New on DVD: Twilight: Eclipse, Cairo Time, Going the Distance, Knight and Day, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Valhalla Rising, Vampires Suck

(Capsule reviews by Dan Kois, Karina Longworth, Nick Pinkerton and Vadim Rizov.)

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Why is Eclipse, the third film in the Twilight series, so fantastically successful? Eclipse delivers the greatest pleasure when it deals out pain to its stars. R-Pattz can't act, exactly, but he can glower and tremble with the best of them, and in Eclipse he's made to endure the unendurable. Having stashed his beloved Bella (Kristen Stewart) in a mountaintop tent for safekeeping as a battle rages below, Edward must watch her shiver in the cold and then--and then!-- must allow shirtless, smoldering Jacob to slide into her sleeping bag to warm her up. "I am hotter than you," Jacob smirks, and Edward winces in near physical pain, and the audience screams. Oh God, they scream, and you can hardly blame them, so perfectly self-aware is the scene. For those who aren't already devotees--why bother?

Dispensing entirely with context and exposition, Eclipse identifies itself early as a fetish object. The movie is bookended by scenes of Edward and Bella making out in a meadow; its silly explanatory flashbacks are so short that no one who hasn't studied the books will make head or tail of them; it contains not one but two proposal scenes, each drawn out to delicious length. The ramshackle quality that Catherine Hardwicke brought to the first movie in the series is mostly gone. Eclipse is all business. It serves the fans, yes, but it serves the brand even better. (D.K.)

124 minutes Rated PG-13

Cairo Time

New York editor Juliette (Patricia Clarkson) travels alone to Cairo to meet her husband, who works for the United Nations in Gaza. When hubby gets stuck across the border, Tareq (Alexander Siddig), his former bodyguard, steps in as Juliette's chaperone. Fluent in English and supposedly highly literate, Tareq actually says things like, "They say once you have drunk the water of the Nile, you always come back," to which Juliette purrs, "Here's to coming back" -- a not-so-subtle reference to her own groove. A seductive (yet chaste) exotic-man-reinvigorates-middle-aged-wife's-libido fantasy,

Cairo Time

spends a lot of screen time putting Clarkson in contrived situations to hammer home the culture-shock theme. Would a real journalist be so naive as to not understand that her body -- identifiably Western and comparatively exposed -- would draw unwelcome attention to itself on the streets of a Muslim country? Juliette's Stupid Tourist episodes lead to loneliness and humiliation, which in turn prompt her to seek out Tareq, who is always up for long walks and longer conversations -- think

Before Sunset

, weighed down by awkward articulation of the central couple's cultural differences. Happily, writer-director Ruba Nadda's emphasis on body language ultimately trumps the clumsiness of her script. Intimate lensing turns tiny gestures -- a hand on the small of a back, a friendly kiss that misses its target -- into major landmarks, and the chemistry between the two leads sustains the movie's jet-lagged, heat-dazed spell. When 50-year-old Clarkson nervously steps back to bask in Tareq's adoration, she blushes like a teenage girl with her first crush.


88 minutes Rated PG

Going the Distance

"What really matters is what you like, not what you are like," says John Cusack in

High Fidelity

, a very good romantic comedy about a thirtysomething man who can't maintain a relationship, partially because he's holding on to stale record-nerd dreams.

Going the Distance

is a not-very-good romantic comedy about the same kind of guy -- Garrett (Justin Long), a frustrated A&R drone at a New York record label who falls for Erin (Drew Barrymore), a 31-year-old newspaper intern. After a six-week fling, Erin returns to school at Stanford, thus forcing this couple to face the distance of the title. As Erin and Garrett struggle to stretch lust across 3,000 miles via Skype, it's hard to maintain much interest in the fate of their union, in part because what they're like is so predicated on what they like, and what they like -- they bond over YouTube memes, bar trivia, and

The Shawshank Redemption

-- is so fucking boring. Speaking of "fucking,"


is rated R because everyone swears excessively for no reason, the supporting cast of smart comedians (Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis) saddled with delivering painfully dumb, often unnecessarily dirty dialogue. Timely issues keep Erin and Garrett apart -- the financial crisis, the changing face of both journalism and the music industry -- but their quasi-realistic professional problems aren't anything a little only-in-the-movies magic and moxie can't fix. Nanette Burstein reminds us she was previously a director of documentaries by occasionally shooting with a handheld camera for no discernible reason.


