new on home video \ This week’s DVD releases
“Gamer” (R, 95 minutes): Gerard Butler plays a convict trapped in a “real life” video game in which the players shoot their way through levels until they’re killed. Or they make it through 30 “missions” and are freed. Butler puts his game face on, playing a man unjustly convicted of murder, determined to escape his doom in this weekly worldwide telecast of the game Slayers. His nemesis is a soul-deadened teen gamer (Logan Lerman) with a knack for pulling the game trigger faster than his competitors. When you set your sights on mimicking and commenting on a first-person-shooter game where the body-count and the score are all you’re really interested in, you’ve set your sights too low. Contains brutal violence, sexual content, nudity and language.
“The Invention of Lying” (PG-13, 100 minutes): In this subversively amusing religious satire, Ricky Gervais plays Mark Bellison, who lives in a town where no one has ever lied. On a first date with Anna (Jennifer Garner), she tells Mark he’s not handsome enough to date, and a waiter blurts out he’s “embarrassed to work here.” The people who inhabit the film simply say whatever is on their minds, and they have no reason not to believe one another. But when Mark discovers the ability to lie, the town comes alive and a struggle ensues between Mark’s competing angels. A clue to which one triumphs comes in a scene shortly after Mark begins to lie, when he encounters a suicidal neighbor (Jonah Hill) and discovers the redemptive power of random acts of deceit. Contains profanity, sexual material and a drug reference.
“Outrage” (not rated, 86 minutes): This is a crisp, efficient, sometimes petty but often infuriating documentary about alleged gay politicians who actively campaign and vote against gay rights. Most of the film’s targets are recognizable figures. The long, sordid saga of former Idaho senator Larry Craig is the axis on which the movie spins, but the film comes down hardest on prominent politician Charlie Crist of Florida. Director Kirby Dick has structured his movie around Crist, gathering compelling evidence and interviews to support his case and suggesting that this man’s hypocrisy is all the more dangerous because he may be bound for a 2012 presidential run. Some of his targets, however, do not get a thoughtful, reported treatment and are therefore as good as slandered. Contains sexual themes.
“Pandorum” (R, 108 minutes): This tight, minimalist “Alien”-esque picture is as claustrophobic as you’d expect, if not quite as paranoid as you might hope. Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid play two members of the crew of the Elysium, a vast colonizer ship sent from a fatally overcrowded Earth to an Earth-like planet more than 100 years flight-time away. They awaken confused. Procedure hasn’t been followed. The crew shift that was to awaken them is nowhere to be found. The power is failing. There’s no way out of the compartment they’re in, and no one responds to their radio calls. Emotionally investing in the characters isn’t easy, but there’s a lot to like in this lean, mildly scary but always engrossing film from Christian Alvart. Contains strong horror, violence and language.
“Whiteout” (R, 96 minutes): Kate Beckinsale is Carrie Stetko, an all-business U.S. marshal stationed at a South Pole research outpost in Antarctica. Tom Skerritt plays the station’s grizzled doctor. Carrie and Doc are reaching the end of a two-year stint at the base, but plans change when a mangled, frozen body is discovered. The discovery of the corpse is the starting point for a plotless, bewildering meander underscored by Carrie’s back story, which consists of her shooting her crooked partner years earlier. Contains violence, grisly images, brief strong language and some nudity.
Also: “Che: Criterion Collection,” “Damages: Complete Second Season,” “Defying Gravity: Complete First Season,” “No Impact Man,” “thirtysomething: The Complete Second Season” and “Weeds: Season Five.”
— Washington Post