DVD releases include ‘Evan Almighty,’ ’28 Weeks Later’
Evan might be almighty, but he isn’t too funny. A lack of originality and certain predictability — right down to a group of birds defecating on the bad guy — are at the center of the buffoonery in “Evan Almighty.” As a sort-of sequel to the 2003 hit “Bruce Almighty,” the film has Steve Carell taking the lead role from Jim Carrey. Morgan Freeman, reprising the role of God, director Tom Shadyac and a handful of others are back for the second coming. New to the cast — besides Carell — are John Goodman, Lauren Graham and Wanda Sykes. Carell stars as Evan Baxter, a network anchor who has just won a seat in Congress. When God, of all people, shows up at his house and asks him to build an ark, Evan’s quiet life is thrown out of whack. He’ll have to overcome a multitude of disbelievers, including his wife (Graham), to follow through on God’s plan. While the humor in “Evan Almighty” is certainly played out, it will find its niche with families. That theme carries over to the bevy of special features, which take aim at Carell and his character, the environmental theme, ark building and special effects. An interactive-family game revolving around animals and arks, and deleted scenes also are available. The best bet for the bonus features lies with a featurette on training the big-screen savvy animals on the set. PG, 2007. Rating: 1.5 Stars.
Skip It: Because you’d rather take your chances in the rising waters.
’28 Weeks Later’
Consistency is not a term that’s usually used to describe horror movie franchises. Either the second one is a steep drop from the first (“Halloween”), or they’re lousy from the get go (“Saw”). Be that the case, “28 Weeks Later” breaks this frightening mold. The sequel to 2002’s “28 Days Later” is just as chillingly intense as the original, if not more so. From the jump, we’re treated to blood-thirsty zombies again looking to spread their infection across the U.K. New director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo adds some nice twists, but in the long run, uses the same tactics — down to the eerie score — as did Danny Boyle, the director of the original. The story picks up with a heavy military concentration in London, with the infection having been contained. Eventually, though, one accident pushes the city into mass-undead chaos once again. Survivors will have to dodge dozens of zombies and trigger-happy soldiers on the way out of town. The DVD includes plenty of extras, including commentary, deleted scenes and three featurettes, and sweet, flash-animated segments from a connecting graphic novel. R, 2007. Rating: 3 Stars.
Buy It: Because there’s definitely going to be a sequel.
‘Reign Over Me’
Shooting the messenger is surely an option when it comes to “Reign Over Me.” The melodrama has the best of intentions, but gets lost in translation, never quite deciding which way to go. It’s a long, drawn-out letdown. Adam Sandler shows some potential in his second attempt at drama, but he never quite nails the role of a man in a psychotic tailspin after the death of his wife and three children in 9/11. It’s worth noting, though, that Don Cheadle is stellar in a supporting role, and the score is plenty good in a parallel fashion. Cheadle plays the role of Alan Johnson, a New York City dentist who happens to run into an old friend, Charlie Fineman, played by Sandler. Alan discovers that Charlie is much different than he was in college. It’ll be up to Alan and some friends to lead Charlie back on the right path. There are definite flaws in “Reign Over Me,” but it is, perhaps, the first film to take an in-depth look at the emotional damage dished out on that fateful day in 2001. The extras aren’t particularly special. A photo montage, extended scene and making-of featurette are available. R, 2007. Rating: 2.5 Stars.
Rent It: Because there’s no Rob Schneider in this Sandler flick.
Hollywood’s infatuation with penguins continues in “Surf’s Up,” a fresh animated film from the folks at Sony Pictures. While there are plenty of animated movies heading to theaters each year, this film offers a fresh perspective. The filmmakers set the action in motion behind the cameras of documentary filmmakers who are covering an up-and-coming surfer named Cody Maverick, a motivated penguin. “Surf’s Up” offers plenty of laughs, even for the oldest of kids, and the CGI makes it look incredibly realistic. Stars Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Jon Heder and James Woods lend their voices in this surfing spectacle that is worthwhile entertainment for any moviegoer. LaBeouf voices Cody, who heads to the sunny beaches south of Hawaii for the annual Big Z Memorial Surf Off. He’ll need to keep his head up and his feet on the board as he enters a new world of competitive surfing. The DVD is packed with extras, some of which are accessible through a computer. The most noteworthy bonus is two shorts from the award-winning ChubbChubbs. PG, 2007. Rating: 3.5 Stars.
Buy It: Because you’ve seen penguins march. Now, watch them surf.
NEW TO DVD
“You Kill Me”: Strong performances by Tea Leoni, Bill Pullman, Luke Wilson and the stupendous Ben Kingsley make “You Kill Me” a slaying comedy that delivers an overabundance of laughs. Next to a stellar cast, this John Dahl-directed film succeeds with its strong script and a developed chemistry between the characters. Whether “You Kill Me” is being dark or romantic, humor builds out of each situation. Kingsley plays a Buffalo hit man with a drinking problem. Enough said. A making-of featurette, with some funny cast interviews, is the most compelling of the extras. Commentary and a featurette on special effects also are available. R, 2007. Rating: 3 Stars.
“Black Sheep”: “Black Sheep” is a ba-a-a-ad horror movie. It’s so bad, it’s good. Whether it’s killer sheep ripping apart their victims or maimed humans turning into blood-thirsty sheep, hysterics are at their highest in this Jonathan King-directed film. Schlocky is the best-possible adjective to describe “Black Sheep,” a story about genetic engineering gone bad. The laugh-out-loud twists and loads of gore give it its edginess. Deleted scenes, commentary and a blooper reel are available, along with a fantastic making-of featurette that explains how these quiet sheep became the predators. R, 2007. Rating: 3 Stars.
“Creature Comforts America: The Complete First Season” : The Aardman Animators — the folks behind “Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were Rabbit” and “Chicken Run” — are responsible for “Creature Comforts America,” a hilarious show with solid animation. Don’t forget about the quirky dialogue, though. Talk about funny. The two-disc set carries the first seven episodes, bonus interviews with some of the characters and a handful of deleted scenes. Unrated, 2007. Rating: 3.5 Stars.
“Meerkat Manor: Season One”: Finally, a reality show with some cool ‘kats. It’s impossible not to be sucked in by the incredibly addictive “Meerkat Manor” series. The Animal Planet show tracks the everyday lives of meerkats in the wilderness of South Africa. The two-disc set includes 13 episodes and the top 10 scenes from those shows. Unrated, 2007. Rating: 3.5 Stars.
Musical roundup: New musical collections from MGM and 20th Century Fox hit stores today. The MGM Classic Musical Collection includes “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Guys and Dolls,” “West Side Story” and “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.” The other set — American Movie Musicals — includes “Hair,” “De-Lovely” and “A Chorus Line.”
“Everybody Hates Chris: The Second Season”: The wildly funny and somewhat emotional sitcom brought to the tube by Chris Rock continues to entertain into its second season. Chris, modeled after the comedian’s childhood experiences, continues to come of age. The four-disc set includes 22 episodes and a select set of extras that focus on characters from the hit show. Gag reels and interviews are also available. Unrated, 2007. Rating: 3 Stars.
“CSI: NY: The Complete Third Season”: With so many acronyms on TV these days, it’s hard to keep them all straight. “CSI: NY” isn’t the strongest of the “CSI” franchise, but it doesn’t fall far behind thanks to the presence of Gary Sinise, who really stands out in this third season. This six-disc set includes 24 episodes, commentary, a closer look at the show’s creepy body farm and a couple making-of featurettes. Unrated, 2007. Rating: 3 Stars.