A solid week for releases made it difficult to pick and choose this week.
“The Great Gatsby” — Okay, this isn’t exactly a faithful adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, but it follows the basic story and delivers a visual feast. It’s all due to visionary filmmaker Baz Luhrman (“Moulin Rouge”). He captures the “Roaring Twenties” with garish colors and enormous sets. The camera never stops moving, which adds to the spectacle and keeps the pacing afloat. The actors are well matched to their roles, with Leonardo Di Caprio doing a fine job of showcasing Gatsby as a deeply depressed success story. His Gatsby is a sly overnight millionaire using his bootlegging dollars to elevate his social class, only to learn too late that people are alike across all classes. Tobey Maguire is also good as Nick Carraway, the writer who tells the story and is a stand-in for Fitzgerald.
“The Walking Dead: Season 3” — The zombie apocalypse series continues to enthrall with this third season that manages to elevate the elements that endear this show to fans — mainly high drama and an even higher body count. This season finds the survivors looking for a new home and finding one in the form of a prison. Unfortunately, it brings them too close to a neighboring community run by the charismatic and insane Governor.
“Pain and Gain” — True story about a trio of bodybuilders who plot to extort money from a rich client through a kidnapping scheme that quickly goes awry. This is great stuff that feels like an Elmore Leonard book but actually happened. A solid cast includes Mark Walberg, Dwayne Johnson and Toney Shaloub.
“Dark Angel” — Dolph Lundgren and Brian (“Dream On”) Benben star in this excellent and action-packed sci-fi flick that plays like a crime drama on steroids. This 1990s gem casts Lundgren s a Houston detective who teams with a neurotic FBI agent to bring down a super-powered criminal. Pretty soon, they realize their prey is from outer space and they must up their game to stop the E.T. from instigating a drug war while conducting a bizarre mission. You might know this film from its theatrical title of “I Come in Peace.” It stands as the best action flick Lundgren has made.