DVD Review: The Duchess

The Duchess
Directed by Saul Dibb
Starring Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell
Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 27, 2008

Based on a true story, The Duchess is about desire, responsibility, and ultimately redemption. Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire (Keira Knightley of Pirates of the Caribbean), marries the Duke of Devonshire, a much older man, and all of her visions of love and marriage are quickly dispelled. The Duke (Ralph Fiennes of Harry Potter, and yes, he played Voldemort) approached his marriage as one of necessity, he needed to produce an heir and Georgiana would help him reach that goal. His desire turned into need and no thought was given to his future bride. His necessity determined her fate and little more was to be done or said about that. An interesting tenet is when Georgiana first learned of her upcoming nuptials. She was surprised and happy with the decision — surprised that the Duke had any interest in her and happy because she was told that love is found on first glances and impressions.

Responsibility plagues each of the characters differently and completely. Bess Foster (Hayley Atwell) is forced into an affair to save her children; Georgiana embraces her love-less marriage and turns away from her true love to save her children; and the Duke, well let’s just say that his responsibility is only unto himself as he finally sires an heir to his title. He answers to no one and dictates the lives of all around him. This is a testament to gender dynamics at the time.

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DVD Review: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Two Disc Deluxe Edition
Directed by Rob Cohen
Starring Brendan Frasier, Jet Li, Maria Bello, John Hannah, Luke Ford, Michelle Yeoh, Isabella Leong
Universal Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 16, 2008

The third installment of The Mummy series is sure not to disappoint. Well, one thing is disappointing and I have to say it right from the beginning. What happened to the real Evelyn O’Connell? I really hate to start a review like this. I like to tell a bit about the movie and then give my feelings, but I couldn’t, and I am sure you won’t be able to. It’s not that Maria Bello (Thank You for Smoking, A History of Violence) is bad in her depiction of Evelyn, it’s just that, Rachel Weisz is our Evelyn. Maybe Weisz’s decision to do Definitely, Maybe or My Blueberry Nights blocked her from The Mummy project. If it did, I have one thing to say: she should have stuck with The Mummy series. No judgments on the other two movies, but, you get my drift.

In The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, a new kind of mummy is released, Emperor Han (Jet Li), by mistake of course, and it is up to Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn, along with their now-adult son Alex (Luke Ford) and Evelyn’s brother John (John Hannah) to save the world from complete enslavement.

The Mummy franchise has yet to disappoint me and Rob Cohen does not do so now. In the interest of not giving away everything in the movie, I am keeping my review short, but I will go in detail about this DVD edition’s many bonus features.

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DVD Review: Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins

Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins
Written & Directed by Malcolm D. Lee
Starring Martin Lawrence, Mike Epps, James Earl Jones, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, Michael Clarke Duncan, Joy Bryant, Cedric the Entertainer
Universal Home Entertainment
Release date: June 17, 2008

“It’s cool to have the money, the riches, the house, but, it’s all about family.” —Michael Clarke Duncan (Otis)

Growing up a “loser” was never easy for RJ Stevens (Martin Lawrence). So when he is shamed into going home for a huge family function and must spend time with the people who love and hurt him the most, a hilarious little movie, complete with a skunk bomb, a funky dog sex-scene, and the brother and sister fight to end all brother and sister fights ensues.

For a full write-up on the movie itself, which I thoroughly enjoyed, see my movie review. The DVD release is packed with bonus features, which makes this DVD definitely worth getting — and the great thing about it is that the film and bonus features are all included on one disc.

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DVD Review: The Great Debaters

The Great Debaters
2-Disc Collector’s Edition
Directed by Denzel Washington
Story and Screenplay by Robert Eisele
Starring Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett, Denzel Whitaker, Jermaine Williams, Gina Ravera, John Heard, Kimberly Elise
Release date: May 13, 2008

In The Great Debaters, Denzel Washington stars as Melvin B. Tolson, a professor who nurtured and lead a black debate team to challenge segregation by debating white colleges and ultimately the pinnacle of educational facilities, Harvard.

Melvin Tolson, like all of the educators at Wiley College, strives to teach his students the power of education. When Professor Tolson chooses his four debaters: Henry Lowe (Nate Parker), Samantha Booke (Jurnee Smollett, Eve’s Bayou, Gridiron Gang), James Farmer, Jr. (Denzel Whitaker, Training Day), and Hamilton Burgess (Jermaine Williams, Stomp the Yard, Fat Albert) we as an audience do not question his selection, but immediately see why he has chosen these four gifted youths. Henry Lowe is the uber-intelligent renegade that hides behind his intelligence to cover the pain he has endured. Samantha Booke is an articulate woman who has the ability to take a difficult argument and break it down to a simple right or wrong question. Hamilton Burgess has the humor and wit that puts you at ease and makes the audience laugh and agree with him. James Farmer, Jr. is a child genius that has the academic acumen of someone twice his age but looks at the world with child-like wonder.

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DVD Review: ‘South Park’ Imaginationland

South Park: Imaginationland
Uncensored Director’s Cut
Comedy Central
Release date: March 11, 2008

The South Park delinquents are up to their usual antics in this Comedy Central uncensored director’s cut of Imaginationland. In this three-episode story arc, the world’s Imagination is under terrorist attack and Butters must save it before it inevitably changes.

In true South Park fashion we are given a vulgar, abrasive, and hilarious cartoon. Complete with spoofs on Al Gore and his devotion to environmental protection which crosses into obsession in the form of publicizing a nefarious animal that is part man, part bear, and part pig, the South Park team present us with an almost feature-length film worthy of our DVD library.

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