A crumbling apartment complex in Cairo is the setting for this melodramatic, sprawling meditation on current socio-economic politics in the region, and is one of Egypt’s most expensive productions to date.
A high school stutterer joins the debate team for the affections of a girl in this festival favorite, from director Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound).
Hip-pop star Omarion Grandberry stars in yet another dancing teen movie — this time, set to the beat of Puerto Rico’s reggaeton scene — but, according to the scribes, this dance floor is overflowing with cliche after cliche.
If we can thank the makers of this road comedy about a corporate suit tasked with driving his boss’ wild niece cross-country, it’s the bounty of delightfully pointed critic quotes it inspired. “Bad really is too delicate a word to describe this film” may sound harsh, but so is wasting your DVD dollars on such a critically-loathed release.
Though many inspirational sports movies deserve to be taken to task for the abuse of cliche and melodrama, the genre didn’t deserve this…behold, one of the year’s worst films, and a member of the elite single-digit Tomatometer club!
And finally, the very worst release to hit shelves this week, the likes of which we quite possibly won’t see again for a while. What does it really take to get a one percent rating on the Tomatometer? Your guess is as good as ours, since we won’t be seeing this sequel. Cuba Gooding Jr., where did you go wrong??
Consider yourself warned. ‘Til next week, happy renting!