DVD Alternatives to This Weekend's Theatrical Offerings

We know how it is: You'd like to go to the movies this weekend, but you stepped through a wardrobe and you're lost in a medieval land where they don't even have popcorn, never mind electricity, multiplexes, or movies. But when you get back you can have a similar cinematic experience with the right collection of DVDs. So when someone asks you on Monday, "Hey, did you see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader this weekend?" you just shrug and pretend you did.

INSTEAD OF: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in which the youngest Pevensie kids -- Lucy and Edmund -- have a new seafaring adventure, complete with a talking mouse, a fire-breathing dragon, and a magical quest...

WATCH: The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974), the cheeseball fantasy classic, in which an ocean journey by treasure map chases down a magic tablet and an evil wizard. If you must have piety with your fantasy, go back to the beginning of these new Narnia adaptations with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), which introduced the Pevensie children to the magical realm of Aslan the deified lion. For fantastical adventure specifically designed to be nonreligious in nature, revisit The Golden Compass (2007), in which the magic comes along with a message to think for yourself, instead of to blindly trust what authority figures tell you. For more family fantasy, try The Secret of Moonacre (2009), based on another beloved book, about a young girl who goes to live in a mysterious haunted manor and has to unravel its secrets.

INSTEAD OF: The Tourist, in which Johnny Depp travels to Europe and gets mistaken for the sidekick of a woman of criminal intrigue (Angelina Jolie)...

WATCH: The 39 Steps (1935), Alfred Hitchcock's classic tale of accidental on-the-road romance and espionage thrills; sometimes I wonder whether we shouldn't all just give up on new movies and rewatch the old ones, if Hollywood isn't capable of telling new stories. Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck did tell a remarkable new story in his The Lives of Others (2006), about art and freedom and love and passion behind the Berlin Wall in the 1980s. For more of Johnny Depp as a character who resembles a modern man (and not a cartoon pirate or singing serial killer), see Secret Window (2004), in which his depressed writer lives through a weird nightmare. For more of Angelina Jolie in a corny flick harkening back to Golden Age Hollywood, see Beyond Borders (2004), a star-crossed romance set among the international humanitarian aid set.

INSTEAD OF: The Fighter, in which Mark Wahlberg is an underdog boxer who trains hard and suffers personal setbacks on the road to the triumphing of his human spirit...

WATCH: Rocky (1976), in which Sylvester Stallone is an underdog boxer who trains hard and suffers personal setbacks on the road to the triumphing of his human spirit. For a more indie spin on the same story, check out Girlfight (2000), in which Michelle Rodriguez is an underdog boxer who trains hard and suffers personal setbacks on the road to the triumphing of her human spirit. For a look at when director David O. Russell used to make kookier flicks, see his debut, Spanking the Monkey (1994), a black comedy about incest -- fun! For more of Mark Wahlberg as an honorable tough guy, see the thriller Shooter (2007), in which his Marine is framed for murder and fights back to clear his name.


MaryAnn Johanson is a lover and a fighter at FlickFilosopher.com. (email me)