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article imageReview: New on DVD for September 9 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 11, 2014 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a couple of TV shows centering on vampires with a significant age difference; new takes on the adventures of the Enterprise; a superhero’s past comes back to haunt him; and a new man takes the time travelling helm.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Blu-ray)
Marvel Entertainment
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), aka Captain America, is living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) aka Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off assailants sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon (Anthony Mackie). However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.
Most of the supposed surprises in this picture aren't particularly unpredictable, but they're presented so well that knowing they're coming doesn't at all diminish their contributions to the overall narrative. This is an incredibly solid storyline that effortlessly weaves together numerous elements to create a consistently captivating film. While the first movie presented Captain America's origin story, this one reveals the skeletons in its closet. Everyone gets in on the action for this picture, which has definitely been stepped up for the sequel. A night mission on a large ocean carrier sets the mood, while a spontaneous car chase through the streets of Washington, an unbelievably choreographed fight sequence in an enclosed space, and high-flying manoeuvres generally reserved for the Iron Man films combine to create one of the most thrilling additions to the franchise. The one thing Marvel is sure to instil in each of its films is a sense of humour – two things if you include a cameo by Stan Lee. But the jokes are so well built-in to the script that it delivers the laugh or quick smile without any effort or disruption to the flow. This is everything fans could want in a Captain America movie without it ever feeling long, recycled or boring.
Special features include: commentary by directors Anthony and James Russo, and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely; deleted and extended scenes; “On the Front Line: An Inside Look at Captain America’s Battlegrounds”; “On Set with Anthony Mackie: Cut the Check!”; “Steve Rogers’ Notebook”; and gag reel. (Marvel Entertainment)
Doctor Who: Deep Breath (DVD)
BBC Home Entertainment
When the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) arrives in Victorian London he finds a dinosaur rampant in the Thames and a spate of deadly spontaneous combustions. Who is the new Doctor and will Clara’s (Jenna Coleman) friendship survive as they embark on a terrifying mission into the heart of an alien conspiracy? The Doctor has changed. It’s time to get to know him.
The first episode featuring the new Doctor is a fitting introduction to the new yet familiar personality. The Scot makes fun of his physical characteristics as well as his accent before finally settling into his new skin. Clara has a bit more trouble adjusting, but a touching final appearance by the eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, ensures the latest incarnation will not be without a companion during his journeys. While the giant T-Rex appears to be a formidable opponent to tame, it does not compare to the uber creepy robot who wants to become a real boy piece by piece. The included prequel is an amusing summary of the doctors thus far by an alien species that labels gender in reverse. In addition, the special focusing on time travel is a fun overview of the sci-fi subgenre.
Special features include: prequel scene only seen in theaters; behind-the-scenes featurette; “Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor,” the live announcement of the casting of Peter Capaldi as the next Doctor; "The Real History of Science Fiction," episode four that focuses on time travel. (BBC Home Entertainment)
Mom’s Night Out (Blu-ray & DVD)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
All Allyson (Sarah Drew) and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation – a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a paper bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for three hours—what could go wrong?
Even if daily life at home isn’t this wild, it can sometimes feel that way. Still, Allyson and Sean’s kids are miniature hellions, which causes Allyson to vent about feeling inadequate when she finds a spare moment to contribute to her blog. It’s clear one night out isn’t going to solve her problems, but this is a comedy not a drama. The narrative follows the typical one-crazy-night formula in which plans are interrupted. They give way to a scavenger hunt that takes the characters to various locations, each providing another clue that gets them one step closer to their goal. But in spite of the fact that this is supposed to be a female-driven adventure, the men generally have better scenes and funnier lines.
Special features include: commentary by directors Andrew and Jon Erwin, as well as producer Kevin Downes; deleted scenes; “The Heart of Moms’ Night Out”; “Casting Moms’ Night Out”; “The Art of Improv”; “The Art of Action”; “Alex Kendrick’s On-Set Devotional”; “The Difference Between Moms and Dads”; “Inside with Sarah Drew”; “Testimony with Andrea Logan White”; “Grief and Growing with Abbie Cobb”; and blooper reel. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Originals: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Warner Home Video
The spinoff series centres on the original vampire family and the dangerous vampire/werewolf hybrid, Niklaus “Klaus” Mikaelson, who, along with his siblings Elijah and Rebekah, helped build New Orleans’ French Quarter, only to be exiled a century ago. But a coven of witches desperate to reclaim its power lures the Mikaelsons back to their ancestral home, where the charismatic and diabolical vampire Marcel – Klaus’ former protégé – rules with his vampire army. The Originals bring along caskets full of revenge, unrequited love and not-so-secret plans to reclaim the heart and soul of this thriving city, and a long-smouldering war between vampires, witches, wolves and humans soon erupts. Blood ties are strong, but the lust for power – and revenge – may prove stronger.
