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article imageReview: New on DVD for August 12 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Aug 13, 2014 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a number of Disney classics new to Blu-ray; an unrelenting journey into the dark mind of a cop; Britain’s favourite car guys; a creepy horror collector’s edition; and vintage comedy by a famous trio.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad/Fun and Fancy Free (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
The first set is Disney animation’s humorous retellings of “The Wind in the Willows” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Then Jiminy Cricket brings to life the timeless tales of “Bongo” and “Mickey and the Beanstalk.”
Whether you consider them extended short films or short features, these fun little stories are classics from the Disney library. Ichabod is the studio's take on "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." A Halloween staple for many years, the adaptation removes the sinister element from the schoolmaster's persona and uses his lanky figure as inspiration for a more goofy character. But even though the Headless Horseman only appears in the final minutes, he's still the most memorable character. J. Thaddeus Toad from “The Wind in the Willows” however is a close second. The impulsive, adventurous amphibian gets himself in quite the pickle by becoming obsessed with automobiles and dealing with some unsavory individuals. But Water Rat and Mole ensure justice is done. The multi-talented Bing Crosby and Basil Rathbone narrate these tales. The third movie includes two narratives. "Little Bear Bongo" is a cautionary "grass is always greener" tale narrated by Dinah Shore, which turns into a cute love story featuring a song about slapping. The other is "Mickey and the Beanstalk," which is the last time Walt Disney voiced Mickey Mouse.
Special features include: The Reluctant Dragon for the first-time on blu-ray. (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
Bears (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
The film showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons.
There's a trend of late to narrate nature footage, giving the animals human personalities and imagining dialogue for them in various situations. This is one of those films, beautifully shot and voiced by John C. Reilly. The credits are the most revealing part of the movie, showing how the camera crews captured the sequences in the picture. It's incredible how close they were to these wild animals, not relying strictly on zoom for the intimate images. The story of Sky and her cubs is cute, worrying and most importantly, genuine. The film chronicles the countless dangers young animals, even small bears, face before they've reached maturity, such as the elements, predatory animals, starvation and dominant males of their own species. If watching the National Geographic channel is a pastime of yours (or you just like cute animal movies), this is the picture for you.
Special features include: “Welcome to Alaska”; “The Future for Bears”; “A Guide to Living with Bears”; “How Did they Do That?”; and “Carry On” music video by Olivia Holt. (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
An apprentice witch reluctantly takes in three orphan children. Though her first spells create more laughs than magic, Miss Price (Angela Lansbury) and the children soon find themselves swept away aboard a fantastic flying bed – their ticket to fun-filled excitement and adventure.
Walt Disney was quite fond of combining live-action with the animation of his talented studio. This early special effect style, which won the Academy Award for best visual effects, allowed their movies to go as far as their imaginations could take them. In this case, Ms. Price and the children travel to an island ruled by animals and where a football-obsessed lion wears the gold crown of a king (of course). They also venture underwater to gaze at the exotic, well-dressed fish and other sea life. Ms. Price's novice magic often goes awry – or not at all – though she comes through when needed most. Set during wartime, Lansbury's caring nature and David Tomlinson's sense of humor keep the mood cheerful even though they do come face-to-face with the Nazi front. With another soundtrack developed by the Sherman Brothers, the integrated music is also catchy and fun.
Special features include: eight deleted and extended scenes; five deleted and extended songs; and “Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers.” (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
Filth (Blu-ray)
Video Services Corp.
Detective Sergeant Robertson (James McAvoy) is an unashamed emotional hardnut and the master of most of what he surveys. He is smart and plugged in; other people are idiots and are to be treated as an inconvenience at best. Annoyingly, there's been a murder and Bruce's boss wants results. No problem for Bruce. He's in control and when he solves the case and wins the promotion, his wife will return to him. No problem. But is life that simple? Is Bruce the man he really thinks he is?
It can be difficult to recreate for the screen the psychology so aptly described in writing, but writer/director Jon S. Baird obviously had a distinct and comprehensive vision for how he thought a film adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s book would look. The narrative is driven by Bruce's deranged commentary on his life and all those in it. An utter lack of conscience allows Bruce to look out for number one regardless of the consequences. But his deepest regrets are breaking through more regularly, resulting in startling visions of a dead boy, animal heads in the place of human's and increasingly disturbing, random therapy sessions with a doctor that usually appears to be the crazier one in the room. McAvoy is exceptional, shedding the typical nice guy persona he portrays and replacing it with a vindictive S.O.B. He absolutely carries the film with his convincing portrayal of the ruthless, distraught cop that has no boundaries or moral compass.
