New on DVD

Step Up (PG-13)

This "Flashdance" for the hip-hop generation is better than it could be and worse than it should be. It wants to be a "Footloose" toe tapper, but for a basic teen flick, it takes itself too seriously, with too much angst and not enough fun. The plot is standard issue rich girl/poor boy stuff: Classy ballet girl Norah (r.), who attends a snooty arts school, has no choice but to take on a streetwise partner (working at the school to atone for his previous acts of vandalism) to perform in a key showcase event when her partner is injured. She has a lonely, rich mom; he has hapless, hopeless friends. They fight; they dance; they learn about love, death, and betrayal. Good drama is welcome in a teen story, but only when the young actors are up to it. With minor exceptions, these stars are not. At least the extras are chock full of music and dance. Grade: C+
– Gloria Goodale

The Illusionist (PG-13)

Artful twists and inspired acting color this romantic mystery set in turn-of-the-last century Vienna. Edward Norton and Jessica Biel pair up brilliantly as the cerebral and sharply political magician Eisenheim and his above-his-station love, Sophie, who is tied to a brutish crown prince (Rufus Sewell, working a period beard to great effect). Paul Giamatti succeeds as a sleuth who evolves from Eisenheim adversary to admirer. A dreamlike, almost candlelit cinematography enhances the suspense in this adaptation of Steven Millhauser's story "Eisenheim the Illusionist." Extras are thin: a voice-over commentary by director Neil Burger, a short "making of," and an even shorter short on Biel that lazily excerpts the former. Grade: A–
– Clayton Collins

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