Home Theater | View from the Couch | Creative Loafing Charlotte

Film » View from the Couch

Home Theater

CASABLANCA (1943). Bogart. Bergman. "As Time Goes By." "Here's looking at you, kid." You know the rest. So round up the usual accolades for one of the all-time greats, which premiered on DVD a few years ago in an OK package but has now been given the deluxe, two-disc treatment. Among the more interesting features: a couple of newly discovered scenes (one worthy, the other negligible); a few outtakes; the premiere episode of the 1955 Casablanca TV series (a yawner, though it's enjoyable to watch the General Electric commercial plugging the wonders of the electric iron); the cartoon Carrotblanca, starring Bugs Bunny (as Rick), Donald Duck (as Sam) and an all-star Looney Tunes cast; and numerous studio memos, many of which find producer Hal Wallis berating director Michael Curtiz and other crew members. You also get audio commentary by Roger Ebert and film historian Rudy Behlmer, a pair of lengthy documentaries, and other goodies. Movie: / Extras: 1/2

DAREDEVIL (2003). This shaky adaptation of the 39-year-old Marvel comic book, in which a blind crimefighter practices law by day as attorney Matt Murdock and dons the red tights by night as the superhero Daredevil, is by turns affecting, heavy-handed, exciting, cheesy, contemplative, and downright ludicrous. Ben Affleck, hardly the Matt Murdock of the printed page, fares better than expected, and he establishes a nice rapport with Alias star Jennifer Garner, cast as feisty love interest Elektra (though it's Colin Farrell as the egocentric assassin Bullseye who steals the film). But although there's plenty to like, there's almost as much to dismiss, including a heavy dependence on subpar CGI effects, reams of lead-footed dialogue, and a climactic showdown that's about as exciting as a documentary on aglet production. The film looked punier upon the subsequent release of X2 but then found its stock rising again once Hulk lumbered into theaters. The 5.1 DTS sound offered on the two-disc DVD is excellent, and among the numerous extras are an informative documentary interviewing many of those who worked on the comic book (including creator Stan Lee); a feature on Tom Sullivan, the film's blind adviser; and three music videos (including Evanescence's "Bring Me to Life"). Movie: 1/2 / Extras: 1/2

HOUSE OF WAX (1953). Far too many 3-D movies have relied on the novelty of a gimmick to cover up what would otherwise be a completely disposable motion picture (case in point: Spy Kids 3-D), but what's unique about House of Wax -- and the reason it has endured as the most popular of all films originally shot in this format -- is that on its own two-dimensional terms, it's a heckuva lot of fun. Vincent Price came into his own as a horror icon, portraying a sculptor whose latest creations seem remarkably lifelike, and there's an early appearance by Charles Bronson (still billed as Charles Buchinsky) as his mute assistant. Warner Bros. blew a big chance by not issuing this DVD with goggles and additionally offering the 3-D version, but someone did have the good sense to include the first screen telling of this story: 1933's Mystery of the Wax Museum, directed by Casablanca's Michael Curtiz and starring King Kong scream queen Fay Wray. The only other extras are House of Wax's theatrical trailer and newsreel footage of the film's premiere. Movie: / Extras:
-- Matt Brunson