The Godfather returns, remastered
By G. Michael Dobbs
A new collection of "The Godfather" trilogy, a two-disc set of Hammer horror films, a really bad comedy and the newest entrant in the reality show on DVD genre are all in this week's DVD review column.
The Foot Fist Way
I have tried very hard to like "Napoleon Dynamite," but try as I might I've never understood its humor or appeal. Apparently, though, the film has successfully created its own sub-genre as "The Foot Fist Way" is being compared to it.
Starring Danny McBride as Fred Simmons, an inept Tae Kwon Do Master, the film's loose plot recounts Simmons' journey toward the annual belt competition for his school. Along the way we meet Simmons's promiscuous -- can't really blame her -- wife, his students and the true object of his affections, martial arts star and drunken lout Chuck "The Truck" Wallace.
Shot in almost documentary fashion, the film rests on McBride's shoulders who bases his characterization on the popular approach of a guy who doesn't know he is a joke and a jerk -- the center of nearly all of Will Ferrell's characters.
Simmons is such an unlikable boob, though, that I couldn't care less about the humor his pathetic life supposedly generated.
So if you're a "Napoleon Dynamite" fan, perhaps this will be a great film experience for you -- not for me, though.
Hammer Films: Icons of Horror
More of the Hammer Films released in this country by Columbia Pictures are in this four-movie collection and there are some interesting titles here.
Of greatest interest to horror film fans is an uncut "The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll." This treatment of the venerable Robert Louis Stevenson story has its own twist: Jekyll is a nice boring scientist trying to unleash the other side of his personality and that other side is a handsome violent libertine.
There is no monster make-up here. Actor Paul Massie just had to take off his fake beard and restyle his hair.
The point here is that evil comes from a lack of caring about others and the dark side can be pretty good looking.
The film had been cut quite a bit in its various incarnations as it was undoubtedly one of the most explicitly sexual productions Hammer made before the inception of the American rating system.
"Scream of Fear" is a tight little psychological horror film starring Susan Strasberg as a disabled young woman trying to find out if her father is still alive. There is a great twist in the plot that makes this film worth seeing.
"The Gorgon" may feature a creature from Greek mythology but it's really a twist on werewolf movies. Hammer greats Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee star with some reverse casting: Cushing is sort of a bad guy and Lee is a good guy. The only problem with the film is the Gorgon herself needed to be more hideous!
The stinker of the bunch is the terribly pedestrian "The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb." The film is very predictable and commits the worst sin a horror movie can: it's boring.
Ax Men: The Complete Season One
Television is comprised of one producer with an original idea and then 30 million programmers seeking to capitalize on that first idea. "Ax Men" is the latest series to follow people engaged in a very dangerous profession. Instead of hauling crabs out of the Bering Sea, we've got four logging companies hauling logs out of impossible mountain locations.
By the way, loggers apparently don't like the term "lumberjack" and they don't act like Paul Bunyon.
Each of the four logging teams take on contracts in which they have to harvest as many trees as possible from their location before the Oregon weather causes their retreat. It's not easy to say the least, as much of what they do is to clear off trees that have been damaged in storms so the areas can be replanted. This means treks down mountain slopes to fit chains around logs so they can be brought back to the base and loaded onto trucks.
My favorite guy is Jay Browning, the owner of one of the companies. He's a no nonsense business man who lost part of his arm in an accident and now wears a prosthetic that allows him to operate a chain saw.
If you're a fan of "Deadliest Catch," then you should give "Ax Men" a try.
The Godfather: the Coppola Restoration
Just in time to put on your holiday gift list is this four disc set featuring each of the three "Godfather" movies plus an additional disc of extras features.
It's difficult to believe that wildly popular movies -- Oscar winners as well -- that are less than 40 years old need to be restored. Usually restorations are reserved for films that have long been languishing in the vaults. This isn't the case, though, and director Francis Ford Coppola has supervised remasterings of both the image and sound to his films that are considered masterworks.
The extras disc contains new material as well as extras that were presented on a 2001 DVD release. The extras are fascinating as the story behind the creation of the film is just as compelling as the one presented on the screen. It's difficult to believe that Paramount Pictures execs didn't want Al Pacino as Michael or they had another director follow around Coppola, as they weren't convinced he could actually direct this movie.
Marlon Brando had such a reputation for being difficult the studio brass wanted the actor to put up a bond that would pay Paramount for any losses his bad behavior may have caused.
This boxed set is a necessary addition to any serious film collection.