‘Hansel’ is horrible, ‘Oz’ is odd and ‘Snitch’ is spectacular on DVD

Among the movies that became available Tuesday, June 11 on Blu-ray and DVD at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley are a new take on an old fairy tale, a prequel to a cinematic classic and a dramatic actioner starring Dwayne Johnson.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton play vigilantes who, after getting a taste for blood as children, must face an evil far greater than witches – their past. (PG-13 – 100 minutes)

“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” starts off in a fast and furious fashion with practical special effects reminiscent of 80’s disasters such as “The Garbage Pail Kids Movie” and “Howard the Duck,” one-liners that are more likely to make you roll your eyes than laugh and unadulterated violence that forever defiles the basis behind children’s fairy tales. In other words, writer/director Tommy Wirkola’s action-packed fantasy flick begins as a very good bad movie. But, before long, the good goes away as the flick evolves into a strangely sober “Saturday Night Live” skit that overstays its welcome and exhausts its cheesy charm. (Thumbs Down!)

Oz the Great and Powerful

James Franco plays a small-time magician with dubious ethics who arrives in a magical land and must decide if he will be a good man or a great one. Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams also star. (PG – 127 minutes)

Leave it to Hollywood to exploit a classic piece of entertainment and sully its reputation in the process. “Oz the Great and Powerful,” director Sam Raimi’s new fantasy flick inspired by L. Frank Baum’s novels which laid the yellow-brick groundwork for 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz,” may be bright and colorful on the outside but it is a pale – if not totally black and white – comparison to that former film. Foolishly dependent upon flashy computer-generated special effects instead of genuine and honest heart, Disney’s witchcraft may cast a spell over younger viewers but those old enough to know better will see straight through the smoke and mirrors. (Thumbs Down!)

Snitch

Dwayne Johnson plays a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a drug distribution crime and is looking at a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Desperate and determined to rescue his son at all costs, he makes a deal with the U.S. attorney to work as an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel on a dangerous mission. (PG-13 – 112 minutes)

“Snitch” is successful in its efforts to both provoke the thoughts of its viewers and get them so riled up that they are almost guaranteed to dig their fingernails deep into their armrests for the entire duration of the new dramatic thriller. And holding on tight may be the best tactic, too, as writer/director Ric Roman Waugh exhilarates audiences not with action but with cleverly calculated suspense. Warning: You will not emerge with your nerves unfrayed from this tension, your spirit unbroken by this social injustice or your heart unaffected by this father’s defiant dedication to his son. (Breakthrough!)

Wrong

Jack Plotnick plays a man who, desperate to reunite with his lost dog, embarks on an absurd journey that includes an encounter with an enigmatic pony-tailed guru (William Fichtner) who teaches him how to metaphysically reconnect with his pet. (NR – 94 minutes)

There is one question that will plague your thoughts each and every solitary second while watching “Wrong.” That question is: “Why?” To say that the new comedy from writer/director Quentin Dupieux does not make any sense whatsoever is an unabashed understatement. It is certain to be the most mentally incompetent motion picture that you see all year. However, that pinnacle level of preposterousness is precisely what makes the movie so astonishingly amusing. Having said that, Dupieux does have trouble keeping such a thin story interesting throughout despite a relatively brief runtime – especially compared to his wacky work of genius “Rubber.” (Thumbs Up!)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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