New in Home Entertainment – August 27, 2013

New in Home Entertainment

August 27, 2013

Pain & Gain
Rated R for bloody violence, crude sexual content, nudity, language throughout and drug use
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

So what was my biggest surprise this summer in theaters?  This little comedy by tentpole extraordinaire Michael Bay about the dumbest bodybuilders you’ve ever witnessed (Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson) who attempt to kidnap a local businessman and steal his life.  Oh yeah – and it’s based on a true story.  It’s the most unbelievable true story you can possibly imagine.  I went in sure I was going to hate it and ended up having a blast.  And it was still fun the second time watching it at home.  A-

Rated PG-13 for a disturbing violent sequence
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Based on the classic novel by Thor Heyerdahl, this Academy Award nominated film (Best Foreign Language Film – Norway), follows Thor and a group of adventurers who attempt to prove that Peruvians could have been the first inhabitants of Tahiti by taking a balsa wood raft and floating there using only the winds and currents to guide them.  Masterfully directed and produced, the film is a fascinating and beautiful two hour adventure.  And if you hate subtitles, the filmmakers actually made an English language version at the same time they made the Norwegian, so you won’t have the distraction of dubbing.  A

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including a disturbing act, and for brief language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
French with English Subtitles

From acclaimed director Michael Heneke comes this story about an elderly couple that undergoes an extreme hardship when the wife becomes terminally ill.  This heartbreaking drama won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.  Personally I found it to be lovely but rather dismal.  Like most of Heneke’s films, this one is challenging to watch but still beautiful in its own regard.  A-

The Great Gatsby
Rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D

Director Baz Luhrmann’s (Moulin Rouge) visionary new production starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the famed Gatsby is one of the few movies I would ever suggest the need for 3D.  Luhrmann’s style is far from subtle but it is unique and stunning at times.  The performances are rather good, but just like the famous book it’s based on, the film is pretty darn depressing after the partying is over.  Still, this is definitely the kind of film that could grow on you and it is certainly one you’ll want to show off your 3D TV with.  B

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season

Available on DVD and Blu-ray

I was certain that after creator Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) left the project that this zombie serial would run into a wall, but it turns out the writing is still strong and and performances are even stronger.  And boy do I love the twists!  I’m not alone when I say that this is one of my favorite things to watch on TV and can’t wait to see what’s in store for season 4.  A

Les Mis Blu-ray Release Announced

Just received a great press release from Universal.  Looks like an awesome blu-ray coming our way on March 22!!!

March 22, 2013

“The Best Film of the Year!” – Kyle Smith, New York Post

Own on Blu-Ray(tm) Combo Pack Including DVD, Digital Copy & UltraViolet(tm)

Universal City, California – The sweeping and spectacular musical extravaganza Les Misérables has been seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries around the globe.  Now the motion picture adaptation that grossed more than $340 million worldwide arrives on Blu-ray(tm) Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand on March 22, 2013, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.  Critically acclaimed and star-studded, Les Misérables is a stunningly realized interpretation of Victor Hugo’s epic tale of broken dreams, passion, sacrifice and redemption – a timeless testament to the endurance of the human spirit.  This Golden Globe®-winning cinematic event can now be experienced over and over again on Blu-ray(tm) Combo Pack and DVD with more than an hour of bonus features including cast interviews.  Additionally, the Blu-ray(tm) Combo Pack is loaded with an extra 45 minutes of exclusive content taking viewers behind the scenes of the groundbreaking production for an unmatched entertainment experience.
Directed by Academy Award® winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), Les Misérables features an all-star cast including Golden Globe® winner Hugh Jackman (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Prestige), Oscar® winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind), Golden Globe® winner Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises,
The Devil Wears Prada), Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!, Dear John), Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn,
The Other Boleyn Girl), Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter series, Sweeney Todd), Golden Globe® winner
Sacha Baron Cohen (Hugo, Borat) and newcomer Samantha Barks.
Compelling and poignant, Les Misérables has earned kudos from critics around the world, including Vogue’s
Adam Green, who describes it as “a spectacular achievement” and’s Pete Hammond, who calls it “remarkably entertaining and powerful” and praises its “stunning imagery and performance.”  Les Misérables dominated the 2013 awards season, garnering eight Academy Award® nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, and sweeping the Golden Globes with awards for Jackman, and Hathaway, as well as the prize for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
The Blu-ray(tm) Combo Pack allows consumers to view Les Misérables anytime, anywhere on the platform of their choice.  It includes a Blu-ray(tm) disc, a DVD, a Digital Copy and UltraViolet(tm) for the ultimate, complete viewing experience.

