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article imageReview: New on DVD for August 26 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 3, 2014 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include some of the best shows television has to offer from crime solving to gang relations to zombie invasions; and a celebrated film chronicling a frightening and disappointing part of history.
Blended (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Warner Home Video
After a disastrous blind date, single parents Lauren (Drew Barrymore) and Jim (Adam Sandler) agree early on only one thing: They never want to see each other again. But when they each separately sign up for a fabulous family vacation with their kids, they are all stuck sharing a suite at a luxurious African resort for a week.
This is the third on-screen pairing of Sandler and Barrymore who previously starred in The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates together. The majority of the film is focused on their relationships with their own children and each other's. Jim is doing the best he can with three daughters, but the mysteries of a teenage girl are eluding him. Likewise Lauren does her best to stand-in for her sons' disinterested father, but her obsession with organization tends to suck the fun out of things. They initially resent the other's interference, but it's the happiness of the kids that come first. More of a family film than romantic comedy, this movie appeals to a less mature audience.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Adam and Drew: Together Again”; “Bella Thorne’s Makeover”; “Safari Animals”; “Parasailing”; and gag reel. (Warner Home Video)
Brick Mansions (Blu-ray)
VVS Films
An undercover Detroit cop (Paul Walker) navigates a dangerous neighbourhood that's surrounded by a containment wall with the help of an ex-con in order to bring down a crime lord and his plot to devastate the entire city.
This movie is based on the French film District B13, which brought parkour to the action forefront. There's nothing original about the plot as the concept of a neighbourhood enclosed by a wall is not used exceptionally well. Instead the focus remains on the agility of the actors. Walker's partner, played by parkour founder David Belle, opens the picture with an impressive chase between apartment buildings, leaping across rooftops, through windows and around fire escapes. Walker was never much of an action star, appearing slightly inadequate in the hand-to-hand battles; nonetheless, he does a respectable job keeping up with his agile co-star. While this will not be one of Walker's most memorable roles, it does unfortunately mark one of his last.
Special features include: cast and crew interviews; behind-the-scenes featurette; “Parkour Fury”; and “On the Set with Paul Walker.” (VVS Films)
Criminal Minds: Season 9 (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU) knows no boundaries when it comes to tracking down ruthless and unpredictable killers. Unit chief Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) and Special Agents David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), Alex Blake (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) and Jennifer “JJ” Jareau use the scientific art of profiling and psychological tactics to solve the FBI’s most extreme and violent cases. With the help of skilled hacker and technical analyst Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), the BAU takes down serial killers, uncovers dark secrets and saves lives.
With the death of Erin Strauss, fans were once again left to wonder if the team would be separated by promotion or reorganization. As these issues are resolved, challenges from the team’s past arise. It’s finally revealed what happened to J.J. while she was in Washington and what caused her sudden return. Garcia is forced to revisit her previous life and former love, and Hotch receives a painful reminder of his encounter with Foyet and the loss of his wife. But the tightknit team continues to have fun too as Reid and Garcia attempt to conceal their upcoming fitness test from Morgan. On the non-personal level, the BAU confronts a number of horrific cases including some mysterious motives and a couple that span more than one episode.
Special features include: commentaries; deleted scenes; “Eyes Only”; and gag reel. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Elementary: The Second Season (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Dangerously eccentric consulting detective Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and his sober companion-turned-partner (Lucy Liu) take on some of the strangest crimes New York has ever seen as they assist the police in uncovering clues that unlock the city’s sinister secrets.
Holmes and Watson continue to operate in the modern world, facing hackers, cyber terrorists and the CIA. The may even dig a little too deep in one investigation, which reveals a connection to the Russian mafia. But Sherlock’s confidence in Watson’s deduction skills persists, as he encourages her to review the cases he could not solve. Several of this season’s assignments link back to older cases, including one that involves a body with bite marks and a curious connection between a suicide, murder and serial killer. Particularly near the end of the season, Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft (Rhys Ifans), plays a more significant role in the series as he teams with the two detectives to get to the bottom of a few exceptional cases.
