New on DVD: ‘Beastly,’ ‘Sucker Punch,’ and More

Posted on June 27, 2011 at 8:00 am

Beastly This modern-day version of Beauty and the Beast is surprisingly appealing. In an era of bullies and mean girls, “Gossip Girls” and “Pretty Little Liars,” it’s nice to have such a tenderhearted fairy tale.

Sucker Punch Girls in thigh-hi stockings and tiny spangled miniskirts take on steam-powered corpses, WWI bi-planes, samurai robots, and an angry dragon, along with a series of odiously predatory men in the latest film from Zack Snyder. His versions of “300? and “Watchmen” overwhelmed the storylines with striking, provocative visuals. Here, he solves that problem by pretty much not having any storyline at all. He literally and metaphorically cuts to the chase. It’s not so much punch, a bit more sucker.

Season of the Witch.  This is sword-and-sorcery film named after a Donovan song that features a joke swiped from “Jaws” — a priest looks balefully up at a looming demon and actually says, “We’re going to need more holy water.” It is a hopeless mish-mash that feels like they were making it up as they went along. It’s also dull.

The Eagle The classic book for kid by Rosemary Sutcliff is an epic story, lavishly filmed, but empty at the core. Without a reason to care about the quest, it does not matter how skillfully the battle scenes are filmed.

Unknown There are some good chases through Berlin and even twistier plot developments even if the end is kind of silly in this story of a man on the way to an academic conference who wakes up after an accident with amnesia and finds that someone else has taken over his life.  Worth seeing for one scene between veterans Bruno Ganz and Frank Langella.

Barney’s Version Paul Giamatti makes us understand and even forgive a man who leaves his own wedding reception (second marriage) to run after a woman he has just met (Rosamund Pike), who will be the great love of his life.  Based on the last novel by the great Canadian author Mordecai Richler, this is a sprawling, episodic story of a man who is not always likable but the performances by Giamatti, Pike, and Dustin Hoffman has his policeman father over the decades are magnificent.

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