8 Movie Pack: Explosive Cinema

8 Movie Pack: Explosive Cinema
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When evaluating the merits of a package such as this, it's important to note that each of the eight movies included in the 4-disc pack costs roughly two or three dollars, depending on country and territory. As such, it's cheaper than renting a similar quantity of movies and more tangible than having a Netflix afternoon, which is appealing for collectors or anyone keen on adding one or two of the titles to their library. This is why the inclusion of the Dennis Rodman action film Simon Sez and the forgettable, slightly out of place, comedy, Lone Star State of Mind are forgivable and, in the case of Simon Sez even admirable for their sense of absurdist camp value. Similarly ridiculous is XXX: State of the Union wherein Ice Cube takes over the highly physical role of XXX from Vin Diesel as an ex-US Navy SEAL—and convict—brought in Washington D.C. to protect the president from a splinter group of rogue military faction looking to overthrow the government. Hilarious action, atrocious dialogue and a plot that makes slightly less sense than that in Supernova are just some of the highlights of this profoundly bad action movie. Equally laughable but slightly more intelligent—at least in possible unintended subtext—is Stealth, wherein an intelligent fighter plane wages battle against the three top pilots in the world, who are, incidentally, also crazy hot model types in the form of Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx and Josh Lucas. And, in the case of this ridiculous set up and obvious resulting flirtations between imperilled pilots, some of the action is downright passable. Less passable is Hollywood Homicide, which brought Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett into the buddy cop format, only in a completely awkward and inaccessible way. It's no big deal that the actors have zero chemistry, since the plot is entirely derivative and uninvolving. This can also be said for Vertical Limit, which finds a troupe of skiers stranded on the K2 turning against each other and panicking while Chris O'Donnell enlists a ragtag rescue team to save the day. Aside from the hilarity of O'Donnell being some sort of superhuman hero, most of the mountaintop locales look like incomplete sets, taking us out of the already contrived moment. Also included in the 8-pack is Tony Scott's thematically confused thriller, The Fan, which, as it stands is one of the more intriguing viewings in this package, having Robert de Niro stalk baseball superstar Wesley Snipes, who (sort of) learns the importance of appreciating the fans that help cushion his exorbitant paycheque. What's of particular interest about this film is that with subtext-free Tony Scott at the helm—the most literal director ever—the murky discussions about celebrity worship as a means of avoiding personal shortcomings hint at criticizing American institutions without actually doing so. This is especially the case when the hero of it all is the overpaid baseball player who is basically rewarded for his narcissistic behaviour. More intelligent is the notorious flop, Hudson Hawk, wherein absurdist comedy is mixed with R-rated language, wacky heist shenanigans and musical numbers. Though this film was far too progressive for its time, mixing genres and featuring cartoonish villains with a valid agenda—Sandra Bernhard and Richard E. Grant are fantastically camp as Boris and Natasha supervillains—it holds up surprisingly well, having a quick-witted sense of humour rarely shown in mainstream film. Unfortunately, the copy included with this set isn't really designed for big screen TV's, which impedes viewing, in part. No supplemental materials are included with this pack, which is to be expected for a box set that has two feature length films on each DVD. (Mill Creek Entertainment)