[16 September 2008]
McClatchy/Tribune News Service (MCT)
Two chillers based on the work of Stephen King lead the parade of titles being released on Blu-ray this week.
Terrifying things happen in King’s world and often that are no explanations for the occurrences. That’s the case with the unsettling “1408” (Genius, 2007, $29.95) which stars John Cusack as an author who spends his time trying to debunk so-called supernatural events. When he learns a New York won’t allow anyone to stay in room 1408 because more than 50 people died there, Cusack convinces his agent (Tony Shaloub) that he must spend the night in that room.
Shaloub discovers, that by law, the hotel can’t refuse a room requested by a guest. Cusack shows up at the hotel where manager Samuel L. Jackson tries to change the writer’s mind because the room “is evil.” However, the cynical Cusack gets his chance and eventually wishes he hadn’t. What follows is a series of nightmarish events from which there seems to be no escape.
King’s “The Mist” (Genius, 2007, $34.95) is just as creepy but eventually does have an explanation for the goings-on. Numerous shoppers are trapped in a grocery store when a mysterious thick fog-like mist engulfs their town. There are things in that mist such as giant insects and human-eating spiders, flying reptile creatures and something with tentacles that can rip a human body to shreds.
The film soon becomes a study in human behavior. People inside the store split into two factions. On one side is the Bible-quoting Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), who convinces many of the shoppers that the wrath of God has descended upon the world and that they must repent.
On the other side is the level-headed David Drayton (Thomas Jane), who, along with several others, pays no attention to the end-of-the-world theory and wants to find out what has caused the mist. What follows isn’t pretty.
Other notable Blu-ray titles released this week:
“88 Minutes” (Sony, 2008, $38.96): Anytime Al Pacino is in a movie, you know it’s worth checking out. Pacino shines as forensic psychologist Jack Gramm, whose testimony helped convict suspected serial killer Jon Forster (Neal McDonough) to several years ago. Now, as Forster’s execution nears, Gramm receives a phone call telling him that he has just 88 minutes to live. Gramm is convinced that, despite being behind bars, Forster us behind the plot to kill him. Gramm frantically tries to find out the identity of Forster’s outside accomplice before his time runs out.
“Shrek the Third” (Paramount, 2007, $29.99): Not quite on a par with the first two “Shrek” movies, it will still manage to captivate the kids. This time, Shrek (the voice of Mike Myers) goes on a journey to find the rightful heir to the throne vacated after his father-in-law dies. Going along for the trip are Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas). Cameron Diaz is back to provide the voice of Princess Fiona.
“Madagascar” (DreamWorks, 2005, $29.99): The kids will love this delightful animated feature about four animals who escape from the New York City zoo and end up in Madagascar. Suddenly, they have to learn how to live in the wild. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Cedric the Entertainer are among those who supply the voices.
“Made of Honor” (Sony, 2008, $38.96): This mild romantic comedy stars Patrick Dempsey as a guy who falls in love with his best friend Hannah (Michelle Monaghan). The only problem is that Hannah gets engaged to someone else and asks Dempsey to be the “maid” of honor at the Wedding.
“The Love Guru” (DreamWorks, 2008, $39.99): Mike Myers stars as Potka, who claims to be world’s best self-help guru. Verne Troyer, the little guy from Myers’ “Austin Powers” films, is in the cast, as are Jessica Alba and Ben Kinglsey. Myers’ often tasteless stabs at humor are becoming tiresome. He’s much better as Shrek.
“Hulk” (Universal, 2003, $29.98): Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly and Sam Elliott star in this first effort to bring Marvel’s big green creature to theater screens.
“Risky Business” (Warner, 1983, $28.99): Tom Cruise stars as a teenager looking for fun while his parents are away. Rebecca De Mornay co-stars. This was the fifth film for Cruise, who hadn’t yet reached super stardom.
“Another Cinderella Story” (Warner, 2008, $35.99): Selena Gomez and Drew Seeley headline the cast in this music-laced update of the Cinderella fairy tale.
“Speed Racer” (Warner, 2008, $35.99): Emile Hirsch and Christina Ricci star in the live-action version of the old animated TV series.