Special features include: commentary by director Jon S. Baird and author Irvine Welsh; deleted, extended and alternate scenes; “On the Set: Merry Filthmas”; “James McAvoy as Detective Bruce Robertson: The Antihero”; AXS TV: A Look at Filth”; and outtakes. (Video Services Corp.)
Hercules (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
Taken from the gods as a newborn and adopted on earth, Hercules is just an awkward pillar of strength trying to fit in. What he wants most is to impress his father Zeus. When Hercules discovers Hades’ sinister plot to take over Mount Olympus, he goes from zero to hero and, with the help of his pals Pegasus and Phil, discovers that real strength comes from the heart.
In this tale of the son of Zeus, Hercules may be strong but he's not very coordinated. He's so accident prone in fact, most of the other villagers avoid being in his presence. However becoming the people's hero is his destiny so he eventually starts to get the hang of things with the help of Phil the satyr and Pegasus. Hades and his incompetent minions (are there any other kind?) are amusing as they attempt to prevent a prediction from coming true by thwarting Hercules. Hades' best weapon is Meg, a woman indentured to him and desperate to be free. The story is vibrant if not traditional, populated with visually appealing characters. In addition, though the voice cast is distinct and familiar, they sound as if they really enjoyed portraying their characters.
Special features include: a making-of featurette; “From Zero to Hero” sing-along; and “No Importa La Distancia” music video by Ricky Martin. (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
Low Winter Sun: Season 1 (DVD)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
This story begins with an act of retribution – the murder of a dirty cop by two fellow Detroit detectives, Frank Agnew (Mark Strong) and Joe Geddes (Lennie James). Seemingly the perfect crime, in reality the murder activates forces that will forever alter Agnew’s life, and pull him into the heart of the Detroit underworld.
It's difficult to watch a TV series in which none of the characters have any redeeming qualities. Attempts are made by allowing some of the individuals to show remorse or love, but it's just not enough. The most likeable guy in the show is an ex-cop who's now a homeless drug addict. It's based on a book and British mini-series that also starred Strong, but the transfer to Detroit is not a smooth one. There are a lot of details to track and several storylines unfolding simultaneously, including the main investigation into the cop's death and a local thug's climb to the top. Unfortunately there's just no real hook to keep audiences engaged. AMC canceled the show after this first season, but there are no unresolved cliff-hangers to warrant a revival.
Special features include: a making-of featurette; deleted scenes; “Detroit Grit”; “Designing the Precinct”; and episode featurettes. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
The Marx Brothers TV Collection (DVD)
Shout Factory
The Marx Brothers became entertainment icons through a long and brilliant career on vaudeville and Broadway stages, and they sealed their immortality in a string of celebrated feature films. But the end of their film career was perfectly timed for a collision with the birth of television. The new medium provided Groucho, Chico and Harpo with unprecedented exposure — which meant, of course, an opportunity to bring laughter to millions of people all at once. It was as if live vaudeville was being beamed to the entire nation. For the next 20 years, the Marx Brothers' appeared on television individually and together.
Groucho, Chico and Harpo Marx are comedy's original trio. As with The Three Stooges, people generally have a favourite depending on the style of comedy they enjoy. This collection provides a variety of appearances of varying length no matter your preference. Most of the items under "full shows" are guest spots on different variety and game shows from "The Jack Benny Program" to “The Red Skeleton Hour” to "Who Said That?" There's even an episode in which Chico impersonates Harpo. "Bonus TV Clips" include promotions for Labatt’s beer, All-Pure evaporated milk and Right Guard, as well as sketches from "The Colgate Comedy Hour" and “Candid Camera.” Each disc also has a s selection of short films.
There are no special features. (Shout Factory)
Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
Best buddies Mickey, Donald and Goofy are small-time janitors with big dreams of becoming Musketeers. They may not look like heroes, but, powered by teamwork and friendship, they soon discover they can accomplish anything if they work together.
This is an amusing comedy featuring three of Disney's most popular characters and long-time stars. It's also special because it’s not often these personalities come together under one title. Not surprisingly, Mickey is the dashing hero willing to walk through fire to protect the fair maiden (which likely has something to do with her being Minnie Mouse). Goofy is equally brave, but not as clever as his friend. Meanwhile Donald remains everyone's favourite coward, supplying much of the film's comic relief. Only loosely based on the book that (mostly) shares its names, the narrative has quite a bit of fun with the story. Daisy, Minnie's lady in waiting, is sassy, consistently commenting on the quality of the princess' guards; and Captain Pete is his typical conniving self with a different wardrobe to go with his cigar.
