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article imageReview: New on DVD for January 12 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jan 12, 2016 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include several stories of the supernatural; a former sex symbol’s infamous screen roles; a movie declared one of the year’s best comedies; and Woody Allen’s philosophical reflections.
Bolero / Ghosts Can't Do It [double feature] (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
Bolero: Upon graduating from school in Britain, a curious American ingénue (Bo Derek) finds that she hungers for more education — in the art of love. Journeying to Morocco, she meets a handsome sheik who, sadly, falls asleep while seducing her. A hot-blooded matador in Spain does not disappoint, however. Unlocking her deepest desires, her world-class lover gives her a lesson in ecstasy she'll never forget.
Ghosts Can't Do It: Coached by her husband's (Anthony Quinn) impatient ghost, a young widow (Bo Derek) travels to the most exotic corners of the earth in her search for the perfect body to receive his reincarnated soul.
After watching these films, there’s no question why Derek built a career on her physique and reputation as a sex symbol. The intimate scenes in the first picture are extended montages of drizzled honey, naked bodies pressed against each other and lots of kissing that is reminiscent of the blue movies formerly shown on late-night cable (hence the X-rating) — except this has a sliver more of a storyline. The latter is a bizarre supernatural story akin to Ghost in which Quinn does most of his acting in front of a black screen, supposedly looking down at his younger lover. Meanwhile, his passing opens the door for every other man in her life to hit on her and try to take his place. Both pictures — which were directed by Derek’s husband as her acting career fizzled — find every excuse for the actress to appear nude, from swimming to showering to bareback horseback riding. She was awarded a Golden Raspberry for each performance.
Special features include: theatrical trailers. (Shout Factory)
Hotel Transylvania 2 (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Everything seems to be changing for the better at Hotel Transylvania. However, Dracula (Adam Sandler) is worried that his adorable half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), isn’t showing signs of being a vampire. So while Mavis (Selena Gomez) is on vacation, things get batty as Drac enlists his monster friends Frank (Kevin James), Murray (Keegan-Michael Key), Wayne (Steve Buscemi) and Griffin (David Spade) to put Dennis through a “monster-in-training” boot camp.
Once again, the concept for this picture is cute. Mavis is a doting mother concerned about her more vulnerable child horse-playing with the monster children, though female pup Winnie has taken a liking to the kid. Conversely, Drac hopes that being immersed in a monster environment will inspire Dennis’ vampire-side to emerge. But ever impatient, while Mavis visits the in-laws, Drac takes his grandson on an amusing road trip that only proves they’ve all become soft over the years. This revelation is the movie’s most entertaining as each legend attempts and fails to capture their former frightening glory. In the end, the film pieces together too many plotlines — not all of which are created equal — to produce a cohesive whole.
Special features include: commentary by Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel and Allen Covert; commentary by director Genndy Tartakovsky; deleted scenes; “Make the Scary, Silly Sounds of Hotel Transylvania 2”; “How to Throw The Ultimate Monster Party”; “How to Draw Your Favorite Characters”; “The New Guys”; Fifth Harmony music video for “I’m In Love With A Monster”; Sing Along with Monster Scary-Oke; and character sketch gallery. (`)
The Image Revolution (DVD)
Shout Factory
In 1992, Marvel Comics was the number-one publisher of comic books in the world, largely due to its dynamite artwork. But as a response to what was believed to be years of mistreatment toward creative talent by the industry’s leading publishers, a small — but influential — group of artists left Marvel Comics at the height of its popularity to form their own company, Image Company. Led by the outspoken Todd McFarlane (Spawn), this group kicked off a revolution that would change the comics industry forever. Instantly granting power to creators and launching Image to “rock star” status. Jim Lee (X-Men), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine), Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon), Whilce Portacio (X-Factor) and Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy) almost immediately began to unravel the very bond that united them.
This is a niche documentary that will primarily appeal to devoted comic book fans, since those with only a casual interest in the industry may not recognize the major players or, more importantly, have heard of Image. On the other hand, fans will enjoy the in-depth examination of the rise of independent publishers and gain a more thorough understanding of the brands that draw their attention. Each of the co-founders describe how they broke into the industry and why they were compelled to launch their own label — it’s a story often heard in Hollywood of unfair contracts and copyright claims, but in another and similarly miserable context. Those interviewed are equally candid about the group’s connection and dissolution, which was generally ugly and took years to repair. However Image Comics still exists, which makes this story and Robert Kirkman’s involvement in the tale all the more fascinating.
Special features include: extended interviews. (Shout Factory)
Irrational Man (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Soon after arriving to teach at a small town college, Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) gets involved with two women: Rita Richards (Parker Posey), a lonely professor who wants him to rescue her from her unhappy marriage; and Jill Pollard (Emma Stone), his best student, who becomes his closest friend. While Jill loves her boyfriend Roy (Jamie Blackley), she finds Abe's tortured, artistic personality and exotic past irresistible. Pure chance changes everything when Abe and Jill overhear a stranger's conversation, which inspires Abe to make a profound choice that enables him to embrace life to the fullest again. But his decision sets off a chain of events that will affect him, Jill and Rita forever.
This is one of Woody Allen’s most theoretical plots as he builds the story around various philosophical thoughts regarding justice and ethics. This is a much less influential contemplation of “would you kill Hitler,” in which people contemplate if they could commit murder if it was for the greater good. The story is narrated by both Abe and Jill, though their reflections on events never intersect. Moreover, their romance provides the backdrop for these other more interesting meditations. The benign environment of summer in a small town campus is the perfect location to contrast such a dark narrative. Phoenix is appropriately detached as his character feels similarly removed from the world, providing a convincing portrait of a man depressed. Stone is a proven talker, making her a great choice to deliver the copious amounts of dialogue typical of Allen’s scripts.
