What It's About: Arthur Conan Doyle's inimitable Sherlock Holmes gets a makeover by Guy Ritchie and you might not recognize the sleuth if all you're used to are the Basil Rathbone big-screen versions or any of a number of TV incarnations. Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) -- who is hard, tough and feisty, and uses his fists as often as his brains -- and his constant companion Dr. Watson (Jude Law), who's also no slouch when it comes to a brawl, go after a serial killer terrorizing London in an action packed adventure that totally remakes the series.
It's Kinda Like: 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' (1939) meets 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels'
What We Say: This is not your father's Sherlock Holmes ... but Arthur Conan Doyle won't be turning over in his grave any time soon. Ritchie's Holmes isn't that far from the author's version of the character, but the action certainly is. Instead of the traditional cerebral pondering mixed with action, we get it the other way around, and Ritchie does go in a little overboard with his chases, fights and cheap thrills. Still, it's a thoroughly enjoyable and pleasing outing. Sequel, anyone?
What It's About: The time: the '60s. The place: the soon-to-be-swingin' London. The story: a sweet, bright school girl (Carey Mulligan) who has dreams of attending Oxford meets a dashing (but ultimately sleazy) older man (Peter Sarsgaard) who introduces her to a new world of glamorous people, chic jazz clubs, weekends in Paris -- and her own sexual awakening.
It's Kinda Like: 'Georgy Girl' meets 'American Beauty'
What We say: Let us now praise small films. An older man and an underage girl -- how politically incorrect. But director Lone Scherfig and screenwriter Nick Hornby, aided and abetted by a superb cast (which also includes Alfred Molina, Emma Thompson, Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike), have taken a delicate subject and molded it into an exhilarating and tender coming-of-age story that mesmerizes from beginning to end. Don't let the words "art house" scare you away.
'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel'
What It's About: More frenetic, singing Chipmunk action has Alvin, Simon and Theodore temporarily giving up superstardom and enrolling in school. There they enter a competition to raise money for the school's music program, but they soon face some stiff competition when they meet the Chipettes, a beautiful, talented trio of female chipmunks. There's romantic and competitive fireworks as the two trios go head-to-head -- er, tail-to-tail -- in a battle of the bands.
It's Kinda Like: A better version of the original
What We Say: We're surprised. Usually these types of CGI sequels based on comic book or TV characters go downhill rather quickly (see the 'Garfield' debacles for a quick case study), but this one is actually less disheartening than the first go-round. Still, it's mainly for the kids and real lovers of the Chipmunks TV series.
Other New March 30 DVD Releases:
'The Yes Men Fix the World': Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno are the Yes Men, a pair of pranksters who play mischievous tricks on greedy corporations, including Exxon, Haliburton and Dow. The goal: a Jonathan Swiftian revelation of the truth. The best bit: Andy passes himself off as a Dow Chemicals representative and announces to a worldwide TV audience that the company will compensate the victims of the Bhopal, India disaster, forcing Dow's stock to tumble. The pranks are outstanding but the film is dragged down by the corny jokes and setups in-between the action. (Due April Fool's day)
'The Baader Meinhof Complex': A fascinating, riveting look at the notorious German radical group -- known both as the Red Army Faction and the Baader-Meinhof Gang -- that terrorized West Germany in the 1970s. Frustrated with the war in Vietnam and chafing against a repressive government, these radicals reacted to police violence with a violence all their own: they moved from political posturing to acts of terrorism, including shootings and bombings that targeted police, bankers and the establishment. A chilling historical thriller.
Check out other new March 30 DVD releases at OnVideo.