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article imageReview: New on DVD for May 13 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 13, 2014 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include love in a modern age; bachelor life in theory vs. practice; an unforgettable personality from the ‘80s; and a successful experiment in animation.
After (DVD)
Untitled
M.O. Pictures
When two bus crash survivors, Freddy (Steven Strait) and Ana (Karolina Wydra), awake to discover they are the only people left in their small town, they must work together in a race to unravel the truth behind their isolation. As terrifying events unfold they start to question whether the town they know so well is really what it seems.
During the first act, some viewers will likely think they've got it all figured out: Freddy and Ana are clearly dead and the film is set in some sort of purgatory. But if the plot was that simple, it wouldn't make for much of a movie. Therefore the narrative is a little more complicated than that summation. The dark cloud closing in on the pair, the chained beast that stalks them in the night, the extremely vivid flashbacks to their childhoods, and the unexpected deadline to put all the pieces together combine to create an eerie mystery. The meaning of this supernatural journey goes much deeper with a major reveal in the end that ties all these elements together.
There are no special features. (M.O. Pictures)
“Crocodile” Dundee & “Crocodile” Dundee II Double Feature (Blu-ray)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
“Crocodile” Dundee: Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee (Paul Hogan) is a free spirited Australian who hunts crocodiles with his bare hands, stares down giant water buffaloes, and drinks mere mortals under the table. But he's about to face the ultimate torture test – a trip to New York City. Beautiful and tenacious reporter Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) gets more than just a story as the "Wonder from Down Under" rocks the Big Apple to its core.
“Crocodile” Dundee II: Just as the eccentric Australian is starting to adjust to life in New York City, Dundee (Paul Hogan) and his beautiful girlfriend (Linda Kozlowski) are targeted for death by a gang of ruthless drug dealers. Dundee evens the odds by leading the big-city hoods into the treacherous Australian outback. And before long, the bad guys find out that Down Under could mean six feet.
If you haven't seen this comedy in the more than 25 years since its original debut, this high-definition release is the perfect excuse to go back Down Under. Like so many products of the past, even the films appear to have been built to last. Mick Dundee is a timeless character whose adventures in the city are still amusing. His inherent friendliness and never-back-down-from-a-fight attitude make for some great adventures that were never truly duplicated. The first film that takes Mick from the Australian outback to New York City is the far superior movie. It takes the fish out of water narrative to new heights and delivers several quotable lines. ("That's not a knife. THAT’S a knife.") The sequel gets better when Dundee returns to his roots as the cast of characters that comprise his circle of friends are more amusing than the New Yorkers.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette; and theatrical trailers. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Her (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Warner Home Video
Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing, touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive and unique entity in its own right. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet “Samantha,” a bright, female voice (Scarlett Johansson) who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow, in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other.
Innovation is a peculiar thing in tales of romance. Though the circumstances may change, the general boy-meets-girl narrative remains the same. This is one of the few stories to significantly alter the familiar plotline to create a tale that is as modern as a love story can get. But it also shares the same tone as one of those love stories in which one of the characters is diagnosed with a terminal illness: it's fun and beautiful, but there's a sadness underlying it all. Expectedly, there is a significant existential undercurrent to the narrative that writer/director Spike Jonze alternately underlines and cloaks. But the ability for an AI to qualify as a person is a constant issue for characters and viewers. Phoenix is delightful as a man rediscovering the world that he had so effectively shunned. Johansson arguably turns in the best performance of her career, winning over Theodore and audiences with just her sultry voice.
Special features include: a short film by Lance Bangs: “The Untitled Rick Howard Project: Creating Her”; “Love in the Modern Age”; and “How do you share your life somebody.” (Warner Home Video)
Poseidon Rex (DVD)
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ITN Distribution
A small, secluded island off the coast of Belize suddenly finds itself terrorized by a deadly predator from the planet's distant past, when deep-sea divers accidentally awaken an ancient evil. Jackson Slate and his team of underwater cave explorers unearth much more than long-lost Mayan treasures while plumbing the depths of a world famous blue hole. They disturb a creature that's been hibernating for more than 60,000 years – a rampaging behemoth of death and destruction not only at sea but also on land.
Typical of the modern day, B-grade and below monster movie, this picture is beyond ridiculous. The prehistoric creature is basically a buoyant version of the Tyrannosaurus Rex making no creature safe on land or sea. It attacks all types of boats in a manner similar to Jaws, breaking the vessels apart and devouring its occupants. On land, aerial assaults call to mind the famous King Kong scene as the unphased reptile is pelted with bullets while trying to catch its attackers. Its baby is a cute but vicious miniature of its mother. The horrible acting matches the atrocious script. The so-called biologist spends at least half the time displaying her sculpted body in a bikini and sounding like she's trying to seduce every man she encounters. The countless other inconsistencies only add to the below average quality of this creature feature.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette; and trailer. (ITN Distribution)
Special ID (Blu-ray)
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Well Go USA
Chen Zilong (Donnie Yen) is a detective, but the criminal underworld knows him as “Dragon” Chen, a dangerous but effective enforcer. When rivalries explode with the reappearance of an old enemy and a brutal murder, the Triads close ranks and unleash a series of executions – with Chen at the top of the list. Undercover and under attack, he has no choice but to rely on a new partner (Jing Tian) and his knowledge of the streets to get out alive.
