Recommendation of the Week:
Kratos is coming back again soon for his final vengeance (and let's hope an anger management course or two) in God of War III (look for new interviews and a hands-on with the complete opening on Monday), and with Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and a massive-budget remake of Clash of the Titans on the way, this is the Year of Olympus. To get that rolling, we're totally recommending the original from back in 1981. Yes, it's dated. Yes, it stars Harry Hamlin, and yes, it's completely amazing. There's an all-star cast with Sir Lawrence Olivier, Dame Maggie Smith, Burgess Meredith, and Ursula Andress, among others, and the incredible stop-motion effects of wizard Ray Harryhausen. The film looks impressive (for 1981) on Blu-ray, includes a conversation with Harryhausen and a trailer for the remake, and is packaged in Warner's nifty Digibook format. We recommended this back on New Year's as an XBL purchase, but this disc just gets the whole Olmypus thing Kraken. (Get it?)
Xbox Live Video Marketplace (Xbox 360)
Dragonslayer (800 ($10) SD, to own)
Remember Peter MacNicol from Ally McBeal, 24, or Chicago Hope? Well, before he was playing nebbishy John Cage, Tom Lennox, or Alan Birch in those television shows, he was playing nebbishy Galen Bradwarden in Dragonslayer, a movie where ... well, there's a pesky dragon that needs to be slayed. However, unlike most heroic adventures where that battle lasts just a few moments, this story is all about that battle. How would a normal guy take on a giant, fire-breathing reptile and hope to survive? This movie came as a herald's cry to geeks in 1981 (just like Titans), and also stars future Emperor Palpatine Ian McDiarmid as Brother Jacobus. Guillermo del Toro has said that the dragon in this movie (named Vermithrax) is the gold standard for movie dragons, so you have to wonder if Smaug in The Hobbit, which he's directing, will look anything like this. Dragon Age developers take note: please screen this before the next game.
Netflix Watch Instantly (Mac/PC, Xbox Live, PS3, subscription required: starts at $8.99 per month)
Netflix went nuts this week with a ton of new content, including retro-tastic seasons of Highlander, 21 Jump Street, and The Greatest American Hero. But amidst those old-school gems they dropped in Punch-Drunk Love, which is weird because for the past week I've been thinking how I needed to rewatch this just for that scene with the tire-iron. I love Billy Madison as much as the next guy, but this movie contains Adam Sandler's finest performance, and it's definitely not what you'd expect from him or director Paul Thomas Anderson. However, it is a wonderful movie that will charm the hell out of you. I don't know if it's because there's a little of Sandler's character in all of us, or because of the bizarre quality of the movie, but this is a sweet, touching film that will stay with you for a long time. And make you want a tiny piano that you play with a bellows.
PlayStation Store (PlayStation 3 or PSP)
The September Issue ($5.99 HD, $3.99 SD, to rent, $14.99 SD to own)
I never, ever thought I'd wind up seeing a movie about the creation of an issue of Vogue, let alone like, but The September Issue is just too darned fascinating not to enjoy. It's full of real-life characters (and you can see why Meryl Streep based her portrayal of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada on Anna Wintour), and it's also a look back at the heyday of the magazine industry. The film documents the creation of Vogue's legendary September 2007 issue, which contained 840 pages (!), of which 727 were advertisements. That's like a phone full of ads, with a few pages of names and phone numbers tossed in for good measure. It's also a documentary about fashion, to a degree, as this issue is responsible for charting the waters of that season's new looks, which is something I certainly never follow. Still, it's like watching a magnificent train wreck, and it's too hard not to look away.
Blu-ray Disc (PlayStation 3)
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths: ($24.98 MSRP, much lower at most retailers)
If you enjoyed the recent Superman: Doomsday movie, you'll like this even more. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is about the lone survivor of the Justice League from another Earth. Namely, Lex Luthor. What? He's a bad guy, right? Not in this world in opposite dimensions story. Lex has come to "our" Earth to enlist the aid of our Justice League as he fights the Crime Syndicate, which contains mirror images of our heroes: Superman/Ultraman, Batman/Owlman, Wonder Woman/Superman. Of course, this leads to an all-out battle between the two teams, and it's pure comic book delight. If this sounds familiar, it's because it's based on both Gardner Fox's original Justice League stories from Justice League of America issues #29–30 (1964), and Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's impressive JLA: Earth 2. Tons of extra (over four hours) which include four bonus episodes of Bruce Timm's Justice League, and a look at Batman: Under The Red Hood, the next movie in the continuing JLA series.
So, what are you watching?