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article imageReview: New on DVD for March 25 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 26, 2014 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a man who worshipped at the altar of money; a great film that would make an even better television show; a second season in the chair of an outwardly powerful VP; and a family drama that becomes more tangled as it goes on.
Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Marvel Entertainment
After interfering with a top secret mission, The Punisher is taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Avenger, Black Widow. At the orders of Director Nick Fury, Punisher and Black Widow are sent on a mission to stop Leviathan, a global terrorist organization that plans to sell stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. technology to the highest bidder. Now, the vigilante and spy must work together to prevent this technology from falling into the wrong hands.
In recent years, Marvel has expanded its universe to include uncharacteristic partnerships in straight-to-video releases. However, these stories do not suffer like some other similar releases. The characters are true to comic book form, but adding one more medium to their arsenal allows less popular storylines to come to life. Black Widow, a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff, and Punisher, a.k.a. Frank Castle, share a lack of superhuman abilities and neither is afraid to kill their opponents. Castle’s hardened exterior takes some significant hits to show even he can be vulnerable. Natasha’s past has always been a thorn she couldn’t remove and it once again forces her to make the tough decisions in this narrative. These less polished heroes take their chance in the spotlight to show Fury they’re not to be toyed with.
Special features include: “Espionage and Punishment”; “The Vigilante Vs. The Spy”; and conceptual art gallery. (Marvel Entertainment & Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Cybergeddon (DVD)
Arc Entertainment
Agent Chloe Jocelyn (Missy Peregrym) is investigating a slew of seemingly unrelated cyber-attacks with fellow agent Frank Parker (Manny Montana) and incarcerated master hacker Chase ‘Rabbit’ Rosen (Kick Gurry). Chloe and her team must crack the worldwide cybercrime ring led by Gustov Dobreff (Olivier Martinez) before it is too late. In a world where everyone is connected, everyone is at risk.
This is basically a poor update to the cult favourite Hackers, which promoted a glamorous life of technical rebellion. It features a similar visual representation of data in cyberspace and the same evasion tactics, including traffic light tampering. Chloe is what happens to the elite — recruited to counter the same digital terrorists with which she was once united. Except that chasing information is as exciting as watching someone stare at computer screens and type on a keyboard. Even the attempts to instill excitement in the narrative with murders and kidnapping provide minimal enjoyment. And the desire to leave an opening for a sequel in the end is asking a bit too much of the audience.
There are no special features. (Arc Entertainment)
Delivery Man (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Home Entertainment
Underachiever David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) learns he’s actually an overachiever — he’s fathered 533 children via donations made twenty years earlier. David soon discovers that the shock of his life might just be the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Along the way he discovers not only his true self, but also the father he could become.
The remaking of foreign language films into English-speaking American movies is not uncommon, though it is not often that the source writer/director is given the helm of the adaptation. This is likely the reason this picture seems so true to the original, though still not quite as good as the award-winning Starbuck. Vaughn is perfectly cast in the familiar role of a forty-something loser that has the potential to be better — and via a comedy of errors, does actually manage to anonymously improve the lives of his children. However, his dip into fatherhood is unquestionably and consistently outshined by the glimpses into Chris Pratt's character's life with his brood of kids under 10. "Don't lie in the sandbox!”
Special features include: deleted scene; “Building Family”; “Vince Vaughn: Off The Cuff”; “I Got The Part”; and bloopers. (Disney Home Entertainment)
Ice Soldiers (Blu-ray)
Malraux (Dominic Purcell) is a scientist who discovers the bodies of three frozen, genetically modified Russians buried in the Canadian North. Upon thawing them out, he realizes he has unleashed a deadly threat to Western society that must be stopped at all costs.
Opening the film with a description of Russian weapons found off the coast of Cuba, it’s surprising to suddenly find the characters in the frigid temperatures of the North. Nor does the story become more credible as it continues. It’s difficult to take Purcell seriously as a scientist — as pointed out by another character within the narrative — so when it turns into a hunt’em and kill’em flick, he and the audience seem much more comfortable. Adam Beach portrays a Native guide hired by Malraux to help him track the escaped super soldiers. Even though he doesn’t appear until the half-mark, Beach is the most entertaining and lively aspect of the picture. The genetically-altered fighters are meant to be without emotion, but that doesn’t give anyone else an excuse. Though derived from the same concept, this is no Universal Solider.
There are no special features. (levelFILM)
Odd Thomas (Blu-ray & DVD)
Anchor Bay Entertainment & RLJ Entertainment
Small-town fry cook Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) is an ordinary guy with a paranormal secret: he sees dead people, everywhere. When a creepy stranger shows-up with an entourage of ghostly bodachs — predators that feed on pain and portend mass destruction — Odd knows that his town is in serious trouble. Teaming up with his sweetheart Stormy (Addison Timlin) and the local sheriff (Willem Dafoe), Odd plunges into an epic battle of good vs. evil to try to stop a disaster of apocalyptic proportions.
Whether played on the big or small screen, this film gives the distinct impression that it would be a great television show. Already based on a series of books by Dean Koontz, the plot lends itself to an episodic storytelling style. Nonetheless, the feature-length film is highly enjoyable. Odd is very likeable and the supporting cast of characters fit perfectly into his supernatural narrative. The evil that permeates his town and latches onto its criminal personalities is visually dark and malevolent. Yelchin embodies Odd to a tee, capturing the kind-heartedness that drives him to use his powers for good. Dafoe and Timlin complement his character well. Dafoe portrays a supportive father figure that accepts the weirdness around him for what it is. Timlin and Yelchin have great chemistry, making the witty dialogue they exchange appear effortless.
