DVDs in Brief

For pure visual spectacle, no 2007 movie has come close to topping Zack Snyder's 300 (Warner Bros.), which captures the look of Frank Miller's graphic novel with even greater fidelity and style than Sin City. Yet when the awe that greets the opening onslaught of images wears off, what remains is a relentlessly silly, homoerotic celebration of manhood, all in support of an ideological message that's just this side of fascist. It does pose a compelling question, however: In a perfect world, who should take over General Petraeus' job in Iraq, King Leonidas or Optimus Prime? Would it matter? Discuss…

All the online arguing over which Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg movie is better—their zombie spoof, Shaun Of The Dead, or their new action-movie spoof, Hot Fuzz (Universal)—mostly suggests that the choice depends on whether a given viewer has seen more zombie films or action movies. Since both films are uproarious, well-observed parodies that engage with their genre conventions instead of just mocking them, it mostly comes down to a matter of personal taste…

Filmgoers didn't get to see Pathfinder (Fox) back in June 2006, when it was first scheduled to be released, then postponed six times. They probably didn't get to see it when it finally, briefly poked its head up in theaters in April 2007, either. Now it's on DVD, where they can safely miss it a third time, given the unengaging yet pretentious (and drearily similar to the superior Apocalypto) way its endless washed-out Vikings-vs.-Native Americans battles play out…

In spite of a soundtrack packed with new-wave favorites and the cachet of having Tom Hanks and Sam Mendes onboard as producers, Tom Vaughan's relentlessly charming Thatcher-era college comedy Starter For 10 (HBO) barely made a ripple at the box office. That's a shame, since this James McAvoy vehicle about a working-class striver, his quiz-show team, and his hopeless crush on a gorgeous rich girl (Alice Eve) is one of the funniest, smartest romantic comedies about young people since Clueless and Say Anything

Here's an easy rule of thumb about boy-and-his-dog movies: The more a movie focuses on things that an actual dog can do, the better it inevitably turns out. In Firehouse Dog (Fox), on the other hand, the eponymous mutt rides a skateboard, slides down a pole, cleans up a boy's room, works a PlayStation controller, and backflips over an eight-foot-high fence. In other words, it's much worse than last year's simple, heartfelt Lassie.

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