‘Basic’ training

Instead of discussing once again the lack of original ideas in a creatively bankrupt Hollywood, let’s chat about the point of sequels in Hollywood. First and foremost, sequels are supposed to make money, a lot of money, because they are based on previous characters everyone should be familiar with and want to see again. Second, they should be entertaining and, if at all possible, outdo the original in every way — either a higher body count if a horror film, more outrageous if a comedy or more action if a thriller. And third, be timely and relevant to its genre.

“Basic Instinct 2: Unrated, Extended Cut” accomplishes one out of three on the sequel-meter. The film made about $6 million at the U.S. box office at a cost of $70 million, which in case you are keeping track, goes down as one of the greatest flops of all time. The fact that the first film was made 14 long years ago in 1992 eliminates the timely aspect, and with the violent and sexually charged films that have come out since the original “Basic Instinct” debuted, the shock value is nil, nada, zilch. The one thing “Basic Instinct 2” does accomplish is to entertain, and it does outdo the original, especially on the unrated, extended version with additional minutes of “revealing” material.

Sharon Stone, looking amazing at 47, reprises her role as serial killer/novelist Catherine Tramell, who once again is embroiled in a murder/sex milquetoast plotline. Let’s not mince words, the performance basically plunges Stone’s career, well, like a stone, and you might as well label it “Showgirls 2.” However, if you rate this film on just the sleaze-o-meter, the entertainment value is quite high.

Extras: A handful of deleted scenes, alternate ending, one featurette, a director commentary and the usual fare. “Basic Instinct 2” comes in both the unrated and R-rated versions and will be distributed on the Blu-Ray format as well.

Other DVDs out now

» The latest “Masters of Horror” segment, “Homecoming,” is now available on DVD and it is something of an anomaly in the series. Believe it or not, it is a zombie social commentary on the state of politics in this country. Sounds rather outrageous, but that’s what Joe Dante has created in this fascinating, image-laden interpretation of the war in Iraq, political pundits and the GOP, all with a creamy zombie filling that’s about as subtle as a jackhammer. The DVD is jam-packed with special features that for an hourlong show delivers more than most major motion picture releases. Very cool. Price: $16.98. Rent or buy: Buy.

» When Nancy Botwin’s husband dies suddenly, she is forced to start dealing — in more ways than one. “Weeds: Season One” is a delightful, spirited, funny change of pace for an average housewife drama that has more secrets and behind-closed-doors adventures than rival “Desperate Housewives.” “Weeds” is actually a show worth subscribing to Showtime for, which is saying something. Plus, the DVD is overloaded with special features, including a great marijuana mockumentary, “herbal” recipes and much more. Price: $39.98. Rent or buy: Buy!

» One of the most underrated, hilarious shows on TV, “Reno 911,” has released its third complete season full of cops who do just about everything but properly enforce the law. What other show can turn a raid on a “Magic The Gathering” conference bloody? And when there’s a S.A.R.S. outbreak in town that can only mean one thing — hilarity. Price: $26.99. Rent or buy: Buy.

peterbrown@examiner.com

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