There are no special features. (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Raven Banner Entertainment & RLJ Entertainment)
The Past (Blu-ray & DVD)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) returns to Paris to finalize his divorce so his wife Marie (Bérénice Bejo) can marry her new boyfriend, Samir (Tahar Rahim). During his tense stay, Ahmad discovers the conflicting nature of Marie's relationship with her daughter, Lucie (Pauline Burlet). Ahmad's efforts to improve this relationship soon unveil a secret from their past.
The beginning of this film seems awkward, but inconsequential. Ahmad and Marie obviously have an amicable relationship, but most people have little interest in spending quality time with their ex’s new partner. As Ahmad tries to avoid Samir, he is pulled deeper into the family issues that don’t really concern him. Marie wants Ahmad to convince Lucie to support her latest marriage in spite of how he feels about the nuptials himself. But as he attempts to fulfill Marie’s wishes, he uncovers a nesting doll of secrets and betrayals that seems never-ending. The viewer is drawn into this intense family drama with every new indication of stress as the adults attempt to do what’s best and the children act out in varied disappointment.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Asghar Farhadi; a making-of featurette; and Directors Guild of America Q & A with Farhadi. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Saving Mr. Banks (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Disney Home Entertainment
Determined to fulfill a promise to his daughters, Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) tries for 20 years to obtain the rights to author P.L. Travers’ (Emma Thompson) beloved book, Mary Poppins. Armed with his iconic creative vision, Walt pulls out all the stops, but the uncompromising Travers won’t budge. Only when he reaches into his own complicated childhood does Walt discover the truth about the ghosts that haunt Travers, and together, the set Mary Poppins free.
Firstly, this is a heartfelt comedy. Mrs. Travers’ propriety is a frequent source of humour as she corrects people’s grammar, insists on proper etiquette and maintains she is “perfectly capable” of performing whatever task is at hand. On the other hand, it’s a heart-breaking tale of disenchantment. Mrs. Travers’ father nurtured her imagination while falling deeper into alcoholism. Though Mary Poppins is a wholly cheerful tale, it stems from mixed experiences. Thompson is exceptional. Her distaste for animation and music is deadly comical since that is the essence of a Disney picture. Hanks’ impersonation of Disney appears to be spot on, from his determination and confidence to his childlike enjoyment of his creations. B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman expertly convey the mostly masked frustration the musicians must have experienced in their interactions with Mrs. Travers, but also their adoration for the material and dedication to making the picture a reality.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to Present”; and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” (Disney Home Entertainment)
VEEP: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
HBO Home Entertainment
As midterm elections loom, Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is scoring higher ratings than the president in several popularity polls, which she hopes will boost her influence and help her carry favour with the chief executive. But in spite of her best intentions, even the most banal actions can set off unexpected and often disastrous consequences. And her staff is close at hand with their own combination of personal problems and government-insider antics.
After a pregnancy scare and numerous gaffes, Selina is ready for more responsibility in year two. And she gets it — as well as the blame for a number political disasters for some of which she is not even responsible. But as explosive as her public life is, her personal life only adds fuel to the fire. Selina's ex-husband resurfaces, which usually results in poor decisions on her part and multiple bombs dropped by him. Meanwhile attempting to reconnect with her daughter means also connecting with her new Iranian boyfriend. Gary's girlfriend plays an unexpectedly large role this season, forcing him to put his own interests ahead of the VP's even though it's totally against his nature. Dave Foley commits an audacious act during a diplomatic event and Allison Janney holds Selina hostage in the worst interview ever.
Special features include: four commentaries with cast and crew; and deleted scenes. (HBO Home Entertainment)
Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie (3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray & DVD)
Entertainment One
In a time when dinosaurs rule the earth, a playful Pachyrhinosaurus named Patchi (Justin Long) must find his courage to become the leader of the herd and a hero for the ages.
This 3D dinosaur adventure is geared towards children and the Cretaceous curious. It begins with a paleontologist (Karl Urban) heading out to a dig site, where he found the tooth of a Gorgosaurus. How the tooth was lost is the basis for the tale. As new species are introduced into the story, the picture is paused and a child reads the scientific name of the creature and a few additional details. More information is sprinkled throughout the dialogue, such as the beast's food preferences. Since this is educational entertainment, the dinosaurs are not caricatures, but rather accurate representations of the real animals. Long once again portrays the underdog, which is a character he's mastered over the years. Meanwhile, John Leguizamo returns to the prehistoric era, this time wiser and more colorful as he amuses viewers with another voice recognizable from his stand-up arsenal.
Special features include: “Ulitmate Dino Guide”; “Match the Call”; an interactive map; “Brainosaur Trivia Track”; and “Cretaceous Cut.” (Entertainment One)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
A young stockbroker (Leonardo DiCaprio) is hungry for fame and glory in New York City, where corruption is king and more is never enough. His name was Jordan Belfort, but soon the world would know him by a different name: “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
The rise and fall of Wall Street executives is no longer as popular a subject as it was in recent years, but who doesn't want to see director Martin Scorsese take on the greed and corruption that plagues the financial district. Jordan Belfort wanted it all and was willing to sell his soul to get it. Ultimately pulling in nearly $1 million per week, his story is built on a foundation of lies and confidence — and hookers and blow. DiCaprio portrays Belfort's unyielding ambition with effortless panache and his thirst for self-destruction with a total lack of ego. Scorsese dives deep into Belfort's dark history and splashes the most depraved across the screen with his signature style and precision.
Special features include: “The Wolf Pack.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
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