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Shattered Glass

Lions Gate
Movie Grade A
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

This is an excellent film about Stephen Glass, a former journalist for The New Republic who fabricated facts for many of his published stories, in some cases making them up entirely. Hayden Christensen, the man who will be Darth Vader, delivers a riveting performance as a young man with quite the tendency to lie. Peter Sarsgaard is phenomenal as Chuck Lane, the editor who discovers Glass' crimes and exposes him as a fraud, in a performance that should've been Oscar nominated. To look back at some of the stories Glass managed to pass off as truth, it's amazing that he got away with it.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The disc contains a 60 Minutes interview with the real Stephen Glass, who makes an attempt at apology just in time for the publication of this novel. Director Billy Ray shares a commentary with the real Chuck Lane, giving reason enough to buy the disc.


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

New Line Home Entertainment
Movie Grade C+
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 3 (out of 10)

Leatherface returns in this unsuccessful re-make of the 1974 horror classic. The dirty look of the original is replaced with a pretty, polished sheen by director Marcus Nispel, who lacks the feel for scares that the original's Tobe Hooper possessed. Jessica Biel is a decent scream queen, and R. Lee Ermey is OK as a crazed sheriff, but the cannibalistic creepos from the original are sorely missed. (No grandpa sucking on fingers!) I teach a film class, and I spend a decent part of each semester explaining to some students that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre never happened. That opening voiceover in the original by John Larroquette (who makes a vocal return for the re-make), claiming that the events in the story really happened, managed to trick quite a few people.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The two-disc set is pretty packed, featuring documentaries that range from relatively poor to pretty interesting. Ed Gein: The Ghoul of Plainfield is an uninteresting look at the true-life psycho who inspired Tobe Hooper's original--a man who made lampshades out of dead bodies. While this feature feels a bit rushed, others are more successful, including Chainsaw Redux, a decent making-of documentary that takes time to examine the entire Texas Chainsaw phenomena. Screen tests, deleted scenes and three feature-length commentaries make this a must for fans of the film. It's revealed that the film's original opening and ending were completely different, and Nispel's first cut contained gore that the MPAA nixed.


The Rundown

Universal
Movie Grade B-
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 4 (out of 10)

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson picks up where Governor Schwarzenegger left off with this fun jungle adventure that is a successful mix of action and comedy. The Rock carries himself well in a film that requires him to perform some pretty risky stunts, not to mention a scene in which a baboon humps his face. The Rock plays a bounty hunter who journeys to the Amazon to apprehend Travis (Seann William Scott), the wiseguy son of his employer. Upon reaching the jungle, The Rock finds himself up against a crazy miner (Christopher Walken) who won't let him take Travis, because he knows too much about an ancient and very precious artifact. Walken has some funny moments, but Scott gets a bit grating at times.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There's a decent bunch of short documentaries, including a rather strange one involving The Rock's relationship with his monkey co-star. Director Peter Berg and The Rock provide a fun commentary that's a bit nonsensical, but so is the film, so it's appropriate.


The Flintstones: The Complete First Season

Warner Brothers
Series Grade C+
Special Features C
DVD Geek Factor 3 (out of 10)

While The Flintstones, TV's first primetime animated series, had its share of enjoyable episodes, it took some time to hit its stride. The first season was a bit messy, as this collection reveals, and it didn't even contain the now-famous theme song. The animation was choppy at best, with the appearances of main characters like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble changing drastically during the first year. The series got a little better as the years went by, but you're hard pressed to find a good episode in this lot. While The Flintstones can be seen as a pioneering moment in TV history, cartoons really looked like crap in the 70s, and Hanna Barbera were responsible for some of the worst ones (Scooby Doo, Huckleberry Hound).

SPECIAL FEATURES: The 28 episodes show up in a pretty package containing four discs, but there are no commentaries, and the production value of the documentaries is shoddy, not unlike the first season for the stone-age family.

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