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Home movies

By Philip Martin

This article was published May 14, 2010 at 2:41 a.m.

— Recent DVD releases:

Daybreakers

(R, 102 minutes) Gory and gray horror show with an intriguing premise - vampires are the dominant species, and have so decimated the human population that they’re running out of undead-sustaining blood - is ultimately undone by a collapse into chaotic, histrionic and utterly predictable spasm of violence. Somewhat enlivened by perfunctory professional performances by Ethan Hawke (as a guilt-ridden vampire looking for a cure for blood dependency) and Willem Dafoe (as Elvis, a crossbow-toting member of the human remnant).

Grade: 72

Edge of Darkness

(R, 117 minutes) Standard rogue copseeks-revenge story is more entertaining than most thanks to Mel Gibson’s seething (and likely self-referential) turn as police detective Thomas Craven, who’ll stop at nothing to bring down the corporate meanies who did in his daughter. Includes nice performances by Ray Winstone as a shadowy presence and Danny Huston as the worst person in the world.

Grade: 80

Legion

(R, 100 minutes) It’s up to the Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) to save the human race - or at least the denizens of a desert diner - after a disappointed God loses his temper and sets off the Apocalypse. A reasonable candidate for Mystery Science Theatre 3000 treatment, perhaps, but as is, hardly worth the rental fee.

Grade: 67

Legend of the Tsunami Warrior

(R, 100 minutes) Thai martial arts movie - which screened at some film festivals as Queens of Langkasuka - combines elements of The Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars and John Woo’s Red Cliff with good oldfashioned Thai boxing and Hong Kong wire work. While it doesn’t hold together as a movie, it’s pretty crazy stuff with some amazing marine cinematography. Grade: 83

Malice in Wonderland

(R, 100 minutes) While you might expect a cheap quickie designed to cash in on the Tim Burton feature now in theaters, Simon Fellows’ Malice in Wonderland is actually an honest and at times intriguing updating of the classic set in modern times, in the cockney underworld of South London.

Grade: 83

North Face

(Not rated, 98 minutes) Based on the true story of a May 1936 attempt on the previously unsummitted Eiger by two Germans and two Austrians, North Face is at its tension-ratcheting best when it sticks to the mountaineering action. Unfortunately a superfluous romance and the inevitable specter of National Socialism intrude.

Grade: 83

Pulling John

(Not Rated, 72 minutes) Well-made verite documentary about professional arm-wrestling champion John Brzenk, an amazing and apparently humble man, who after 25 years at the top of hisrather obscure sport must decide whether to retire undefeated or face losing his crown to competitors barely half his age.

Grade: 86

Sita Sings the Blues

(Not rated, 82 minutes) Witty, inventive animated film by American artist Ninal Paley based on the Hindu epic The Ramayana. The goddess Sita dutifully follows her husband into exile, only to be kidnapped by an evil king. Meanwhile, in the present day, an artist named Nina follows her husband from San Francisco to India, where’s he has taken on a work assignment. He’s not exactly pleased to see her. Paley incorporated some ’20s-era jazz music that landed her in copyright trouble, so there are limited DVD quantities available of this wonderful movie - which isalso viewable online.

Grade: 88

Tidal Wave

(Not rated, 105 minutes) South Korea’s first blockbuster disaster movie is most interesting for the way it approximates a huge-budget Hollywood movie for about a tenth of the budget.

Grade: 78

MovieStyle, Pages 37 on 05/14/2010

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