New on DVD

New on DVD

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

In this Clint Eastwood directed film about South African leader Nelson Mandela starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, the newly appointed leader of the nation chooses to bring the divided country together by uniting them behind a common cause: winning the Rugby World Cup.  It’s such an unconventional story and quite inspirational.  While it did huge business worldwide, it pulled in relatively few dollars in the states.  This could possibly be because of America’s unfamiliarity with Rugby, as the film was certainly one of Eastwood’s most ambitious and the critical response was fairly strong.  I wasn’t too keen on Freeman getting a nomination for best actor here, but Damon definitely earned his best supporting nod (and should have gotten one in the best actor category for The Informant! also in my humble opinion).  And while I’ve still never seen an actual game of rugby, I found the sport to be well represented and well-enough explained for the film to be enjoyed.  A-

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

God is angry with mankind and has decided to destroy them, so he sends a group of angels to do his bidding.  But the angel Michael knows that by saving the life of a mother and child at a diner in the middle of nowhere could change God’s mind.  To do so, though, he must lose his wings, steal a ton of guns, and shoot every last creature they throw at him.  So I think it’s safe to say they won’t be showing this one in Sunday School.  This is truly Hollywood trying to be religious and while most theologians will simply ignore the film, those that do watch will do a lot of eye-rolling.  But theology aside, is it a good movie?  Not quite.  Paul Bettany is a terrific actor who keeps picking bad roles that aren’t right for him.  He’s good in this, but the rest of the actors are really pretty horrible.  Lucas Black, Dennis Quaid, and Charles S. Dutton are starting to look like B-movie stars with these kinds of performances.  The special effects aren’t too bad though and it has some good scares, so if that’s all you are looking for then by all means check it out.  But if you are looking for a good film about this subject matter that is actually well written and much better acted, check out the 2005 film Constantine.  C

Valentine’s Day
Rated PG-13 for some sexual material and brief partial nudity
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

The Brits took on Christmas with Love, Actually and did such a great job with it that Hollywood decided to attempt to do the same thing with Valentine’s Day by throwing every actor in town into a blender and seeing what would become of it.  And by every actor, I really do mean most.  Alba, Bates, Biel, Cooper, Dempsey, Elizondo, Foxx, Garner, Grace, Hathaway, Kutcher, Latifah, Lautner, Lopez, MacLaine, Roberts, and Swift with famed romantic comedy director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman) at the helm.  But they forgot a decent script!  It’s almost as if they said to the actors – “act like it is Valentine’s Day – ACTION!!!”  The story lines are awful and the performances are worse.  Very little of the film seems well thought out at all.  What worked about Love, Actually is that we were interested in the characters.  We didn’t get to spend that much time with them, but that didn’t matter because they were our friends by the end.  And what about that tremendous music driving the entire film?  By the end I think everyone could hum that amazing Craig Armstrong score.  My point is, if you are going to copy a great film, copy it.  Don’t act like you are trying to do something different and then release this kind of drivel.  If Simon Cowell were judging this film I’m fairly certain he would sum it up in the same three words I’ll use: indulgent Hollywood crap.  F

The New Daughter
Rated PG-13 for thematic material including violence, disturbing images and brief strong language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

In this almost straight-to-DVD release, Kevin Costner is a single dad who has just moved into a creepy house with his young daughter and son.  When the daughter starts to exhibit strange behavior after prolonged exposure to being outside, he starts to believe that there is something on his property that could be possessing her.  While not a great film, for a monster movie with a big name star, it’s not completely bad.  It’s a lackluster horror script, but has decent enough effects and production values.  I’m not sure what kind of draw Costner found with a project like this, but he certainly has seen better days.  C

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