Spy Kids 3D: Game Over (Miramax/Alliance, 2003) D: Robert Rodriguez, w/ Daryl Sabara, Alexa Vega. Rating: NNNN (N for those over 12).
the packaging on this is slightly misleading. The two-disc special edition is actually the same disc twice, one containing the eye-popping 3-D version of the film, the other the flat version, and the same extras are duplicated on both discs. The second disc is no doubt there for when your kids lose or finally destroy the four sets of 3-D glasses included in the package. For grown-ups, the funnest element may be Sylvester Stallone as wonderfully over-the-top villain the Toymaker
Rodriguez is in love with the cheesiest elements of 3-D, and the whole thing is set inside a video game world, like Tron remade by Jolt Cola addicts. It's the cinematic equivalent of, say, Captain Crunch, and may be too intense for older viewers. After about 40 minutes, I switched over to the 2-D version, which is less headache-inducing.
Kids will probably enjoy the film, especially if they've been following the series, and the extras are good, including a commentary and Alexa Vega concert footage from the film's premiere. She's gone from Spy Kid to Spy Jailbait.
EXTRAS Director commentary, Ten-Minute Film School: How To Make Cool Home Movies, making-of documentary, four sets of 3-D glasses, multi-angle looks at the stunts, Rodriguez short film. English, French and Spanish versions; Spanish subtitles.
Peyton Place (Fox Studio Classics, 1957) D: Mark Robson, w/ Lana Turner, Diane Varsi. Rating: NNN
from the vantage point of 2004 , Peyton Place looks like a creaky melodrama, but this slightly lumbering, very serious picture grabbed nine Oscar nominations and was a censorship sensation in its day. Find another Hollywood movie of the era with an incest subplot. Based on Grace Metalious's novel, Peyton Place is an archetypal small-town soap given the glossiest treatment Fox had at the time. It spawned a prime-time series that launched the careers of Ryan O'Neal and Mia Farrow, but it's ultimately of less cinematic interest than Douglas Sirk's explorations of the genre, All That Heaven Allows, Written On The Wind and Imitation Of Life.
This is a decent presentation, with the only surviving cast members, Russ Tamblyn and Terry Moore, providing commentary. You could, by the way, treat Moore's commentary as a drinking game: every time she gets an historical fact wrong, do a shot.
Note to Fox: we're still waiting for Laura and The Grapes Of Wrath in this series. C'mon, you promised.
EXTRAS Cast commentary, AMC Backstory: Peyton Place, Fox Movietone newsreels on the premiere. English, French and Spanish versions; English and Spanish subtitles.
The Cola Conquest (Microfilms, 1998) D: Irene Lilienheim Angelico. Documentary. Rating: NNNN
the cola conquest, which originally aired on CBC, is a fascinating, 150-minute documentary on the cultural history of Coca-Cola, from its birth as a "brain tonic" in the late 19th century to the company's recent attempts to penetrate the Chinese market. Director Irene Angelico is intrigued by how the sugary beverage became a symbol of American imperialism, but she's never moralistic about it. She prefers to let her material speak for itself rather than going all Michael Moore on us.
EXTRAS A little light by Microfilms' standards - there's a director/producer commentary on the first part of the film, and a trailer - but the film is self-explanatory. It doesn't need a lot of dressing up. French-language track.
Cold Creek Manor (Disney, 2003) D: Mike Figgis, w/ Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone. Rating: NN
an exhibit in the museum of bad Movies Made By Talented People. Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone play an overwrought New York couple who get out of the city with their kids to this amazing bargain house in the country, only it turns out that it's not haunted or anything cool like that - though it should be, given the murders. It's just that the previous owner, Stephen Dorff, has just got out of jail and is a might ticked that these damn yuppies own the family farm. It would be easy to sympathize with him if he weren't impersonating an overwrought redneck from a 70s horror movie in a town where all the other locals seem to be doing that laconic New England thing. Aaay-up, it's pretty bad.
EXTRAS Rules Of The Game featurette, where Figgis shows that he knows what he should be doing to make a thriller while the film shows that he doesn't (oooh, snakes!), director commentary, alternate ending. English and French versions, Spanish subtitles.
Coming Tuesday, March 9
Schindler's List (Universal) One of the last best-picture Oscar winners to come to DVD.
Scenes From A Marriage (Criterion) Three-disc set includes both the theatrical North American release and the five-hour mini-series original.
Dawn Of The Dead (Anchor Bay Special Edition) The original Romero unrated zombie nightmare.
Mona Lisa Smile (Columbia TriStar) Julia Roberts as a boho art prof in the 50s. With Julia Stiles, Kirsten Dunst and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
= Critics' Pick
NNNNN = excellent, maintains big screen impact
NNNN = very good
NNN = worth a peek
NN = Mediocre
N = Bomb