New in Home Entertainment – March 19, 2013

New in Home Entertainment

March 19, 2013

Les Miserables
Rated PG-13 for suggestive and sexual material, violence and thematic elements
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

What a great time for home entertainment!  So many of my favorite 2012 films are hitting shelves this week and next.  But I’ll begin with my favorite film of 2012: Les Mis.  It was so important for the filmmakers to create a legacy with this musical turned movie.  After all, you really only get one chance.  Phantom of the Opera was practically ruined by inability but thankfully, director Tom Hooper and his multi-talented production team not only had the desire to do this project but the vision as well.  The story of Jean Valjean, a post-French Revolution ex-convict who escapes his parole only to positively impact every life he comes into contact with, is masterfully recreated here.  Hugh Jackman, Oscar winner Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and many others turn in immensely powerful performances that will leave you emotionally drained by the end of the show.  The set contains some great special features including a look at the unique way in which the performances were captured.  My favorite feature though is the HD digital copy that comes with the blu-ray.  Most digital copy nowadays is standard def or even worse, the useless ultraviolet.  Universal, as far as I know, is the only studio allowing for you to put a 1080p copy on your system for replay on Apple TV or your mobile devices, making this set a must-own for your collection.  A+

Life of Pi
Rated PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D

There was little surprise when director Ang Lee won the Oscar this year for Life of Pi.  If you read the book you were probably shocked that it could be translated to film.  Not only did they accomplish this extraordinary feat, but they did it in grand fashion.  And for those of you who ask the question “how can a movie mainly about a boy in a boat with a tiger be any good?”  My answer is I would have thought the same thing until I watched it.  Now I’m a believer.  The special effects are pretty magnificent here, but they are only there to enhance the storytelling.  This is a wonderfully crafted film full of imagination and wonder.  Personally, I’ve seen it four times now and still can’t get enough of it.  Every time I watch it I fall in love with it a little bit more.  A+

Zero Dark Thirty
Rated R for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

And yet another great film is the story of the manhunt and assassination of Osama Bin Laden as told by director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal (both of The Hurt Locker).  Jessica Chastain, while not taking home the big trophy, easily put on the best female performance of the year as the young CIA agent whose work was responsible for bringing down the mastermind of Nine-Eleven.  Full of suspense and well-paced from start the finish, Zero Dark Thirty is a hugely important piece of filmmaking.  A

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D

I was so underwhelmed by the theatrical release of this highly anticipated prequel to The Lord of the Rings, merely because director Peter Jackson insisted on presenting the film in high frame rate 3D, which completely distracted me from the story.  But now on Blu-ray where I have my smoothing effect turned off on my TV, I was finally able to sit back and enjoy the film the way I prefer to see it, and I must admit that it really is a great movie.  I’m still not sure we need three parts to this somewhat short story, but as for this first leg of the journey – it’s a doozy.  B+

This is 40
Rated R for sexual content, crude humor, pervasive language and some drug material
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Sold as a sort of sequel to Knocked Up, Judd Apatow’s latest dramedy spells out suburban life for a couple in their 40s.  Apatow’s real-life wife Leslie Mann stars opposite Paul Rudd as a couple struggling with reaching their middle ages and all of the drama that comes with it.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of laughs to be found here, but it is just as serious as it is funny.  The biggest critique is there is too much going on, causing the film to come in at 134 minutes, way longer than a comedy has the right to be.  Slicing out a few subplots would have helped this project tremendously.  B-

Rust and Bone

Rated R for strong sexual content, brief graphic nudity, some violence and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
French with English Subtitles

Marion Cotillard (Dark Knight Rises) turns in a Golden Globe nominated performance here as a killer whale trainer who loses her legs in a horrible tragedy, only to then fall in love with a single father/fighter who is unable to meet her emotional needs.  To say this film is depressing is an understatement, but a surprise turn at the end saves it from becoming a dismal fall off the cliff as you might expect it to be.  C+