The Bourne Identity [HD DVD] Doug Liman  
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Freely adapted from Robert Ludlum's 1980 bestseller, The Bourne Identity starts fast and never slows down. The twisting plot revs up in Zurich, where amnesiac CIA assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), with no memory of his name, profession, or recent activities, recruits a penniless German traveler (Run Lola Run's Franka Potente) to assist in solving the puzzle of his missing identity. While his CIA superior (Chris Cooper) dispatches assassins to kill Bourne and thus cover up his failed mission, Bourne exercises his lethal training to leave a trail of bodies from Switzerland to Paris. Director Doug Liman (Go) infuses Ludlum's intricate plotting with a maverick's eye for character detail, matching breathtaking action with the humorous, thrill-seeking chemistry of Damon and Potente. Previously made as a 1988 TV movie starring Richard Chamberlain, The Bourne Identity benefits from the sharp talent of rising stars, offering intelligent, crowd-pleasing excitement from start to finish. —Jeff Shannon

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Dog Day Afternoon [HD DVD] Sidney Lumet  
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A gripping true crime yarn, a juicy slice of overheated New York atmosphere and a splendid showcase for its young actors, Dog Day Afternoon is a minor classic of the 1970s. The opening montage of New York street life (set to Elton John's lazy "Amoreena") establishes the oppressive mood of a scorching afternoon in the city with such immediacy that you can almost smell the garbage baking in the sun and the water from the hydrants evaporating from the sizzling pavement. Al Pacino plays Sonny, who, along with his rather slow-witted accomplice Sal (John Cazale, familiar as Pacino's Godfather brother Fredo), holds hostages after a botched a bank robbery. Sonny finds himself transformed into a rebel celebrity when his standoff with police (including lead negotiator Charles Durning) is covered live on local television. The movie doesn't appear to be about anything in particular, but it really conveys the feel of wild and unpredictable events unfolding before your eyes, and the whole picture is so convincing and involving that you're glued to the screen. An Oscar winner for original screenplay, Dog Day Afternoon was also nominated for best picture, actor, supporting actor (Chris Sarandon, as a surprise figure from Sonny's past), editing, and director (Sidney Lumet of Serpico, Prince of the City, The Verdict and Running on Empty). —Jim Emerson

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Dune [HD DVD] David Lynch  
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Even more than most of David Lynch's deliberately bizarre and idiosyncratic movies, Dune is a "love-it-or-hate-it" affair. An ambitious, epic, utterly mind-boggling—and, let's admit it, all-out weird—adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel, Dune remains one of the most controversial films in the director's exceedingly provocative career. The story (if Dune can be said to have just one story) is complex and convoluted in the epic tradition; it has something to do with political intrigue and a planet that is home to a precious spice and gigantic sand worms. Think Shakespeare's Henry IV with a dash of Tremors, and set in another galaxy. But despite plenty of strangely whispered voice-overs that explain the characters' thoughts (and endlessly detailed exposition), storytelling is not really among the film's strong points. There are, however, a lot of memorably fantastic/grotesque images, an extraordinary cast, and a soundtrack featuring Toto. I told you it was weird. Among the stars are Kyle MacLachlan, José Ferrer, Dean Stockwell, Brad Dourif, Sting, Kenneth McMillan, Patrick Stewart, Sean Young, and Linda Hunt. The DVD contains the original release version; a shorter version cut for television has been disowned by Lynch, who insisted his name be replaced by that famous Hollywood pseudonym "Alan Smithee." —Jim Emerson

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The Road Warrior [HD DVD] George Miller  
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The Road Warrior—Special Edition is a part of the Century Collection from Warner. It includes an all-new digital transfer and an additional 25-minute documentary on the making of the movie, as well as the original theatrical trailer. The documentary recalls on-set experiences and incorporates behind-the-scenes footage never seen before.

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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines [HD DVD] Jonathan Mostow  
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There's only one deleted scene in this two-disc DVD set, but it's a doozy. The "Sgt. Candy Scene" is a must-see and, unfortunately, the best thing on the second disc. The rushed HBO documentary shows us far more flash than substance. Better is the Visual Effects Lab that goes more in-depth with four sequences, although you need to wade through a hokey interface for each segment. Making your "own" effects isn't that much fun; you can only choose a few effects that change in two scenes. Anyone looking to get the complicated backstory of the trilogy figured out should dig into the "Sky Net Database" and an intricate timeline. The two commentary tracks are worth a listen, with director Jonathan Mostow's solo track the better one. The director goes into great detail on how the little things (from lighting street scenes to tricks for destroying buildings) count. The second track is pieced together from the actors recorded separately. Mostow appears with actress Claire Danes (doing her first commentary track) and their chemistry is enjoyable after a slow start. The other actors have less interesting things to say, including Schwarzenegger who is constantly—yet enthusiastically—selling the film. —Doug Thomas

