By RICK BENTLEY
The Fresno Bee
This week's new DVD releases cover a wide range of time periods.
* "The Monuments Men," Grade B: George Clooney's latest directing effort takes a look at the handful of out-of-shape artisans tasked with saving the great art of Europe stolen by the Nazis during World War II.
The film isn't a masterpiece, but it's a fitting tribute to the men who put their lives on the line in the name of saving culture. The film is based on a true story, but it takes some artistic license. A simple story about looking for art would have been cerebral if not for the heart this production shows.
* "In Secret," Grade C-minus: Director Charlie Stratton's screenplay reflects the scandalous elements of Emile Zola's original work. The message about the often treacherous path taken because of lust plays out in grand moralistic fashion. Unlike a modern screenplay about infidelity, where the consequences are often blunted, Zola's work embraces the cold and fatalistic view of such improprieties.
It's just the delivery of the elements that fails.
* "About Last Night," Grade B: Couple deals with the ups and downs of their relationship. Kevin Hart stars.
This is not so much a remake of the 1986 "About Last Night ..." starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, but a return to the source material, David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago." The film is already strides ahead of most comedies because of the witty and brilliant writing of Mamet.
Hart can be a little manic, but in this case that energy works because Regina Hall matches him beat for beat. This movie would have been just as entertaining had it focused on them. Having two solid story lines that work in such harmony is a rare find.
* "3 Days to Kill," Grade C-minus: Dying hired assassin agrees to one more job. Kevin Costner stars.
Writers Adi Hasak and Luc Besson have given director Joseph McGinty Nichol (McG) three very distinct elements to work with in the new feature film "3 Days to Kill": an espionage tale, a family drama and 1940s film noir. The problem is the three go together about as well as speedskating and a sandy beach. Generally, the parts of this film just don't add up.
* "Pompeii," Grade C-minus: Slave turned invincible gladiator who finds himself in a race against time to save his true love.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson fails because his story of the love between Milo (Kit Harington), a slave turned gladiator, and the high-spirited Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of a wealthy merchant, has all the explosiveness of a high school volcano science project.
Their actions mimic the kind of heat and intensity that should come with a great love story, but it ends up as a weak representation.