DVDs In Brief: March 31, 2010

DVDs In Brief: March 31, 2010

The Guy Ritchie-directed Sherlock Holmes (Warner Bros.) is truer to the letter of Arthur Conan Doyle's famed detective stories than the spirit. The film throws in a lot of details from Doyle's tales, but the tone is very much that of a big action blockbuster. Thankfully, it's a pretty good blockbuster, thanks to Ritchie's spirited direction (and a toning down of his usual chaotic style) and especially a winning, eccentric performance from Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes…

There’s nothing more dangerous than a sequel to bad blockbuster, because the filmmakers inevitably devote themselves to re-bottling the non-magic of the original hit. To that end, the producers of Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel don’t overexert themselves by cashing in on a sure thing, though they should be credited with the most infectiously goofy subtitle this side of “Electric Boogaloo” or “The Quickening”… 

The Best Picture nominee An Education (Sony) goes about its business a bit too neatly as it follows a precocious teenager’s adventures with a much older, more experienced, and perhaps ill-intentioned man. Yet Carey Mulligan’s exceptional lead performance more than mitigates the tidy and predictable outcome, revealing the innocence and the danger being a young woman with a curious mind and a common sense still under construction… 

From 1996 to 2004, it was a crime to dance, listen to music, or watch TV in Afghanistan. The fascinating documentary Afghan Star (Zeitgeist) follows a pioneering American Idol-like TV show that does all three, but while it’s been wildly popular, it has also stokes the cultural tensions of a country that cannot be changed overnight. For the contestants, that time in the spotlight carries major risks as well as rewards… 

In the hours before going under the guillotine, a condemned grave-robber (Dominic Monaghan) tells a monk (Ron Perlman) about his ghoulish business disinterring the undead in I Sell The Dead (MPI), a gothic romp that falls in some no man’s land between light comedy and lighter horror. The title and the premise have a pulp catchiness that the movie never quite delivers on… 

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