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New On DVD - April 13, 2010

Defendor CityNews.ca Pick of the Week – Woody Harrelson plays Arthur Poppington — a mentally challenged man who wears a duct-taped “D” on his chest and goes by the moniker “Defendor”. He attempts to clean up the streets of a town nicknamed “The Hammer” by busting up bad guys with marbles, lime juice, jars full of bees, and a trench bat from WWII that his grandfather gave him. There are funny moments in Defendor but this is no Kick-Ass. Instead it’s an emotionally real, depressing look at a man with a heart of gold and a head full of problems. Elias Koteas and Kat Dennings also star. Special features include deleted scenes, bloopers, commentary, and more. Also available on Blu-ray. Film *** DVD *** (out of 5 stars).

Red Cliff (Blu-ray) – John Woo takes on a historical drama in this epic story of the final days of the Han Dynasty in 208 A.D., when then-Prime Minister Cao Cao convinced Emperor Han to battle Xu and East Wu in order to unite China. The film is visually stunning and action-packed, and looks amazing on Blu-ray. It also features a great performance by Tony Leung, who replaced Chow Yun-Fat in the lead. It should be noted that Red Cliff was originally released in China as a much longer two-part version. The condensed version (148 minutes) released this week is due to the lack of knowledge most North Americans have over the story. In Mandarin with English subtitles. Special features include a making-of, storyboards, a conversation with John Woo, and more. Film *** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).

La donation – Written and directed by Bernard Émond, the film is the final part of his “humanist trilogy” (which also includes La neuvaine and Contre toute espérance) and tells the story of a doctor in Quebec’s Abitibi region who is dying and looking for a replacement. One of Canada’s Top Ten films of last year, La donation is a very slow, character-driven film that probably would have grabbed me more if I had seen the previous films in the trilogy. In French with English subtitles. There is one special feature included in French only. Film ** DVD * (out of 5 stars).

Cocoon (Blu-ray) – I remember enjoying Cocoon a lot more when I was a child. Now that I’m older I thought I would connect to the story even more. Sadly, I ended up hating the film and can’t understand what I ever saw in it back in 1985. The story follows a group of senior citizens in Florida who find a fountain of youth in the pool next to their retirement home. The pool is being used to store giant cocoons by a family of aliens who have come to Earth to collect them, and the power they give off make the seniors healthier and more energetic. Directed by Ron Howard, and starring Steve Guttenberg, Brian Dennehy, and Jessica Tandy, this is one film that is better off left in your memory thinking you actually enjoyed it, instead of revisiting it and realizing the opposite. The Blu-ray transfer looks terrible too, making the cheap special effects stand-out like a sore thumb. Special features include commentary with Ron Howard, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a profile on Howard, and more. Film ** Blu-ray ** (out of 5 stars).

More New DVD releases this week: Pirate Radio, Wall Street (Blu-ray), Bigfoot, Poultrygeist (Blu-ray), The Thomas Crown Affair (Blu-ray), A Nightmare on Elm Street (Blu-ray)


Top image: A scene from Defendor. Courtesy Alliance Films.