Video Verdict: New DVDs for July 15

This week’s major video releases are truly genre-spanning, as they range from an intense heist film to a modern fairy tale to a Japanese horror remake.

The Bank Job
3 1/2 stars
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, violence and language
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

Director Roger Donaldson (“The World’s Fastest Indian,” “Thirteen Days,” “The Recruit”) has hit his stride in recent years, and that is evident in this excellent crime drama.

Based on a true story, the film recounts the exploits of a gang of small-time hoodlums who — with a nudge from the British secret service — are encouraged to rob the safe deposit boxes at a major London bank. The crooks are surprised, however, when they recover more than just loot.

Some boxes contain sensitive documents capable of embarrassing or ending the careers of both public officials and high-profile criminals, and that makes the thieves a target for some of the most powerful people in the world.

Jason Statham, ringleader of the robbers, is the only major star in the cast, but all players are extremely solid. What’s more, Donaldson keeps the film moving at a rapid pace, so there’s never a dull moment.

The movie is available on a single-disc release and as part of a two-disc special edition. Extra features vary, but the two-disc version includes a digital copy of the film.

3 1/2 stars
Rated PG for thematic elements, some innuendo and language
Summit Entertainment
Available on: DVD

In this modern fairy tale, Christina Ricci plays Penelope, an heiress cursed to live with the snout and ears of a pig until she finds another blue blood who will love her. Trouble is, her embarrassed-but-good-hearted mother (Catherine O’Hara) keeps her hidden away from the world, making possible suitors sign waivers promising not to talk about Penelope’s appearance.

When Max (James McAvoy), the only man Penelope ever truly connected with, says he can’t marry her, the heartbroken girl runs away from home. Rapidly, she grows to love the big city and all the wonders it holds, and she becomes fast friends with a spunky courier (Reese Witherspoon). The question is, will Penelope be able to find happiness when the only person who can reverse her curse is an aristocrat?

Despite the sad undertones, “Penelope” is the type of sweet, life-affirming tale that reminds you why it’s great to go to the movies. Ricci is wonderful in the title role, and her supporting cast — especially McAvoy — is fabulous.

Director Mark Palansky infuses his story with a sweetness and sense of wonder that keep things interesting throughout. Plus, as with every good fairy tale, the movie comes with a moral that we should all take to heart.

DVD extras are limited to a short on the making of the film and two bits promoting other movies.

College Road Trip
2 stars
Rated G
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

According to police chief James Porter (Martin Lawrence), a father doesn’t say “goodbye” to his daughter when she gets married. That moment comes years earlier, when she heads to college.

Armed with this philosophy, James has long planned for his daughter, Melanie (Raven-Symoné), to attend Northwestern, which is located less than an hour from their family home in the Chicago suburbs. But Melanie has dreams of going to Georgetown.

Reluctantly, James volunteers to take Melanie on a cross-country road trip so she can check out several campuses. Because he has an agenda, and because there are always bumps in road trip movies, their journey is eventful in all the wrong ways.

Lawrence and Raven are likable and the film starts decently, but it quickly devolves into the sort of predictable family drama everyone has seen a dozen times. Youngsters will probably find the film mildly appealing, but there are many better choices for adults to watch with their children.

Although “College Road Trip” has problems, it does earn brownie points for an appearance by Donny Osmond, who plays a character so annoying you can’t help but laugh.

Extra features include a gag reel, deleted scenes, two audio commentaries by the filmmakers and a Raven-Symoné music video.

1 1/2 stars
Available in rated and unrated versions. The theatrical cut received a PG-13 for terror, disturbing images, sexual content and language.
20th Century Fox
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

American remakes of Asian horror films are all the rage, and this movie traces its roots to a 2004 effort from Thailand. It’s already been proven that remakes are a tricky business, but “Shutter” can now be added to the ever-growing pile of evidence that argues against them.

The film follows newlyweds Ben and Jane Shaw (Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor) who travel to Japan for a short honeymoon and to look into a job opportunity for Ben. Their bliss is cut short when Jane gets into a car accident after she thinks she sees a young woman pop up in the middle of the road in front of their car. But, when the police investigate, they don’t find a body.

At first, the young couple think it was a hallucination. Then ghostly images begin showing up in their photographs.

“Shutter” has a number of creepy sequences, but director Masayuki Ochiai fails to build a consistently suspenseful atmosphere. Even worse, his ending is about as nonsensical and anticlimactic as they come.

The movie is available in rated and unrated versions, and extra features vary by release. It’s worth noting, however, that the unrated version falls within the parameters of a high-grade PG-13 or very low-grade R.


Step Up 2 the Streets: Dance movie centered on the exploits of a street smart girl trying to make it at the prestigious Maryland School of the Arts. While there, she introduces her peers to some of her street savvy dance moves. Briana Evigan and Robert Hoffman star.

Birds of Prey — The Complete Series: All 13 episodes of the short-lived television drama built around Batman mythology. The action is set during a time when a broken-hearted Batman has abandoned Gotham City. So, his crime-fighting exploits are taken up by a team comprised of the seriously injured Batgirl, a young woman named Dinah, and Huntress — the daughter of Batman and Catwoman.

Evening Shade — Season One: All the episodes from the first season of this early 1990s television comedy. Burt Reynolds stars as a former professional football player who returns to his hometown of Evening Shade, Arkansas, to coach the high school football team. Michael Jeter, Charles Durning, Ossie Davis, Elizabeth Ashley, Marilu Henner and Hal Holbrook are also featured.

Saving Grace — Season One: First season of the TNT drama starring Holly Hunter as a hard-living-but-well-meaning detective who is visited by an angel (Leon Rippy) hoping to turn her life around.

Trafic: French writer-director-actor Jacques Tati’s final film featuring the blundering Monsieur Hulot. In this movie — presented in French with English subtitles — Hulot must transport a high-tech camper to Amsterdam, and he runs into all sorts of trouble.

Trapped Ashes: Five short horror films directed by five noteworthy filmmakers: Sean Cunningham, Joe Dante, John Gaeta, Monte Hellman and Ken Russell.

Roxy Hunter and the Secret of the Shaman Movie: Nickelodeon television movie about youthful detective Roxy Hunter’s (Aria Wallace) efforts to recover a precious stolen jewel.

Leave a comment

Filed under Video Verdict

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s