DVD Tuesday: ‘Drive Angry’ and ‘Lolita’

by W. Andrew Powell

David Morse and Nicolas Cage in Drive Angry

David Morse and Nicolas Cage in Drive Angry

New arrivals this week on home video include: the campy, and hilariously gory Drive Angry, starring Nicolas Cage; Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita, George Lucas’ American Graffiti and Ridley Scott’s Legend, all on Blu-ray for the first time; plus a look at True Blood: The Complete Third Season.

Drive Angry
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, Christa Campbell, Charlotte Ross
Director: Patrick Lussier

Rated: 7.5/10

My Bloody Valentine director Patrick Lussier puts Nicolas Cage front and center in the supernatural tale of a man–the aptly named Milton–who breaks out of hell to rescue his infant granddaughter from being sacrificed to a bloody cult.

Meeting the young Piper, played by Amber Heard, along the way, who happens to have a killer ’69 Charger, Milton and his new friend will drive their way through any challenge to get to their goal. Milton will just have to contend with The Accountant, played by William Fichtner, a force sent from Hell to bring the rampaging soul back to its rightful prison.

Launched in theatres with 3D that had fans and critics alike thrilled, Drive Angry still has loads of blood, gore, and flying body parts on DVD and Blu-ray, and it’s a veritable treasure trove of action goodness that may remind a lot of Cage’s fans why they have loved him for so many years, and despite his many, many terrible films.

While it’s true that Cage coasts along through the film, as he has in a lot of his recent acting gigs, Cage on auto-pilot is still far more amusing than your average actor.

Most importantly though, the film is high concept bloody B-movie camp,t he dialogue is mostly terrible, but it’s fun-terrible, and Fichtner is unbelievably brilliant.

Lolita [Blu-ray]
Starring: James Mason, Sue Lyon, Peter Sellers, Shelley Winters, Gary Cockrell
Director: Stanley Kubrick

Rated: 7.5/10

Stanley Kubrick was a powerful director who can hardly be compared to any other filmmaker in the last fifty years, and he left his mark with no less than thirteen films that are still discussed and revered as true film classics today.

At the same time, the director’s rendering of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is by far the filmmaker’s weakest film, primarily because of the controversial nature of the book, which required Kubrick to make a multitude of changes to the story so the film could get past the MPAA censors.

Released in 1961 but set in the 1950s, Lolita follows scholar Humbert Humbert, played by James Mason, a British professor who has settled into a small town in New Hampshire where his landlady, the frustrated Charlotte Haze, played by Shelley Winters, is making advances. Humbert is however not in love with Charlotte and only has eyes for one person: Charlotte’s young daughter, Lolita, played by Sue Lyon.

Hubert uses his wiles to get closer to Lolita, and as the darkly comic drama unfolds we witness his descent into what can only be called a terrible series of events that culminates with what we see at the opening of the film: Humbert killing the writer Clare Quilty, played by Peter Sellers, for what the man did to Lolita.

The story is disturbing, but it’s also an incredibly watered-down retelling of Nabokov’s famed novel, and it tends to whitewash a lot of the key elements of the plot, not to mention Humbert’s story and psychological motivation. We get an overall picture of what’s happening between Humbert and Lolita, but it comes across as superficial for the most part.

As a work of one of America’s most well-known avant-garde directors, Lolita is worth a watch, and it looks wonderful on Blu-ray, but it’s worth a warning that it is not Kubrick’s most powerful work.

American Graffiti [Blu-ray]
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Harrison Ford
Director: George Lucas

Rated: 8.5/10

Another classic available this week, also for the first time on Blu-ray, is George Lucas’ American Graffiti starring Richard Dreyfuss and a very young Ronny Howard (who would of course move on to direct as Ron Howard).

Set in the sixties, as a group of friends are about to move on to college, this coming of age story–what is considered the first, in fact–is an American classic that wanders the streets of a small town when kids drove big cars and listened to American rock and roll.

Following the teenagers during one night, the film is sweet, funny, and filled with nostalgia for days that are now long gone.

Best of all, the Blu-ray comes with a good number of features, including a somewhat slow but interesting picture-in-picture video commentary with George Lucas, a standard definition making-of documentary, screen tests, and a feature that lets you watch the film and find out which songs are playing during the scenes.

Legend [Blu-ray]
Starring: Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice Playten, Billy Barty
Director: Ridley Scott

Rated: 6/10

Despite all reason, and the plethora of fantastic movies from this era, a lot of people have very fond memories of Legend–I’m can’t say I really agree with them.

After creating the classics Alien and Blade Runner in 1979 and 1982, respectively, famed director Ridley Scott went on to direct Legend in 1985, and it was a disaster at the box office, earning just $15 million of its $30 million budget. On VHS and DVD though, the story was quite different, and Legend became a cult classic, and now, for the film’s 25th anniversary, 20th Century Fox has put together an “Ultimate Edition” of the film on Blu-ray that should please a lot of fans.

Legend stars Tom Cruise as Jack, a forest-dweller who must take on a quest to save Princess Lily, played by Mia Sara, from the Lord of Darkness, played by Tim Curry. Jack’s quest means more than just saving the princess though, because if he can save her he will also stop unending night from sweeping across the world.

Although I know lots of people who love this film, I’m simply not a fan because the story comes across as a silly attempt to create a fairy tale classic. The film has its moments, and great creature effects, but it’s not really a story I would call endearing.

For the fans out there though, there are a few extras on the anniversary Blu-ray, including a feature-length commentary by Ridley Scott on the director’s cut of the film, plus making-of featurettes, deleted scenes, trailers, photo galleries, and the music video for “Is Your Love Strong Enough” by Bryan Ferry.

True Blood: The Complete Third Season
Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Kevin Alejandro, Marshall Allman
Rated: 8/10

Finally, the third season of True Blood has arrived with lots and lots of extras. This season delves into the events at Club Dead as Sookie, played by Anna Paquin, teams up with a werefolf in Mississippi so she can track down Bill, played by Stephen Moyer.

Bill has been taken by the vampire King of the Mississippi, played by Denis O’Hare, who hopes to use the vampire to take down Louisianna’s Queen Sophie-Anne, played by Evan Rachel-Wood.

The series still has that savvy mix of sex and violence that has always made it an edgy drama, and earns its frequent rewatchability thanks to the brilliant casting.

As with the previous two seasons, the third outing comes with a lot of great extras, including commentaries on six episodes, “Post Mortem” behind-the-scenes featurettes, plus an Enhanced Viewing Experience that provides a picture-in-picture opportunity to see extra footage plus bios, trivia, and additional information about the series.

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