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article imageReview: New on DVD for July 29 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 29, 2014 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include an exceptional issue containing the preeminent compilation of everything new or old related to a cult TV classic; the most blatant display of artistic licence; and a dramatic look at a serious subject.
Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway (DVD)
Nasser Entertainment
Larsan (Tom Berenger) is a man on the edge, making a dead rush for Mexico and kidnapping two young girls along the way. He is hotly pursued by police chief Martha Geiger (Torri Higginson), herself a mother of two. Using the Amber Alert system, Geiger constructs a psychological trap that will brutally punish the man who came in to mess with her town.
Produced with the intention of shining a light on the child find system, this movie puts more effort into displaying the program's highlights then the actual kidnapping plot at the centre of the film. Berenger's character is an impulsive alcoholic who kidnaps these girls for virtually no reason. Higginson wears many hats, portraying the neglectful mother, devoted cop and family support – sometimes at the same time. The girls are shown to be fighters but their strategies are not always convincing. On the other hand, the details of the Amber Alert system and its effectiveness is on full display from the radio announcements to the highway signs to the police cooperation across states, the camera regularly returns to what is happening in the search for the missing teens.
There are no special features. (Nasser Entertainment)
Deadly Eyes (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Each year they plunder one-fifth of our food, spread our deadliest diseases, and destroy billions of dollars worth of homes and property. Grain contaminated with steroids produce large black rats that begin feeding on the citizens of Toronto. A college basketball coach (Sam Groom) teams up with a local health inspector (Sara Botsford) to uncover the source of the mysterious giant rats. When they discover that the rats are living in the subway, they try to prevent a new subway line from opening before all hell breaks loose underground.
This movie brings life to the urban legend of giant sewer rats that will literally eat your baby. The story structure is meant to parallel that of Piranha, and it does a fair job of establishing the mood by unleashing these enormous rodents on unsuspecting victims. Of course, once you recognize the hordes of hungry vermin to be adorable, small dogs in costume it becomes more difficult to take seriously. Still, the vicious creatures when seen closer are menacing enough to cause discomfort or even nightmares. The human character, on the other hand, are almost negligible. Most of them are feed for the rats and the heroes lack the necessary appeal to win the audience's support.
Special features include: new interviews with actors Lisa Langlois, Lesleh Donaldson and Joseph Kelly, writer Charles Eglee, art director Ninkey Dalton, and special effects artists Allan Apone and Alec Gillis. (Scream Factory)
Dom Hemingway (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Fox Home Entertainment
Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is a larger-than-life safecracker with a short fuse – and a long memory – who sets off to collect what he’s owed after 12 years in prison. When his long-awaited payday goes awry, Dom tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke), only to be tempted again to crack safes.
Law has generally played the good or at least likeable guy in movies. He's never really been given the opportunity to portray an outright, self-proclaimed a$$hole – until now. Dom is an arrogant, loud-mouthed ex-con who talks a mile-a-minute and curses every few words. He typically seems rude and ungrateful even to those he claims to care for, but deep under all the bravado is a tiny heart that still bleeds for time wasted. In a surprising transformation that makes him gruffer and softer around the middle, Law is brilliant. The streams of dialogue he's required to spout off in single takes is more than impressive, both in terms of his performance and its quality. Dom's journey is a captivating one as he goes up and down and even lower down in an attempt to reclaim that which is owed and which he lost.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Richard Shepard; “Who is Dom Hemingway?”; “The Story”; “The Look of Dom Hemingway”; a conversation with cast and director; and Ping-Pong loop. (Fox Home Entertainment)
The Final Terror (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
A group of young campers out for what they hope to be a fun-filled weekend find their plans spoiled by a disguised, merciless killer who stalks the forest in search of new victims. Soon they are caught in a terrifying sequence of bloodshed and murder. It is up to the remaining few to defend themselves and put an end to the terror-filled weekend.
When the slasher genre took off in the '80s, everyone thought it would be easy to cash in. Just drop a bunch of teens in the woods, kill some of them off and wait for the money to roll in. But it's not that simple. Beginning with a somewhat creative murder in the first five minutes, the narrative then remains blood-free for the next 30. During this time it attempts to establish an elaborate back story of mental illness and horrific death through campfire tales. However watching a group of incompetent park rangers wander through the woods Predator-style trying to trap their enemy has little appeal and the abrupt ending doesn't help matters.
