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Nick's Pics
Nick Nicholson
Film & Home Entertainment Critic
 

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.
 
DVD Picks  
STAN LEE’S CONDOR - Starz

A college dropout named Tony Valdez sets out to avenge his parents murder by using his father’s inventions to transform his crippled body into a superhero. This is another one of those “politically correct” animated superhero stories that Stan Lee created to entertain the DVD market and a select few kids on a lonely Saturday afternoon. Stan Lee’s creations of Spiderman and the X-Men are masterpieces and should be held in the highest regard. This story is among the worst in the superhero world. The plot is your basic tragedy with a positive twist and the bad guys getting it in the end. There is lots of action and superhero stunts, however I feel like there was something missing that tied it all together. I found the whole movie to be cheesy to the point of absurd making the 74 minutes go by very slow. The DVD does contain extras including a “Making-of” feature, Still Galleries and “Stan Lee vs Wilmer Valderrama” feature.

ROAST OF WILLIAM SHATNER - Paramount

Join Comedy Central for the roasting of one of America’s most popular figures, Mr. William Shatner. A host of comedians and stars of young and old gather to “honor” Shatner in one of the most brutal ways imaginable. One after another, guests come to the mic and publically demoralize anyone in their path with their sights on the big man himself. There is more mud flung at this event than a “hog wash”. Slander, racism, sexual innuendoes and personal fouls round out this evening of festivities. Among the best segments of the evening go to Betty White and Kevin Pollack for their abusive commentary and impressions of Shatner. I found this program to crass for my taste. Many of the comments were way over the top and caused me to be turned off of the event. There is a limit to my humor and this DVD tested me. The DVD presents the entire roast uncut and uncensored with bonus features including the Making of feature, Red carpet interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

VOLVER - Sony

Volver catches director Pedro Almodovar and star Penelope Cruz at the peak of their respective powers, in service of a layered, thought-provoking film. This magical tragicomic melodrama may be Almodovar’s most restrained work to date, but it still features his trademarks: a strong attention to color and detail, a celebration of the trials and tribulations of women, and, of course, the inestimable Carmen Maura. The lovely Penelope Cruz hasn’t shone more brightly as she does here. This film should definately not be missed!

ROSEANNE: Season Seven - Starz

One of the major family sitcoms of the late 1980s/early 1990s, Roseanne became popular for its no-nonsense attitude and its humorously honest portrayal of American life. With a set resembling the living room of countless family homes across the United States, the show concerned itself the with the antics of its main star, Roseanne Barr (later Roseanne Arnold), her husband Dan (John Goodman), and their kids. More like a regular working-class family than any other characters previously seen on television, the Illinois-bred Connors use brutal honesty and acerbic wit to raise their three children: rapidly maturing Becky, sarcastic Darlene, and precocious DJ. Meanwhile, they have to deal with the typical problems of an American family, such as annoying relatives, worries about jobs and money, and the struggle to find time for themselves. Roseanne was among the first shows on television to deal in a truthful and deglamorized way with everyday issues that average viewers could relate to--and it managed to remain funny and touching while doing so. Each uncut episode from the show’s seventh season is included here.

PHANTASM - Anchor Bay

Michael Baldwin and Bill Thornbury star in the shocker that started it all, in which two brothers discover that their local mortuary hides a legion of hooded killer dwarf creatures, a flying drill-ball, and the demonic mortician known as The Tall Man who enslaves the souls of the damned. More than 25 years later, it remains unlike any fright film you’ve ever seen. Reggie bannister co stars in this heart stopping classic from writer/director Don Coscarelli that launched the most uniquely chilling series in horror history. Numerous extras are included in this set including behind the scenes looks and convention appearances.

SPIDERMAN 2.1 - Sony

Sam Raimi’s follow-up to Spiderman finds Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) struggling to balance his everyday life with his alter ego as the web-slinging superhero. Still carrying the burden of keeping his crime-fighting identity from those closest to him--including his longtime love Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), and his doting Aunt May (Rosemary Harris)--Parker must also face off against a dangerous new menace, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), a scientist driven mad by experiments involving powerful mechanical arms. When the deranged Octavius (aka Doc Ock) forms an alliance with the vengeful Osborn, who blames Spider-Man for the death of his father, the wall-crawling hero is in for his biggest battle yet. With Spiderman 2, Raimi retains, and improves on, all the elements that made the first film so good, including an excellent story, tight pacing, and stunning special effects. Parker’s internal conflicts are even greater than before, and Maguire adds emotional depth to every scene. Throughout the movie, Raimi expertly balances drama and humor with dynamic action sequences, making Spiderman 2 feel more like a continuation of the original tale than an obligatory sequel. For a Hollywood movie, that’s a real feat. This extended edition includes eight minutes of new footage, plus documentaries, commentary, and an advance look at Spiderman 3.synopsis is on the back of each volume. Extras include commentary on all episodes, Photo Galleries, Mission Directive features and insights on various characters. Don’t miss this incredible series.

THE DEPARTED - Warner

Director Martin Scorsese returns to his trademark style with the violent, bruised, and bloody feature THE DEPARTED. Scorsese filched the basic storyline from Wai Keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak’s masterful 2002 Hong Kong action film, INFERNAL AFFAIRS, which saw a policeman going undercover as a mob member and a mob member infiltrating the police force. Scorsese transfers the action to Boston, positioning Leonardo Di Caprio as undercover cop William Costigan and Matt Damon as undercover mobster Colin Sullivan. While Costigan and Sullivan get into plenty of nail-biting situations that almost reveal their true identities, Scorsese gradually unravels his strong supporting cast, including Jack Nicholson as Sullivan’s mob boss, Frank Costello; Ray Winstone as Costello’s meat-headed muscle; Mark Wahlberg as a hot-headed police sergeant; and Vera Farmiga as a love interest for both Damon and DiCaprio’s characters. Winner for the 2006 Oscar for Best Picture, this film surely won’t dissapoint.

CASINO ROYALE - MGM

Trading in the Cold War era for a new, post-9-11 landscape, the tale unfolds in locations that span the globe, including the Bahamas, Venice, and the Czech Republic. It opens in Madagascar, where Bond pursues a guerilla bomb-maker in one of the most breathtaking chase scenes ever--and it all takes place on foot. Botching that assignment, Bond goes to Montenegro to square off against terrorist baddie Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelson), an international loan shark who gambles with the money of his equally dangerous clients. Beautiful British Treasury representative Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) supplies Bond’s own funds, appearing on his arm in Montenegro, while M (Dame Judi Dench) keeps a close watch on the action from headquarters. The extravagant poker game forms the center of the action, with Jeffrey Wright putting in an intense appearance at the table; interrupting the game are assassination attempts, poisoning, and other dramatic events that keep the adrenaline pumping. The flirtation that unfolds between Bond and Vesper Lynd is only in keeping with the spy’s M.O. as a ladies’ man. What differs here, however, is what sets this Bond apart from the rest: the romance is taken seriously, and it exposes a vulnerability in Bond that he’s never shown before. This, however, only makes him the tougher, as Craig’s Bond is darker, less campy, more brooding and mysterious, than his past incarnations ever were.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  May 02, 2007