Asian films flock to the crime drama in the same way North America produces zombie movies. This means there's a plethora of them and they vary widely in quality. Generally seeing Donnie Yen attached to a project makes it a must-watch, but this picture is subpar. The plot is relatively flimsy and poorly stitched together. Zilong struggles with his assigned duty as an undercover cop, trying to maintain the distinction between his real identity and the thug personality he's adopted. The villains, or crime lords, all seem to have a screw loose as they take turns threatening Zilong and his family. The gangster element appears to be strictly a territorial battle in which Zilong finds himself in the middle.
Special features include: making-of featurette; and trailer. (Well Go USA)
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (Blu-ray & DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Spirit is a wild young mustang that sets out on an action-packed quest against impossible odds to regain his freedom and save his homeland. In his courageous journey across the majestic wilderness of the American frontier, Spirit forms a remarkable friendship with a young Lakota brave, outwits a relentless squadron of soldiers, and falls for a beautiful paint mare named Rain.
In 2002, creating an animated film about animals that don't actually speak was an experiment. To soften the contrast to other pictures, some of Spirit's thoughts are expressed via voice over by Matt Damon. But the main forms of expression for him and the other animals are facial expressions and the soundtrack. Hans Zimmer's original score is melodic and matches the emotions of the particular scene it accompanies. However it is singer Bryan Adams' lyrics and touch of rebelliousness that really provide the horse his spirit. From his birth and "Here I Am" to his unwillingness to be broken and "Get Off My Back" to his utter defeat and "Sound the Bugle," the music conveys the animal's strong personality. The power of the film's soundtrack is actually quite remarkable in its ability to completely replace dialogue in the picture and in a sense reimagine the (mostly) silent movie.
Special features include: commentary by filmmakers; “Learn to Draw Spirit with James Baxter”; “Animating Spirit”; “The Songs of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”; “storyboards with optional commentary; and international star talent. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Sunset Strip (DVD)
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Video Services Corp.
Explore the Strip from its origin in the 1920’s Prohibition, to Madame Francis’ notorious brothel in the 1930’s, to the world-class 1940’s nightclub scene, to the mafia wars of the 1950’s, the teen riots in the 1960’s, to the punk scene in the 1970’s, to hair bands and heavy metal in the 1980’s, hip hop and grunge of the 1990’s, all the way up to today’s resurgence with first class comedy clubs and establishments such as Soho House, the Viper Room, and the Sunset Strip Music Festival.
The famous strip of West Hollywood has a rich history that could likely provide enough content to develop multiple full-length documentaries. However this film will more than suffice in its overview of the street's evolution and collection of its seedy stories. Beginning with a dirt road that connected two of California’s hubs, the filmmaker traces the Strip's transformation into the home of the cutting edge of the entertainment industry. Associates of gangster Mickey Cohen describe the area's first boom of nightclubs under his watch and the enchantment of Sammy Davis Jr. Peter Fonda remembers being arrested with is camera during the youth riots that also inspired the song, "What's that Sound?" Slash reminisces about using fake IDs to get into the clubs as a teenager while Johnny Depp recalls living in the infamous Chateau Marmont. The loss of the hotspot the Garden of Allah inspired Janis Joplin's popular lyric, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot." In this documentary, the best gossip and most entertaining stories are heard from the lips of the people that lived it.
Special features include: “History of the Sunset Strip” animated sequence; extended interviews; “Sex on the Sunset Strip”; “Rock N’ Roll on the Sunset Strip”; “Comedy on the Sunset Strip”; “Riots on the Sunset Strip”; and trailer. (Video Services Corp.)
That Awkward Moment (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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VVS Films
Three hard-partying Manhattan bachelors (Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan) make a pact to have as much fun as possible while remaining single. The plan gets derailed when they each fall in love, and have to secretly work around their pledge to bachelorhood, while trying to figure out the complications of modern day relationships.
Jason (Efron) is meant to represent the lifetime bachelor. But in spite of his appeal, his commitment to this lifestyle makes him an obnoxious jerk and by the latter half of the movie he’s lost any hope of redemption by being intentionally hurtful. Nonetheless the Hollywood ending dictates he must find happiness instead of the loneliness he deserves. Conversely, Daniel (Teller) embraces the affection he develops for his soon-to-be girlfriend and Mikey (Jordan) follows his heart regardless of what their bachelor rules dictate. A romantic comedy meant to appeal to both sexes, the stupidity of the men and their occasional allure make the women laugh and sometimes swoon, while the dick jokes, friendly insults and high-five moments appease the men. However it’s the male camaraderie that turns out to be the most appealing aspect of the film, because none of the so-called love stories are as attractive or entertaining.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette; “More Awkward Moments”; “Meet Daniel, Ellie, Jason and Mikey”; and extended gag reel. (VVS Films)
More about Her, that awkward moment, crocodile dundee, Sunset Strip, Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron
 
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