A matinee idol, ancient warrior and evil queen are featured in this week's new DVD releases
"The Artist," Grade A-: A silent film star watches his career fade. The nearly silent film from writer/director Michel Hazanavicius won the Academy Award for best picture.
Through stunning black-and-white imagery and a beautiful soundtrack, "The Artist" pulls the audience into a simple story of fame, pride and redemption.
It would have been easy for the film to become little more than a novelty. Hazanavicius avoids that fate by making a film that is so accomplished in its look and sound that no words were needed. He shows that silence can be more powerful than any on-screen explosion.
"Wrath of the Titans," Grade B: Director Jonathan Liebesman faced several Olympic-size challenges with the sequel to "Clash of the Titans." The simple fact it is a sequel sets up the very real potential of an Icarus crash-and-burn scenario.
To his credit, the director has dealt with both potential pitfalls and created a sequel that's interesting, fast-paced and a visual splendor. It, like the 2010 remake, still doesn't have the charm of the original 1981 "Clash of the Titans," but the latest tale of gods, demi-gods and titans accomplishes the Herculean task of being entertaining.
"21 Jump Street," Grade B: Two police officers go undercover as high school students. Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill star. The "Jump Street" script by Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall doesn't just lampoon the source material, it pokes fun at itself.
"Mirror, Mirror," Grade D+: This film offers a comedic look at the battle between Snow White (Lily Collins) and the Evil Queen (Julia Roberts) to rule the kingdom. The pair also get into a tussle over the heart of the charming Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer). The only hope for Snow is that her seven new friends can help her become a match for the queen.
The film needed to be far more dopey, especially Roberts' performance. When a person plays against type, the absurdity of the work has to be outlandish enough to make sure everyone gets the point.