Special features include: deleted scenes with commentary; “Get up and Dance” to “All for One”; and sing-along songs. (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Midnight Game (DVD)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Home alone, a partying teen’s (Renee Olstead) friends decide to perform an ancient pagan ritual found online called ‘The Midnight Game.’ Candles are lit. A drop of blood is spilled. Your worst fear is confessed and an entity is summoned. But if the rules are not followed exactly, punishment is promised. Tonight, the game is not being taken seriously. A demonic horror has been unleashed. And now, even daylight cannot stop the nightmares that may destroy them all.
It's generally difficult to get behind characters that appear to have never watched a horror movie or have any common sense. These five teens engage in a game that has obvious ritual elements only to discover too late that they've unleashed a murderous monster. In the words of Buffy Summers, "Does the word 'duh' mean anything to you?" So 30 minutes into the narrative strange things begin to happen and the kids start to panic, though it takes them a significant amount of time to finally turn to the rules they were so concerned about breaking for a solution. The monster is not especially imaginative though its lurking abilities are commendable. But even if you could stick with it through all of that, the conclusion is so full of holes and confusing attempts at drawing connections it's impossible to know what happened.
There are no special features. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Motel Hell (Blu-ray & DVD)
Scream Factory
Vincent's (Rory Calhoun) popular products contain a special ingredient that the psychotic farmer and his sister, Ida (Nancy Parsons), would kill to keep a secret.
In this silly horror send up to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Psycho, the proprietors of this small roadside motel have a secret recipe – and if they tell you they literally have to kill you. By far the most memorable element of this movie is the pseudo cabbage patch behind the lodging where they grow and nurture their special ingredient. Their attempts to keep the crops calm and unaware are equally amusing. Vincent and Ida are quite the pair, exemplifying teamwork amongst siblings; though their courtesy and creepy smiles are suspicious enough to make any smart would-be guest seek other shelter for the night. This collector’s edition is a must own for fans and a must watch for the unfamiliar.
Special features include: commentary by director Kevin Connor, moderated by filmmaker Dave Parker; “It Takes All Kinds: The Making of Motel Hell,” featuring interviews with Connor, producers/writers Robert Jaffe and Steven Charles Jaffe and actor Marc Silver; “Shooting Old School with cinematographer Thomas Del Ruth”; “Another Head on the Chopping Block: An interview with actor Paul Linke”; “From Glamour to Gore: An interview with actress Rosanne Katon”; photo galleries; and original theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Muppets Most Wanted (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
Picking up immediately following the events of “The Muppets,” Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Animal and the entire Muppet gang head out on a world tour. But mayhem follows, as the Muppets find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine - the world's number one criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit the Frog.
Muppets Most Wanted a.k.a. “The Muppets Again” is officially a sequel to the 2011 picture, but as noted in the opening number it's the seventh sequel since the Muppets' first big screen adventure. The first song and dance sequence is titled "We're Doing a Sequel," in which they note everyone knows the sequel is never as good as the original. Fortunately this isn't the case, regardless of which of their films you decide to compare it. The list of entertainers making cameos is this movie is long and impressive. Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga team up to serve craft service. Céline Dion is featured as Miss Piggy’s fairy godmother (though in interviews the diva claims to have needed to re-record Dion’s high notes in post-production). Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo portray dancing prisoners, which in the spirit of a Muppets movie is pointed out with a humorous “Goodnight Danny Trejo.” And Ty Burrell partners with Sam Eagle to capture the globetrotting thieves.
Special features include: three versions of the movie – original theatrical, extended, and Statler and Waldorf cut; “The Longer Longest Blooper Reel in Muppets History”; “Rizzo’s Biggest Fan”; and “I’ll Get You What You Want” music video. (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
Once Upon a Time: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
The stakes are higher than ever in a Neverland that’s the stuff of nightmares. At the dark heart of its mystery is Peter Pan, an ageless entity with a diabolical agenda and a chilling secret. For Emma, Henry, Hook, Rumple, Regina, Charming, and Snow, Pan’s actions have far-reaching consequences that will change their lives forever, create new alliances and introduce both Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest to a powerful new villain of legendary wickedness – the Wicked Witch.
This season was split into two volumes. The first had the characters travelling to Neverland to rescue Henry. Peter Pan is no longer the loveable, carefree spirit of previous depictions. In fact he and his shadow’s constant cunning are the cause of much anxiety this season. Even though the characters return to Storybrooke , Pan’s craftiness proves inescapable. Forced to contend with yet another curse, Emma must once again be convinced of her role in saving her family and the rest of the fairy tale personalities. In addition, the realms of the “Wizard of Oz” and the Enchanted Forest are added to setting for the series. There are a number of new characters introduced this season to expand the story world: Peter Pan as mentioned above, as well as the Wicked Witch of the West, Tinker Bell, Ariel, Prince Eric, Ursula, Rapunzel, the Wizard of Oz, Glinda the Good Witch, Dorothy Gale, Blackbeard, and Elsa the Snow Queen.
