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article imageReview: New on DVD for November 20 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 19, 2012 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include documentaries about a past disaster and a current problem; a unique love story; and an old school action movie.
The Dust Bowl (DVD)
The Dust Bowl chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, when a frenzied wheat boom on the southern Plains, followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s, nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Menacing black blizzards killed farmers' crops and livestock, threatened the lives of their children, and forced thousands of desperate families to pick up and move somewhere else.
Special features not available. (Entertainment One)
Expendables 2 (Blu-ray and DVD combo pack)
The team signs on for a mission that looks like an easy paycheck for Barney (Sylvester Stallone) and his band of old-school mercenaries, but things quickly go wrong and one of their own is killed by a psychotic terrorist-for-hire (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Hell-bent on payback, they cut a swath of destruction through enemy territory and wreak havoc upon their opponents. In the midst of the mayhem, they must also shut down an unexpected threat in the nick of time, preventing five tons of weapons-grade plutonium from falling into the wrong hands.
This is a good ol' fashioned good guys vs. bad guys flick that includes a tank explosion and the rescue of a village. The original cast reprise their roles, more comfortable in their parts and visibly enjoying their performances. Former cameos, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, are developed into small supporting roles, boosted by other gleeful appearances, including Chuck Norris. This film isn’t worried about taking itself too seriously. It owns its position in the genre as a sort of homage to action movies (and stars) gone by, reaching as far back as the '70s for this picture. This is the best sort of action movie: thin plot, lots of fighting and captivating heroes.
Special features include: commentary by director Simon West; deleted scenes; “Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s mightiest antiheroes”; “Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980’s and the rise of the action film”; “On the Assault: The real-life weaponry of The Expendables”; “Guns for Hire: The real Expendables”; and a gag reel. (Alliance Films)
Entertainment One
The Invisible War (DVD)
This is an investigative documentary about one of the U.S.’s most shameful and best-kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the military. Today, a female soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The number of assaults in the last decade alone is in the hundreds of thousands. Focusing on the powerfully emotional stories of several young women, the film reveals the systemic cover-up of the crimes against them and follows their struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice.
Statistics are one thing, but putting a face to the crime is always a more effective way to get the point across to people. The opening montage of women describing their experiences with rape is consequently very effective. To hear their personal stories of how inconsequential the incidents were to their attackers, and how the crimes were dealt with by superiors is simultaneously heartbreaking and infuriating. The women are courageously candid about the details of their experiences, even letting the cameras into their homes. And to provide official and legal context to their stories, various lawyers and military and government representatives are also interviewed. While the documentary does result in an important change in the reporting of sexual assault, it also shows there is still a lot to do to make the military safe for women.
Special features not available. (Entertainment One)
Laurence Anyways (DVD & Blu-ray combo pack)
In the ‘90s, Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) tells his girlfriend Fred (Suzanne Clément) that he wants to become a woman. In spite of the odds, in spite of each other, they confront the prejudices of their friends, ignore the council of their families, and brave the phobias of the society they offend. For 10 years, they try to live through this transition, and embark on an epic journey which, unbeknownst to them, may cost Fred and Laurence their love.
Special features not available. (Alliance Films)
More about Expendables 2, Laurence Anyways, The Dust Bowl, Ken Burns, The Invisible War
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