7/22/08 Edition -- The AISLE SEAT BLOG Is Also Live

July Meltdown Edition
DARK CITY Returns on disc
Plus: Sony Scares Up Blu-ray Horrors

Dark, foreboding, grim...those are just a few of the terms to describe Christopher Nolan’s massive “Batman” sequel THE DARK KNIGHT (***), which opened to widespread interest and record-breaking box-office receipts last Friday.

Picking up shortly after the events of “Batman Begins,” Gotham City is now besieged by attacks from a new criminal on the scene: The Joker (the late Heath Ledger), who manipulates the local crime bosses into supporting his reign of twisted terror. His insanity comes at the same time hope arrives in the form of new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), a “White Knight” crusader whose bold prosecution of the city’s crooks makes him Target #1 among the thugs, now playing without rules under the Joker’s anarchy.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) realizes that Dent is the city’s true hope for the future, especially since Batman is officially a vigilante in the eyes of the law and some residents, and even contemplates hanging up the bat suit so he can move on with former girlfriend Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal, effectively replacing the lightweight Katie Holmes). Unfortunately for Bruce, however, justice comes with a price, as he all too quickly realizes...

Technically dazzling yet fundamentally flawed in certain areas, “The Dark Knight” is a compelling, somewhat pretentious, overlong, yet often brilliantly realized comic book movie. Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister have once again produced a breathtaking looking picture with an unrelenting sense of dread that permeates every sequence. Ledger’s much acclaimed performance could’ve easily been a self-indulgent affair yet the actor seized the opportunity to craft a memorably off-kilter, truly insane villain that undoubtedly would’ve boosted Ledger’s career had he lived to see the movie’s release.

Yet The Joker is also, ironically, one of the film’s core problems: out of respect to the late actor, it seems that Nolan was slavish to retaining every shot of The Joker and "preserving his performance" as he's said, to the point where the character overpowers everything else in the movie. Batman is basically treated like a secondary character once again, much like Michael Keaton was back in the original, Tim Burton-directed “Batman” to Jack Nicholson, and as a consequence the movie has an odd focus at times with no real center anchoring it down.

The tragic character of Harvey Dent, meanwhile, also complicates matters -- after 2.5 hours I felt that Ledger's Joker was plenty of "bad" for one movie to handle, and while I understand what Nolan was trying to say with the “Two-Face” character, dramatically it throws the story off-course in the final third to the degree where I was never convinced that his presence was entirely necessary.

The pacing also pushes Batman into the back seat in favor of a redundant succession of scenes where audiences are supposed to believe that the situation is under control, only to have The Joker throw it all into chaos.

There should have been more pauses, more scenes to develop Bruce Wayne’s character, and especially more interaction between him and Alfred (Michael Caine). Bale has less to do here this time out and doesn’t have great chemistry with Gyllenhaal either, so much that it’s understandable at least that “the love story” is given little screen time.

Yet Nolan’s script (co-written with his brother Jonathon) eventually settles into a repetitive, humorless structure of events instead: here's a scene where the Joker crashes a party and something bad happens. Here's a scene where the Joker terrorizes the commissioner's funeral and something bad happens. Here's a scene where Harvey Dent is riding in a police car and something bad happens. The Joker's in a jail cell and...guess what...something bad happens. And on and on.

The script could’ve used another pass or two, because while there are some wonderful scenes and moments within it, it needed something more to break up its structure. Yes, Nolan is interested in discussing what constitutes a “hero,” about the fragile nature between good and evil, and how good can be corrupted -- which is all fine and good for a dissertation, but one wishes he had spent as much time on a script that was better balanced and gave Batman more to do. At times it’s also pretentious with its cold, clinical tone and lack of humor (whatever nervous laughter the film provokes comes during The Joker’s attacks), making it easily the most downbeat film of its kind ever produced. And again, the Zimmer/Newton Howard score is a misfire -- even more droning, inconsequential musical wallpaper than its predecessor, it fails to lift any of the film dramatically, especially in scenes that call for a bold musical statement (much less an actual theme!).

Outside of a few other pacing and story issues (the Scarecrow’s “cameo” is a total waste of time; some scenes feel abbreviated with no resolution while others linger on forever), “The Dark Knight” is still a compelling, visually dazzling show, and Gary Oldman is again superb as Jim Gordon. So are Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, even if both actors -- along with Bale -- have less to do here.