·         Blu-ray(tm) disc unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring perfect hi-def picture and hi-def sound.

·         DVD offers the flexibility and convenience of playing movies in more places, both at home and away.

·         Digital Copy provides consumers with a choice of formats from a variety of partners, including options to watch on iPhone®, Android(tm), computers and more.

·         UltraViolet(tm) is a revolutionary new way for consumers to collect their movies and TV shows in the cloud. UltraViolet(tm) lets consumers instantly stream and download to tablets, smartphones, computers and TVs. Now available in both the United States and Canada.
Bonus Features Exclusive to the Blu-rayTM

·         Les Misérables Singing Live:  The star-studded cast and production team discuss how the daunting challenge of singing live rather than lip-syncing to pre-recorded tracks ultimately gave them the creative freedom to deliver nuanced, emotionally powerful performances.

·         Battle at the Barricade:  Director Tom Hooper wanted the dramatic building of the barricade to be as visceral and intense as possible, so he had his actors build it in real time, literally hurling furniture out of windows to construct an actual barricade. This featurette takes an in-depth look at the creation and filming of all the action on this remarkable set.

·         The West End Connection:  Meet the “godfather” of the original stage production of Les Misérables, renowned West End producer Cameron Mackintosh, who was deeply involved in the filming, as well as former Les Misérables, theatrical stars who were thrilled to appear in supporting roles in the current film.

·         Les Misérables on Location:  Filming rather than staging Les Misérables presents the opportunity to shoot in real world locations: a massive dry dock on the coast of England, a beautiful underground chapel in the heart of London and the ancient city of Winchester.  Members of the cast and crew talk about what it was like to find and work in these incredible locations.

Bonus Features on Both the Blu-rayTM and DVD

·         The Stars of Les Misérables:  Director Tom Hooper talks about casting the iconic characters, and the actors discuss why it was important to them to be a part of this groundbreaking version of
Les Misérables.

·         Creating the Perfect Paris:  Production designer Eve Stewart created a massive Paris set featuring real cobblestones and running water. Take an intricate look into the detailed recreation of these Paris streets that no longer exist in today’s world.

·         The Original Masterwork: Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables:  This mini-documentary takes a look at the historical backdrop and universal themes of Hugo’s classic, and how the filmmakers mined the novel to enrich the look and feel of the film.

·   Feature Commentary with Director Tom Hooper



Starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, and Michael B. Jordan
Directed by Josh Trank
Rated PG-13 for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking

    While it seems like the found footage category was coming to a creative end, it appears that there are new applications such as this crafty new superhero movie.  In Chronicle, an unpopular and troubled teenager named Andrew (DeHaan) decides to start video taping his life.  When he and two friends (Russell and Jordan) wander into a cave, they discover something not of this world and the next day the three of them are in possession of some nifty little super powers such as telekinesis and the ability to fly.  Unable to handle his out of control emotions, Andrew begins using his powers for evil forcing his friends to try to stop him. 

    Much of this film works really well.  The best example of where the film goes right is in the story.  The writing is very strong, placing an organic feel to the lives of the teenagers and tells a very believable “what if” tale.  So many films about teens today paint an inaccurate picture of them.  They all might show the culture of being a teen, but very few deal with the drama in a realistic manner.  This film seems to do a wonderful job of getting it right. 