Special features include: commentary for “Paint it Black”; deleted scenes on select episodes; a behind-the-scenes featurette; “Holmes Goes Home”; “Art in the Blood: Meet Mycroft”; “Under the Magnifying Glass”; “Skill Sets”; “The Life of Clyde”; and gag reel. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
The Musketeers: Season One (DVD)
BBC Home Entertainment
On the streets of seventeenth century Paris, where law and order is more of an idea than a reality, Athos (Tom Burke), Aramis (Santiago Cabrera) and Porthos (Howard Charles) are more than just King Louis XIII’s personal bodyguards – they stand resolutely for social justice, honor, valour, love, and for the thrill of it. When d’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino) arrives in Paris to avenge his father’s death he soon impresses the three Musketeers with his bravery and skill, and quickly discovers kindred spirits in these boisterous soldiers. In a series all about passion, loyalty, heroism and brotherhood, d’Artagnan and the Musketeers face a continuing struggle to maintain order and protect the King and Queen, while outwitting the machinations of the shadowy Cardinal Richelieu (Peter Capaldi) as he ruthlessly strives to achieve his vision of a modern France along with his hired assassin, the beautiful but mysterious Milady de Winter (Maimie McCoy).
It's not often a television series so accurately captures the characters and events of a classic piece of literature. The Musketeers are casted very well, each representing the unique qualities of the individual personalities. Though not a wholly faithful adaptation, the introduction to the men in the first episode reflects the spirit of their camaraderie and acceptance of d’Artagnan as one of their own – made slightly easier by the decision to tone down his impulsive nature. The rivalry with the Cardinal is at the centre of most storylines, though the femme fatale begins to claim prominence as the season continues. Though Milady is far from innocent in the novel, her penchant for murder and betrayal is further enhanced in the series.
Special features include: “making of” vignettes; “Creating Their World”; “Bootcamp”; “Muskets, Leather, Corsets and Swords”; and “Saving Constance: Their Finest Hour.” (BBC Home Entertainment)
The Normal Heart (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
HBO Home Entertainment
The film tells the story of the onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s, looking at the nation’s sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fight to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city and nation in denial.
The Emmy award-winning drama is another of HBO's envelope-pushing gems. The narrative launches just before the first cases are reported and recreates the fear and indifference that swept through the gay community as the sick rapidly began to die. It's a naturally emotional tale so filmmakers refrain from making the movie overly dramatic. Instead, the characters and their interactions drive the film's emotions. A scene as simple as removing a name from a rolodex packs a punch when overlaid with a touching eulogy a couple of years into the epidemic. Though it only portrays "one side" of the battle, it would appear there was only one side for an extended period of time. The performances, particularly Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts who play key roles, are amazingly genuine, which makes this chronicle that much more powerful and heartbreaking.
Special features include: “How to Start a War,” an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the true story that inspired the film. (HBO Home Entertainment)
The Possession of Michael King (Blu-ray)
Anchor Bay Films
Michael King (Shane Johnson) doesn’t believe in God or the Devil. Following the sudden death of his wife, the documentary filmmaker decides to make his next film about the search for the existence of the supernatural. Michael decides to make himself the center of the experiment – allowing demonologists, necromancers, and various practitioners of the occult to try the deepest and darkest spells and rituals they can find on him – in the hopes that when they fail, he’ll once and for all have proof that religion, spiritualism, and the paranormal are nothing more than myth. But something does happen. An evil and horrifying force takes over Michael King and will not let him go.
Generally the targets of possessions and hauntings are unsuspecting innocents completely unaware of the threat that seeks to harm them. For Michael King, this is not the case. As he carelessly taunts the other side and ignores any warnings to stop poking around, it's unsurprising something sinister finally answers his call. Since he brought it upon himself by performing these bizarre and often gross rituals, it should be easy to say he got his just desserts and disassociate with his character. But for some reason this is not possible. The viewer fears for Michael and his family, and is disturbed when the malevolent being becomes increasingly violent. The atmosphere also gets more intense as Michael is further manipulated by the evil that's attached itself to him. While much of the narrative is typical of the possession genre, Johnson portrays the desperate and lost man with sincerity.