Special features include: commentaries; deleted scenes; “Inside the Writers’ Room”; “Wicked Villains”; “The Tale of Ariel”; and “The Fairest Bloopers of Them All.” (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
Rage (DVD)
RLJ Entertainment
Paul Maguire (Nicolas Cage) is a respectable businessman and loving father living a peaceful life, until his violent past comes back to haunt him. When his teenage daughter is taken from their home, Paul rounds up his old crew to help him find her by any means necessary. His search for justice leads Paul down a dark and bloody path of revenge, betrayal and long buried secrets.
Though the premise sounds similar, this is not as action-packed as Liam Neeson's Taken. Paul's past is tucked away in a box that he reopens when his wife, knowing his past, tells him to do whatever it takes to get back his daughter. The filmmaker tries for an unexpected plot twist followed by a hard-hitting conclusion, but the lead-up just doesn't work. Cutting between Paul's search for his daughter and a murder committed decades earlier, the script tries to draw connections without providing supporting evidence. Players from Paul's seedy past are also given limited screen time in spite of the many opportunities to liven things up.
Special features include: making-of featurette; deleted scenes; and alternate ending. (RLJ Entertainment)
Tarzan (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
This adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ story begins deep within the jungle when baby Tarzan is adopted by a family of gorillas. But his “Two Worlds” collide with the arrival of humans, forcing Tarzan to choose between a “civilized” life with the beautiful Jane and the life he shares with his fun-loving friends and his gorilla family.
While Disney movies tend not to hesitate dropping the axe on its characters, particularly parents, the opening 10 minutes of this picture are probably some of the harshest blows they've delivered. Death, rejection and a brutal fight for blood fill the opening scenes. Then it finally adopts the lighter tone expected from a children's film. The gorillas speak with one another and Tarzan learns their language. However his ability to communicate with other humans is a confusing point that requires an extreme suspension of disbelief. If you can judge a cartoon based on its voice cast, then this is definitely one of the studio's second-tier films. It of course has its moments, but definitely not one of Disney's best or everlasting classics.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Research Trip to Africa”; “The Making of the Music”; “DisneyPedia: Living in the Jungle”; and “You’ll Be In My Heart” music video by Phil Collins. (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
Top Gear 21 (DVD)
BBC Home Entertainment
Join hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May as they embark on a huge road trip across Ukraine in three small cars with even smaller engines, and attempt to re-live the glory days of the 1980s in three ‘classic’ hot hatchbacks. There’s also the new Alfa 4C sports car racing a very unusual quad bike, the sensational McLaren P1 tearing a strip off a highway in Belgium, and an insane six-wheeled Mercedes in the desert. Celebrity guests taking a lap in the “Reasonably Priced Car” include Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Bonneville and more.
After 21 seasons, there is little to say about this show – either you like it or you don’t. For car enthusiasts, it's unmatched. Though it’s had the same hosts for almost the lifetime of the series, they remain one of the many reasons viewers return each year. Their witty remarks combined with analysis of luxury vehicles and less-than-luxury cars are both fresh and build on years of opinions. Each episode also features a celebrity guest who does a timed lap around their track to compete with other guests. While Aaron Paul had the advantage of just shooting Need for Speed, The Stig actually had to teach Jack Whitehall to drive (and his view of the situation is quite funny). The season's highlight is generally a cross country race using some unusual mode of transportation. This year's vehicle: lorries (a.k.a. trucks)!
There are no special features. (BBC Home Entertainment)
Turtle Power: The Definitive History of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Written and directed by Randall Lobb, the film chronicles the birth of a franchise and reveals the remarkable journey of four of the most unlikely super heroes of all time.
If you've ever stayed awake at night wondering about the origin of the “heroes in a half shell” or how the comic book was turned into a movie, this documentary answers those questions. But unless you're a diehard fan, you may not find the answers – or the format in which they're presented – that exciting. Most of the film consists of interviews with the creators and "experts," some archival images and footage, and samples from the artwork and films. The key drama exists in their almost overnight success that resulted in the creation of Mirage Studios. Generally Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were simply swept up by the fandom by which they'd forever be amazed and thankful. While the filmmakers had good intentions and excellent timing in documenting the history of this franchise, it just isn't presented in a manner compelling enough to be mainstream. Though admirers will love the detail and enthusiasm of the interviewees.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
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