New on DVD

New on DVD

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Rated R for disturbing violent content including rape, grisly images, sexual material, nudity and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Swedish with English subtitles

Now the biggest literary sensation since Harry Potter (sorry – can’t give any respect to Twilight), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Millennium Trilogy has been at the top of the New York Times best seller charts for months and is one of the most adult-read books in ages.  While there will soon be an American version with big stars and directed by David Fincher, it will be hard to beat this Swedish import starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist in the leading roles.  Originally titled Men Who Hate Women, the story revolves two tales of brutality towards women, one involving the heroine, Lisbeth Salander (Rapace), and one involving a missing woman whose loving uncle is convinced was murdered.  When Lisbeth goes against her code of going it solo, she teams with a reporter (Nyqvist) to uncover the secrets thought buried by this missing woman’s family.  It’s a terrific mystery, although the violence, and particularly the theme of sexual violence, is difficult to watch.  That being said, it is one of the best nail-biters so far this year.  Having already seen the sequel (review coming next week), I can assure you that this trilogy is worth seeing before it is remade by Hollywood.  A

Jason and the Argonauts
Rated G
Available on Blu-ray Disc

Very few folks in the movie business are actually known past the actors, directors, and maybe the composers, but in the world of special effects Ray Harryhausen is a legend, and Jason and the Argonauts, the mythological tale of the quest for the golden fleece, is one of his unique effects masterpieces.  In 1963, Harryhausen was the first to ever use stop motion animation for anything other than monsters, although there are a few of those in there also.  Sure your kids will make fun of it, but the influence of a film such as this was far reaching.  Proof of that is a special commentary on the disc by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson who practically gushes over the film while watching it.  The film also contains a commentary by Harryhausen himself with all sorts of interesting facts such as the legendary skeleton scene at the end almost took them from a G-rating to an X-rating due to what was allowed in films at the time.  B+

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief
Rated PG for action violence and peril, some scary images and suggestive material, and mild language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Completely unlike Jason and the Argonauts, Percy uses the latest in special effects to tell the story of a young demi-god in Manhattan that discovers who he is and also that he has a mission to recover a stolen lightening bolt before Zeus gets really mad and does a lot of nasty things.  The special effects are good enough here, but the film is much longer than it should be   at two hours, and with mediocre acting and directing, it just gets old quick.  It feels like Hollywood is desperate to fill the hole that is going to be left when Harry Potter goes away, but if they want it to be Percy (bad name by the way) they need a better cast and scribe.  C

A Single Man
Rated R for some disturbing images and nudity/sexual content
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Colin Firth turns in a great performance in this stylish piece written and directed by famed clothing designer Tom Ford about a college professor in the early 60’s whose partner’s (played by Matthew Goode) death sends him into a deep depression that he cannot shake.  It’s a very challenging film, and definitely not one for all audiences, but viewing the movie as a work of art, rather than entertainment, will help in its appreciation.  The commentary by Ford will help tremendously with that.  B-

Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition
Rated R
Available on Blu-ray

Just in time for its new film Predators, Twentieth Century Fox is releasing the original Schwarzenegger classic on Blu-ray with tons of special features including a look at the new film and a new making of featurette.  So if you already own it on Blu-ray is it worth buying?  Probably not, although if you can get a good  enough price on it, there is a $10 movie reward that you can use to buy tickets to the new Predator movie.  In that case – it might be worth the purchase.  B+