CATEGORIES DVDsMaybe it's because taxes are due soon, but this week's slate of DVDs features two not-so-pretty looks at the underbelly of society. In 'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,' Nicolas Cage tears up the screen as a good-cop-gone-bad (but with a conscience) who tries to redeem himself in the sleazy underworld of post-Katrina New Orleans. In 'The Collector,' a robber breaking into his employer's house encounters a serial killer whose motivation for his crimes is never explained, making redemption pretty difficult for everyone involved. But never fear: there's a couple of Blu-ray releases to lighten the load. Read on after the jump. 'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans'
What It's About: Nicolas Cage plays Terence McDonagh, a rogue detective who is as devoted to his job as he is at scoring drugs -- while playing fast and loose with the law. During the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina, McDonagh saves the life of a prisoner from a flooded cell but injures his back, and the pain killers he now takes have made him a high-functioning addict. After Katrina, constantly in pain, he wields his badge and his gun in order to get the bad guys -- and his drugs.
It's Kinda Like: 'The French Connection II' on steroids
What We Say: This is definitely the most under-rated film of 2009 -- and the most under-performing at the box office, given the tour-de-force directing by Werner Herzog and the incredible performance by Cage, whose hunched over, hyperactive, pain-wracked body dominates the film. This may well be one of Cage's best roles ever -- one shamefully overlooked by the award-givers this year. Very loosely based on Abel Ferrara's 1992 "Bad Lieutenant," this 'Lieutenant' -- like the original -- is a masterpiece of corruption, sleaze and redemption. | Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
What It's About: A handyman aims to repay a debt to his ex-wife by robbing his new employer's country home. Unfortunately, someone else has already laid claim to the property -- a masked "Collector" serial killer who holds the employer's family hostage in a maze of lethal invention, the Spanish Inquisition as imagined by Rube Goldberg (knife-studded chandeliers, staircases bristling with spikes and nails,a machete poised to swing down from the ceiling). Now the handyman must rescue the family he came to rob.
It's Kinda Like: 'Saw' meets 'Hostel' meets 'Saw II' meets 'Hostel: Part II' ... well, you get the picture.
What the Critics Say: Drubbed by most reviewers, this 'Saw' knockoff mixes torture, home invasion, gore-porn, and horror into a heist-gone-bad brew that's messy and illogical. While the Los Angeles Times said that "Critiquing the filmic technique of this blatant horror franchise-bait is akin to quibbling with the shade of lipstick on a slaughtered pig," Variety's critic thought it was "a surprisingly stylish and confident high-concept thriller." | Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
On Blu-ray this week:
'The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy' is a nine-disc set with all three "LOTR" films (theatrical version only, diehard fans will have to wait later for the extended versions) with seven hours of features, mostly those that were on the various DVD versions of the movies, including behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews and trailers.
'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984) seems tame by today's standards of horror but this outing -- starring John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia, Johnny Depp, Charles Fleischer, Joseph Whipp and Robert Englund, set the stage for teen nightmares to come. The release has commentary tracks with director Wes Craven and the cast and crew, three featurettes, three alternate endings, more.
Other New April 6 DVD Releases:
'High Plains Invaders'
'The Lord of the Rings' (Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation)
'The Weathered Underground'
Check out other new March 23 DVD releases at OnVideo.