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January 20, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | DVD Releases | January 20, 2009 |

City of Ember: What’s Bill Murray been up to lately? Oh, this, of which Agent Bedhead writes, “Director Gil Kenan (with the help of screenwriter Caroline Thompson has failed to breathe life into this overly complex, dripping limp dick of a story. Throughout, the sheer dullness of this film made me long for Mr. Hand — not the Fast Times at Ridgemont High “Aloha” type of dude, but the Dark City sort of anemic Richard O’Brien character — to appear, wave a few digits, and induce sleep. In that regard, City of Ember is a bit like Dark City, but not for the positive reasons one would hope. Undeterred, Kenan also attempts to evoke some sort of PG-rated Dr. Strangelove sequel with hints of Metropolis and Brazil. Unfortunately, City of Ember itself fails to make any lasting impact, due to the ridiculous premise of a subterranean metropolis lit by many thousands of light bulbs, which are entirely run by a river-powered generator.”

The Express: Dustin, while conceding that The Express had been Disneyfried to the nth degree, let it off easy because of the subject material, Ernie Davis: “I was appreciative because I’d been told about the life of a man I’d never heard of, and his life story was compelling enough to make me want to know more. And what I learned was that The Express didn’t take a lot of liberties to get its point across. It didn’t have to. Because Ernie Davis’ life was a compelling one. It really is a great story, folks. And though the movie only barely rises above mediocrity, my only real misgiving with it is the way it reminds me that there are so few people like Ernie Davis remaining in this nation. But I am nevertheless strangely thankful that these old stories, hackneyed and clich├ęd though they may be, are recycled for new generations that can appreciate them.”

Henry Poole Is Here: Dan turns his review into an indictment of Luke Wilson, writing: “With Henry Poole Is Here, Luke Wilson continues his frustrating trend of lending his affable screen presence to increasingly worthless projects. Perhaps more than any other actor, Wilson’s career coasts along on nothing more than sheer goodwill; aside from appearances in some of Wes Anderson’s films, the man is almost never involved in projects that could be quantified as good, or even “good.” This dichotomy between the likeable man and his questionable surroundings was most pronounced in Idiocracy, Mike Judge’s deeply flawed “comedy” from a couple years back, and like that movie, Henry Poole Is Here suffers from a bloated concept that probably looked good on paper but that takes on only a feeble life when put to film. Wilson’s performance isn’t terrible, but then, he doesn’t have a lot of competition. The film is a lifeless imitation of a real story, a pseudo-slick, shallow glimpse of a story that could have been so much better.”

Igor: Agent Bedhead reveals that Igor was much better (and more demented) than the marketing presented, writing: “As a whole, this is a twisted little film that has been strangely marketed and released in mid-September, which seems unfortunate when mid-October would have guaranteed a better box-office return from a Halloween-minded audience. Outside of its proper element, Igor is, to be perfectly honest, demented as all hell and not quite suitable for younger children, but if parents are willing to discuss sorta heavy themes afterwards, this is acceptable viewing for mature 8-year olds and above. I pretty much dug Igor, which might be a cautionary warning in itself. Certainly, some parents won’t want their kids witnessing this film’s somewhat brazen sexual innuendo or abundant use of violence, including a character who routinely, albeit comically, attempts to commit suicide by way of dynamite, electrocution, and repeatedly blowing a hole through his own head. Exactly.

Max Payne: Phillip slams on the video-game adaptation genre, and then tokes some jabs at this one, writing: “Director John Moore sets off to make a cryptic little neo-noir, half Sin City caricature and half The Big Heat archetypal revenge flick. On the one hand, style appears to be on his side. But Moore not only fails to balance these extremes, he doesn’t even try to make the tone consistent. Every scene seems to exist in an independent universe, moving from pat action sequence to cartoony noir to balletic bullet-time shootouts to (I shit you not) images of Armageddon. Independently, some of these shots make sense, or are even impressive, but together they craft a tone of unintended anarchy.”

Repo: The Genetic Opera: Prisco’s opening paragraph sums up Repo perfectly: “When Repo! The Genetic Opera touts itself as an original and daring premise — a horror rock opera — it’s whistling the wrong tune. It’s been done before, in every single solitary way, in every facet of the production, and it’s been done better. Name the game: rock opera (Tommy), horror musical (Sweeney Todd), gory slashfest (Dead Alive), killer surgeons (Dr. Giggles), even dystopian future (Blade Runner). The film ends up a boiled ghoulash, stinking up the joint with so many discordant elements you’re not quite sure what you’re smelling. It’s a brave endeavor and an admirable attempt, but in the end it just dissolves into a gooey slop of failure.”

Saw V: Dustin writes, in short: “It’s terrible, and at its core, it’s not much different than the original movie, but it’s watchable. It doesn’t elicit much shock, and the characters are no more likable or sympathetic than they ever have been, but it’s got a fun little hook, and the riffs will still make you flinch.”

This Week's DVD Releases / The Pajiba Staff

DVD Releases | January 20, 2009 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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