Film and TV

Today's DVDs: The Big Bang and I am Number Four

The Big Bang stars Antonio Banderas, Sam Elliot, Sienna Guillory, Autumn Reeser, Jimmy Simpson and Snoop Dogg.

Unless you were in New York or LA, you probably didn't see The Big Bang in the theaters. The film, by director Tony Krantz, had a very limited release before going to DVD/Blu-ray. That's usually a strong indicator that the film stinks, but not exactly the case here. The unrated film is not intended to please everyone, but audience members that like noir and/or Antonio Banderas will be satisfied.

Here's what our critic Michelle Orange said about the movie: The Big Bang ties a rattling apocalypse subplot to the tailpipe of a detective noir, a trick that answers what in retrospect seems like an incredibly urgent question: Can Antonio Banderas out-drive the end of the world? Director Tony Krantz produced Mullholland Dr., and though the setup is pure Raymond Chandler (Farewell, My Lovely, specifically), the film's bleary, neon glamour and penchant for the bizarre suggests an attempted--and somewhat wayward--homage to David Lynch.

Here's our take: The Big Bang is film noir meets science fiction meets Quentin Tarantino. A handsome, soft-spoken detective (Banderas) gets sucked into a case that's much more complicated that it first seems. There's a missing stripper (Sienna Guillory), a giant boxer who's in love with her and wants her found (Robert Maillet), an uber-rich guy looking for the God Particle (Sam Elliot), a physicist (played to perfection by Breakout Kings' Jimmi Simpson), a kinky waitress (Autumn Reeser) and a porn film producer (Snoop Dogg with some seriously wild hair) and oh yeah, $30 million in diamonds.

The Big Bang is beautiful to look at, if at times at bit difficult to keep straight, and ultimately enjoyable for viewers who focus on Banderas' character and don't get tripped up by the science (it's the God Particle, people, it's not supposed to be understood).

DVD/Blu-ray extras: Pretty standard extras for such a complex story - there's commentary by director Tony Krantz and screenwriter Erik Jendresen, a behind-the-scenes featurette and some extended scenes. The Big Bang is available on Netflix today (DVD and Blu-ray only)

I am Number Four stars Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Callan McAuliffe and Dianna Agron.

A story from James Frey (remember him - he's the author who passed off his fictionalized memoirs as real until Oprah outed him) and director D. J. Caruso, I am Number Four is about a teenager named John who's actually a superbeing from another planet. There were nine members of his race hidden on earth, but someone's killing them off one by one. Numbers one, two and three are dead. John is number four and next on the hit list.

Here's what our critic Nick Schager had to say about the movie: In forested Paradise, Ohio, lonely John combats jock bullies, befriends a UFO-obsessed nerd (Callan McAuliffe), and finds everlasting love with Sarah (Glee's Dianna Agron)--a beautiful outsider who's the angsty Bella to his brooding Edward--all while discovering how to harness the ill-defined powers that emanate from his glowstick hands. The film is constructed with the blatant intent of wooing multiple demographics: comic-book moping and murky, CGI-addled combat for him; star-crossed romance (and a sequel-ready love triangle) for her; and a cute puppy for animal lovers, too. Schematically amalgamating pop-culture tropes, I Am Number Four is a transparent mass-market product that, with its incessant close-ups of the iPhone, also doubles as an advertisement for others.

Here's our take: The reason formula films work is usually because they hit all the bases. Brooding young lovers facing impossible opposition, check. Conspiracy theories that are so far out there they just might be true, check. Eye candy, check. Action scenes that are beautifully shot or CGI enhanced, check. More eye candy, check, check, check. Plenty of product placement in order to prop up commercial support, check. A sequel-ready story line, check.

There's no denying that I am Number Four is constructed to draw the Twilight crowd and Avatar fans. But even if it's only riding on their tailcoats, I am Number Four has enough appeal to be worth a look.

DVD/Blu-ray extras: Limited extras on the DVD release, just bloopers and a behind-the-scenes featurette. The Blu-ray release also includes a few deleted scenes. I am Number Four is available on Netflix today (DVD and Blu-ray only).

A couple of other new releases worth noticing: God went Surfing with the Devil, a documentary about a group of Israeli, Palestinian, Arab and America men who try to find some common ground through surfing on the Gaza Strip and the children's release Fanboy and Chum Chum (frantic, funny, amped up pre-schoolers who will no doubt inspire your kids to behave the same way).

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Olivia Flores Alvarez