Fresh on DVD this week, Morgan Spurlock goes hunting for Earth’s most wanted man in Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? Plus Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher play two gambling, drinking fools in the romantic comedy, What Happens in Vegas; Tim Burton‘s classic The Nightmare Before Christmas gets a new special edition; the Blade trilogy has Wesley Snipes fighting vampires; and comic books come alive on television in season two of Heroes.
Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?
Look past documentary icon Morgan Spurlock’s personality, and sometimes overly forced approach, and you might find something interesting inside his latest film.
With a baby on the way, the film is essentially propelled by the premise that Spurlock wants to make the world a better place for his too-be-born child by hunting down the world’s most wanted man: Osama Bin Laden. After some essential training to teach him what to do if his life is in danger, and a visit to his Supersize Me doctor for much-needed inoculations, Spurlock is off to the Middle East to talk to anyone who doesn’t forcefully push him away (and there are a few).
Touring between Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Spurlock seems to approach the idea of terrorism and war from every angle. He talks to the leaders, the common people on the street, extremists, and a transplanted American, who all provide a little bit more detail about the struggles in the region. But what he fails to really provide is a narrative, or depth to his idea.
There are some fantastic moments in the film though, like when a group of Jewish men try to force Spurlock off their street, or when he gets some particularly thoughtful comments out of a few Middle Eastern leaders. But the film still falls apart under the weight of so many random moments that are so loosely strung together.
Spurlock is a decent lead for a film like this, but more thought could have been given to the structure of the story.
The DVD includes a few extras, with an alternative ending, an animated version of the history of Afghanistan, plus a bunch of extra interviews, the best of which has Spurlock chatting with three Middle Eastern women about freedom and Western misconceptions.
What Happens in Vegas
Some of us are happy to sit down on a weekend and pop a brainless movie in to while away a few hours. In those times, we can accept that not all of Hollywood’s stars are always doing their best work – sometimes they just have to pay the mortgage on their multi-million dollar home in Maui. But even the most brainless of Saturday mornings has a limit, and What Happens in Vegas defies that boundary with total abandon.
Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher play a couple of losers who decide to forget their troubles with a trip to Vegas. After a wild night of drinking, the two strangers wake up married to each other and instantly decide to get divorced. When they happen to win a $3 million jackpot though, the judge orders them to try and work out their relationship for six months, or they won’t get the winnings.
With a slightly manic style, the film does have its moments, although they are definitely just moments. Diaz and Kutcher are pretty good together overall, but their scenes jumble together into a long, cheap sketch with too few laughs and not enough heart.
And of course the script itself is almost entirely without merit. Take away the editing, the name actors, and you essentially have a story that feels jacked together from a handful of other random date movies.
There are a few features on the disc, but none really worth mentioning aside from the gag reel. For added torture you can watch the extended scenes, or bear witness to a commentary, but much like the film, I wouldn’t recommend it.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Just in time for the quickly-approaching Halloween and Holiday seasons, one of my all-time favorite movies returns to DVD in a new collectors edition that should earn it a hallowed spot on your shelves.
In Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas we meet the vibrant Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon). With another successful Halloween behind him, Jack feels depressed by the lack of challenges in his life, and wanders off into the forest. It’s while he’s wandering that he discovers a door that enters into the land of Christmas, where Jack gets it into his head to take over the holiday.
With fantastic music, and visuals, not to mention great vocal work, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a total treat. It also happens to be one of Disney’s best examples of making movie magic that clearly falls out of the House of Mouse’s normal all-too-cute box.
In this uneven action series, Wesley Snipes stars as the half man, half vampire, Blade. With help from his vampire hunting friend Whistler, Blade has a slew of gadgets and weapons meant to slice and dice the undead.
In the three films, Blade has to defend humanity from the vampire hoards, not to mention a mutated batch of vampires that are even preying on other undead. In the third film he’s joined by vampire hunters Abigail and Hannibal as they dispatch the original Dracula himself.
While all three films are essentially just action-horror hybrids, Blade II does stand out from the bunch thanks to the direction of Guillermo del Toro, who infuses some real horror into the series. The trilogy also benefits from its great cast, including Ron Perlman, Stephen Dorff, and my two favorites, Ryan Reynolds as Hannibal King, plus Kris Kristofferson as Whistler.
New television arriving on DVD…
Heroes: Season 2
For comic book fans and action junkies I can’t think of a better DVD this week than the second season of Heroes. Following the lives of a growing number of people around the world with special super-hero-like abilities, the show came to an abbreviated halt last season thanks to the extended writers strike. The show still featured an interesting story arc that had everyone’s favorite bad guy, Sylar, trying to make his way to New York to find Mohinder Suresh and reclaim his evil abilities.
At the same time, Mohinder is dealing with the potentially killer Shanti virus, Hiro is in feudal Japan with his hero Takezo Kensei, and Peter Petrelli is somehow in Ireland with no memory of how he got there, or why.
The DVD set includes all eleven episodes, plus a lot of decent extras for Heroes fans, most importantly being a sneak peek at season three, a commentary for the last two episodes, and an alternate ending to the season.
After such a long hiatus, fans may want to pick up the boxed set to get caught up again, and newbies should find it relatively easy to get into this popular series.