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article imageReview: New on DVD for August 25 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Aug 28, 2015 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a few crime-solving TV series; a young hero with a daunting task; a fantastic musical noir; and the original horror spoof.
Aloha (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
A celebrated military contractor (Bradley Cooper) returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs — Honolulu, Hawaii — and reconnects with a long-ago love (Rachel McAdams) while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone) assigned to him.
Writer/director Cameron Crowe’s desire to incorporate Hawaiian legends and space exploration is obviously the film’s guiding light. However the story built around these elements is not as strong as their presence. Cooper’s character hints at being complex but remains superficial for the length of the narrative. McAdams’ entire personality is constructed around the unresolved feelings she has even though she’s now married with kids. Conversely, Stone’s role is probably the most engaging because she doesn’t have anything in common with the rest of the people on screen and audiences are conditioned to gravitate to the most awkward individual. Finally, regardless of which ending is in place, it seems cliché and simplistic.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Cameron Crowe; deleted scenes; original opening; alternate ending; making-of feature-length documentary; “The Awe of Space”; “Mitchell’s Film”; “Ledward Kaapana: Music Is Everything”; “Uncle Bumpy”; and photo gallery. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Big Game (Blu-ray)
Anchor Bay Entertainment and Elevation Pictures
In the rugged countryside of Finland, a young thirteen-year-old (Onni Tommila) embarks on a traditional quest to prove himself by spending twenty-four hours alone in the wild, armed with only a bow and arrow. After witnessing a spectacular crash, he discovers the escape pod from Air Force One, containing the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson). When they realize a group of kidnappers is hot on their trail with the intention of taking the president, this unlikely duo must escape their hunters as they search for the American Special Forces team sent out to find them.
The film is fast-paced with the story unfolding fairly quickly. And at only 90 minutes, there isn’t much time for exposition anyway. The boy’s reaction to the disaster is amusing as it demonstrates his still childlike imagination. But it’s not as entertaining as watching the U.S. president be bossed around by a kid who demands compliance because this is his territory and he has the upper-hand. Most of the movie is generally ridiculous, but that’s a characteristic it shares with its contemporaries. It’s a lot like Die Hard with a kid at the helm. It’s not often audiences see Jackson in a role in which he doesn’t portray a tough guy. Tommila, on the other hand, displays enough toughness for both of them. In spite of his young age, he takes on the role of hero very convincingly and easily takes his place amongst movie champions.
There are no special features. (Anchor Bay Entertainment and Elevation Pictures)
Criminal Minds: The Complete Tenth Season (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
To solve the most twisted crimes, the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU) explores the darkest places. Seasoned undercover FBI Agent Kate Callahan (Jennifer Love Hewitt) joins the elite team led by Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) as they pursue a serial killer who hacks his victims beyond all recognition. Experienced profiler David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) is dogged by a mysterious woman from his past, while Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) grapples with the death of a mentor. Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) and Jennifer “JJ” Jareau (A.J. Cook) take on a cases that evoke grim memories from their personal histories, while technical analyst Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) heads to death row to confront a perp from her past.
With the possibility of Prentice returning off the table, it was necessary they add a new member to the team. In spite of Hewitt’s prior TV experience in mystery solving, she never really fits into this series. Most noticeably, she never seemed comfortable enough in the role to make the words her own rather than ones she was reciting from a script. The rest of the team, on the other hand, remains top-notch. There is an unexpectedly intense episode that takes place in a prison that really grabs viewers’ attention for the final minutes. In addition, a co-op story with another team invites some different methods into the mix. In another chapter, the first generation of the BAU is shown working on a challenging casse. As each member experiences difficult emotional situations, they continue to demonstrate they are there for each other both personally and professionally.
Special features include: commentaries; deleted scenes; “Criminal Minds: Top Ten”; “Salute”; “Origin Story”; “Greatest Hits”; “Memo from the Acting Director”; “Criminal Minds International”; “H.i.M.: Business as Usual”; and gag reel. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
The Curse of Downers Grove (DVD)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
In suburban Downers Grove, Illinois, people call it ‘The Curse’: before the end of every school year, one high school senior will die in a gruesome accident. And with only one week left, Chrissie Swanson can’t shake the fear that she might be next.