In the end it’s all Ledger’s show, and he does leave us with a memorable, dynamic final turn. One just wishes that Nolan would’ve had the courage to trim it just a bit and give its hero as much of an opportunity to take the spotlight, or at least bring some light to its unrelenting darkness. (152 mins., PG-13)

New on DVD

Director Alex Proyas showed with “The Crow” that flashy directorial technique and a sense of style can overcome any deficient plot. In his 1998 follow-up DARK CITY (****, 103 and 110 mins., R; New Line), Proyas concocted a fascinating science-fiction thriller with a story that lives up to the evocative settings and dense noir atmosphere surrounding it.

Rufus Sewell stars as a man who can't remember his name and is plagued by apparent memories of a life that might have included the murder of several prostitutes. Meanwhile, the world in which he lives is a setting that vaguely incorporates elements from disparate times and places, from the '40s through a bleak future that recalls “Blade Runner” and “Metropolis.” After Sewell are a group of otherworldly "strangers," led by Richard O'Brien, bald and clad in “Hellraiser”-style black costumes, and detective William Hurt, who follows Sewell's (former?) wife Jennifer Connelly around, trying to find out the truth about what's going on.

Keifer Sutherland also appears as a scientist who may just hold the key to the puzzling city surrounding the characters, while Patrick Tatopoulos’ design of “Dark City”’s cityscapes and the amazing cinematography by Dariusz Wolski are nothing short of breathtaking. “Dark City” is a mood piece, an intricate puzzle along the lines of classic film-noir thrillers, but it's also a sci-fi yarn whose imagination is singularly unique, not merely a second-rate pastiche of other genre films.

As he did with “The Crow,” Proyas fills each scene of his movie with stunning visual effects, setting his film in a compelling, strange yet enthralling world that is so rarely realized in the cinema now. The lighting, photography, effects, production design, and comic-book styled editing all combine to produce a movie where you often feel that you’re watching something truly special. Trevor Jones's excellent musical score adds to the drama, while the cast provides uniformly excellent performances across the board. Particular standouts include Sewell, Hurt, and particularly Sutherland, in a finely hued “character actor” type of performance.

The film's denouement is fully satisfying as well, and while it doesn't give you all the answers, it provides enough of an explanation so that you don't need to know any more.

As I wrote back in 1998, “‘Dark City’ is a sci-fi film that undoubtedly will be discussed among devotees for years, long after many of today's pre-fab "blockbusters" are but a distant memory on video store shelves. Even if Proyas hasn’t followed through on his potential after making this movie (at least to date), he’s at least given us a bona-fide classic with “Dark City.”

New Line’s long-awaited Special Edition DVD (the film is also available on Blu-Ray) boasts a new Director’s Cut of the movie that restores about eight minutes of unseen footage and, most importantly, dumps the studio-mandated, completely unnecessary Sutherland monologue which opened the theatrical release and spoiled the entire film right at the start.

I had the good fortune of walking into the theater late -- when Sewell first wakes up in a bath tub -- and seeing the picture as the filmmakers originally intended it to unfold, which is something that can now be duplicated thanks to the longer Director’s edition. If you’ve never seen the film before, this expanded cut is the only way to go.

The theatrical cut is also on-hand here, along with numerous extras: new commentaries from Proyas and his co-writers Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer, plus Patrick Tatopoulus and Dariuz Wolski, in addition to Roger Ebert’s commentary from the earlier DVD; new documentaries recounting the production; the trailer; a Director’s Cut “fact track”; text essays; galleries; a Neil Giaman review of the film, ported over from the prior DVD; a superb new 16:9 (2.35) transfer with 5.1 audio and an extra digital disc containing a copy for portable media players.

A spellbinding sci-fi mystery thriller, “Dark City” is unique, potent, splendidly performed and masterfully told. Don’t miss it.

New on Blu-Ray

I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (**, 102 mins., 1997, R; Sony): And I certainly know what motivation Kevin Williamson (writer of “Scream”) had in mind when writing this mega-successful slasher movie -- mainly, cashing one big fat paycheck for authoring a relatively ordinary piece of stock slasher-cinema.

That said, “I Know What You Did...” has surprisingly dated fairly well -- even if it’s mainly because the genre has regressed even further into an endless parade of “torture porn” shlock since its original release.