In spite of his evil deeds, Klaus is a charming character that definitely had the potential to carry his own series along with his siblings. No doubt there will continue to be crossover episodes, but they will likely become fewer and farther between as the show establishes its independence. Klaus' thirst for power is simply transferred to a different city, though Elijah is no longer willing to hide in the shadows when they return to their home either. Hayley's supernatural pregnancy puts her at the centre of many storylines, though who has her best interest at heart is constantly in question. The already established characters makes this season somewhat less of a debut than a trial, which it passes by sticking with what the audience wants and expects based on its parent show.
Special features include: pilot commentary by creator Julie Plec and director Chris Grismer; “The Originals: Origins”; “The Original Vampires: A Bite-Sized Backstory”; “The Originals: Re-mixing History”; 2013 Comic-Con panel; PaleyFest 2014 panel; and unaired scenes. (Warner Home Video)
Rebirth of Mothra I, II and III (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rebirth of Mothra (1996): Mothra, one of Godzilla’s longtime allies (and sometimes foe) gets her very own movie series in this, the first of a trilogy. When the three-headed Desghidorah, even fiercer than King Ghidorah, begins to destroy the forests of Japan, Mothra leaves her island paradise to help save them.
Rebirth of Mothra II (1997): Three young kids inadvertently unleash a giant sea creature that is somehow strengthened from the abundance of modern-day pollution. Mothra’s keepers, the tiny twins Moll and Lora, quickly rouse the gentle giant in order to combat this latest threat to peace.
Rebirth of Mothra III (1998): In the final film of the trilogy, King Ghidorah, the most destructive of all the monsters, returns to destroy the Earth. Primed for combat, Mothra goes into the past to battle a younger version of King Ghidorah.
This trilogy is a part of the Toho Godzilla movie collection, which is the production company responsible for most of the major monster movies to rise from Japan. While these pictures feature the same style of creature battles that dominate the majority of the narrative and destroy large sections of the planet, they've got a bit more to them. These have a much greater fantasy element. Small women riding an enlarged moth and mini monster tend to facilitate things as one seeks to destroy the human race and the other two try to defend against the monsters she awakens. The first generation Mothra is a majestic creature who gives everything she has to defeat the Desghidorah. The second generation Mothra is a brighter, shinier version of the original with even more power and a new supply of magical dust.
Special features include: original trailers. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
SpongeBob ScaryPants Collection and Holidays with SpongeBob (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Here’s your chance to experience Christmas, Halloween and Valentine’s Day, Bikini Bottom-style.
The holiday special of any television series is usually a memorable episode. The same characters audiences love to watch throughout the year are shown celebrating familiar occasions, bringing them a little closer to fans. As a result of the popularity of these episodes, many shows release special compilations of these festive chapters. In the case of SpongeBob SquarePants, because the stories are so short, the DVDs are padded with additional "bonus" episodes to total about a dozen tales per disc. Halloween specials are often the most fun because it gives the characters an opportunity to adopt a different personality. In one episode, SpongeBob wants nothing more than to scare people. But a square ghost isn't very effective so he changes the shape of his head, which has a different effect than expected. At Christmas, Squidward proves he has a heart by helping fulfill SpongeBob's desire to meet Santa Claus only to discover one good deed can unintentionally lead to another and another before you know it. Bonus episodes include Mr. Krabs losing SpongeBob to Plankton in a poker game and Sandy's hibernation through the eyes of SpongeBob and Patrick.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Star Trek: The Compendium (Blu-ray)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Star Trek: The fate of the galaxy rests in the hands of bitter rivals. One, Jame T. Kirk (Chris Pine), is a delinquent thrill-seeking Iowa farm boy. The other, Spock (Zachary Quinto), was raised in a logic-based society that rejects all emotion. As fiery instinct clashes with calm reason, their unlikely but powerful partnership is the only thing capable of leading their crew through unimaginable danger, boldly going where no man has gone before.
Star Trek: Into Darkness: When a ruthless mastermind known as Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) declares a one-man war on the Federation, Captain Kirk (Pine), Spock (Quinto) and the daring crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise will embark on the greatest manhunt in history.
