New in Home Entertainment – February 19, 2013

New in Home Entertainment

February 19, 2013

Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season
Rated TV-MA
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

If you thought the first season of HBO’s hit show was big bad and bold, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  The second season sees the world in complete chaos with a seven-way game of deadly chess that is too close to call on after any turn.  HBO upped the ante with even bigger special effects and a huge battle scene.  Once again, the acting is as strong as the great writing and George R.R. Martin’s epic second book has created a season that has done nothing but make fans happy.  The set of discs itself is huge, especially with blu-ray which includes the series on DVD and digital copy as well as tons of special features sure to satisfy loyalists until March 31st when season three starts up.  A

Rated R for language and some violent images
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

A little more than a month ago, Ben Affleck’s exciting thriller about a group of Americans trying to escape from Iran during the hostage crisis was considered by most to be lucky to be nominated for the various best picture awards.  But then it won the Houston Film Critics best picture, followed by the Critics Choice Award and Golden Globe and now it is the front runner for the Oscar, in spite of not getting a best director nod for Affleck.  Is it really that good?  I’m not sure if its worthy of all the attention or if the buzz is just in its favor in an extreme fashion.  Overall, the film is well-acted, well-directed and well-written.  The tension is over-the-top but always fun and you even walk away feeling like you learned something important about our country’s history.  A-

Anna Karenina
Rated R for some sexuality and violence
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel about a royal affair between an aristocrat and a young handsome count is one of the most depressing stories in literature but here, thanks to the brilliant Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice) the story gets a fresh look that is still depressing, but beautifully produced.  Starring Keira Knightly, Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the film has a strong enough cast but what most folks will take away from this movie is the lavish production.  Earning four Oscar nominations in cinematography, costume, score, and production design, the film is a spectacle of sight and sound.  Set in a theater instead of the real world, though, it is unusual and aesthetically pleasing, but also sometimes distracting.  If it weren’t for the ridiculously difficult-to-watch third act, the movie might have been a much more lucrative offering, but then it wouldn’t be Tolstoy would it?  B

Rated R for disturbing violent images and some terror
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Giving a great bit of creditability to a genre that usually lacks it, Ethan Hawke stars as true crime writer who moves his family into a house where the previous owners were murdered so that he can be closer to the crime he’s writing his next book about.  I have to admit that throughout much of the film I was pretty horrified – almost to the point where I felt I shouldn’t be watching such a movie if I ever wanted to sleep again.  But then by the close of the second act it gets a little silly and by the end I wasn’t even remotely scared.  The villain himself was terrifying but the big twist is kind of laughable.  To be honest, this caused a bit of relief since I didn’t want to have to take sleeping pills to knock me out for the next week.  C

On the Waterfront: The Criterion Collection

Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Criterion is known to release many foreign and modern classics, but rarely do we get a true Hollywood classic from them.  In this case we have On the Waterfront, widely thought to be one of the greatest movies of all time.  Marlon Brando’s performance as a prizefighter turned longshoreman earned him a much-deserved Oscar and the film won seven others as well, including director Elia Kazan and Supporting Actress Eva Marie Saint.  This new edition includes a brand-new 4K digital restoration which is absolutely magnificent, as well as more features than I’ve ever seen from a Criterion release.  I particularly loved the visual essay on Leonard Bernstein’s terrific score.  A+