While the then-recent “Scream” at least had a sense of humor and knowingly challenged cliches of the old “Friday the 13th”/”Halloween” school of masked killer movies, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” parades out all the ancient stand-bys (horrific deaths, red herrings, twist endings) without injecting a genuine sense of intelligence into the storytelling. Director Jim Gillespie handles the preceding with slick visuals but telegraphs every scare and would-be shock ahead of time, and paces this movie as if the whole production was filmed in slow-motion; there's not one surprise or even remotely interesting twist to be found anywhere, and it takes forever to reach the 90 minute mark. You know you're in trouble when Sarah Michelle Gellar's hair getting chopped off is the most terrifying aspect of the story -- while the ending is a groaner that sets the gears in motion for the obvious (and even-worse) sequel which followed shortly thereafter.

The movie is predictable all the way, yet the cast makes it appealing when viewed today: Gellar, then just settling in to “Buffy”’s long run, doesn’t get much to do but she looks great, while lead Jennifer Love Hewitt shows off all of her assets (yes, I do watch “The Ghost Whisperer” -- guilty as charged!) in a typical horror heroine role. Ryan Philippe and Freddie Prinze Jr. ably fill the requisite male leads while trying to stay away from the Gorton’s Fisherman killer.

It’s all simple-minded, pedestrian fare (and was interminable when I first viewed it back in 1997), but the presence of Hewitt and Gellar make the movie more viewable than it has much of a right to be.

Sony’s Blu-Ray edition of “I Know What You Did...” looks superb: the AVC-encoded transfer is excellent, while a potent Dolby TrueHD audio sports a workable John Debney score. Extras include commentary from Gillespie, his short film “Joy Ride” and a retrospective Making Of featurette produced a couple of years after the film’s release.

URBAN LEGEND: Blu-Ray (**½, 100 mins., 1998, R; Sony): Another ‘90s teen-horror cash-in on the “Scream” phenomenon, though its lack of pretensions and sense of humor serve it well -- so much that it’s a far more inviting affair than “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

The usual grab-bag of college students find themselves being bumped off by a killer imitating well-known "urban legends," which leads "Cybill"'s Alicia Witt to pin down the culprit from a host of possibilities -- is it cub reporter Jared Leto, a shady janitor, or perhaps gas station attendant Brad Dourif (obviously the early line favorite in Vegas)? Plenty of chases, ersatz scares, and red herrings later, the killer is revealed to be...nah, I won't spoil the (non)-surprise.

Any movie of this kind relies heavily on its humor quotient and directorial style to carry the action and fortunately “Urban Legend” has enough in both categories to satisfy most viewers. Witt and Rebecca Gayhart make for a pair of appealing protagonists, while Natasha Gregson Wagner and Danielle Harris (late of “Halloween 4" and 5 -- yes, I pay attention to these things) play victims and it's always good to see genre vets like Robert Englund and Dourif pop up in supporting parts. Meanwhile, Joshua Jackson gets to spoof his “Dawson’s Creek” persona while a pre-“Smallville” Michael Rosenbaum shows up -- with hair -- in an early supporting turn.

Director Jamie Blanks paces the movie swiftly and adeptly alternates between slasher thrills and a standard mystery "whodunit?" framework, which makes it easy to overlook the standard cliches inherent with this material. The ending is a bit much, and it's as instantly forgettable as a late ‘90s Must-See TV comedy line-up, but when compared to its genre brethren of the period, it's superior to both “Halloween: H20" and “I Know What You Did...,” and manages to be campier than the “Scream” films without being quite as sophomoric. Definitely not a classic, but still a bloody good time for horror fans.

Sony’s Blu-Ray edition of “Urban” includes another strong AVC-encoded transfer with Dolby TrueHD audio. Extras are limited to a standard issue Making Of featurette and commentary from the director.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: Blu-Ray (***, 122 mins., 2005, Unrated; Sony): One of 2005's surprise box-office hits -- just making its way to Blu-Ray in the United States -- is an absorbing, fascinating hybrid of courtroom thriller and supernatural shocker.

Jennifer Carpenter plays a college student possessed by an entity that tortures her and torments her religious family; Tom Wilkinson is the understanding priest who frees her soul in an exorcism, only to later face criminal charges in connection with her death. Rising attorney Laura Linney takes Wilkinson’s case, despite doubting the priest’s claims that there are forces beyond this world on both sides of the spiritual coin.

