This has been the summer of our discontent, DVD-wise. Another week is approaching with scant few releases that really get our juices flowing. In fact, this week, there's only one major theatrical release to speak of: 'Source Code.' Fortunately, 'Source Code' is a watchable, involving, thinking-person's film that pleased audiences and critics alike. Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga all turn in top-notch performances, and director Duncan Jones, who brought us 2009's enigmatic and original 'Moon,' keeps a firm hand on the story arc and pace. Read on.
What It's About: When soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he's part of an experimental government program called the "Source Code" that enables him to cross over into another man's identity in the last eight minutes of his life. Armed with the task of identifying the bomber of a Chicago commuter train, Colter must re-live the incident over and over again, gathering clues until he can solve the mystery and prevent an even deadlier second terrorist attack.
It's Kinda Like: 'Groundhog Day' meets 'Inception'
What We Say: It's always a pleasure to watch a sci-fi film that -- instead of throwing a ton of special effects at you -- keeps you thinking and guessing and forces you to engage with the characters on the screen as they solve a problem about the nature of reality -- most films based on stories by Phillip K. Dick stimulate you in that way, as do 'The Matrix,' 'Inception,' '2001: A Space Odyssey,' 'Twelve Monkeys,' 'Brazil,' to name a few. Though I wouldn't put 'Source Code' in a league with those films, it nevertheless sucks you into the main character's world(s) as he tries to figure out the events unfolding around him. It's intelligent, well-thought out and moves along at a fast clip. And Gyllenhaal is perfectly cast as the dedicated soldier. What more could you ask in escapist fare?
• Extras: Commentaries, science focal points, cast interviews, trivia track.
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July 26 Blu-ray Debuts:
- 'The Blues Brothers' (1980) Those raucous Blues Brothers John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd ply their infectious hard blues in high definition, in the theatrical release and in an extended version with 15 minutes of additional footage.
- 'High and Low (Tengoku to jigoku)' (1963) Toshiro Mifune is unforgettable as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in Akira Kurosowa's highly influential domestic drama and police procedural based on Ed McBain's detective novel 'King's Ransom.'
- 'National Lampoon's Animal House' (1978) Food fight in high def. What more can we say?
- 'American Bully': A middle-American teenage boy who is affected by 9/11, terrorism, and the war in Iraq becomes involved in an isolated high school altercation that escalates into a hate crime that shocks the entire nation. Stars Matt O'Leary, Marshall Allman, John Savage, Paul Ben-Victor, Natasha Henstridge.
'Dylan Dog: Dead of Night': Dylan Dog is a supernatural detective who will go where the living dare not: facing friend and foe alike in the monster infested backstreets of New Orleans. Armed with an edgy wit and an arsenal of silver and wood-tipped bullets, Dylan must solve a series of murders before an epic war ensues between his werewolf, vampire and zombie clients. Stars Brandon Routh, Taye Diggs, Peter Stormare, Sam Huntington, Kurt Angle. Watch a trailer:
- 'Jackboots on Whitehall': 'Team America' meets 'Inglourious Basterds' in this supermarionation World War II farce about the Nazi invading England. With the voices of Ewan McGregor, Alan Cumming, Dominic West, Rosamund Pike, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Richard E. Grant.
- 'Matrimony': (2007) Supernatural horror thriller from China about a married woman who allows the ghost of her husband's first love to enter her body to win him over -- with unforeseen consequences.
'Bodyguards and Assassins': A martial arts thriller that takes place in Hong Kong during a revolutionary period in China in 1905. Stars Donnie Yen. Watch a trailer:
- 'Trust': A suburban family is torn apart when 14-year-old Annie meets her first boyfriend online. After months of communicating via online chat and phone, Annie discovers her friend is not who he originally claimed to be: he's a 41-year-old internet predator. Directed by David Schwimmer and starring Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Liana Liberato, Jason Clarke, Viola Davis, Chris Henry Coffey, Noah Emmerich.
'Winter in Wartime': (2008 -- Netherlands) A 13-year-old boy is drawn into the Resistance when he aids a British paratrooper in Nazi-occupied Holland in 1945. Watch a trailer:
Check out more July 26 DVD releases at OnVideo.