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The Descent: Part 2





(OUT OF 10)

In the United Kingdom, The Descent (2005) had a different, more depressing ending than the one we saw in the United States. The escape by Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) from the cave where she and her friends were terrorized by cave creatures was just a dream. In fact, she was still stuck in there, hallucinating about her daughter, before the credits rolled.

In America, the part where Sarah "imagined" escaping became the actual ending (even though it was a little ambiguous). Some studio honcho must have thought the original ending was too dismal for U.S. audiences.

Because the original made a little money, producers decided to move forward with the concept that Sarah did, in fact, escape. Much like Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in the aftermath of Halloween, she winds up in a hospital in a catatonic state. Local authorities suspect she had something to do with the disappearance of her friends, so they take her back to the cave—and you can guess what happens next.

This sequel is inferior to the original, but it's still better than most horror films released today. Jon Harris, who edited the original, takes over as the director, and while he manages some good scares, his film looks a little cheaper and sloppier than the original.

The Descent: Part 2 reminds of Aliens, when Ripley went back to the monster planet to do battle. While Aliens was a classic, this sequel is little more than your average rehash. If you really love the original Descent, don't bother with this one, because it sort of messes with its legacy.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A documentary with the cast and crew explaining how excited they were about getting the gang back together and continuing the story. I wish their excitement had translated into a better movie.

Avatar (Blu-ray)






I only saw this in the theater once, and I was unimpressed. After some time passed, I started thinking that maybe I was a little harsh. Maybe the fact that I watched it at midnight on a work night made me impatient with its long running time. Maybe, just maybe, the film is the most enchanting, wondrous cinematic experience ever made.


If you doubt me, here's a challenge: At random times during this movie, close your eyes, and just listen to the dialogue. You'll realize that this movie has some of the worst dialogue to ever assault ears. The script is awful; the characters are cardboard cutouts; and the visuals can't cancel that out.

As for the 3-D effects, you don't get those on DVD. It's 2-D all the way, and the film experience definitely drops a notch without the 3-D. The film becomes terminally boring.

Could a sequel be worth watching? Sure, if Cameron hires somebody to write the damn thing with him. But his ego is larger than the Titanic, and his box-office haul is insane, so he would be the last guy to ask for a hand.

I said it before with Clash of the Titans, and I'll say it again now: Hollywood, please cool off regarding Sam Worthington. He seems to be the go-to guy for blockbusters right now, and his presence is dull. This, Titans and Terminator Salvation all blew, and Worthington represents that trio's common thread.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get nuthin'! Cameron intentionally released this one without features to optimize the visual quality by saving space. Whatever. He's also planning to re-release the movie in August with six (Can you believe it! Six!) extra minutes. After that, a big, fat special edition is probably coming out before Christmas. In other words ... Avatar will never go away.

Crazy Heart (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Jeff Bridges finally scored an Oscar with his portrayal of Bad Blake, an alcoholic and somewhat forgotten country musician who nevertheless gets to sleep with Maggie Gyllenhaal and sing with the one and only Colin Farrell!

The film isn't genius moviemaking, but Bridges definitely seized the moment and delivered one of last year's finest performances. His wasn't the best performance of the year (that would be Sam Rockwell's work in Moon), but it was one of the best, and certainly the best of those nominated. Not only does Bridges act up a storm; he does damn fine job singing and playing in the movie. The best song in the film, "The Weary Kind," also won an Oscar.

Certainly, this doesn't represent the best work that Bridges has ever done. This is the man who powered films like Fearless, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Fisher King and, of course, The Big Lebowski. But it does represent a fine actor making the most out of his material, and the film is very much worth your time.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Some deleted scenes and a featurette with Bridges, Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall talking about the movie.


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