It’s a busy week for home video with new releases ranging from an intimate Shakespeare adaptation to a new “Hangover” sequel.
Tag Archives: Will Smith
3½ stars (out of four)
Story: The events in “After Earth” take place in a distant future where human beings – having seriously damaged Earth – have been living on a different planet for centuries. During a routine military mission, a famous human general (Will Smith) and his 13-year-old son (Jaden Smith) crash land on the planet and must figure out how to survive amid dangerous creatures and a hostile physical landscape.
Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo and Zoë Kravitz
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Bottom line: Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, who hadn’t made a truly great film since 2002, returns to form with this exciting and well-paced adventure. As with many science fiction efforts, there are flaws. For instance, the characters seem to possess only close-range weapons designed for hand-to-hand combat despite having the technology for intergalactic travel. Look beyond the flaws, however, and one uncovers a thrilling action movie that also has a lot to say about father-son relationships.
Video Verdict: ‘Men In Black 3,’ ‘ParaNorman,’ ‘Lawless,’ ‘Step Up Revolution,’ ‘Sparkle,’ ‘The Apparition’
There’s no doubt the holiday shopping season is underway, as movie studios are trotting out a swarm of new video releases this week. The good news is that several are actually worth gifting.
No major theatrical releases are making their way to video this week, so it seems like the perfect time to suggest some movies that are sure to put an exclamation point on your July 4 holiday. All of the following are readily available on home video.
“Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942): This charming film tells the life story of real-life entertainer George M. Cohan (James Cagney). That may not sound patriotic, but the movie smacks of the red, white and blue because Cohan wrote a number of America’s most-beloved patriotic tunes. His songs “Yankee Doodle Boy,” “Over There” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag” are all featured in the movie, and James Cagney is outstanding in the lead role.
“The Patriot” (2000): This Revolutionary War saga isn’t perfect, but it’s a nice choice for Independence Day. The film is set in 1776, and it tells of Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a veteran soldier who has settled into a peaceful life as a farmer. Alas, when a cruel British officer (Jason Isaacs) kills his youngest son, he decides to fight again. Directed by Roland Emmerich (“2012,” “The Day After Tomorrow”), “The Patriot” is a big, loud blockbuster, but the cast – including Heath Ledger and Chris Cooper – keep things earthy and enjoyable.
“Independence Day” (1996): This Roland Emmerich film is even bigger and louder than “The Patriot,” but it wouldn’t make sense to exclude it from our list. After all, it was named after our July 4 holiday. The plot centers on a widespread alien invasion and the Earthlings who fight back. Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Mary McDonnell star.
This week’s DVD releases include a complicated French thriller, a Will Smith drama and a sentimental tearjerker, but the clear frontrunner is this year’s best picture Oscar winner.
Question: When you contrast the beginning of Will Smith’s career against what he’s doing now, it’s startling. What do you think of him as an actor?
Answer: It’s true that Smith’s early acting work — think “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” — wasn’t exactly Oscar material. But, with maturity, he’s become one of the most exciting performers of his generation.
Click here for complete column: http://www.rgj.com/article/20081219/COL14/812190464/1117/ENT