COUCH THEATER — DVD PREVIEWS

Ape-Caesar

PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Fright Night” (R) — This ’80s classic had to be resurrected to cash in on the sexy vampire trend, but at least this supernatural thriller’s undead heart is in the right place. Charlie (Anton Yeltsin) is a high school senior who thinks he has it all. When people in the neighborhood go missing, a trail of evidence indicates that Charlie’s mysterious neighbor (Colin Farrell) is actually a vampire.

While the movie isn’t especially scary, viewers will be drawn in by talented performances and a script that drums on the raw nerves of the psyche. Farrell’s vampire radiates the right level of predatory seduction that congeals into a memorable and multi-dimensional monster. Whether it’s Charlie’s desire for maturity, his single mother’s desperation or his girlfriend’s youthful beauty and vulnerability, “Fright Night” knows how to get under the skin and add weight to the climactic conflict.

“Kung Fu Panda 2” (PG) — After realizing his potential and achieving his dream of being the Dragon Warrior, Po the Panda (voiced by an emphatic Jack Black) learns his Kung Fu adventure is just beginning. When an evil force using a new weapon threatens the realm and the future of Kung Fu, Po and the Furious Five engage on a mesmerizing series of action sequences to save the day.

This spectacle is less of a touching morality tale and more of a wild action-comedy for the kids. While the storytelling lacks discipline, Dreamworks earns a black belt in visual splendor and creative combat.

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (PG-13) — This out-of-the-blue reboot sticks to the good old “We’re the REAL monsters” theme, but manages to win the war against the stale flavor of another out-of-the-blue franchise reboot. Smarty-pantsed apes decide that being used as test subjects isn’t so great, and an army of primate anarchists is formed.

Caesar, the computer-animated ape with super smarts, is a wondrous achievement made from computer wizardry and the best motion-capture actor in the biz, Andy Serkis (Smeagol in “Lord of the Rings” and the big guy in the 2005 “King Kong.”) The story and the themes are predictable, but the emotional bond between James Franco and a super-sympathetic CG ape is a true surprise.

“City of God” (R) [Blu-ray] — This rerelease of the 2002 urban drama is a good chance for those who’ve missed out to finally see this unique epic. In the slums around Rio De Janeiro, every alley and apartment is pregnant with human stories. In the lifetime of two boys from the neighborhood, we see innocence, crime, love and an all-out war between a gang lord and one man who stood up against the poison in his city.

TV RELEASES
“Steve Jobs: One Last Thing”
“Family Guy, Vol. 9”
“Swamp People: Season 2”
“Switched at Birth: Volume One”
“Daktari: The Complete First Season”
“Gunsmoke: Seasons 1-5”

(c) 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.

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