Back in December, when Moviefone ranked its 50 favorite movies of 2006, there was a much-expected outpouring of criticism: How in the world's end is Pirates not number 1? You should be hung with the Dixie Chicks! OMG, John Tucker Must Die Ruled!!! But there were some responses so common we were aghast: Where is Blood Diamond? Where is Rocky Balboa? Both films arrive on DVD today, and while I'd still argue against their place among the top 50 movies of '06, they're still strong films worth the rental.
The cultish support for Blood Diamond was the single most surprising response to our Best Of feature: Not only did readers give us a verbal beatdown for not including, many considered it the best film of the year. That's surprising: Blood Diamond (which earned a modest 63% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) isn't of the typical ilk to cause such a sharp divide between media and moviegoers. It's no Wild Hogs. The film has a political and social conscience. I appreciated its messages, no matter how inconspicuous (I have not bought a single diamond since seeing this film, and also cut off all ties with African warlords!), but found the film paling in comparison to the similarly themed Africa-set thriller The Constant Gardener. It's more of a traditional action thriller, and often falls victim to the genre's pratfalls and clichés (count how many machine gun ambushes its heroes survive). The best thing Blood Diamond has going for it? Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio, who people still love to hate, apparently because Titanic grossed a gazillion dollars. I'm sorry, but Dude can act his ass off. His Afrikaan accent may come off as hokey over the course of a two-minute trailer, but Leo tackles the role with the force of Bonnie Grape on a box of Krispy Kremes. But Jennifer Connelly as the symbol of American guilt – er, love interest? Not so much.
Rent, buy or get more on DVD | Download the movie
Fun Fact: The more painful his death scene is to watch, the more a Leonardo DiCaprio movie grosses.
Ever since Sylvester Stallone announced plans to take a break from doing whatever it is he does these days (Opening Planet Hollywoods? Saving kittens from disease-ravaged streets?) to film highly unanticipated sequels to Rocky and Rambo, he's become an easy punchline: "Man, that Stallone guy... he is old!" No one expected great things from Rocky Balboa (well, except my dad, who wishes every movie at least had a training montage), so it was surprising when the film began screening for critics and the "buzz" was out: "Pretty entertaining!" "Better than expected." "Not that sucky!" They weren't quite ringing endorsements, but that sentiment would eventually be echoed by moviegoers who saw the film in theaters (Dad and other Rocky diehards not included). Once the film moves past 20 minutes of Rocky I – V nostalgia and actually starts, it brims with the same charm that made parts I – IV lovable. And you have to give credit where credit's due: It's all Stallone, who you really can't blame for wanting to play Rocky again: The man's better at it than anything else he's done.
Rent, buy or get more on DVD
Fun Fact: Contrary to popular belief, if you don't stop, his mom won't actually shoot.
*Disclaimer: Never trust fun facts.