Though the curse is supposed to be at the centre of this narrative, Chrissie aptly points that all the deaths in recent memory were caused by bad decisions by the deceased. Then it transforms into a disturbing story about rape, retaliation and privilege. The accused is a star football player whose father is a cop, which seems to make it impossible to charge them with anything in the small town. As he continues to terrorize Chrissie and her friends and family, they decide to finally take matters into their own hands. And in spite of all the death and injury caused by the instigating incident, “the curse” still takes another form.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Daniel (Blu-ray)
Olive Films
Daniel Isaacson (Timothy Hutton) is an anti-war activist whose parents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were branded as spies and put to death by the U.S. government. Believing that his parents were wrongly convicted and executed, Daniel sets out to clear their name.
This drama directed by renowned filmmaker Sidney Lumet is a fictionalized account of the Rosenberg case. As an adult Daniel tries to piece together the events that unfolded when he was a boy, the film switches between the two times. His parents are portrayed as victims of a system that rewarded those that would identify other Communists, which is how they were initially arrested and why they were never released – they refused to likewise cooperate, insisting the truth would set them free. On the other hand, there are those shown that still believe they were guilty. The consequences of this sentence is still carried by Daniel and his sister who were affected differently by it. The acting by everyone involved is the film’s greatest strength raised by a standout performance by Hutton.
There are no special features. (Olive Films)
Easy Money / Men at Work double feature (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
Easy Money: Monty Capuletti (Rodney Dangerfield) is a hard-living baby photographer with a family that'd drive anyone to drink. But when his mother-in-law passes away, the irresponsible Monty stands to earn a big inheritance — if he can give up all of his well-worn vices for a full year.
Men at Work: Rebellious garbage collectors Carl (Charlie Sheen) and James (Emilio Estevez) are always up to mix a little mischief with their sanitation engineering. But when they discover a little something extra in their usual pick-up — the body of a local politician — the two find themselves in more trouble than usual. Something about all this stinks worse than the garbage they collect and it could easily spell doom for both their town and their lives.
These comedies have little in common beyond their fitting in the same genre. Dangerfield’s movie is quite typical of his shtick in which his mother-in-law shows no respect for him, having wished her daughter married someone else. Wrapped around the new marriage of his own daughter, the movie’s narrative changes focus between Monty’s and his daughter’s incompatible new lifestyles. The latter picture is also written and directed by Estevez. The decisions that get them into the mess at the centre of the story are completely illogical, though they have to be accepted to continue with the narrative. Keith David plays a Vietnam veteran who doesn’t like anybody and is assigned to supervise the troublemaking duo. His paranoia and modified war tactics are essential elements of the picture’s comedy.
There are no special features. (Shout Factory)
Elementary: The Complete Third Season (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
In the city that never sleeps, one mind never rests. The eccentric detective Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) possesses an unquenchable thirst for intellectual puzzles and a ruthless instinct for justice. As a consulting detective to the NYPD, he takes on bizarre cases that baffle the most seasoned cops. But he can’t do it alone. Holmes relies on Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), a former physician who’s the one person who can keep up with his racing mind. Their partnership may be challenging, but it’s nowhere near as difficult as the impossible mysteries that lead them on chases through New York City’s maze.
Being fired from MI6 hasn’t lightened Sherlock’s caseload at all. However he does have another surprise up his sleeve, returning with a new partner. Kitty has deep emotional scars from extended physical abuse, but working with Sherlock gives her life new purpose. However when he and Watson are reunited, she begins to feel like a third wheel. In the meantime, Watson has built a rather fruitful life in the detective’s absence. Unfortunately her new job and romance are not the happy endings for which she’d hoped. Gina Gershon makes an appearance as a drug kingpin, while Stuart Townsend emerges as a character with a lot of skeletons buried in his closet.
Special features include: commentary on “The Female of the Species”; “Watson Style”; “Hello Kitty Winter”; “Partners in Crime”; “The Elements of Deduction”; “Bell on the Scene”; and gag reel. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
The Killing: The Complete Fourth Season (DVD)
Fox Home Entertainment
Following the shocking murder of her former lover, Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) joins her partner Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) in a race to destroy evidence that would implicate Linden in the crime. Meanwhile, the two must resolve a case involving the horrifying slaying of a prominent family whose son is enrolled in a respected military academy.
Having been cancelled by AMC after the previous season, this six-episode arc was brief but provided a more appropriate conclusion for the series via Netflix. After the fallout of season three and Linden’s irreversible action, she and Holder have a lot to clean up while also doing their job as investigators. Between agonizing over their own guilt and trying to determine the culpability of their prime suspect, they have their hands full. Although the series upholds its dark nature and the characters’ remain intriguing, the storyline is a little too contrived and emotionally wrought; particularly in the remaining minutes of the last episode, which jumps ahead five years.
