DVDs In Brief: May 4, 2011

The Green Hornet (Sony) sounded like a potentially exciting collaboration between director Michel Gondry and actor and co-writer Seth Rogen, but things didn’t go as planned. After a bad 3-D conversion and countless release delays, the film that arrived in theaters shows some signs of Gondry’s playful touch, like the avant-garde fight sequences and the Green Hornet’s homemade gadgetry. But the tone is mean-spirited, the pacing is slack, and the decision to cast the indecipherable Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou as Kato seems entirely motivated by international markets… 

Ron Howard’s offbeat flop The Dilemma (Universal) has a lot in common with Vince Vaughn’s 2006 hit The Break-Up: Both movies were shot in Chicago, both detail the agonizing process of dissolving a relationship, and both are more psychodrama than romantic comedy. Neither of the films work, but credit Vaughn and Howard for going far out on a limb in mixing deeply uncomfortable melodrama with outrageous, over-the-top comic setpieces. The Dilemma may be a train wreck, but at least it’s going for something…

Best described as Sense & Sensibility For Dummies, the comedy From Prada To Nada (Lionsgate) updates Jane Austen’s classic for modern-day Los Angeles. Camilla Belle and Alexa Vega star as rich siblings who run out of money after their father dies and are forced to move from Beverly Hills to their aunt’s house in East L.A. But despite of the hints of race, class, and social issues lurking in the background, this is a film carefully calculated to pass an hour and a half as predictably as possible, mildly satisfying a few people and offending none… 

Though it carries the rare distinction of being shot in the Dominican Republic, a country without a film industry, La Soga (Screen Media) feels otherwise generic, guilty of exploiting the poverty it means to evoke. The story of a cold-blooded enforcer (Manny Perez) whose conscience is troubled by his job killing people for the secret police, La Soga tries to go to neighborhoods that cameras have rarely documented, but through a moral tale the movies have recycled many times before.

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