Special features include: commentary by director Andrew Davis; new interviews with actors Adrian Zmed and Lewis Smith, Post Production Supervisor Allan Holzman and composer Susan Justin; and original theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Lullaby (DVD)
ARC Entertainment
Estranged from his family, Jonathan (Garrett Hedlund) discovers his father has decided to take himself off life support in forty-eight hours' time. During this intensely condensed period, a lifetime of drama plays out. Robert (Richard Jenkins) fights a zero sum game to reclaim all that his illness stole from his family. A debate rages on patients' rights and what it truly means to be free. Jonathan reconciles with his father, reconnects with his mother (Anne Archer), sister (Jessica Brown-Findlay) and his love (Amy Adams), and reclaims his voice through two unlikely catalysts – a young, wise-beyond-her-years patient (Jessica Barden) and a no-nonsense nurse (Jennifer Hudson).
This is a mostly realistic portrayal of the effects on a family whose patriarch has elected to stop cancer treatment and carry out assisted suicide. It's not an issue taken lightly by anyone in the picture. He's fought the disease for 12 years and it's finally overcome him. Choosing a dignified death that forgoes further suffering for himself and his loved ones, and abstaining from painkillers to assure everyone he is of sound mind, Robert informs them he will die in two days. His daughter happens to be a lawyer who opposes his decision, which allows the narrative to also address the many legal aspects of the issue. Paralleling this story is a secondary one involving Hedlund and a 17-year-old cancer patient no longer responding to treatment. He manages to harness his moody persona rather well for this role, while Jenkins captures the many emotions of facing his own demise.
There are no special features. (ARC Entertainment)
Noah (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
A man (Russell Crowe) is chosen by his world's creator to undertake a momentous mission to rescue the innocent before an apocalyptic flood cleanses the wicked from the world.
As writer/director Darren Aronofsky said, "Noah is the least biblical biblical film ever made." Even those only vaguely familiar with the tale of Noah's ark will scratch their heads at the content and identify the numerous seized opportunities for artistic licence. But to be fair, the film also never refers to "God," calling the higher power "Creator" instead. In that context, this is a decent CGI action movie with giant rock beings, a battle for supremacy with countless casualties and an insane patriarch who uses his free will to make some interesting decisions. The underlying themes regarding vegetarianism and environmental sustainability are just another added element to an already fantastic story. Still, the actors are all fittingly casted and the effects are magnificent.
Special features include: “Iceland: Extreme Beauty”; “The Ark Exterior: A Battle for 300 Cubits”; and “The Ark Interior: Animals Two by Two.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Point Blank (Blu-ray)
Warner Home Video
They double-crossed Walker (Lee Marvin), took his $93,000 cut of the heist and left him for dead, but they didn’t finish the job. Big mistake. He – someday, somehow – is going to finish them. One-by-one Walker smashes into the corporate pecking order of a crime group called the Organization with the help of an accomplice (Angie Dickinson) who uses her seductive wiles to ensnare one of Walker’s prey.
Though you may never have seen this picture from 1967, the plot may sound very familiar. That's because the script is based on the same novel used as the source material for the 1999 Mel Gibson movie Payback. Marvin's Walker is somewhat of a ghost, both because he was presumed dead and no one knows anything about him. Leaving a trail of bodies in his wake, Walker demands revenge from those that betrayed him and compensation from their bosses. While Walker is a model of efficiency, the bad guys he encounters are not very tough in comparison generally begging for their lives or trying to pass the buck. It's not the most exciting hunt, but Marvin's deadpan expression throughout is something with which to reckon.
Special features include: commentary by director John Boorman and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh; vintage featurettes “The Rock Part 1” and “The Rock Part 2”; and theatrical trailer. (Warner Home Video)
Time Machine (Blu-ray)
Warner Home Video
When George (Rod Taylor) sits at the controls of his new creation, he has all the time in the world. He’s invented a time machine that whisks him from 1899 to war-ravaged moments of the 20th century and into 802701. In that far-off era, passive Eloi face a grim future as prey to the glowing-eyed subterranean Morlocks – unless the time-traveling stranger from the past intervenes.