    Giving a nice lift to the script is this talented cast of relative unknowns.  They portray their characters in a believable way that brings a sense of empathy upon them.  You really want them to use their powers for good and make good decisions, but you also know that they are teenagers with an exceptional gift which ultimately means that bad behavior and mayhem might be forthcoming.

    Where this film fails is in the found footage concept.  Personally I found it completely unnecessary.  It’s a gimmick that loses its appeal rather quickly.  Not only that, but by the end they are splicing together found footage from so many sources that the whole premise lacks common sense.  Maybe it helped keep the costs down, but it also manages to get in the way of something that could have been spectacular.

    Even with its faults, Chronicle is an entertaining thriller that should find a nice audience from a wide range of ages.  I also think it opens the doors for a variety of different genres to jump into the found footage game.  Horror seemed to be the obvious place, but if they can throw superhero into the mix, why not romantic comedies, crime dramas and science fiction?  B+

Barney’s Version

Barney’s Version

Starring Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, and Rosamund Pike
Directed by Richard J. Lewis
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Appropriate for ages 17+

    The biggest shock of the Golden Globes wasn’t the insulting remarks by host Ricky Gervais, but rather the moment when Paul Giamatti won the Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.  I don’t consider it a shock because he didn’t deserve it, but rather because this little film has gone completely unnoticed and this was the only nomination Giamatti even received for the film.  So did he deserve it?  Absolutely.  This was easily one of the year’s greatest performances, and worthy of much more praise than it is receiving. 

    Barney’s Version follows Giamatti as Barney, an uber-blunt soap producer whose life’s journey is captured in two hours.  From his first wife to his second and onto the true love of his life, Barney, as a character, seems too over-the-top, but yet his story is so interesting that you can’t help but sit back and enjoy the ride. 

    Giving his best performance in perhaps over twenty years is Dustin Hoffman, who masterfully plays Barney’s father.  I find it even more sad that Hoffman was left off of the ballots this year for this stellar performance that is both touching and hilarious.  The rest of the cast, and especially Rosamund Pike as Barney’s third wife and Minnie Driver as his second, turn in impressive performances as well.

    While the acting here is certainly top notch, the screenplay by B-movie writer Michael Konyves allows for such tremendous performances to take place.  The rest of the production is strong also including the Oscar-nominated make-up job by Adrien Morot who does an impressive job of aging Giamatti and Pike into their senior years. 

    I believe that the chief reason this film is getting overlooked is that while the cast is huge and it is highly enjoyable, it is still considered an indie with a limited audience.  There could have been some huge buzz built up on this film and it might have had a nice box office return as well if someone at Sony Pictures Classics would have had faith in it as a potential earner.  But regardless of how much it earns, the movie comes across as a real gem and a very entertaining way to spend a couple of hours.  A

Resurrecting the Champ – Jackson Wins Big With Terrific Performance

Resurrecting the Champ   B+

Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett
Rated PG-13 for some violence and brief language
Directed by Rod Lurie (The Contender)
Appropriate for ages 13+

The Summary: A struggling journalist (Hartnett) discovers a former boxing champ (Jackson) living on the streets of Denver.  In his journey to discover the truth about the boxer, he is better able to reflect upon his own life. 

The Good: Let’s face it, Jackson is an amazing actor, and this movie really showcases his talents.  His turn as the champ is his best performance in years and although Hartnett does a fine job, Jackson steals every scene he is in.  I was also impressed with the fine script filled many sincere and self-reflective moments. 

The Bad: While this is a solid piece of entertainment, it’s not too terribly flashy and many will find it a little too slow for their tastes.  Also, I don’t think that the movie packs the emotional punch (bad pun – ouch!) that it intends.  I found myself touched, but not at all teary-eyed. 

This could have been a great little family film, were it not for an F bomb and other assorted bad language.  I think that the film could have been more successful without the language, but the filmmakers probably spiced it up in order to achieve PG-13 status. 

The Summary: Jackson gives a knockout performance in this low-budget crowd pleaser.