New on DVD

New on DVD

The Invention of Lying
Rated PG-13 for language including some sexual material including and a drug reference
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

In an alternate reality where there is no such thing as a lie, Ricky Gervais is having a tough time with his life until he realizes that if he just makes stuff up, people believe whatever he says.  With his new powers, he becomes amazingly wealthy, writes the greatest movie the world has ever known, and invents an all-knowing “man in the sky” who controls the destiny of everyone.  The movie starts out with a clever premise, but Gervais’s agenda of disproving religion becomes such a theme of the movie that it gets to be a huge distraction.  If you’ve ever seen one of his stand-up routines you know that he is one of the most aggressively atheist actors in Hollywood and it doesn’t take long for you to understand that this film is simply a love letter to his own special religion.  If the film could have been funny, then at least I could have said offensive but funny, but for me it was neither.  Instead it was just kind of a sad and pathetic attempt at filmmaking.  D

Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball
Rated R for bloody violence and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

What was originally pegged as a prequel to the box-office dud Smokin’ Aces is now a straight-to-DVD release as a sequel, although it really bares no connection, aside from one minor character, to the first.  In this film, several assassins are all given the same assignment: kill a soon-to-be-retired FBI desk jockey who know too much.  The Feds put him into hiding, but these assassins, some talented and some just crazy, all converge on the hideout to try to collect on the bounty.  It’s an extremely violent, badly written, poorly acted, b-film that will have most women leaving the room and most men admitting they were right to do so.  The good news – it’s short.  The bad news – it’s poorly paced so it feels long.  But then again, what did you expect from such a film.  That might just be what you are looking for at Blockbuster on a Friday night.  D-

The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

It’s hard to believe that it’s been twenty years since this show hit the air.  I was in high school when we would watch The Simpsons, Married with Children, and Living Color back to back.  I don’t think any of would have ever thought there was a chance that the show could still be going strong and still creating high-quality comedy over twice my age later.  This twentieth year is full of great political material including George W. Bush’s last year in the White House as well as Obama’s first, Bart trading places with his doppleganger, the family buying a pub in Ireland, and border disputes with a neighboring town.  The material seems almost as fresh as day one and some of the episodes had me laughing myself sick.  The biggest plus of all – this was the first season The Simpsons were made and available in hi-def.  There’s nothing like crappy animation in big, bold, beautiful hi-def!  A

Rated R for violence, grisly images, brief strong language and some nudity
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

This will be the last time I discuss this Kate Beckinsale stinker in my column, I swear.  But in case you missed my last mention, this pic follows Kate as a U.S. Marshall in Antarctica hot on the trails of a murderer.  It’s just bad from start to finish and aside from the laughable opening shower sequence, there is not a redeeming quality to be found.  Most comical of all is that while only about 100 minutes, the film seems to last forever due to horrible pacing and the fact that the cold slows the chase and fight scenes down to a freezing crawl.  F

Rated R for strong horror violence and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

When Ben Foster wakes up in his cryo chamber in deep space, he discovers that something is wrong with his ship and that there is an evil on board killing what’s left of the thousands of survivors.  His co-captain, Dennis Quaid, attempts to guide him through the ship by radio to get things going in the right direction again so that they all can survive.  This movie died a quick death in theaters, in large part I think to the fact that they went to market without letting any press in to screen it, but it’s really not a bad film if you are a hard core sci-fi junkie.  It begs the question “what would happen if you put the film The Descent in space?”  Granted, that was already kind of done with the Alien series, but at least here the creatures are somewhat humanoid.  The film is by no means as good or scary as The Descent (you must see if you haven’t already), but it had me going and I liked the twist at the end.  Some of the writing didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but maybe it would in multiple viewings.  B-

Rated PG for thematic material including teen drinking, a sexual situation and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

This update of the original 1980 film follows the lives of a group of students at the New York City High School of Performing Arts as they go through their Freshmen through Senior years.  Some of it is motivational and inspirational, just like the original movie, and some of it is as cheesy and silly as High School Musical.  Personally, I couldn’t stand the inconsistency of the tone.  The film didn’t really know what it wanted to be.  Had it chosen to be more like the French film The Class, it could have been truly great.  Instead it toyed with that but strayed.  Perhaps it went the other direction for box office purposes.  If so, that was a big mistake because the film was a dud and teens weren’t buying.  C

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