Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

DVDs In Brief: June 29, 2011

Illustration for article titled DVDs In Brief: June 29, 2011

The latest from 300 director Zack Snyder, whose storytelling gifts seem to be declining in direct proportion to his mastery of digital effects, Sucker Punch (Warner Bros.) is a prime example of giving the audience what it wants instead of what it needs. There are Nazi robot monsters, a medieval dragon, starlets in skimpy outfits who are adept at hand-to-hand combat, and cabaret-style covers of new-wave hits, but what’s missing is a cohesive story to support its Comic Con-friendly images…


The long-delayed, barely released Season Of The Witch (Fox) stars Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman as disillusioned 14th-century holy warriors who help a priest transport a suspected plague-causing witch to a remote abbey. There, a book of spells will supposedly reverse her evil magic, but there’s some doubt whether the woman is actually a witch or just a victim of superstition. Cage can usually be counted on to bring the crazy, but his curiously muted performance goes hand-in-glove with the film itself, which is drab, cheap-looking, and utterly forgettable…

In bringing a hip, modern Beauty And The Beast to the big screen, Beastly (Sony) follows two indelible adaptations: Jean Cocteau’s poetic 1946 masterpiece La Belle Et La Bête, and Disney’s beloved 1991 version. The third time is certainly not a charm. The film labors so mightily to bring Beauty And The Beast into the age of text-messaging, social media, Google, and Twilight that it invests next to nothing in making it otherwise compelling or relevant…

Based on Mordecai Richler’s 1997 novel, Barney’s Version (Sony) faces the problem of suggesting the inner life of a first-person confessional novel onscreen, and it isn’t up to the challenge. An explication of the life and philosophy of the eponymous Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti), a Jewish Canadian television producer with a checkered love life, Barney’s Version offers Dustin Hoffman’s most restrained performance in years as Barney’s father, but there’s too much missing from the film.