Digital Breakdown: Whither ‘Wicker’; dip into ‘Water’ 

Another Hollywood retread — along with the original on which it’s based — and the latest thriller from M. night Shyamalan are among DVDs being released Tuesday:

THE WICKER MAN

It’s bad enough that big-budget Hollywood remakes even get made — when they’re terrible, it’s even worse. "The Wicker Man" stars Nicolas Cage as a traumatized police officer investigating the disappearance of a lost girl on a spooky island where some very odd characters reside.

The original "The Wicker Man" was a creepy ride filled with good jolts and scary imagery; this 2006 remake is plain stupid. Cage’s character insults everyone he gets in contact with, plus his über-dramatic line delivery is more hysterical than horror-filled. Other characters are incoherent, bumbling and altogether annoying, not spooky.

The DVD is available in an unrated edition with an alternate "too hot for theaters" ending (also bad), audio commentary from the director and the usual extra fare. Price: $28.98. Rent or buy: Rent — if that.

THE WICKER MAN (1973)

Instead of watching the new lame version, check out the two-disc re-release of the original 1973 version of "The Wicker Man," featuring good, all new special features, including a new commentary from director Robin Hardy and actors Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward. The movie has been remastered for anamorphic widescreen; it looks brilliant. Other special features include new interviews with the cast and crew, original promos and much more. Price: $19.98. Rent or buy: Buy!

LADY IN THE WATER

M. Night Shyamalan has gotten a bad rap from critics, who think everything he churns out will be the next "Sixth Sense." Yet most yet regular moviegoers fall into two categories: those who enjoy Shyamalan’s work ("The Village," "Unbreakable," "Signs") and those who don’t. It’s simply unfair to compare everything he does to the box office smash "Sixth Sense."

"Lady in the Water" is the story of a sea nymph (Bryce Dallas Howard) who falls into the graces and protection of a depressed apartment superintendent (Paul Giamatti). Some may have scoffed at "Lady in the Water’s" fantasy premise, but the movie nicely explores faith and the goodness of humanity, and is refreshingly not cynical. Price: $29.98. Rent or buy: Rent.

WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE

This is Spike Lee’s tremendous, powerful documentary on Hurricane Katrina and the tragedy in New Orleans. HBO Home Entertainment again shows why it is leading the charge in cutting-edge television series and hard-hitting documentaries. While "Levees" is critical of all facets of government and the serious lack of response to the emergency, there are balanced opinions and alternating viewpoints, lending credence to the film. With "Inside Man" and "Levees" under his belt, Lee proves to be one of the last innovative and powerful directors producing worthwhile films in Hollywood. The DVD includes 90 minutes of unaired footage and a photo montage from the disaster. Price: $29.98. Rent or buy: Buy!

MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND

More proof that Hollywood has run the gamut of ideas when it comes to romantic comedies, "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" delves into the subject of superheroes and modern-day relationships. With only five deleted scenes, one extended scene and a lame music video, this one’s a rental at best. Price: $29.99. Rent or buy: Rent.

» Other DVDs out this week: "A Celestine Prophecy," "Married With Children: The Complete Sixth Season," "Biggest Loser Workout, Vol. 2," "Jet Li’s Fearless,""Criss Angel: Mindfreak — The Complete Season Two," "Gene Simmons Family Jewels — Season One," "American Pie Presents The Naked Mile Unrated," "Jackie Chan’s Police Story," "The Simpsons: Season Nine," "Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Fifth Season," "All the King’s Men" and "Dreamland."

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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