Based loosely on a reported true story that happened in Germany several decades ago, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is a superbly-acted picture that’s anything but a re-run of William Peter Blatty’s genre benchmark. Director Scott Derrickson and his co-writer, Paul Harris Boardman, have fashioned a disturbing character drama that’s particularly fascinating in its portrayal of possession, as well as the nature of evil and faith. It's shocking to see a movie in this day and age actually provoke an intelligent discussion of these subjects, and yet “Emily Rose” does just that. Linney, Wilkinson, Carpenter, and particularly Campbell Scott (as the prosecutor) are uniformly excellent -- and in regards to the latter, the movie does offer an alternative explanation to Emily's plight that seems completely plausible, despite the supernatural elements in the picture being played up.

Vividly shot by Tom Stern and creepily scored by Christopher Young, “Emily Rose” is also somewhat disjointed. The beginning of the movie seems a bit rushed, as if large chunks of it had been cut (there should have been more of Emily's background and Laura Linney's first few meetings with Tom Wilkinson). Thus, you never really feel an emotional connection with Emily -- nor do you really feel for Linney and her questioning of faith as much as you might have. Sony’s DVD does restore three minutes of footage related to the case, and while it improves on the theatrical version, I still felt even more material could have been added, enhancing the drama.

Despite its shortcomings, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is unquestionably one of the finest genre films that has been released in some time. Highly recommended.

Sony’s Blu-Ray edition differs from the international BD release, which only included a PCM soundtrack and MPEG-2 transfer of the film. The U.S. BD is an improvement both technically (AVC encode and Dolby TrueHD audio) and in terms of its supplements, offering commentary from Derrickson that discusses the “real” Emily Rose case, three Making Of featurettes, and one additional deleted scene, all ported over from the regular DVD edition.

HAROLD & KUMAR: ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY: Blu-Ray (***, 107 mins., Not Rated; New Line/Warner): Raunchy, often hilarious sequel follows stoners Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) as they’re mistaken for terrorists on a flight to Amsterdam, leaving them under the control of Homeland Security and government bureaucrat Rob Cordory (who’s hysterical in nearly every scene he’s in, making the most of his stock “bad guy” role). Fortunately for our duo breaking out of Guantanamo Bay is easier than it looks, with the guys subsequently off on another road trip, meeting up again with “Neil Patrick Harris” (uproarious) and an unexpected meeting with the President himself along the way.

Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz made the original “Harold & Kumar,” which was a minor box-office hit that fared more successfully on DVD. This more cohesive and funnier sequel was a much larger commercial success, as it parades out a succession of gags, most of which (surprisingly) hit the mark more often than not. This isn’t destined to win a Peabody award, admittedly, but the movie is nevertheless quite amiable, and much more likeable than most tasteless R-rated comedies we see these days. Cho and Penn have terrific chemistry together and the movie yields some big laughs, enough that I wouldn’t be completely against the prospects of a third installment.

New Line’s Blu-Ray edition is chock-filled with etxras, including two commentaries, 27 deleted scenes, Making Of featurettes, a dynamic 1080p transfer with 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound, an unrated version of the movie (which a feature that allows you to select from new or alternate scenes during the film), and a bonus digital copy for portable media players. Recommended!

THE DOORS: Blu-Ray (***, 138 mins., 1991, R; Lionsgate): One of Oliver Stone’s slickest and more entertaining films offers a compulsively watchable account of the rise and fall of Jim Morrison (one of Val Kilmer’s finest performances) and The Doors. Stone’s script, written with J. Randal Johnson, is fairly one-dimensional on the surface, offering little perspective on what made Morrison tick, and instead adheres to a rather basic point-by-point account of the band’s turbulent history. It’s glossy, stylish cinema that, when all is said and done, probably doesn’t tell you much about The Doors than what you already knew, but the music still sounds great and Robert Richardson’s cinematography comes across splendidly in Lionsgate’s new Blu-Ray edition. The 1080p transfer isn’t entirely perfect but it’s far better than any prior standard-def DVD release of the movie, while the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio fills your sound system just as spectacularly as you’d imagine. For supplements, everything that was on the 15th Anniversary DVD is here (even though the back cover doesn’t list all the extras), including Stone’s commentary, a lengthy slate of deleted scenes, two trailers, and four featurettes: “The Doors in L.A.,” “Jim Morrison: An American Poet in Paris,” “The Road to Excess” production doc, and a vintage 1991 Making Of.
BELLY: Blu-Ray (95 mins., 1998, R; Lionsgate): Gritty urban drama from writer-director Hype Williams is still appreciated in the hip-hop community for the appearances of NAS, DMX, Method Man, Taral Hicks, “T-Boz” Watkins and others. Lionsgate’s Blu-Ray edition looks reasonably fresh with its 7.1 DTS Master audio sound and 1080p transfer, though the low-budget film’s visuals have their limitations. Extras carried over from the prior DVD include deleted scenes, trailers, commentary from Williams, a Making Of featurette and the “Grand Finale” music video.

