New on DVD

New on DVD

Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season

Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Bryan Cranston has already won two Emmys for his portrayal of a high school chemistry teacher who after a diagnosis of lung cancer, uses his chemistry skills to cook and sell high quality meth in order to make enough to pay for his chemo and maybe leave his family something when he dies.  The first season was very good, but the second kicks it up a notch with an incredibly well-written storyline that leaves you absolutely devastated after the last episode.  With season three starting this week, it’s a great time to catch up or get acquainted with this groundbreaking, nail-biter of television series.  A

Toy Story and Toy Story 2
Both Rated G
Available on Blu-ray/DVD Combos

With Toy Story 3 just a couple of months away, Disney is releasing Woody, Buzz Lightyear and gang for the first time on Blu-ray and with all new special features in addition to the old special features.  It has been 15 years since Toy Story hit theaters and changed animation forever.  Before Toy Story, hand-drawn and stop-motion animated films were the only way to make an animated film, and now they are the exception rather than the norm.  While many advancements have been made since these two films hit the screen, they still look absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray and the stories are both truly timeless tales that will be cherished for generations.  The only negative criticism I have here is that lately all of the Pixar films have come with digital copy so you can put a copy on your iPod/iPhone, but for some reason, these sets lack it.  The funny thing is, they advertise it for the other films on the special features section, but don’t include it on their own.  A

The Blind Side
Rated PG-13 for one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Based on a true story, The Blind Side tells the story of Michael Oher, a very large, under-privileged teenager in Memphis that is adopted by a well-to-do family who pushes him to become an all-star college and pro football player.  Now while I don’t think she necessarily deserved the Oscar for her performance here, Sandra Bullock does an admirable job of portraying the adopted mother and the film has a nice feel-good quality to it.  That being said it is also incredibly manipulative and custom-designed to make you cry throughout.  Most disappointing here are the contrived football sequences that should annoy anyone that knows anything about high school football is played.  So while I liked the story, I just couldn’t stand how it was represented.  C+

New Moon
Rated PG-13 for some violence and action
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

This second in the Twilight series tells the continuing saga of Bella Swan as she makes her decision of who to love.  Her vampire lover Edward has left her and never wants to see her again.  Her werewolf friend Jacob wants to take Edward’s place in Bella’s heart, but Bella is not ready for that.  The whole thing is just way too melodramatic for me.  The one positive thing I can say about this vampire chick flick is that the production values are a million times better than the original film.  I was blown away by how badly made the first film was and at least Chris Weitz (American Pie) knows how to make a movie without including ten shots with the camera men in plain view.  So while the story is not up my alley, it’s not quite as painful of an experience.  C

Broken Embraces
Rated R for sexual content, language and some drug material
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Spanish with English subtitles

A blind screenwriter must face his past when the son of a dead businessman pays him a visit.  Written and directed by the always interesting Pedro Almodovar (Volver) and starring Penelope Cruz, this is yet another quirky and complicated drama which keeps you engaged and thoroughly entertained.  I will admit that the plot is a little confusing, although I cheated and watched it a second time which cleared things up nicely.  Winner of the 2009 Critic’s Choice Award and BAFTA for Best Foreign Film, this is regarded as one of Almodovar’s best works.  B+  

The African Queen
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

The last film on the AFI top 100 list to be released on DVD has gotten a nice touch up here for this special release.  Set during WWII, Bogey and Hepburn take a journey through the wilds of Africa on a beat up old boat in the hopes of putting a torpedo in the hull of a wandering German ship. I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of the film.  After all, it’s a pretty cheesy love story when you think about it and the plot is absurd.  But it’s not too hard to see its importance in film history, and I found the new documentary on the making of the movie to be better made and far more interesting than the movie itself.  C+