The reboot of the film franchise appropriately features younger versions of the already familiar characters. Perfectly casted, the fresh Enterprise crew reflect the individuals' unique and well-known traits but with youthfulness and verve. The black hole plot allows for a number of opportunities of conflict and compromise that establish the core partnership between Spock and Kirk. It's fitting the second film should be a send-up to the Wrath of Khan. Having already established the characters in the first picture, Kirk's brashness and impulsive bravery are expected. Though Spock's behavior ranges from predictable to surprising. The aggressive assault on the federation is clearly personal and being carried out by someone acquainted with their procedures. Everyone reprises their roles seamlessly, obviously more comfortable the second time around and consequently able to explore other elements of their characters' personalities.
Special features include: disc 1: commentary by by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci; disc 2: 10 featurettes, including 20 branching pods: “To Boldly Go”, “Casting”, “A New Vision”, “Starships”, “Aliens”, “Planets”, “Props and Costumes”, “Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek”, “Score”, “Gene Roddenberry’s Vision”; nine deleted scenes with optional commentary; gag reel; and four trailers; disc 3: IMAX version of the sequel and enhanced commentary J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Michael Giacchino and others; disc 4: “The Voyage Begins…Again”; “Creating the Red Planet”; “Introducing the Villain”; “Rebuilding the Enterprise”; “National Ignition Facility: Home of the Core”; “Attack on Starfleet”; “Aliens Encountered”; “The Klingon Home World”; “The Enemy of My Enemy”; “Vengeance is Coming”; “Ship to Ship”; “Mr. Spock and Mr. Spock”; “Down with the Ship”; “Kirk and Spock”; “Brawl by the Bay”; “Continuing the Mission”; “Unlocking the Cut”; “The Sounds of Music (and FX)”; “Visual Affection”; “Safety First,” a prank pulled on the cast; seven deleted scenes; “Fitting the Future”; “Property of Starfleet”; gag reel; and three theatrical trailers. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Warner Home Video
After a sizzling summer with Damon, Elena leaves Mystic Falls for Whitmore College and moves into a dorm with Caroline as her roomie, ready for new adventures and new friends. But dark thoughts gnaw at Elena, and soon familiar faces are back in the girls’ lives. There’s Stefan with his shadow self, Silas, plus Katherine, who has a diabolical agenda and a jaw-dropping transformation. As the doppelgangers test destiny, pitting the Salvatore brothers against each other, the student body count rises – evidence of powerful forces on campus. The struggle continues between the mysterious Travelers, new witches and our favourite vampires, who must fight for their own survival and, ultimately, the fate of Mystic Falls.
The theme of this season is hostage-taking. Almost every one of the main characters is held captive at some point in the year and each time they manage to escape or be rescued. In addition to being at the mercy of Silas and his desires, the group is also tormented by the Travelers who have taken an interest in the residents of Mystic Falls. Of course in between trying to save each other and the town, they are dealing with heaps of personal drama. Tyler returns (again), and he and Caroline try to make things work. Elena confirms her commitment to Damon, but her fate is still entwined with Stefan's and Damon worries about losing her. Jeremy and Bonnie take their relationship to the next level, but as solutions are sought for new problems they may once again become casualties of the battle.
Special features include: “I Know What You Did… In the Last 100 Episodes”; “The Vampire Diaries: To the Other Side and Back”; “A Day in the Afterlife with Kat Graham”; 2013 Comic-Con panel; unaired scenes; and gag reel. (Warner Home Video)
The World Wars (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Adolf Hitler. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Benito Mussolini. Winston Churchill. Charles de Gaulle. George Patton. Before they were the giants of WWII, they were infantrymen and privates in WWI, the “war to end all wars.” The History channel miniseries brings the story of the devastating three decades of 20th-century world war through the eyes of the men whose characters were forged in the trenches before they commanded a world on the brink of disaster. From Ypres and the Somme to the Battle of the Bulge and the invasion of the Normandy, the iconic figures of WWII become synonymous with either battlefield glory or murderous fascism.
This is the perfect picture for anyone with an interest in history. The four-and-a-half-hour miniseries is narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Jeremy Renner and outlines the numerous decisions and outcomes that influenced the results of the wars. It focuses on the actions of the major players, including those mentioned as well as Douglas MacArthur, Joseph Stalin and others. The narrative describes major events over recreations and archival footage while a variety of historians and political figures such as John McCain recount key moments of the wars and the socioeconomic influences. Not that these wars aren't already interesting, but it's a factual account presented in a manner that is not at all dull. This could actually be a valuable teaching tool to supplement textbook readings.
Special features include: 10 featurettes on both wars; deleted scenes; and “Characters in Depth.” (Lionsgate)
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