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article imageReview: New on DVD for May 3 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 3, 2016 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include an Oscar winner with a lot of depth; a teen fiction sci-fi picture that’s sure to see a sequel; a steelbook anniversary edition of a classic; and an entertaining take on the tomb raider narrative.
The 5th Wave (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Against a backdrop of fear and distrust, Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz) is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother (Zackary Arthur). As she prepares for the inevitable and lethal fifth wave, Cassie teams up with a young man (Alex Roe) who may become her final hope — if she can only trust him.
This movie is very reminiscent of Red Dawn and the likes, in which children are enlisted to fight a guerilla war against an invading force. In spite of various attempts, there are no real surprises for perceptive audiences paying attention to the narrative. Instead they recycle the classic concept of being unable to judge everyone based on the actions of a few. For every interesting, uncommon film Moretz makes, she seems to make a couple of commercially viable, less original pictures; which is not to say she’s not good in the movie, but it’s definitely not her most challenging work (at least not emotionally). The inclusion of older, seasoned actors such as Maria Bello, Liev Schreiber and Ron Livingston is appreciated in their ability to deliver suitable performances as well. Unsurprisingly, the conclusion sets up a sequel so it will likely just be a matter of time before this ragtag group of kids is once again blasting aliens.
Special features include: commentary by director J Blakeson and Chloë Grace Moretz; deleted scenes; “Inside The 5th Wave”; “Sammy on the Set”; “The 5th Wave Survival Guide”; “Training Squad 53”; “Creating a New World”; and gag reel. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Archer: The Complete Season Six (Blu-ray)
Fox Home Entertainment
After a brief AWOL, sexy spy Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) rejoins his fellow misfit government agents. Now working with the CIA (sort of) to thwart evildoers around the world, the team confronts hair-raising dangers — like skinny aliens near Vegas, a lack of chewing gum in the Alps, and a stuck elevator in their building. And although do not fly lists, fatherhood and pretty much everyone he knows may unhinge Archer, villainous masterminds are no match for the entitled operative.
Similar to other popular live-action TV series, this show adopted the themed season format. Fresh from their turn as cocaine dealers, the now unnamed group is ironically carrying out missions for the CIA. It was difficult to imagine how such a coarse program would handle adding a baby to the mix, but the writers do a fantastic job finding a new balance that incorporates parenthood and being a secret agent. Although much of the drama is once again centred on the strained relationship of Archer and Lana, the rest of the team is still presented with plenty of opportunities to make a mess of things (sometimes literally). Christian Slater also makes several appearances as their unimaginatively named CIA connection, Slater, who generally goes from helping to screwing them in the same episode.
Special features include: “Conan & Archer Battle Russian Mobsters”; “Slay – J”; and “Cooking with Milton.” (Fox Home Entertainment)
Hostile Border (DVD)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Raised in the U.S., Claudia (Veronica Sixtos) is an undocumented immigrant living beyond her means in a twisted version of the American dream. When she’s arrested by the FBI for credit card fraud, Claudia is quickly deported to México. Speaking no Spanish and lost in her foreign “homeland,” she reluctantly takes refuge at her estranged father’s cattle ranch. As she clashes with her unyielding father (Julio Cedillo), her attempts to return home to the U.S. thrust her into a dangerous bond with a foreign smuggler, Ricky (Roberto Urbina). Caught between her father’s sermons, Ricky’s promises, and the encroaching military, Claudia must navigate a tightrope of impossible choices.
Even though the circumstances are different, Claudia, a.k.a. “Pocha,” is representative of a growing number of immigrant children who never learn to speak their family’s native tongue. However, this is probably the only notable element of the narrative. Otherwise she’s just another young criminal who prefers easy solutions, even if they’re illegal. Ricky is handsome and well-spoken, requiring minimal effort when seducing Claudia into his business and bed. She futilely tries to maintain control of her life, which eventually leads to more poor decisions. The conclusion ends with a lot of unnecessary violence and another puzzling decision by Claudia.
There are no special features. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Mojin: The Lost Legend (Blu-ray)
Well Go USA
Some people have a special gift: they’re able to travel between the realms of the living and the dead... and tomb raiding can mean big business in the world of the Mojin. A trio of legendary grave robbers are pitted against scholars, rivals, and the law — until an offer from a mysterious stranger tempts them into one last heist. This adventure will test their skills, friendship and, ultimately, their mortal souls.
This film is an Asian version of the Tomb Raider narrative, adding humour and ingenuity to the story. The effects are a little glossy, which prevents them from seamlessly enhancing the action; but the tale is so fantastic anyway, the surreal appearance is not really a factor. It’s a relatively exciting narrative with a lot of action, whether the group is escaping an extremely dangerous and inventive trap or fighting zombies. There are a few ongoing gags that fall flat, but the script is generally entertaining and the actors are spot-on, never taking their roles too seriously as they follow precise rituals prior to stealing from the dead and subsequently escape in coffins.
Special features include: making-of featurette; and behind-the-scenes featurette. (Well Go USA)
Son of Saul (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
October 1944, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Saul (Géza Röhrig) is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners forced to assist the Nazis. While working, Saul discovers the body of a boy he takes for his son. As the Sonderkommando plans a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task: save the child's body, find a rabbi to recite the mourner's Kaddish and offer the boy a proper burial.
This movie won the Oscar for best foreign language film and it was well-deserved. The Holocaust drama shares a story that rarely receives attention because the Sonderkommandos were so reviled, even amongst survivors, as they were the prisoners assigned to assist in the execution and cremation of their people. It’s told from Saul’s perspective as he desperately seeks a rabbi, putting his entire unit at risk of reducing their already short life expectancies. In the process, the audience is allowed to see the various mechanisms of the extermination machine; one of the most upsetting aspects is the lies told by the Nazis to those entering the gas chambers. The film is dark and intense, but not overwhelming. Writer/director László Nemes does an excellent job finding the balance between the horrific atrocities and Saul’s story by not accentuating the evil, but displaying it as a part of everyday life at the time.
Special features include: commentary by director László Nemes, actor Géza Röhrig and cinematographer Mátyás Erdély; deleted scene; and Museum of Tolerance Q&A with director László Nemes, actor Géza Röhrig and cinematographer Mátyás Erdély. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Top Gun: 30th Anniversary Steelbook Edition (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Maverick (Tom Cruise) is a young, in-your-face U.S. fighter pilot with a need for speed, a lot to prove, and even more to learn. As a student in the Navy’s elite flying school, he completes to be the best of the best. But a civilian instructor (Kelly McGillis) teaches him a few things that cannot be learned in the classroom.
In 1986, Cruise was quickly climbing the ranks of Hollywood sex symbols and this picture cemented his position at the top of the heap. It raised him above his formerly boyish roles, letting him finally play a character with some edge. “I feel the need – the need for speed!” His partnership with Anthony Edwards is a memorable pairing that drives the film. The other driving force is the exciting air combat scenes, which are made even more captivating by the added third dimension. Most of the dialogue-only scenes remain relatively unenhanced with the special glasses, but the scenes in the sky really pop. This is definitely a film that benefits from the technological update enough to upgrade your library collection.
Special features include: commentary by director Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, co-screenwriter Jack Epps Jr. and naval experts; a six-part making-of documentary; multi-angle storyboards with optional commentary by Scott; “Best of the Best: Inside the real Top Gun”; behind-the-scenes featurette; survival training featurette; Tom Cruise interviews; four music videos; and TV spots. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
More about Son of Saul, the 5th wave, Archer, Hostile Border, Mojin The Lost Legend
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