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The Untouchables (1987) [HD DVD] Brian De Palma  
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As noted critic Pauline Kael wrote, the 1987 box-office hit The Untouchables is "like an attempt to visualize the public's collective dream of Chicago gangsters." In other words, this lavish reworking of the vintage TV series is a rousing potboiler from a bygone era, so beautifully designed and photographed—and so craftily directed by Brian De Palma—that the historical reality of Prohibition-era Chicago could only pale in comparison. From a script by David Mamet, the movie pits four underdog heroes (the maverick lawmen known as the Untouchables) against a singular villain in Al Capone, played by Robert De Niro as a dapper caesar holding court (and a baseball bat) against any and all challengers. Kevin Costner is the naive federal agent Eliot Ness, whose lack of experience is tempered by the streetwise alliance of a seasoned Chicago cop (Sean Connery, in an Oscar-winning performance), a rookie marksman (Andy Garcia), and an accountant (Charles Martin Smith) who holds the key to Capone's potential downfall. The movie approaches greatness on the strength of its set pieces, such as the siege near the Canadian border, the venal ambush at Connery's apartment, and the train-station shootout partially modeled after the "Odessa steps" sequences of the Russian classic Battleship Potemkin. It's thrilling stuff, fueled by Ennio Morricone's dynamic score, but it's also manipulative and obvious. If you're inclined to be critical, the movie gives you reason to complain. If you'd rather sit back and enjoy a first-rate production with an all-star cast, The Untouchables may very well strike you as a classic. —Jeff Shannon

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The Wild Bunch [HD DVD] Sam Peckinpah  
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One of the best action movies ever made, in a cleaned-up print restoring crucial parts of the story. No cavalry ever rode in with more epochal impact than the Wild Bunch in the legendary opening scene. Their steel-eyed leader, Pike (William Holden), and his robbers in stolen army uniforms help an old lady across the street, and then spark a massacre led by Pike's old crony Thornton (Robert Ryan), sprung from jail to hunt down his old gang. In just a few minutes, Sam Peckinpah sets the scene—a dusty Texas town in 1913—sketches a dozen vividly individualized characters, and choreographs one of the most realistic, influential, brilliantly photographed shootouts under the pitiless sun. The cast is superb (even Ernest Borgnine!), the dialog crackling, the bitterly ambiguous moral of the story hard-earned. It's the deeper, dark flip side to 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Consider buying the letterbox Wild Bunch, the review collection Doing It Right, and the Peckinpah bio "If They Move... Kill 'Em!" —Tim Appelo

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Troy [HD DVD] Wolfgang Petersen  
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There are many reasons to recommend Troy as a good ol' fashioned Hollywood epic, especially if you've never read Homer's The Iliad. Dispensing with Greek gods altogether, this earnestly massive production (budgeted at upwards of $200 million) will surely offend historians and devoted students of the classics (for them, there's the History Channel's Troy). But there's politics aplenty in the grand-scale war that erupts when Trojan prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) makes off with Helen (blandly beautiful German model Diane Kruger), wife of Spartan ruler Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), whose brother, the Greek king Agamemnon (Brian Cox) prods him into enraged retaliation. Greek warrior Achilles (Brad Pitt) brings lethal force to his battles (and there are many of them, mostly impressive), and his Trojan counterpart, Paris's brother Hector (Eric Bana), adds even more buffed-up beefcake to a film so chock-full o' hunks that there's barely room for Peter O'Toole (doing fine work as Trojan king Priam) and even less for Julie Christie, appearing ever-so-briefly as Achilles's melancholy mother. The drama is nearly as arid as the sun-baked locations (Mexico and Malta) that stand in for the Aegean coast, and many critics suggested that Pitt (who valiantly tries to give Achilles some tormented dimension) was simply miscast. But when you consider that Wolfgang Petersen also made The Perfect Storm, there's nothing wrong with enjoying Troy as a semi-guilty pleasure with a touch of ancient class. —Jeff Shannon

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Waterworld [HD DVD] Kevin Reynolds  
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Let's be honest: this 1995 epic isn't nearly as bad as its negative publicity led us to expect. At the time it was the most expensive Hollywood production in history (it had a Titanic-sized $200 million budget), and the film arrived in theaters with so much controversy and negative gossip that it was an easy target for ridicule. The movie itself, a flawed but enjoyable post-apocalypse thriller, deserves better. Waterworld stars Kevin Costner as the Mariner, a lone maverick with gills and webbed feet who navigates the endless seas of Earth after the complete melting of the polar ice caps. The Mariner has been caged like a criminal when he's freed by Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and enlisted to help her and a young girl (Tina Majorino) escape from the Smokers, a group of renegade terrorists led by Dennis Hopper in yet another memorably villainous role. It is too bad the predictable script isn't more intelligent, but as a companion piece to The Road Warrior, this seafaring stunt-fest is adequately impressive. —Jeff Shannon

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Sneakers [HD DVD] Phil Alden Robinson  
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This enjoyable thriller, written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson (the screenwriter of Field of Dreams), follows a raggedy group of corporate security experts who get in over their heads when they accept an assignment poaching some hot hardware for the National Security Agency. Robert Redford plays the group's guru, an aging techno-anarchist who has been hiding from the feds since the early 1970s; his companionable gang of freaks includes Dan Aykroyd, David Strathairn, Mary McDonnell, the late River Phoenix, and Sidney Poitier, as a veteran CIA operative turned "sneaker." The technological black box that everybody is after, an array of computer chips that can decode any encrypted message, isn't a very plausible invention, but it's a serviceable McGuffin, and the megalomania of the master plotter played by Ben Kingsley has more resonance than most. Modest inferences can be drawn about the very latest high-tech threats to civil liberties. —David Chute

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