New in Home Entertainment – January 31, 2012

New in Home Entertainment

January 31, 2012

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Rated PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo
Available on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD

If you would have told me five years ago that the Transformers franchise would be one of the most popular in movie history, grossing more than 2.5 billion dollars internationally and countless more in home entertainment sales, I would have thought you to be crazy.  Sure the reviews for all three films have been mediocre, but that hasn’t stopped worldwide audiences from going to see them in droves and bringing them home to watch over and over again.  This third installment has proven to be the biggest one of all mounting an impressive $1.1 billion international gross and $3.5 million in the U.S.  If you thought the first two films were big, they don’t even hold a candle to the enormity of the third.  I would go into deep detail about the plot, but its apparent that not many care about story when it comes to these pictures.  They just want lots of robots creating havoc and that’s what they get.  At 154 minutes, the film feels a little long, but at least there’s the pause button at home so you can take care of that six pack of whatever you started drinking two hours ago.  Just don’t miss the finale where they take out the entire city of Chicago.  B

Thunder Soul
Rated PG for brief language and momentary historical smoking
Available on DVD

In the 60s and 70s Houston’s Kashmere High School Stage Band was consistently known as the best high school jazz band in the country.  Led by a great band director simply known as “Prof,” the band became a world-class standard-setting funk powerhouse that achieved success until the school superintendent made major cuts in the arts.  Now, 35 years later, the band is getting together to pay tribute to the legendary director who brought them all together.  If the the great premise and the 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes fail to peak your interest, then maybe the fact that this is a terrific local story that many here have never heard will have you checking it out.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I sure did like what I saw and heard.  This is one heck of an enjoyable documentary that will have you laughing, crying, and possibly even dancing.  A

Rated R for strong brutal bloody violence, language and some nudity
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Ryan Gosling is simply known as “Driver” in this little indie about a stunt car driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for either extra cash or maybe just the thrill.  After he falls in love with his neighbor (Carey Mulligan), his life makes a turn for the worse when her husband gets out of jail.  This is definitely one of the more surprising films this year.  If this film is anything it’s unpredictable.  Another word to describe it is cool.  The crazy script by Hossein Amini (Snow White and the Huntsman) is masterfully directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (who just won the Houston Film Critics Society award).  Perhaps of equal importance for the project is the eclectic collection of music from the 80s and that pink font for the credits.  I’ll admit that it’s a bit too violent and unsettling for my personal taste, but you can’t deny that it’s a well put-together film with a lot of entertainment value.  B+

Annie Hall and Manhattan
Available on Blu-ray

If the recent release of Midnight in Paris has put you in the mood for a Woody Allen-thon, then you have to check out these two new blu-rays being released this week by MGM and Fox.  Had Annie Hall not won the Oscar for best picture in 1977 (beating out Star Wars), Manhattan might have taken the honor away in 1979.  Both films run low on special features, but the new high def transfers look and sound great.  Also getting the blu-ray treatment this week are a slew of other great classics including Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound, Rebecca, and Notorious as well as Billy Wilder’s The Apartment.