'Watchmen' offers dark vision

July 16, 2009 

"Watchmen" Grade A: Superheroes try to deal with their emotional, mental and social problems while stopping a mysterious killer.

It is vital to know the source material. Director Zack Snyder has made a visually stunning take on the much-heralded 12-edition graphic comic book novel.

How much the viewer embraces the movie will depend on how much knowledge he or she has of the original Alan Moore-Dave Gibbons work.

The uneducated will be slapped with imagery that at times seems near satire and at other times almost too disturbing to watch.

"Coraline" Grade C+: A young girl discovers what seems to be a perfect version of her own world. There is something missing. There is no magic.

Director Henry Selick's "Nightmare Before Christmas" reached out with bony fingers and pulled the audience into the strange and wonderful world. His "Coraline" keeps the viewer at arm's length.

And unless the audience can embrace Coraline, the result is no more captivating than a stretch of billboards along a long, lonely highway.

"Pushing Daisies: The Complete Second Season" Grade A: The ABC series looks at what happens when a pie maker (Lee Pace), with an ability to bring the dead back to life, can never touch the woman (Anna Friel) he loves.

This quirky series is one of the best television shows canceled before its time. Sharp writing, flawless acting and a visual style that is candy for the eyes make this a series to own.

Coming to DVD Tuesday:

"Monk: Season 7": Tony Shalhoub plays a private investigator full of odd quirks.

"Jon & Kate Plus Eight: Season 4: Volume 2": Episodes of this reality series include a trip to the dentist and travels to Tennessee.

"Prison Break: The Final Break": A two-hour movie based on the Fox series.

"Echelon Conspiracy": Mysterious phone messages promise wealth but create danger. Shane West stars.

"So You think You Can Dance Get Fit": Two DVDs -- "Tone and Groove", "Cardio Funk" -- are being released.

"Pandas in the Wild": A look at some of the 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild.

"G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Season": The DVD set includes 22 episodes of the animated series.

"Hotel: The First Season": James Brolin stars in this TV series set in San Francisco's St. Gregory Hotel.

"The Lucy Show: The Official First Season": The series is the first for Lucille Ball without Desi Arnez.

"Messengers 2: The Scarecrow": The prequel to "The Messengers." Norman Reedus stars.

"Charlie's Angels: The Complete Fourth Season": Jaclyn Smith stars in the detective series.

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at rbentley@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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