by Tom Doty
“Hotel Transylvania” — Dracula invites all of his monster friends to his daughter’s 18th birthday celebration, in this animated comedy that casts Adam Sandler as the count. The bloodsucker is semi-retired and running a vacation spot for monsters, but his comfort level gets stretched when an ordinary guy stumbles upon the place. Lots of laughs here, with favorites going to a gastronomically challenged werewolf.
“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” — DC Comics are back with the animated finale to last year’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight” saga. In a futuristic Gotham, a senior Batman has managed to take back Gotham City from the hoods with the help of a new Robin. Now he has to fight to keep it safe, as the Joker returns for one last battle. Then a global predicament brings back Superman for a final reckoning. A fine take on the Batman story that retains Miller’s boldness and grim storytelling.
“Seven Psychopaths” — A assortment of odd characters find themselves at odds with a powerful gangster in this comedy/crime drama. The cast makes this worthwhile, as they deftly manage scenes of high comedy while maintaining a realistic tone. Colin Farrel, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell are the friends who make their bones kidnapping dogs from high-brow Hollywood residents and then bringing them back for the reward money. Things get awkward when they dognap a Shih Tzu that belongs to a no-nonsense criminal (Woody Harrelson).
“The Duelists” — Fans of period action flicks will enjoy this drama that kickstarted the career of Ridley Scott. Before he hit it big with “Alien,” he lavished a lot of attention on this story of two officers in Napoleon’s army who fight a series of duels. Keith Carradine stars as the low key D’Hubert. He is tasked with bringing in a Lt. Ferraud (Harvey Keitel) for dueling with other officers. The meeting goes poorly and the pair become enemies who fight at every opportunity. The story gets a lift from scenic locations as well as the gifted performances of the leads. Finally available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
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