Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

DVDs In Brief

Pitching comedies to a stoner audience isn't much of a challenge, given that most of them are ready to laugh at just about anything that passes their field of vision. The shambling Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (Fox) survives many a lazy moment through its goofy surrealism, the amiable teaming of Kal Penn and John Cho, and of course, Neil Patrick Harris reprising his role as "Neil Patrick Harris"…

Modeled after The Animatrix, the animated anthology Batman: Gotham Knight (Warner) put short scripts by comics luminaries like Greg Rucka, David Goyer, and Brian Azzarello in the hands of top anime studios like 4?C and Madhouse. The result is six gorgeously animated, darkly stylized, fractured portraits that play on the subjectivity of perceptions of Batman. Narratively, they don't add up to much as a whole, but visually, they're dynamic as hell. A double-disc set includes filler features and episodes of Batman: The Animated Series (which, like Gotham Knight, features Kevin Conroy in the lead role), but only the single-disc version is essential for Batman fans…

After decades of featuring The Rolling Stones prominently on rock-filled movie soundtracks, director Martin Scorsese finally gets around to paying tribute to them in the impeccable concert film Shine A Light (Paramount). Since they're playing in the controlled setting of a benefit concert, a good 25 years past their prime, the urgency of a Stones documentary like Gimme Shelter is out of the question. So Scorsese and the band do the next best thing: Perform with the inspiring energy of men a third their ages…

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For those who felt The Karate Kid was insufficiently hardcore, along comes Never Back Down (Summit), which feebly updates the same formula—new kid in town fighting bullies, wooing his rival's girl—to accommodate the current mixed martial arts trend. Djimon Hounsou is brought in to give the brain-dead action some gravitas, but the filmmakers aren't fooling anyone on that front…

Coming off the terrifying cave horror of The Descent, director Neil Marshall was granted a larger budget for his post-apocalyptic thriller Doomsday (Rogue), but the extra money didn't yield anywhere near as good a result. Aside from an emphasis on strong women and an evident fixation with John Carpenter and James Cameron, Doomday doesn't have much in common with The Descent, and it quickly collapses into yet another shoot-'em-up about a virus-driven end-of-the-world scenario.

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