DVD Tuesday: ‘Harold & Kumar 2’ & ‘Dark City’

by W. Andrew Powell

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

There are adventures aplenty coming to DVD this week, especially if you’re willing to take another road trip with your favorite modern day stoners as Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Plus return to Dark City with the release of the special edition Director’s Cut, see the Rolling Stones performing in New York City in Shine A Light, and lots more.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Once upon a time there were two stoner buddies who took a road trip on a quest to consume a stack of White Castle burgers. Along the way they crashed a university party, their car was stolen by Neil Patrick Harris, and through two hours of nudity, bathroom humour and shenanigans, finally managed to eat their pile of 60 burgers.

Although the jokes don’t zing with quite the same zest, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is a funny sequel that sets the pot-headed duo on a new adventure, that once again turns awry thanks to their brilliant stupidity. This time out though, Harold (played by John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) have an even bigger problem as the U.S. government is hunting them down as terrorists.

Set the same day as the first film ends, Harold and Kumar are ready to fly to the pot capitol of the world: Amsterdam. That is, until Kumar lights up his fancy bong on the plane, causing hysteria when everyone thinks they’re trying to put together some sinister device. Enter agent Ron Fox (Rob Corddry), a crazed man ready to believe that any minority is a criminal and decides the boys need to be put away, where else, but in Guantanamo Bay.

After a very short stay, Harold and Kumar escape and head back to the U.S. looking for a friend who can help them convince the government they aren’t terrorists. With Fox not far behind though, their misadventures may not last very long if they can’t find some help.

While there is an abundance of stoner jokes, the sequel benefits from a few very memorable character actors, like Neil Patrick Harris appearing again as a twisted version of himself, and James Adomian as President George W. Bush. The very sweet and surprisingly funny Danneel Harris also gives a nice turn as Kumar’s ex-girlfriend Vanessa. But the best part of Escape from Guantanamo Bay is the dogged commentary on America’s foibles, which are wrapped up in fairly clever jokes about racism, drug laws, and other misconceptions.

Looking at the features, the special two-disc unrated DVD is packed with extras, including deleted scenes, and “what if” segments with a few characters. The first disc offers the best extras though, like the two commentaries with the director and cast members, plus a choose-your-own adventure that lets you “Change The Movie” with lots of extra footage, like an alternate ending in Amsterdam.

Dark City (Director’s Cut)
Ten years after it was released and Dark City still stands out as one of the most interesting and engaging sci-fi films released since 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Rufus Sewell stars as John Murdoch, a man with no memory being chased by the police for several murders, even as he learns that there are others, known as the Strangers, who are hunting him as well.

William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland and Jennifer Connelly co-star in this noir film, with a fantastic performance by Sutherland as Murdoch’s protagonist, Dr. Daniel P. Schreber. The eye-popping sets and visuals, in addition to the intense story and acting make for an amazing film.

The director’s cut of Dark City includes an additional 15 minutes of footage and enhanced effects. DVD features include documentaries, commentary, and facts on the film.

Shine a Light
Director Martin Scorsese goes behind the scenes and with one of his favorite bands, the Rolling Stones as they perform a special show in New York City. Originally released in IMAX, the music documentary is a lot of fun, especially thanks to guest performances by Jack White, Buddy Guy, and Christina Aguilera. A must-see for music fans.

Love in the Time of Cholera
Based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel of the same name, Love in the Time of Cholera is the story of one man’s obsession with a woman over 50 years of their lives. Starring Javier Bardem and Giovanna Mezzogiorno, the story is supposed to be passionate, but according to critics the film failed to build that flame, earning it countless bad reviews.

Stargate: Continuum
After a total of ten seasons on television, Stargate: SG-1 earned itself a spot as the longest running sci-fi show ever made. With the release of this second direct-to-DVD film, Stargate manages a rare feat with a story that rises above the usual television-film on DVD stigma, while also giving fans nearly everything they could want.

The story follows the long-running storyline, which I can’t even begin to summarize. If you haven’t watched the series, this may not be the best place for you to start, but essentially a leader of an advanced alien race sabotages his own execution with a time travelling trick that changes the last 50 years of Earth history. Three of the SG-1 members manage to escape back to the changed world and have to find a way to fix everything.

Lost Boys: The Tribe
And finally, for a real laugh, check out Warner Bros’ direct-to-DVD sequel to the hit 80s vampire flick, Lost Boys. Cheesy stars Corey Haim and Corey Feldman reprise their roles as the Frog Brothers in another tale of a town where vampires rule the night.

New television arriving this week…

Ahead of the new series coming to television this fall, season five of Beverly Hills 90210 arrives on DVD this week, plus season three of the supposedly “real” reality show The Hills, and the seventh season of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

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