New in Home Entertainment – December 13, 2011

New in Home Entertainment

December 13, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Rated PG-13 for intense and frightening sequences of action and violence
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

The Planet of the Apes franchise has always been known to be an iconic, yet also cheesy collection of movies meant for pure silly, almost b-movie entertainment.  That is until this newest entry.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes does serve as a prequel to the rest of the films, but also tells a terrific story which gives some credibility to them as well, as strange as that sounds.  There are no men in ape suits here, but rather wonderfully created CGI apes, with Andy Serkis leading the fray as Caesar, a genetically-altered chimpanzee taken from his mother at a pharmaceutical company while still a baby, and raised by James Franco in a real home environment.  When an event forces Caesar into an ape sanctuary, Caesar’s intelligence changes the course of Earth’s future.  With mind-blowing special effects, an ambitious story, and loads of action and emotion, this new addition to the series rises above them all and is one of the surprise highlights of 2011.  A-

Kung Fu Panda 2
Rated PG for sequences of martial arts action and mild language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Jack Black is back in this sequel to the hit animated film about a panda that saves the day with his Kung Fu.  In this new pic, Po the panda must lead his team of martial artists to fight the sinister peacock Shen.  The first film was a nice surprise since I expected it to be a pretty corny kids film and it ended up being a rather entertaining adventure.  Unfortunately, this new release just doesn’t have the creativity or energy of the first and runs out of steam rather quickly.  The animation is good enough and there are a few laughs to be found, but it feels like a movie put together too fast in order to capitalize on the tremendous success of its predecessor.  C+

Vietnam in HD
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

With its highly praised WWII in HD, the History Channel has tackled Vietnam in the same manor with this new six-hour mini-series.  Using hours of never-before-seen footage along with accounts of real soldiers, told by the soldiers themselves in combination with a cast of famous Hollywood actors, Vietnam in HD succeeds in not only giving a nice history lesson, but also puts a rarely seen human face on the war.  Some might complain that the documentary doesn’t go into enough detail, but for most the detail is perfect and the images will stick with you long after its over.  Just as in WWII in HD, this new look at Vietnam should appeal to both history buffs and to those that simply want a little better understanding of our country’s tumultuous history.    A

The Life & Times of Tim: The Complete Second Season
Available on DVD

While it’s not one of HBO’s hit shows, The Life & Times of Tim is an edgy and entertaining animated sitcom that is full of rude humor and unexpected chuckles.  If you thought the first season was outrageous, this new one is better. The writers and voice actors are obviously more comfortable with the material, as is evident from the fast-paced laughs.  As a former drug rep myself, I found the episode “Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Gone Wild” to be the highlight of the very entertaining series.  B+

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