Media | DVD Releases | January 22, 2008: Welcome to this week's highlighted home video releases, focused entirely on the American market. Sorry, rest of the world.

Roundup by VsRobot | Anime by Mightyblue | Posted January 21, 2008

Pick of the Week

The Hunting Party
I haven't been able to see this yet, but I have no qualms about recommending it. This has everything to do with the film's director, Richard Shepherd, who made the under-appreciated and overlooked The Matador, a dark comedy about an aging hitman starring Pierce Brosnan -- essentially a much darker, more depressed version of his James Bond persona. The Hunting Party stars Richard Gere as one of three journalists out to nab not only the story of a lifetime, but also a multi-million dollar bounty on a Bosnian war criminal. Shepherd has already shown a keen ear for dialogue and a mastery of black comedy, both assets that look to benefit this film (which is being billed as thriller) immensely.

Also out this week

Saw IV
Many of you will probably watch Saw IV no matter what I say here, and I can't say I blame you. There is something inherently satisfying about this horror franchise. I've heard it said that the twist at the end of each installment is reason enough to watch them, although I can't agree with that. Of the first three movies (to date I've been unable to see this iteration), only the second one had a twist that I found fulfilling. The first and third films, on the other hand, both ended in completely ridiculous ways that don't hold up across subsequent viewings. For me, the only reason to watch Saw movies is for the traps. The ironic punishments that antagonist Jigsaw devises are satisfying in the same way that Monkey's Paw-style stories are. When the traps in the Saw films are done correctly, they offer the viewer a question: namely, "could I do what is necessary to escape the ensnarement this character is in?" The films also offer a bit of the schadenfreude, seeing a wicked person paying for their sins in a way set up to exploit their particular weaknesses.

Unfortunately, as the series has gone on, the traps have become less and less interesting. The third film in particular broke the rules that had governed the traps in order to set up a contrived "twist" at the end that strained credulity, to put it mildly.

To sum up, if you enjoy the Saw movies, you've already decided whether or not you're going to watch this one. I feel confident in saying that this one is for the converted, and that non-fans need not apply.

The Game Plan
If gristle and gore aren't your cup of tea, why not try something so saccharine that it's known to cause cancer in rats? Yes, we've seen this premise many times before, sure. The macho ladies' man and frequent partygoer is suddenly saddled with the burden of a child, sweet to the point of being cloying, to take care of. He initially resists the child's charms, but eventually his heart warms up and he realizes his life before the child was shallow and empty. Why should you care this time? Because. The Rock is in it!

Confessions of a Superhero
If you've been to LA, you've probably come across the street performers who dress as superheroes in an attempt to divorce you from your loose change. You might have thought to yourself, "What's the deal with these guys?". This documentary seeks to answer that question, by focusing on the people behind the costumes.

Sex and Breakfast
Macauly Culkin, former child star, in a movie about group sex. Yay?

Seriously, though, if you want titillation, just turn off "Safesearch" on Google and type in some dirty words. 100% guaranteed to be more erotic than this snoozefest.

Sydney White
Amanda Bynes, child star, in a movie not about group sex. Boo?

The premise would work equally well for a group sex film as a 'tween comedy, though. In an update of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bynes movies into a dorm with seven dorks. She simultaneously turns them from geek to chic all the while snagging the hottest guy on campus and getting revenge on all the mean sorority girls who ostracized her.

High-Def Alert: The World of Blu-Ray and HD DVD

Nothing too exciting. Looks like I'll be using my PS3 as a game machine instead of a Blu-ray player, for at least one week.

Cover art courtesy of Amazon, where you can purchase any of these titles. Rent all of the movies covered in the column online at Netflix. The author of this column has no reservations with recommending Blu-ray to anyone interested in upgrading their home theater. I hate these Catholic countries. It's all blushy-blushy and no sucky-fucky. Visit the Talking Time Forum to discuss video games, movies, books, and more. Thanks for reading!