There are no special features. (Anchor Bay Films)
Revenge: The Complete Third Season (DVD)
Emily (Emily VanCamp) pursues a new strategy to take down the Graysons once and for all – on her and Daniel’s (Joshua Bowman) wedding day – as turned allies, new enemies, and ghosts from the past threaten to expose her. With an ultimatum from Jack (Nick Wechsler) and her complicated history with Aiden (Barry Sloane) resurfacing, Emily must take extreme measures to ensure her plan goes off without a hitch. But Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) has new reasons to destroy the girl next door, and with her long-lost son by her side, everyone – including Nolan (Gabriel Mann) – may become collateral damage in Emily and Victoria’s vicious war.
As Emily’s revenge plot grows thicker, the extent of the planning and backstabbing is taken to a level of preposterousness that is both silly and compelling. Much like the allure of a soap opera, even though it’s increasingly difficult to stay invested, it’s also impossible to turn away. This season has one of the highest body counts with even greater surprises and loses in the final episode than ever before. Emily once again wavers, but a newly inflicted injury makes her even more resolute. Emily and Victoria’s disdain for one another is unfathomable as both determine to destroy the other by any means necessary. More than ever, the rest of the characters are pawns – willing or otherwise – in their war and their disregard results in much more than hurt feelings.
Special features include: commentary on the finale; deleted scenes; “Table for Five”; and bloopers. (ABC TV)
Sons of Anarchy: Season 6 (Blu-ray)
Fox Home Entertainment
With Clay (Ron Perlman) and Tara (Maggie Siff) behind bars, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) looks to the future of both the club and his family, but can he possibly escape the bloody legacy of SAMCRO’s deadly past? As he desperately pursues his father’s vision of a more legitimate direction for the MC, Jax is met at every turn with external pressure, violence, treachery, and betrayal. Intensity builds, secrets are revealed, and the body count rises, all leading to a shocking season finale that will change everything for the Sons of Anarchy.
Each season has been more explosive than the last and as audiences become more attached to the characters each loss is felt more deeply. This chapter delivers two significant blows, both of which have major repercussions and one that may be insurmountable. The club's dealings continue to affect those on the fringes, causing "necessary" but unfortunate casualties throughout. Tara works on finalizing her agenda, Clay does what he needs to stay alive and Nero is sucked deeper into the mire of being associated with the club. More blood than ever is shed during Jax's attempt to legitimize the MC, but the results of his efforts will only be seen in the upcoming final season.
Special features include: commentary on episode 1, "Straw," by Kurt Sutter, Paris Barclay, and Jimmy Smits; commentary on episode 13 (The Finale), "A Mother’s Work," by Kurt Sutter, Paris Barclay, Maggie Siff and Katey Sagal; deleted scenes; “Anarchy Afterword”; “Character Good Byes”; “Sons for Sandy”; and gag reel. (Fox Home Entertainment)
The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
In the new season, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the group of survivors are fostering a thriving community in the safe haven of the prison only to have it short-lived as the group loses everything – their home, family, and friends – to the threat of the walkers, outside threats and the hidden dangers brewing inside the fences. The group of survivors are broken apart and sent on divergent paths, unsure of everyone else’s fate as they are exposed to new dangers, new enemies, and heartbreaking choices. They will have their faith thoroughly tested – a faith that breaks some of them and redeems others.
Nothing lasts forever – especially in this apocalyptic world. Rick's dream of a peaceful farming life is short-lived. Even the sanctuary of the prison is eventually destroyed. Carl takes on more grown up responsibilities, which means he finds himself in more dangerous situations more frequently. Carol makes calculated decisions independent of the will of the group, which has significant consequences. Michonne goes through several stages as she hunts for the Governor, revisits her past and makes an important decision regarding her future. Encountering other survivors always has mixed results and this season is no different. Darryl joins another nomad group that has a different way of running things while the promise of a safe haven may not be as good as it sounds.
Special features include: five commentaries; deleted and extended scenes; “Inside” the show; making-of featurette; “Drawing Inspiration”; “Hershel”; “The Governor is Back”; “Society, Science and Survival”; “Inside KNB EFX”; and “A Journey Back to Brutality.” (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
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