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I Want My DVD: Tuesday, August 27, 2013

by Ethan Alter August 27, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In the great Gatsby war, Leo Dio easily beats out Robert Redford.

The Great Gatsby
Licking his wounds after Australia, Baz Luhrmann sought to get his mojo back with this flashy, blinged-out adaptation of the beloved Fitzgerald novel. And guess what? He mostly succeeds, staying faithful to the broad outline of the book, but filtering it through his own specific vision. After a clunky prologue that introduces Tobey Maguire's hanger-on Nick Carraway, Gatsby kicks into high gear with a lavish party sequence that introduces us to the title character (Leonardo DiCaprio, looking every inch the movie star) and pulsates with the same energy that distinguished Moulin Rouge! a decade ago. The movie's first hour is a mostly delightful swirl of color and activity, tricked out with Luhrmann's hyperkinetic (and controversial) camerawork. Unfortunately, the momentum slows a bit in the back half, for reasons that stem from the underlying problem of dramatizing this particular book: though Nick is our point-of-view character, the drivers of the action become Gatsby and his would-be lady love Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and Luhrmann has trouble figuring out how to successfully shift the narrative focus back and forth. But imperfect as it is, this Gatsby is by far the most successful attempt at realizing Fitzgerald's slender tome on the big screen. So whaddya say, Baz? Wanna try your hand at Ulysses next?
Extras: Deleted scenes, an alternate ending, six featurettes and a trailer for the 1926 silent version of Gatsby.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see Leonardo DiCaprio's most tragic screen romances

Pain & Gain
The first 90 minutes of this pitch-black comedy (which is inspired by a strange, but true crime story) is probably the best movie Michael Bay has ever made -- his Fargo if you will. Unfortunately, it goes on for another 30 minutes beyond that. Still, the good stuff here is really, really good, starting with Mark Wahlberg's demented performance as a bodybuilder who decides the best way to achieve the American dream is by kidnapping a rich guy (Tony Shalhoub) and having him sign over his entire fortune to Marky Mark and his cronies, including Dwayne Johnson's Evangelical ex-con and Anthony Mackie's steroid-popping gym rat. Far from toning down his '90s MTV aesthetic, Bay slathers it on like the Rock's copious amounts of body oil, which is actually the perfect complement for the movie's larger-than-life characters and situations. It's only in the last act that the director overreaches, dragging out the characters' inevitable downfall for longer than necessary and with too many repetitive action sequences. Even so, any film that presents you with such did-I-just-see-that images as the Rock BBQing severed hands on a grill, Shalhoub being repeatedly run over (and still not dying!) and Wahlberg cussing out a bunch of kids is destined for cult classic status.
Extras: None, which is a crying shame. Where's the Wahlberg/Rock commentary track? Or the Rock's video diary with snapshots of his massive pancake breakfasts? Armageddon got an extras-laden Criterion release -- here's hoping they do the same for Pain & Gain a few years hence.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see the cast's biggest career pains and gains

Q the Winged Serpent
I Come in Peace
An enjoyably daft '60s creature feature made in the early '80s, Larry Cohen's Q the Winged Serpent pits Michael Moriarty, Richard Roundtree and David Carradine against a winged Aztec god who flies into then-contemporary Manhattan with murder on its mind. As schlocky as it wants to be, Q is the Godzilla-Goes-to-America movie Roland Emmerich should have made. Released in 1990 as I Come in Peace, the equally schlocky Dolph Lundgren vs. aliens action picture Dark Angel is getting a Blu-ray release under its original title, but its retro low-budget trappings are still in full effect. By far one of Lundgren's best solo star vehicles (though Masters of the Universe still holds a nostalgic place in our heart), Angel is distinctly a product of its time, but it's always fun to take a ride in the ol' wayback machine.
Extras: Q comes with the original theatrical trailer and a commentary track with Cohen. Dark Angel offers the trailer and interviews with Lundgren, Brian Benben and director Craig. R. Baxley.

Also on DVD:
The relentlessly positive documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's profiles the legendary New York department store with hagiographic testimony from devotees like Joan Rivers and Rachel Zoe. One of the four also-rans in the Foreign Language category at this year's Oscars, the Norwegian seafaring adventure Kon-Tiki depicts the true-life voyage of the titular vessel. Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron headline At Any Price, the first star-powered vehicle from acclaimed indie director Ramin Bahrani. The director of Battlefield Earth gleefully rips off Alien and The Thing in the Christian Slater-starring thriller, Stranded. Disney's delightful adaptation of A.A. Milne's silly old bear gets a Blu-ray release with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, while the direct-to-video canine adventure Super Buddies puts a bunch of dogs in capes for your kids' amusement.

Think you've got game? Prove it! Check out Games Without Pity, our new area featuring trivia, puzzle, card, strategy, action and word games -- all free to play and guaranteed to help pass the time until your next show starts.

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