NEVER BACK DOWN: Blu-Ray and DVD (113 mins., 2007, Not Rated; Summit Entertainment): Sean Faris plays a normal everyday teen who falls for the fetching Amber Heard. Unfortunately for Sean, Amber’s boyfriend is a “fight club master” who must have watched the David Fincher movie one too many times, and beats our hero up pretty good. Undaunted, Faris enlists the help of a martial arts expert (Djimon Hounsou), who was available now that Pat Morita has retired into the great beyond.

A mix of teen drama, “Karate Kid” and “Fight Club,” “Never Back Down” is a formula but quite watchable affair from writer Chris Hauty and director Jeff Wadlow, utilizing the tried-and-true underdog movie formula that carried dozens of films that were, admittedly, better than this one. The characters aren’t the most appealing you’ll find and nothing here is especially inspired, yet it’s marginally entertaining and managed to quietly gross over $22 million at the box-office last spring.

Summit’s Blu-Ray disc boasts a superb 1080p transfer with DTS-HD Master Audio sound and extras including deleted scenes, commentary, alternate fight angles, a Making Of featurette and more. The standard DVD presents the same extras on a 2-disc special edition set.

New on DVD

CENTENNIAL: Complete Mini-Series (1978-79; Universal): One of the great television mini-series of all-time arrives on DVD at long last next week, bringing with it over 20 hours of historical adventure, romance and an all-star cast.

This NBC adaptation of James Michener’s sprawling novel (acclaimed by many as one of his finest books) follows a fictional Colorado town as it’s settled in the 18th century through battles over its land in the 1970s. Richard Chamberlain and Robert Conrad top line early episodes while subsequent shows offer a veritable who’s-who of major television stars during the 1970s. Technically, everything about the production reeks of class, from John Addison’s music to superb cinematography and a strong sense of time and place. As educational as it is entertaining, “Centennial” is a series that dates before my time and has criminally been out of widespread circulation since its original release -- Universal’s DVD is the first real chance I’ve had to sit back and watch the mini-series, and although I’ve only gone through the first few segments, I can’t wait to finish this slice of Americana, the sort we rarely see any more.

Universal’s long-awaited DVD box set, presented in an oversized “book”-shaped box (similar to the studio’s “Amazing Stories” release), offers satisfying full-screen transfers and mono soundtracks, plus one retrospective featurette. Highly recommended!

VAN HELSING (***, 132 mins., 2003, PG-13; Universal)
THE MUMMY (***½, 75 mins., 1932; Universal)

Stephen Sommers’ much-maligned box-office disappointment “Van Helsing” opens up with a marvelous black-and-white sequence that pays tribute to the classic Universal monster movies. The local villagers have carried pitchforks to Castle Frankenstein, where the good doctor has given life to the monster, only to have his work interrupted by the appearance of Dracula, who needs Frankenstein's creation for his own nefarious purposes.

We cut to Paris, where Vatican-approved monster hunter Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is pursuing Mr. Hyde through the city streets. Van Helsing has Bond-like gadgets at his disposal, a faithful servant in Friar Carl (David Wenham), and, after subduing Robert Louis Stevenson's famous villain, quickly sets out on a new mission: to rid Transylvania of Dracula (a miscast, and ineffective, Richard Roxburgh).

Even with the help of a gypsy princess (Kate Beckinsale), Van Helsing finds that Dracula and his brides aren't as easy to take down as you might have anticipated. Complicating matters is the appearance of the Wolf Man, who -- along with former Frankenstein servant Igor -- is held under Dracula's spell. Vlad needs their help, in addition to the monster (who has since gone missing), in order to fulfill his nasty plan of spreading vampirism all over the world.

