New in Home Entertainment – June 11, 2013

New in Home Entertainment

June 11, 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D

This prequel to The Wizard of Oz sets James Franco as the young wizard who finds himself sent to the magical land of Oz during a tornado, only to be placed in the middle of a rivalry between competing witches (played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams).  Spiderman director Sam Raimi does a fine enough job with the vision of the Oz universe, but the storytelling is rather weak and the performances from the incredibly talented cast are less than stellar. The movie is beautiful to look at, and the 3D is better than most, but there seems to be a lack of energy coursing through the film and at 130 minutes in length, I think a trim and some reshoots could have helped.  C+

A Good Day to Die Hard
Rated R for violence and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

This fifth and hopefully last installment of the Die Hard franchise finds Bruce Willis heading to Russia to help his arrested son, only to discover his son is a undercover CIA operative smack dab in the middle of potential disaster with world-wide implications.  The story itself sounds like it has potential, but the horrendous script and a cast under sloppy direction make this whole project a stinker from start to finish.  The plot gets more preposterous as it plods along and the actors seem to feel it.  As of right now, this is looking like it could be the worst of film of 2013.  F

The Newsroom: The Complete First Season
Rated TV-MA
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

HBO’s newest hit series from West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin casts Jeff Daniels as an anchorman at a CNN-like news outfit who starts to shake things up for his station, viewers and colleagues when he chooses to express how he really feels to the world rather than just report the news.  While many will feel the show is nothing but liberal media, most open-minded audiences will find the show to be rather refreshing.  The first episode will tell you right up front whether or not your politics will allow you to follow along for the ride.  My only complaint is there is too much drama in the actual newsroom in regards to inner-office romances and silly rivalries, but maybe there is a hint of truth to that too.  B+

Wild Strawberries: Criterion Collection
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Criterion has had a lover affair with Swedish filmmaking legend Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal) for years and is continuing that with this new hi-def release of his 1957 classic.  Wild Strawberries tells the story of an old professor who is forced to face his past as he is about to receive an award for his life’s work.  Through a trip with his daughter-in-law and a series of dreams, he is able to come to terms with his life and all of the good and bad things he has done throughout the years.  While I’m not the biggest fan of Bergman’s work, I can certainly appreciate it and love that Criterion has taken such good care of his films and is releasing them in the highest quality possible.  This new 2K digital transfer looks beautiful and the film comes with a host of special features trying to convince its viewers that this is an important piece of cinema.  Unfortunately there are a lot of important films that aren’t necessarily entertaining or accessible and for many this is one of those.  B

Lilo & Stitch: 2 Movie Collection
Rated PG for mild sci-fi action
Available on Blu-ray

Now that most of Disney’s animated films have been released on blu-ray, they are starting to dig into their catalog.  While I agree with giving low-profile releases to The Emperor’s New Groove and Atlantis (as they are also doing this week) I think Lilo deserves a little more fanfare.  Lilo & Stitch came out when Disney was having a difficult time and it gave us all a bit of hope that things might turn around.  Written and directed by the talented team that brought us How to Train Your Dragon (Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders), Lilo tells the story of a young Hawaiian girl who befriends a destructive yet lovable alien creature.  It’s fun, adorable and a bit naughty which leads to an extremely enjoyable flick.  Now I’ll admit that the direct to video sequel, also presented here, is a bit lame, but I still have a fondness for good ol’ Lilo and Stitch.  B+