May 16--New DVDs this week feature witches, wiseguys and weird medications.
"Beautiful Creatures," Grade B-: It's easy to try to force "Beautiful Creatures," the film based on the young romance novel of the same name, into the same pigeonhole as other stories about teens -- one mortal, the other supernatural. That's unfair. While the film includes the basic elements that have been used in everything from "Twilight" to "Harry Potter," they take on a fresh look through some interesting writing, a handful of fascinating characters and a pair of young lovers who look emotionally awake.
At first glance, "Beautiful Creatures" may look like a typical supernatural teen tale of love, and in many ways that is a fair assessment. But at its heart, there is plenty of wicked wit to go along with the wicked witches to give it a little more movie magic.
"Struck By Lightning," Grade B: Chris Colfer has taken the suggestion of "write what you know" to heart. His script isn't autobiographical -- he's never been hit by a lightning bolt -- but it's rife with elements of his own less-than-happy days in high school. Colfer does double duty as writer and star.
There are a few problems, such as some very stereotypical characters. Do cheerleaders always have to be narcissistic witches? A secondary storyline about a father seems tacked on to the main story. But, overall, the script is a solid effort by the young screenwriter.
"Side Effects," Grade C: The drugs a woman's taking for depression have nasty side effects. Jude Law stars.
WARNING: Watching the movie may cause drowsiness, a blurred sense of reality, explosive confusion and a slight tingling in the logic center of your brain. This alert is necessary because the new thriller from director Steven Soderbergh requires so many coincidences, chance meetings, ignored signals and plot oversights that the surprise ending is not that surprising and the story that takes you there is as illegible as a doctor's handwriting.
"Stand-Up Guys," Grade B: After being released from jail, a man (Al Pacino) slowly returns to his old ways. Christopher Walken co-stars.
The movie is at its strongest when it focuses on how it is for two longtime good friends to face a future they never expected to see. Dealing with the trials and tribulations of aging doesn't quite fit into the lifestyle of these bad boys, but it's staring them in their wrinkled faces. Director Fisher Stevens gives the actors a rich backdrop in which to play.
Also new on DVD May 21:
-- "Perception: The Complete First Season": Eric McCormack stars in the cable series about a genius who helps solve crimes -- with the help of the voices in his head.
-- "Parker": Jason Statham plays a modern day Robin Hood.
-- "True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season": This season of the HBO vampire drama finds Sookie triumphant over her encounter with Marnie. Anna Paquin stars.
-- "Captain America": Matt Salinger plays the comic book hero in the TV movie.
-- "Laverne & Shirley: The Sixth Season": The two close friends try to make a go of it in Los Angeles.
-- "Saving Hope: The Complete First Season": Medical drama about a doctor and the man she loves, who happens to be in a coma.
-- "Nightfall": A gritty, brutal story of love, hate and vengeance from director Chow Hin Yeung Roy.
-- "Pound Puppies -- Mission: Adoption": Canines continue to try to match a dog with every person.
-- "Monsuno: Power": DVD collection based on the popular Nicktoons animated series.
-- "The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One!": Cable series about an offbeat band of heroes.
-- "American Masters: Mel Brooks Make a Noise": Features new interviews with Brooks.
-- "Twinkle Toes Music Video Collection": Grace "Twinkle Toes" Hastings will have you on your feet dancing.
-- "ABCs of Death": Includes 26 chapters exploring the concept of death.
-- "Classic Collection": Remastered versions of "The Public Enemy," "White Heat" and "The Petrified Forest."
-- "Jim Jeffries: Fully Functional": Comedy special starring the Australian comedian.
-- "Picture Day": When forced to repeat her senior year in high school, Claire learns a lot about herself and life.
-- "National Lampoon's Vacation": Chevy Chase comedy being re-released for its 30th anniversary.
-- "Teen Wolf Season 2": Teen with a secret continues to find himself caught in a war between hunters and werewolves.
-- "The Royal Collection": The box set includes a series on Queen Victoria's children.
-- "H. P. Lovecraft's Cool Air": a look at the evil that goes on behind the doctor's door.
-- "Once Upon a Time in Brooklyn": A man must decide between family and fortune. Ice T stars.
-- "Barney: Dance With Barney": Purple dinosaur shares his favorite dance moves.
-- "The Town That Dreaded Sundown": The Ben Johnson film has been re-released.
-- "The Adventures of Bailey: A Night in Cowtown": A golden retriever settles into his new home.
-- "Dark Circles": Pell James stars in the horror film.
-- "Open Road": A young woman connects with an aging drifter. Andy Garcia stars.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.
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