Having grown up on the Universal monster mashes of the '30s and '40s (thanks in no small part to "Creature Double Feature" on Saturday afternoon TV), I was gratified to see the homage Sommers pays to James Whale's original film in the movie's prologue. Following that, the big-budget "Van Helsing" becomes a silly but generally enjoyable, matinee-style adventure that owes as much to Indy Jones and Sommers's own "Mummy" films (thankfully more the original than its sequel) as it does to the Universal classics of yesteryear. That likely won't be a major drawback for most audiences, provided they're willing to go along for the ride.

Allen Daviau's cinematography beautifully captures the dark fairy-tale quality of the action and is matched by Allan Cameron's sets, which manage to convey atmosphere both appropriate to the old classics and a modern day effects extravaganza. Speaking of F/X, the animation by ILM and a host of other houses is generally superb, and backing up the whole film is Alan Silvestri's sensational score. Just as intense as his work on "The Mummy Returns" but a good deal more effective, this is easily one of Silvestri's finest efforts in years, being rambunctious, rousing and melodic in equal measure.

“Van Helsing” isn’t great cinema but it’s not nearly as bad as its poor reputation would lead you to believe, particularly after sitting through disappointments like this summer’s “Indiana Jones” adventure.

Universal’s new 2-disc DVD edition was clearly intended to capitalize on the release of the forthcoming “Mummy 3" and even includes a free voucher (up to $7.50) for the new sequel. Extras seem to have been mostly recycled from the prior 3-disc Universal special edition, including commentaries, outtakes, a full tour of Drac’s Castle, Making Of featurettes and more. The 16:9 transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack are both terrific.

Also new from Universal is a double-disc “Legacy” Special Edition of the original 1932 MUMMY, this time offering new extras, including commentary from Rick Baker, Steve Haberman, Bob Burns and others; a documentary on monster make-up master Jack Pierce; trailers; the “Universal Horror” documentary narrated by Ken Branagh; the older DVD’s “Mummy” documentary and commentary by critic Paul Jensen; and what seems to be a slightly improved full-screen transfer with mono sound.

HEROES (**½, 113 mins., 1977, PG; Universal): One of the “Fonz’s” earliest leading roles came in this affable, easy-going comedy-drama, one of Hollywood’s first films to deal with Vietnam vets in the ‘70s. Henry Winkler plays a troubled vet who wants to start up a worm farm and breaks out of the Veterans Hospital to travel cross-country, meeting Sally Field and fellow army vet Harrison Ford along the way. Jeremy Paul Kagan’s film is sensitively directed but changes tone a bit too much for my taste; still, the film is well-intentioned and backed with strong performances. Universal’s DVD looks outstanding with its fresh 16:9 (1.85) transfer and 2.0 mono soundtrack; fans of the movie should note this first release of the picture on video is missing Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son,” which originally closed the film in theaters.

TRAPPED ASHES (104 mins., 2006, R; Lionsgate): Joe Dante, Ken Russell and Sean S. Cunningham each helmed segments of this mundane horror anthology, and oh, how the mighty have fallen. “Trapped Ashes” is yet another horror anthology film following seven strangers who get trapped during a Hollywood studio tour and proceed to spin tales ranging from the absurd to the pointless. It’s all unremarkable and forgettable, the movie having been funded by Japanese investors probably hoping to get more mileage out of its filmmakers than they got here. Lionsgate’s DVD includes a 16:9 (1.85) widescreen transfer with 5.1 audio, an extensive five-part Making Of, cast and crew commentaries, uncut versions of two of the movie’s vignettes, deleted scenes and more.

EXTASIS (92 mins., 1996, Not Rated; Lionsgate): Early role for Javier Bardem makes its way to DVD. This 1996 offering sports a 16:9 (1.85) widescreen transfer with Spanish audio and optional English subtitles.

BARRIO (98 mins., 1999, Not Rated; Lionsgate): Fernando Leon de Aranda’s 1999 portrait of teens in a working class Madrid neighborhood arrives on DVD next week from Lionsgate, offering a 4:3 full-screen transfer and Spanish audio again with optional English subs.

NEXT TIME: THE DARK KNIGHT Reviewed! Until then, don't forget to drop in on the official Aisle Seat Message Boards, check out the Aisle Seat Blog, and direct any emails to our email address.  Cheers everyone!

Get Firefox!

Copyright 1997-2008 All Reviews, Site and Design by Andre Dursin