RT on DVD: 28 Weeks Later, Reign Over Me, and Surf's Up!
Plus, it's heeeere: the 25th anniversary DVD of Poltergeist!Horror fans are in luck, since a number of new DVD releases this week (28 Weeks Later, Black Sheep) offer critically acclaimed thrills and chills -- and we know how rarely that happens. Thankfully, we've also got new fare for the kiddies (Surf's Up), the indie-minded (Reign Over Me, 12:08 East of Bucharest), and reality TV-loving couch potatoes (Meerkat Manor!).
28 Weeks Later
In this sequel to Danny Boyle's breakout hit, 28 Days Later, the Rage Virus has been contained in Britain -- or has it? Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo does a decent job building atmosphere and thrills, even if Weeks falls short of the modern-classic achievement of its predecessor. The disc is loaded with featurettes, including director commentary for the film and two deleted scenes and multiple making-of videos.
Reign Over Me
Adam Sandler fans who've been tracking the former SNLer's career departures into drama (like the excellent Punch-Drunk Love) should take note of this character-driven piece from writer-director Mike Binder. Charlie (Sandler) and Alan (Don Cheadle) are former friends who reconnect in New York City five years after the 9/11 attacks, in which Charlie lost his family -- a tragedy that has turned him into a shell of his former self. The bonus menu features an unusual treat: a jam session between the two stars.
Featuring the vocal talents of Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, and Zooey Deschanel, this animated pic about a talking penguin -- one who lives to surf, not to tap-dance -- scored pretty well with the critics for top notch visuals and charming mockumentary style. The DVD release is packed with behind-the-scenes featurettes, including a nice glimpse into the recording studio, where cast members were encouraged to interact with each other. Sony's also been generous with interactive games for the kiddies and animation instructionals for the nerds, so there really is something for everyone.
Seeing as New Zealand's most famous filmmaker (Peter Jackson) started his career with gross-out comic gore (Bad Taste), it's appropriate that his fellow countryman Jonathan King follow suit with this tale of bloodthirsty mutant sheep run amok. (Special effects courtesy of Jackson's WETA Workshop.) With a tagline like "Get ready for the Violence of the Lambs," who can resist?
Other Safe Bets
12:08 East of Bucharest
16 years after the Romanian Revolution of 1989, a local television station gathers guests to revisit the historic moment when their city hosted a key protest so many years ago. But did it really happen? This overwhelmingly critic-approved import earned the Camera d'Or at Cannes -- worth your time if you don't mind the subtitles.
Ben Kingsley stars as an alcoholic hitman sent to dry out in San Francisco by the mafia, where he gets a job at a mortuary and goes to AA meetings. Tea Leoni co-stars, with direction by John Dahl (Rounders).
Poltergeist: 25th Anniversary Edition
Rebuffed for its quarter century anniversary, Tobe Hooper's 1982 suburban horror classic is back looking quite nice thanks to a new anamorphic transfer. That said, Poltergeist fans, beware: besides a single two-part documentary (They Are Here: The Real World of Poltergeist Revealed) featuring paranormal experts and cast and crewmembers, the disc is conspicuously free of bonus features.
Meerkat Manor: Season One
Danger, incest, and intrigue -- daytime television's got nothing on a day in the life of a meerkat. The Animal Planet show, narrated stateside by Sean "Samwise Gamgee" Astin, has been tracking the lives and loves of the Whiskers clan in the Kalahari Desert for three seasons. Season one brings us back to the beginning, when family matriarch Flower ruled her roost with an iron paw, evicting her own daughter Mozart for getting pregnant and leading the Whisker's first turf wars against rival gang the Lazuli.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
This sequel to the Jim Carrey hit was one of the most notorious flops of the year, mostly because an estimated $175 million budget made it the costliest comedy film ever. So if you were one of those "I'll wait for DVD" types, now's your chance to see Steve Carell's turn as a modern-day Noah figure. Or you can wait for cable TV.
Rise: Blood Hunter
Lucy Liu stars as a recently undead reporter who vows revenge on the vampires who killed her. With a 121 minute runtime, this one's better off dead last on your rental list -- unless you've already seen the week's more worthy horror releases and are still hungry for gore.
Until next week, happy renting!