Special features include: “On the Red Carpet: Los Angeles Film Premiere”; and photo gallery. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Martian (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Fox Home Entertainment
During a mission to Mars, American astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead and left behind. But Watney is still alive. Against all odds, he must find a way to contact Earth in the hope that scientists can devise a rescue plan to bring him home.
With the story beginning on Mars, it’s not long before Mark’s harrowing tale of survival becomes the focus. Regardless of whether the audience believes they know how it will end, the film enthralls them with the fascinating details of how one would go about living on an uncultivated planet as well as the countless issues involved with sending a rescue mission from Earth. Many may be surprised to know the majority of the events in the picture are accurate. Scott conferred with NASA consultants to ensure the film is as correct as possible, from equipment to strategies to the visual recreation of the Red Planet. It may also come as a surprise that this movie about an incomprehensible life-or-death situation is very funny (though probably not funny enough to really justify its Golden Globe comedy wins). Damon is perfectly casted in a role that requires him to exhibit a broad range of emotions and to do so almost entirely alone on screen, often reacting to inanimate objects and having one-way conversations.
Special features include: “Signal Acquired: Writing and Direction”; “Occupy Mars: Casting and Costumes”; five theatrical in-world pieces; “Ares III: Refocused”; production gallery; and gag reel. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
When a new family moves into Katie and Kristi’s former house, they discover a mysterious video camera that reveals the presence of an ancient evil that begins to terrorize their lives. Now, with their young daughter’s soul in danger, they must fight back against this demonic threat before becoming its next victims.
The final chapter in the franchise has a very controlled and almost boring start as this family settles into their new home. However, the modified video camera adds an interesting element to the narrative as this is the first time audiences can see the cause of the recurring disturbance; though it’s equally frustrating when certain characters choose not to use the recorder’s second-sight at key moments. Surprisingly, it’s somewhat more disturbing to see the malevolent entity materialize without notice and take menacing shape in the presence of their daughter — these are the scenes in which the 3D is most relevant. Conversely, as the story’s evolved to its current state, its logic and plausibility have diminished. The alternate ending included in the third cut of the film would have been terrible; thankfully, the series is instead concluded appropriately and cloaked in further mystery.
Special features include: theatrical and unrated versions of film with alternate ending; and lost footage. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Blu-ray)
RLJ Entertainment
This is the tale of Hamlet as told from the viewpoint of two of the work's supporting, but certainly more outrageous, characters. In this version, however, the Shakespearean equivalents of Laurel and Hardy get a chance to take the lead roles in a setting where illusion and reality overlap.
Somewhat like fan fiction for other pop culture canons, writers have penned expansions and extrapolations for Shakespeare’s characters over the years. Some are more popular than others and this one proved well-liked enough to warrant a film adaptation. These characters are one of the highlights in the bard’s Hamlet as their absurd conversations and humour breakup the drama and tragedy. Gary Oldman and Tim Roth are exceptional in the lead roles, displaying tangible chemistry and spot-on comic timing. The pair’s commentary and banter are well-matched extensions of Shakespeare’s creations, while inflating their world that is composed of both stage and real-life — a combination that proves tricky in the end.
Special features include: 25th anniversary interview with Tom Stoppard; and interviews with Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Richard Dreyfuss and more. (RLJ Entertainment)
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Three scouts and lifelong friends (Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller and Patrick Schwarzenegger) join forces with one badass cocktail waitress to become the world’s most unlikely team of heroes. When their peaceful town is ravaged by a zombie invasion, they’ll fight for the badge of a lifetime and put their scouting skills to the test to save mankind from the undead.
This movie is as silly as the title suggests. The zombie infection spreads like wildfire through the small town, rapidly affecting the local population. The teens’ priorities hastily switch from being accepted at a party to living through the night. Teamed with a scantily clad cocktail waitress (Sarah Dumont) who’s handy with a shotgun, the group makes its way through their formerly safe communities, killing their now monstrous neighbours and trying to save their loved ones. The more ridiculous and unique elements of the narrative include a trampoline and homemade weapons fashioned from various hunting and gardening tools. It’s pretty gory, relatively innovative and generally amusing, which are definite positives in an oversaturated genre.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Scouts Guide to Filmmaking”; “The Zombie Makeup FX Handbook”; “Undead Movement Guidelines: Zombie Choreography”; and “Uniforms and You: Costume Design.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Sinister 2 (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
In the aftermath of the shocking events of the first film, a protective mother (Shannyn Sossamon) and her nine-year-old twin sons (real-life brothers Robert and Dartanian Sloan) find themselves marked for death in a rural house as the evil spirit of Bughuul continues to spread with frightening intensity.
The first picture that introduced audiences to this malevolent demon that preys on children was incredibly eerie, creating a menacing atmosphere for the story to unfold in through the eyes of an adult. The sequel takes a different approach to the tale, viewing it via the perspective of a child who appears to have been selected by Bughuul. The only returning character is Deputy So & So (James Ransone), who has continued to track the mystery uncovered by Ellison Oswalt. The result is not as frightening as the first film and appears to rely more on the brutality of the new recorded murders than trying to replicate the haunting tone of its predecessor. That said, there is still an interesting twist that plays out in the last act.
Special features include: commentary by director Ciarán Foy; deleted scenes; making-of featurette; and extended kill films. (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
More about the martian, Irrational Man, Sinister 2, Paranormal activity, The Ghost Dimension
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