CATEGORIES DVDs, Movie News

It's a thrilling week on the home video front as the summer heats up with three fun-filled new releases. First up there's Gore Verbinski's animated Western tribute 'Rango,' a one-of-a-kind action-adventure featuring a chameleon who slaps on a sheriff's badge and rids his frontier town of the bad guys. Next up there's 'The Lincoln Lawyer,' a fine-tuned adaptation of Michael Connelly's novel about a charismatic L.A. lawyer who never met a defendant he didn't like -- long as there was cash in his wallet -- who gets involved in a thriller of a case. And, finally, there's 'Insidious,' a horror-thriller that throws in just about everything but the kitchen sink in its attempt to scare the heck out of you -- supernaturally. Read on.

'Rango'
What It's About: An original animated comedy-adventure that takes moviegoers for a hilarious and heartfelt walk in the Wild West. The story follows the comical, transformative journey of Rango (Johhny Depp), a sheltered chameleon living as an ordinary family pet who accidentally gets separated from his owners and winds up in the gritty, gun-slinging town of Dirt -- a lawless desert outpost populated by wily and whimsical creatures. The less-than-courageous lizard is welcomed as the last hope the town has been waiting for: a new Sheriff to fend off the bad guys terrorizing the town. Rango is forced to play his new role to the hilt as he uncovers a nefarious scheme by a greedy landowner to control the town's water supply.

It's Kinda Like: 'Chinatown' meets 'The Lion King'

What We Say: In a season of sequels, franchises and comic book explosions, Rango is a breath of fresh air. High-flying action director Gore Verbinski turns his deft hand to this animated tale and creates an existential Western that delights kids and adults alike. The best animated films develop their own mythologies (think 'Toy Story,' 'The Lion King'), and Verbinski here spins quite a myth of his own. And he acknowledges the past: There's so many homages to Westerns that we don't even know how to begin to list them: "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," "High Plains Drifter," "High Noon" and "Cat Ballou" as well as nods to the aforementioned "Chinatown," "Apocalypse Now" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." And Hans Zimmer's score is a definite nod to Ennio Morricone.

• Extras: Behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes.
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'The Lincoln Lawyer'

What It's About: Matthew McConaughey stars as Michael "Mick" Haller, a slick, charismatic Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back of his Lincoln Continental sedan. Having spent most of his career defending petty, gutter-variety criminals, Mick unexpectedly lands the case of a lifetime: Defending a rich Beverly Hills playboy (Ryan Phillippe) who is accused of assault and possibly attempted murder. What initially appears to be a straightforward case with a big money pay-off swiftly develops into a deadly match between two masters of manipulation and a crisis of conscience for Haller.

It's Kinda Like: 'Jagged Edge' meets 'Presumed Innocent'

What We Say: Matthew McConaughey finally has latched onto a screen character that suits his personality -- the smart, suave lawyer from the Michael Connelly novels for whom the law is rarely about guilt or innocence, but about negotiation and manipulation and sometimes justice. McConaughey inhabits this role as if it were made just for him, and it's a pleasure to see him take on the cops, the prosecutors and the bad guys with words, not fists. The story is pretty pedestrian -- some behind-the-scenes fixes, twists and turns -- but in the long run it's an enjoyable legal bob-bon. And oh those goodie-goodie bikers.

• Extras: Behind-the-scenes featurette, featurette on Michael Connelly, deleted scenes,.
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'Insidious'
What It's About: Spooky story of a family who, shortly after moving into a spacious old house, discover that dark spirits have possessed their home and that their son has inexplicably fallen into a coma. Trying to escape the haunting and save their son, they move again, only to discover that it was not their house that was haunted.

It's Kinda Like: 'Poltergeist' meets 'The Sixth Sense'

What We Say: What starts out as a haunting film turns into a mishmash of horror film conventions that includes poltergeists, possessions, seances, evil spirits and -- well, I can't list them all here for fear of spoiling the last third of the film. The scenario gets sillier and sillier as the film progresses, until the expected ending with its expected jolt of a twist that almost makes you laugh because it's so pat. It's a polished by-the-book supernatural thriller that uses all the right scare tactics to, well, scare you -- if you're so inclined.

• Extras: Behind-the-scene featurettes.
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Other New July 12 DVD Releases:
  • 'Arthur': Lame re-imagining of the classic romantic comedy 'Arthur' (1981) with Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig and Jennifer garner embarrassing themselves.
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  • 'Miral': Story of a Palestinian girl coming of age amidst the war zone of the Israeli-Arab conflict -- her journey to self-esteem and social consciousness proves both harrowing and hopeful as she's torn between resistance and education as separate paths to political change. Directed by Julian Schnabel and starring Freida Pinto, Hiam Abbass, Willem Dafoe, Vanessa Redgrave.
  • '[REC] 2': Sequel to the international smash hit from Spain that inspired the film 'Quarantine.' Picks up 15 minutes after the first film, back in the quarantined apartment building where a terrifying virus runs rampant. What medics and the SWAT team find inside lies beyond the scope of medical science -- a demonic nightmare more terrifying than they could possibly imagine.
  • 'Waking Madison' A woman suffering from Disassociative Identity Disorder tries to piece her life back together and begins to videotape herself on a daily basis; her shrink fights to aid her in her effort to discern the real people in her life from those conjured up by her disorder. Stars Elisabeth Shue, Sarah Roemer, Will Patton, Imogen Poots, Taryn Manning, Frances Conroy.

Check out more July 12 DVD releases at OnVideo.