This week’s releases include: two sophomore seasons of great TV; an acclaimed newcomer to the tube; an unlikely legend; and a comedic display of man vs. woman.
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Second Season (DVD)
In the wake of Prohibition in 1921 Atlantic City, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) wields ultimate power in “the world’s playground.” After rigging the Atlantic City mayoral election, Nucky and young WWI veteran Jimmy Darmody appear to be in control of the city. However, their grip soon begins to unravel as Nucky is arrested for election fraud and members of both his inner circle and family begin to question their allegiances. All the while, mobsters like Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and Al Capone wait in the wings, looking for the right opportunity to grab a bigger piece of Nucky’s pie.
Special features include: six commentaries by cast and crew, including Terence Winter, Buscemi, Jack Huston and Michael Kenneth Williams; “Character dossier”; “Back to the Boardwalk”; “The money decade”; “Updated to the Boardwalk”; “New characters”; and promo spot. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster (DVD)
The film is based on the true story of Edwin Boyd, the man who became postwar Toronto's most famous criminal. Eddie (Scott Speedman) returned from WWII and was dismayed by public indifference towards veterans and humiliated by his inability to fulfill his dream of being a Hollywood star or provide for his children and wife Doreen. Seeing only disappointment in the face of his policeman father (Brian Cox), Eddie is desperate and starts to rob banks. But what starts as friendly and flirtatious robberies, performed while wearing thick makeup, evolves over time into a career that when mixed with a gang of small time criminals is not unlike that of Clyde Barrow or Butch Cassidy, in which crime and love are mixed to get explosive results.
It's not often one hears about a big time criminal from Canada, but the film shows he was the genuine article. Eddie was a performer at his core and it showed when he took over a bank. He was apparently so charming that women swooned as he held them at gunpoint. Speedman, fittingly another Canuck, gives a wonderful performance as the clever but playful thief. Kevin Durand and Brendan Fletcher play his accomplices, the former providing the intimidating element of their gang while the latter is the cheerleading sheep. The main problem with the narrative is it glosses over a significant amount of time, causing the film to feel incomplete.
Special features include: a making-of featurette. (Entertainment One)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
The Lucky One (DVD & Blu-ray combo pack)
U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq, with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive - a photograph he found of a woman he doesn't even know. Learning her name is Beth (Taylor Schilling) and where she lives, he shows up at her door, and ends up taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Despite her initial mistrust and the complications in her life, a romance develops between them, giving Logan hope that Beth could be much more than his good luck charm.
This is a sappy to the nth degree romance story. It starts in the middle of a war zone before moving to lighter banter between Logan and Beth. The early scenes of an emotionally damaged war veteran are apparently forgotten when he meets his dream woman. Logan no longer jumps at loud sounds or attacks when surprised; he is immediately, and unbelievably, tranquil in her vicinity. Schilling has the girl next door quality these pictures require; while Efron has had heartthrob status since before he could vote. However, even for a cheesy love story, the ending feels like a cop out.
Special features include: “Zac Efron becomes a Marine”; “Watch the sparks fly: The romantic world of The Lucky One”; “Zac and Taylor’s amazing chemistry.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
On her 28th birthday, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) meets Henry (Jared S. Gilmore), the she gave up for adoption 10 years ago. Henry believes Emma is the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), prophesied to break a powerful curse. Unconvinced, Emma returns Henry to Storybrooke, where she encounters the enigmatic Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) and clashes with mayor Regina Mills (Lana Parrilla) – the boy’s adoptive mother – who Henry insists is none other than Evil Queen.
Special features include: commentaries; deleted scenes; “Once Upon a Time: Origins”; “Fairy tales in the modern world”; “Building Character”; “Welcome to Storybrooke”; “The story I remember... Snow White”; and “Fairest bloopers of them all.” (ABC Studios)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (DVD)
When the infamous Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) is shunned once again by his rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz, he sets his sights to win the coveted Pirate of the Year Award. With his trusted dodo, Polly and rag-tag crew at his side, the Pirate Captain will need to battle a diabolical queen, save a young scientist and never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: Adventure!