97 minutes Rated R

Knight and Day

You know and love Jason Bourne as an implacable killing machine. But what if he was a mouthy asshole instead? That's the provocative question posed by James Mangold's

Knight and Day

, which casts Tom Cruise as a Bourne wannabe who seriously can't shut up. As Roy Miller, an agent gone rogue from the FBI or the NSA or the CIA or whatever-the-fuck, Cruise never stops flapping his gums. He's just so irritating, Roy Miller. Or, really, it's Tom Cruise who's irritating. There's never been a particularly crisp line between intense, SUPER-AWESOME Tom Cruise and the characters he plays. In

Knight and Day

, Cruise's age-old cool curdles into motormouthed neediness. Approaching 50, he suddenly seems desperate for our love. The love Roy Miller's angling for is that of June Havens, a plucky cipher played by Cameron Diaz who Roy runs into--literally!!--in the Wichita airport. He's handsome enough, she's apparently on the prowl, and their flight to Boston is filled with torrid flirting and enemy agents. One unconvincingly filmed plane crash later, the two are on the run, with the explosions, gunplay, and spycraft provoking an awakening in June's soul. The plot, such as it is, revolves around the hunt for a precocious scientist (Paul Dano) who has invented a perpetual-energy battery. In the end, you may wonder if the makers of this hyperactive, joyless thriller didn't stumble upon a perpetual-energy battery themselves--and not for the good:

Knight and Day

keeps going, and going, and going.


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110 minutes Rated PG-13


The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Named for the last good outing by Walt Disney's rodent mascot, this Bruckheimer-produced


pays homage to Mickey's dancing mops, but draws more from modern road-tested blockbuster elements: Spidey's nerd-turned-superhero wish fulfillment and Harry Potter's boy wizardry. Nicolas Cage plays Balthazar Blake, a 1,300-year-old understudy of Merlin who finds his long-sought Chosen One in the unlikely form of a skinny NYU physics student, Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), who'll have to cram magick lessons so as to help Balthazar stop a cabal of apocalyptic sorcerers, all while courting a vanilla-indie college-radio DJ (Teresa Palmer). In


's prologue, a preteen Dave draws King Kong in marker on his school bus window, so that it lines up to superimpose on the passing Empire State Building. This encapsulates the movie's "Presto!" playfulness with effects ("It's been a while since I've seen the Hungarian mirror trick. . . . "), and the free way it has with New York City: Dave's massive Tesla coils fill his dungeon-lab, an abandoned subway turnabout; a Chinatown New Year's dragon, the Wall Street bull, and the stainless-steel eagles from the Chrysler Building all come to life. Cage will likely not earn a second Oscar here, but he and director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) make leftovers into fine PG malarkey with their hokey naivete and prankish hocus-pocus.


111 minutes Rated PG

Valhalla Rising

After the increasingly black comic violence of his


trilogy and


, Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn -- who apparently never got over

A Clockwork Orange

-- goes left-field with

Valhalla Rising

, a movie as maddeningly ponderous and self-important as its black-metal title. As with Robert Zemeckis's recent


, Refn is inexplicably fixated on the conflict between virtuous pagans and hypocritical, self-respect-destroying Christians during the Viking era; specifically, mute warrior One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen) versus all kinds of Christian scum. This is full-on portentous allegory, with One-Eye ironically ending up martyred as an alternate pagan Christ, while hypocritical Christians proselytize, then get picked off by unseen hillside savages. There's a vague Lars von Trierish feeling hanging over the whole movie, not just in the unflinching yet weirdly comic gore, but in the ridiculously weighty chapter titles ("Chapter V: Hell," "Chapter VI: The Sacrifice"). Frequently dull and stupidly obvious, you nonetheless have to applaud the misguided ambition of Refn's career turn. If nothing else, as the metal guitars get louder and louder, the synergy between Viking imagery and the pagan-obsessed metal freaks it spawned has never been clearer.


100 minutes Not Rated

Vampires Suck

Writer-director team Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer continue to act as the drain trap to our pop-culture toilet. The

Date Movie


Meet the Spartans

collaborators have made a career of low-overhead channel-surf bricolages catering to ninth-graders with nothing else to do on a Friday night, movies not meant to be watched so much as texted during. (Smart money says Friedberg and Seltzer never sit through these movies in entirety.) Their

Vampires Suck

isn't a spoof of vampire movies as a genre, which would demand an audience whose collective memory reached beyond 2008, but of the first two Twilight movies specifically, with iconic scenes re-enacted and laced with gags. Many of the film's jokes, such as they are, consist of mentioning the titles of contemporary reality-TV shows, which should be a riot for viewers who think that their cable channel guide is the soul of wit. Jenn Proske provides a reasonable facsimile of Kristen Stewart's soulful lip-gnashing and eyebrow fluttering, and there's a giggle-worthy bit with a Segway, but


's "The Franks" parody had more laughs, and the distinct advantage of being only two minutes long. If you've ever read a single book--we'll include Stephenie Meyer--you're probably better than this. (N.P.)

80 minutes Rated PG-13

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