Wednesday, November 24, 2004

New on the DVD rack, 11/24/04

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. For my daughter, obviously. At least I hope it's obvious. The Harry Potter phenomenon baffles me a little. I'll confess to not having read the books, so I'm not an especially well-informed judge. But I have seen both of the first two films, which I'm told are relatively faithful to the novels, and I haven't been all that enthused. Chris Columbus's Potter films are fun, but disposable -- I've watched both Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets several times with KM, and I'll be doggoned if I could tell you one really outstanding moment in either picture. And with the notable exception of the young woman who plays Harry's friend Hermione, the acting is atrocious — the adults overplay their roles, for the most part, and the kids can't act, period. I'm told this third one, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is more textured and interesting. We'll see.

Mulan: Special Edition. Not as much for my daughter as for me. Mulan is, along with The Emperor's New Groove and Lilo and Stitch, one of my favorite Disney animated films of the last decade. It's like a sunburst of radiant energy in contrast to the slog into mediocrity that began ten years ago with Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and culminated recently in tripe like Home on the Range. Mulan combines a powerful story with a compelling lead character and a bravura voice performance by Eddie Murphy as Mushu the dragon, presaging his celebrated work in the Shrek films. Even Donny Osmond, who provides the singing voice of the male lead, can't mess it up. I' looking forward to prowling through the supplemental content on this two-disc set.

The Whole Wide World. Every now and again, diving through the DVD bargain dumpster at Wal-Mart turns up a pearl. This was another one. (On previous dumpster dives, I've discovered such terrific films as The Last Seduction for giveaway prices. Then again, I've crawled through hundreds of discs Wal-Mart would have to pay me to watch.) It's a biopic about eccentric, tortured '30s pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan the Barbarian), who died by his own hand at the age of 30 after a long history of emotional turmoil. Vincent D'Onofrio is Howard, and Renée Zellweger is the love of his life, Novalyne Price. I've caught portions of this film on cable over the years, but have never been fortunate enough to come in at the very beginning to see the entire story unfold. Now I can.

3 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Tommy offered these pearls of wisdom...

Came here while watching the 3rd Harry Potter movie. The first two were OK, the 3rd one is fast and covers the book very quickly. It skips a lot of it, but you get the gist in the end. Its much darker then the first 2. I guess that I have the 5th grade reading level that is needed to read the books. I have read them 3 times already and can't wait for the 6th one to come out. Try reading the books they are so much better then the movies and that comes from a guy that would rather watch a movie then read the book.

4:31 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Thanks for the comment, Tommy. My daughter took the new Harry Potter disc to watch at her grandparents' house today, but I'll check it out when it comes home. One of these days, I'll have to give at least one of the books a try.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous offered these pearls of wisdom...

Sorry, Hunchback is the greatest Disney film of all time. Demi Moore is hot as Esmerelda, and the movie is one of the few, perhaps the only one, to illustrate true evil in a Disney film. Pocahontas was so-so, but HND is in a class by itself.

11:41 PM  

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