DVDs In Brief: July 29, 2009

DVDs In Brief: July 29, 2009

Usually, when studios “reboot” a franchise, they try to produce a movie that’s as far removed from the stale past model as possible, with a new cast and a reconsidered style and tone. But for Fast & Furious (Universal), the opposite happened: Vin Diesel and Paul Walker teamed up again, and Justin Lin, director of The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift, returned behind the camera. The only real change is the streamlined title: Lose the definite articles, add the ampersand…

The concept of an underground operation that specializes in programming “dolls” (humans that are basically blank slates) with traits tailored directly to clients’ needs (hostage negotiator, bodyguard, hooker) wouldn’t be an easy sell under any circumstances. So it’s no surprise that Fox and Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon were at loggerheads about how to get the show off the ground, resulting in an episodic first few hours that demonstrate the concept in action instead of exploring the characters and themes in depth. But by the sixth episode, guest-starring Patton Oswalt, the show found its groove enough to justify the limitless passion of the Whedon faithful. Dollhouse: Season One (Fox) comes with the unaired 13th episode, the highly anticipated “Epitaph One”…

To the distressingly long list of ’09 “worst of the year” contenders, add Miss March (Fox), a dire cross between Rip Van Winkle and The House Bunny, courtesy of the comedy troupe The Whitest Kids U’ Know. The story of a long-comatose teenager who wakes to discover that his high-school girlfriend has become a Playboy model, Miss March bottomed out on aggregate sites like Metacritic (where it scored 10 out of a possible 100) and Rotten Tomatoes (only 4% of critics approved). Cold comfort: On both, it’s still considered better than Battlefield Earth

Dragonball: Evolution (Fox) was a doomed project from the start. The source material, an extensive Japanese manga/anime/videogame/film franchise, drove away all but the obsessive Dragonball fans, who saw it but hated it because it threw most of the series’ mythos out the window. But even beyond that, it’s an aggressive mediocrity, a halfhearted compendium of special effects and dull, familiar tropes drawn equally from Hong Kong action and fantasy films like Krull, in which a boring hero gathers up a bunch of wacky, loudmouthed companions who don’t contribute much to a by-the-numbers quest plot.

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