For fans of The Big Bang Theory curious about the origin of the life-sized time machine that nearly ruined Leonard's life, this film from 1960 holds the answers. This is a faithful adaptation of H.G. Wells' story of an inventor who travels through the fourth dimension in a large vehicle resembling a sleigh. His curiosity is the main motivation for his actions – and a strange relationship with the changing fashion of a department store mannequin. The toy-like models used to represent certain catastrophes are one of the film's many charms as it brings this fantasy to life pre-CGI. Fast-forwarding 800,000 years into the future from the 1960s allows the tale to circumvent any postulating of flying cars or pill-shaped meals. Instead it holds the viewer's attention with George's exploration of a strange world that hosts two opposing races and the paradise they occupy.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes documentary hosted by Rod Taylor; and theatrical trailer. (Warner Home Video)
Transcendence (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Warner Home Video
Dr. Will Carter (Johnny Depp) is a leader in the field of artificial intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines mankind’s collective intelligence with true human emotion. Anti-technology extremists will kill to stop him, but their attempt forces Will to record and upload his own mind to a supercomputer to achieve transcendence. Success brings him omniscience and nearly unstoppable power as the fate of the world on Will’s now-questionable humanity.
None of the concepts presented in this film are new. The fear of artificial intelligence is most famously articulated in The Terminator movies and 2001: A Space Odyssey before that. The melding of human consciousness and computer software was most recently seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So what is different about this version? There are two stories being told: an idealistic one centering on Will and his devoted wife as they combine their efforts to make the world a better place and an extremist one from the perspective that if given the opportunity technology will conspire to end mankind. The advancements in nanotechnology hypothesized are astounding and somewhat creepy. But the plot begins to weaken in the middle as everyone starts to become more suspicious, while the conclusion is probably the most romanticized in this category.
Special features include: “What is Transcendence?”; “Wally Pfister: A Singular Vision”; “Guarding the Threat”; “The Promise of A.I.”; three viral videos; and trailers. (Warner Home Video)
Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery (Blu-ray)
Paramount Home Media Distribution and CBS Home Entertainment
The series follows the inhabitants of a quaint northwestern town who are stunned after the homecoming queen Laura Palmer is suddenly found murdered. The investigation that follows engenders an eerie chain of events with cataclysmic results felt across the entire town. Although shot after the series ended, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is the prequel to the television series and focuses on the seven days leading up to Laura Palmer’s death. It’s been directed and edited by Lynch exclusively for this release.
In 1990, filmmaker David Lynch took his bizarre style of storytelling to the small screen. It's not entirely surprising the series only lasted two seasons with broadcasters demanding certain narrative concessions in the final chapter, but the first installment is pure in its conception. As in Blue Velvet, Lynch once again attempts to pull back the curtain concealing the seedy underbelly of a small town; he even recasts MacLachlan in a key role as the FBI agent assigned to investigate the murder that creates endless ripples. Everyone that knew Laura fancies themselves a detective so there are several investigations occurring simultaneously, although only one is official. As the season continues the series begins to take on more campy soap opera qualities, culminating in the repeated slapping of a character immediately followed by a passionate kiss. Though not as intricate, fans of AMC's The Killing may enjoy this cult favorite for its similar storytelling style. The Log Lady intros are an added element of bizarre that set-up each episode. This comprehensive compendium of the series and its bonus features is wrapped in an attractive box featuring various images from show.
Special features include: U.S. and international versions of the series’ “Pilot”; nearly 90 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes from the follow-up film; newly transferred Log Lady introductions for each episode; two-part feature “Between Two Worlds,” in which David Lynch interviews the Palmer family (Leland, Sarah and daughter Laura) about their current existence in this life and the next, and follows up with a discussion with the actors who portray them; “Moving Through Time: Fire Walk With Me Memories,” an exclusive retrospective documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew who recount the making of the movie and working with David Lynch; three photo galleries with more than 130 behind-the-scenes images from David Lynch’s personal never-before-released collection; ten “Atmospherics,” each featuring a unique montage of music, dialogue and video (including some rare outtakes) that appear as both menu backgrounds and as their own textless experience; award-winning four-part documentary “Secrets From Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks”; “A Slice of Lynch,” featuring the complete and uncut conversation between David Lynch and actors Kyle MacLachlan and Mädchen Amick; “Return to Twin Peaks”; “Location Guide”; and eight-part featurette, “The Glastonbury Archives.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution and CBS Home Entertainment)
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