New in Home Entertainment – July 10, 2012

New in Home Entertainment

July 10, 2012

American Reunion

Rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use and teen drinking
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Twelve years after the highly successful American Pie was unleashed upon audiences, the entire gang is back for their delayed high school reunion.  Twelve years ago they were a close group of friends who vowed to lose their virginities by prom night.  Now they are all semi-responsible adults with jobs, wives, kids, etc…  Just like in the first three films, its fun to see their antics and bad behavior, especially now that its so completely irresponsible.  As he did in the first three films, Stiffler (Seann William Scott) steals the scenes and serves as a linchpin for the film.  After all, without Stiffler, the film would be almost joke-less since his antics are what brings about the majority of the trouble.  With this in mind, I can recommend the movie due to the amount of times you will laugh.  The only downfall is how annoying some of the characters still are after all of these years.  While Scott, Jason Biggs, and Alyson Hannigan have all turned out to be decent actors with good comedic timing, Chris Klein and Mena Suvari would have done us a favor by staying home from the reunion.  B-

Rated PG-13 for some strong language and disturbing images
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

For me, Formula One is as unfamiliar a sport as cricket or curling, but five minutes into this film about the life and death of one of its greatest racers and I was enthralled.  Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna took the sport by storm in the 80s when he won three world championships.  Constantly competing against his nemesis, French driver Alain Prost, Ayrton proved his talents on the racetrack and served as a sports hero throughout the world who donated millions from his winnings back to his home country.  The documentary lacks narration and instead relies on live footage and interviews to tell its story and it does so very effectively.  What you end up with is an eye-opening real-life drama that is as compelling as any film I have seen this last year.  A

The Flowers of War
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, disturbing images, and brief strong language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In Mandarin and English with English Subtitles

In 1937, during the Rape of Nanking, a Westerner (Christian Bale) finds safety in a church filled with orphan girls and courtesans who have also taken refuge there.  Pretending to be a priest, the man attempts to do his best to protect the girls from the brutal Japanese soldiers who have sinister  plans for them.  Legendary Chinese director Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers, 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony) attempts to tell this heart-breaking story with as much grace and beauty as he has with his other projects, but unfortunately, the ugliness of the situation ends up overshadowing what art he could project.  For Chinese audiences, I’m sure the film resonates with the same kind of power that we experience with holocaust films, and its hard not to form empathy for the characters as they do their best to survive.  Perhaps if so many of the characters weren’t so fatally flawed, the film might have been more convincing.  As it is, the quest of redemption by too many souls gets in the way.  Still, the performances are good, especially considering the language barrier on set which is made evident in the special features section.  Also, the film will compel many to research this horrible period of atrocities for which many Westerners will have very little knowledge.  B