Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall
Though it is sacrilege to remake the classic 1955 Ealing British comedy that starred Alec Guinness as the eccentric head of a group of misfit bank robbers, at least this new version has quite a few things in its favor. Iconoclastic Joel and Ethan Coen direct the comedy with much perverse style and a macabre sense of humor. Hanks seems to be channeling Foghorn Leghorn and Col. Sanders as the con man; Irma P. Hall is equally a hoot as the churchgoing widow who rents a room to Tom Hanks.
Though the Coens don't do any commentary, the disc includes a funny reel highlighting all the slaps Hall inflicts on Marlon Wayans in the film and a documentary on the guitar maker who fashioned all the musical instruments Hanks and his gang use in the film.
Thomas Jane, John Travolta
Lions Gate, $28
The Marvel Comics superhero arrives on the big screen in this passable action-adventure. Thomas Jane flexes his mighty pecs as Frank Castle, a retired FBI agent whose entire family is slaughtered by a rich mobster (John Travolta, in one of his better villain turns) after his son is killed in one of Castle's operations. Miraculously, Castle survives the hit and, in perfect comic-book style, seeks to avenge the death of his family.
The extras on the DVD, which includes a comprehensive "making of" documentary and some mini-documentaries, are a cut above. Writer-director Jonathan Hensleigh doesn't pull any punches on the documentary or in his commentary about how hard it was to make this film on a tight schedule for $30 million. In fact, just before the film went into production, a crucial opening sequence set in Kuwait was pulled because of the budget constraints, forcing Hensleigh to quickly rejigger several elements of the script.
Ben Affleck, Raquel Castro
Irreverent filmmaker Kevin Smith of "Clerks," "Chasing Amy" and "Dogma" gets all squishy and sentimental in his first PG-13 film. Ben Affleck plays a high-powered New York publicist happily married to Jennifer Lopez, but his life changes abruptly when Lopez dies in childbirth. Newcomer Raquel Castro is adorable as their child, but the film wears out its welcome quickly.
Smith embraces the DVD format, so the disc is filled with extras. There's a documentary, a ribald conversation with Smith and longtime friend Affleck, snooze-inducing original text interviews with the cast and crew, and enjoyable installments from the "Kevin Smith's Roadside Attractions" shorts that air occasionally on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."
The film may be rated PG-13, but the two commentary tracks are definitely R-rated. Smith and Affleck offer profanity-laden commentary -- especially vulgar are Smith's comments about a group of female tabloid journalists in England who gave him a difficult time. Far more worthwhile is the commentary with Smith, producer Scott Mosier and "special guest" Jason Mewes, who plays Jay to Smith's Silent Bob.
Soul Plane (Unrated
Mile High Edition)
Kevin Hart, Snoop Dogg
A relentlessly unfunny, scatological nightmare of a comedy about a young African American man (Hart) who creates the first all-black airline after winning a major lawsuit. This unrated version includes five minutes more of offensive material. The crassness continues in the extras, especially in one deleted scene involving Tom Arnold in the plane's lavatory. Don't look for any insight on the commentary track that features Kevin Hart, director Jessy Terrero and others.