By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
All the President's Men (Warner Bros.)
It's no mystery why Warner Bros. chose to rerelease All the President's Men now; at last we know how much -- which is to say how little -- Mark "Deep Throat" Felt really looked like Hal Holbrook. A new doc on former FBI second-in-command Felt and his long relationship with Bob Woodward is among numerous necessary extras included here. But it's Robert Redford's new commentary that makes this 30-year-old movie feel brand-new, though it needs no polishing off; it's still a masterpiece thriller that turns journalists into noir gumshoes. Redford fills almost every second with some thoughtful revelation, from the writing to the lighting. He's as fixated on the details as Woodward; his description of how Alan Pakula and Gordon Wills shot the phone calls alone renders this both a film-school how-to and a lesson in narrative fiction. Essential stuff, spread over two discs. -- Robert Wilonsky
Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (Lions Gate)
Based on the Mark Millar-Brian Hitch comic book The Ultimates, a sort of leaner and meaner version of Marvel Comics' hoary staple The Avengers, this direct-to-video release looks more like the stuff of Saturday-morning syndication. It's disappointingly rinky-dink for the tastes of anyone over the age of, oh, 8, which pretty much leaves out the 30-year-old fanboy who actually buys the comic. Lacking Millar's ear for dialogue and Hitch's eye for detail, Ultimate Avengers doesn't transcend the wham-bam genre; hence, no troubling marital disputes between Giant-Man and Wasp, and only a hint that Iron Man has a drinking problem. The animation ain't much, the acting's dreadful, and the story offers even less -- standard-issue fare about alien invaders, blah blah blech. -- R.W.
J-horror constitutes the largest wave of Asian imports since the Hong Kong action invasion, and for good reason: Americans can't make horror movies for shit anymore. After The Ring, The Grudge, and Dark Water brought in big bucks, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse gets an American remake next month; thus, this DVD release of the original. The story of a group of teens whose dead friend may be haunting their computers, Pulse works so well because it's just plain creepy. Ghostly images pop up onscreen, computerized voices beg for help over the phone. Death hangs over every shot. There's no irony here, unlike with recent American stink bombs. The pacing may be glacial, and there aren't many "jump-out-of-your-seat" scares, so lingering fear can give way to creeping boredom -- but not for long. There are no special features to note, except to say that Magnolia is the type of company whose trailers you don't want to miss. This one's as evil as anything in the film. -- Jordan Harper
Action: The Complete Series (Sony)
Of all the great network series that died so young, Action had it coming more than most. That it even got on the air at all -- with its barely bleeped curse words, hooker handjobs, Hollywood in-jokes, and brutally nasty demeanor -- was stunning. The show, all 13 episodes of which are here, was about a cruel and insecure movie producer (Jay Mohr, before he sold out for a case of Pepsi) and his wise whore-cum-assistant, and it was brilliantly written; the thing dished more dirt about studio shenanigans than a thousand weeks' worth of Page Six. But it was also meaner than a playground bully; it left a nasty taste, like vomit in your mouth. -- R.W.