There are no special features. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Metamorphosis / Beyond Darkness double feature (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Metamorphosis: When his experiments in genetics are mocked by his colleagues, maverick scientist Dr. Peter Houseman (Gene Lebrock) takes extreme measures to prove that his untested anti-aging serum works. Injecting himself with his miracle "cure," he soon experiences a terrifying change within himself that threatens not only the lives of those around him, but also his own sanity.
Beyond Darkness: When a man of God (Gene Lebrock) and his loving family move into a new house, they think they've found the perfect home…until they discover that their new digs was once the location where a coven of witches were burned at the stake. It's only a matter of time before the radio starts blaring satanic chants and the cutlery takes on a mind of its own.
Lebrock stars in both of these low-grade horror movies and the characters are equally foolish. In the first, Houseman disregards the rules of science in a desperate attempt to prove his theory, which completely backfires. However nothing about what is happening is clear until another character finally explains what about the experiment has gone wrong. Though improbable, the implication in the conclusion is still amusing. The second picture is a twist on Poltergeist in which demons from the other side try to steal the couple’s children. There are many connections, but the most obvious is the little girl is similarly named Carol. These ghosts are a bit more organized and determined, but the repeated mistakes of the living make it tedious to watch.
There are no special features. (Scream Factory)
The Singing Detective (Blu-ray)
Olive Films
Dan Dark (Robert Downey Jr.) is an author of pulp novels who is undergoing treatment for severe psoriasis which has crippled both his body and mind. In and out of consciousness, Dark's paranoid delusions manifest themselves as vivid fantasies, combining fragments from his life and his fiction, giving voice (quite literally) to the characters he’s created and the action around him.
Undoubtedly one of Downey Jr.’s best and most unusual roles, it’s also a who’s who of Hollywood circa 2003. The supporting cast includes Robin Wright, Katie Holmes, Adrien Brody and a superficially aged Mel Gibson. The story switches between an animated noir in which Dark is a nightclub singer and suave detective, and a dismal present in which every movement causes Dark pain that trigger hallucinations of the former. The soundtrack is a selection of crooner pop favourites from the ‘50s that another voice sings through Downey Jr.’s mouth in the past and that he hums in the present while doctors put on a show in his delirium. The narrative gets even more interesting when the imaginary characters become aware of the real world.
There are no special features. (Olive Films)
Student Bodies (Blu-ray)
Olive Films
The body count is rising at Lamab High School where a goulashes-wearing, eggplant/chalkboard eraser/paperclip-wielding serial killer is taking out promiscuous teens at breakneck speed. When intrepid high school student Toby (Kristen Riter) goes in search of clues that will reveal the killer’s identity, no one is safe from the comic hijinks. Teachers, fellow students, parents and the quadruple jointed janitor are all likely suspects.
With slasher horror movies rising in popularity in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, it was only a matter of time before someone produced a genre spoof. Taking aim at films such as Halloween, When a Stranger Calls and Friday the 13th, the movie delivers the most ridiculous versions of those stories. The obscene phone caller is far more disturbing than the average heavy-breather, but in a manner that makes him appear ludicrous rather than villainous. The characters are also parodies of the typical teens to appear in these movies, committing exaggerated horror movie sins. The over-the-top take on this genre is like nothing comedy and horror fans have seen before.
Special features include: (Olive Films)
The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Rick Grimes' band of survivors find themselves on the road, surviving day to day and trying to hold on to their shredded humanity and dwindling hope. Stripped of security and without a direction for the future, some of the group near their breaking point, some find themselves hardened and cold and some just try to grasp on to what little they have left. Though they are still breathing, the line between Rick's group and the dead is starting to blur.
The first episode picks up where last season left-off with most of the group trapped in Terminus; luckily not all of their members are detained. After an explosive rescue, the group face different paths and conflicting agendas. It’s also not the last time they’ll face their monstrous captors. Graphic novel character Father Gabriel Stokes makes his first appearance in the series, frequently raising the group’s suspicions. In the meantime they must take on another organized group of survivors who took one of their own, while a lie is revealed that nearly destroys the person who believed most strongly. In the latter part of the season, a new refuge is discovered; but the hardened group may not fit as well with their sheltered lifestyle.
Special features include: commentary; deleted scenes; making-of featurette; “Inside The Walking Dead”; “The Making of Alexandria”; “Beth’s Journey”; “Bob’s Journey”; “Noah’s Journey”; “Tyreese’s Journey”; “A Day in the Life of Michael Cudlitz”; “A Day in the Life of Josh McDermitt”; and “Rotters in the Flesh.” (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
More about aloha, The Walking Dead, criminal minds, big game, Elementary
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