The swashbuckler genre used to be a bit of a joke, with the most memorable entries being the Douglas Fairbanks pictures. Then Pirates of the Caribbean came along and raised the bar for any sea tale that followed. But Band of Misfits doesn't seem to strive to meet this standard or even the one the studio set for itself. Aardman Animations is a fantastic little studio in the U.K. that makes very entertaining, attractive, family-friendly pictures, including Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. But this film remains relatively mediocre throughout, never really pushing towards excellent. It is, however, as stunning as would be expected from the studio. Grant is an indescribably charming actor on screen. However, as a voice actor, he loses something of his appeal.
Special features include: commentary by the filmmakers; “So You Want to be a Pirate!” mini-movie; and Mr. Bob’s Flash Card Challenge. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Proposition (Blu-ray)
Three brothers: one must live; one must die; and one must decide. In the harsh, unforgiving 1880s landscape of the Australian Outback, Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) is presented with an impossible proposition by the local law enforcer (Ray Winstone): save his younger brother, Mikey (Richard Wilson), by killing his psychotic, older brother, Arthur (Danny Huston). Short on time and torn by loyalty, Charlie and his brothers face a punishing, moral dilemma – the resolution of which will have devastating consequences.
This could be considered somewhat of a first try for writer Nick Cave, who also scripted the newly released Lawless. The cast is stellar in the stylistic Western, which occupies the dust lands of the outback. Drained of colour and soaked in warm tones, Charlie comes to the hard decision of choosing between his gentler, younger brother whose he’s promised to protect and his former partner in crime. Pearce is nearly unrecognizable, both physically and characteristically, once again showcasing his chameleon qualities for the camera. Though the attention to the aesthetic is sometimes distracting from what is otherwise a solid, Wild West narrative.
Special features include: commentary by director John Hillcoat and writer Nick Cave; deleted scenes; a making-of featurette; “Inside The Proposition”; photo gallery; and theatrical trailer. (Alliance Films)
Starship Troopers: Invasion (Blu-ray)
The troopers of two starships have joined forces to terminate a massive bug attack at a federation outpost. Before the mission can be completed and the survivors evacuated, one ship abruptly departs and goes inexplicably dark. The remaining battle-hardened troopers race to the rescue, only to discover that the threat from the bugs is about to hit home.
Special features include: commentary by filmmakers; deleted scenes; 11-part making-of featurette; and conceptual art gallery. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Think like a Man (DVD)
Four friends conspire to turn the tables on their women when they discover the ladies have been using Steve Harvey's relationship advice against them.
There's a strategy to getting what you want from your person of interest – at least that's what everyone would like to believe. Though this contrived battle of the sexes is more comedic than romantic. The witty script, endless jokes and charming cast combine for a lot of laughs, though sometimes it does appear to be trying too hard to be funny all the time - even if for the most part, it succeeds. The categories and strategies presented in Harvey's book are not Earth shattering. The men and women described are all stereotypes we've seen or heard about at some point. It's all recycled dating propaganda that makes great fodder for comedy because it's so ridiculous. Fortunately, the cast has fantastic chemistry together.
Special features include: deleted scenes and gag reel. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
After a zombie apocalypse, a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), travel in search of a safe and secure home. However, instead of the zombies, it’s the living who still remain that may be the biggest threat. At the end of the first season the characters were in the midst of a high-intensity struggle to survive, fleeing the CDC as it burst into flames. Now they are still fighting zombies, and each other, facing more threats and obstacles than ever before.
The series picks up where the first left off with Rick still dangling the secret shared with him by the CDC guy. The focus remains on the characters, who are motivated by, among other things, the undead menace. The first episode introduces a zombie phenomenon not yet seen on the show: a horde passes them on a highway, creating excellent tension and great visuals. Although with the addition of a doctor character, it seems as if people are getting injured more than ever. The series continues to mix story lines from the comics with new developments and never-before-seen character arches, keeping it fresh and interesting.
Special features include: commentary on five episodes; eight deleted scenes; 11 featurettes; and six webisodes. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)