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article imageReview: New on DVD for March 5 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 5, 2013 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a found footage film grounded in fact; an unconventional bromance; a remake that’s actually an improvement; a classic sci-fi film; and a nostalgic animation that could have won an Oscar (and one that did).
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Batman – Brave and the Bold: Season Three (DVD)
Evil never sleeps in these diabolical schemes plotted by the world’s most infamous criminals, including The Joker, Lex Luthor, Equinox and Ra’s Al Ghul. Fortunately, Batman and his many allies, including Superman, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Wonder Woman, are always up for the challenge.
Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
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Alliance Films
The Bay (DVD)
Two million fish washed ashore. One thousand blackbirds dropped from the sky. On July 4, 2009 a deadly menace swept through the quaint seaside town of Claridge, Maryland, but the harrowing story of what happened that Independence Day has never been told– until now. The authorities believed they had buried the truth about the tragedy that claimed over 700 human lives. Now, three years later, a reporter has emerged with footage revealing the cover-up and an unimaginable killer: a mysterious parasitic outbreak. Told from the perspective of those who were there and saw what happened, the film unfolds over 24 hours through people’s iPhones, Androids, 911 calls, webcams, and whatever else could be used to document the nightmare in Claridge.
Director Barry Levinson uses facts about mass animal deaths and nasty parasites to tell this fictional tale. The epidemic can be reasonably traced from steroids given to chickens to their manure polluting the water to the formation of flesh-eating parasites which infect humans through the water supply; these “isopods” are also known as sea lice. The real life YouTube videos and Google images of the bugs are as disgusting as the creatures that crawl out of the movie’s victims. Somewhat of a found footage film, the outbreak is told via 21 different digital formats; each film format is specific to the character. In this sense, Levinson demonstrates that he is very tech savvy.
Special features include: commentary by director Barry Levinson; and “Into the Unknown: Barry Levinson on The Bay.” (Alliance Films)
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Entertainment One
Collaborator (DVD)
Robert Longfellow (Martin Donovan) is a famous playwright who can't seem to catch a break. His recent Broadway play was met with horrible reviews and an early cancellation, and his marriage is being tested as an old flame (Olivia Williams) re-enters his life during a particular moment of weakness. Retreating to his childhood home to visit his mother (Katherine Helmond), Robert crosses paths with his childhood neighbor, Gus (David Morse). A right-wing, ex-con who still lives at home with his mother, Gus is Robert's polar opposite in every possible way. When Gus holds Robert hostage at gunpoint during a drunken reunion gone terribly wrong, the drama unfolds as social status, celebrity and the imminent threat of violence converge, building up to a climax that will leave both men forever changed.
When eventually confined to a single space, the film relies on the competency of the actors to carry the narrative forward. Both Donovan and Morse have been generally regulated to secondary roles throughout their careers, but here they seize the opportunity to show they too can be leading men in serious situations. The events leading up to the hostage taking are mostly insignificant in comparison. They’re meant to establish Robert’s character, but the narrative could have equally thrived without it. On some level, it could have worked better as just a two-man performance. On the other hand, in spite of the dramatic and intense storyline this film performs like an exercise in self-indulgence for writer/director/actor Donovan. When Robert's fantasy is realized or he depends on his theatrical experience to survive his time with Gus, it feels a little like he's patting himself on the back.
Special features include: interviews with Martin Donovan and Olivia Williams. (Entertainment One)
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Alliance Films
The Intouchables (DVD)
When Driss (Omar Sy), an ex-con from the projects, is hired to take care of an eccentric French aristocrat named Philippe (François Cluzet), his newfound job quickly becomes an unpredictable adventure. Speeding a Maserati through Paris, seducing women and paragliding over the Alps is just the beginning, as Driss turns the often humorous world of upper-class Parisian society upside-down. As this unlikely duo overcome adversity of every flavor in this true story, they also shatter their preconceptions of love, life and each other.
Based on a real-life, improbable friendship, this film brings a new, refreshing level to the bromance. Though opposites, these men formed a bond that excluded pity and transcended stature. Hollywood has conditioned audiences to believe these types of stories must contain a devastating event that will have them weeping in their seats. Writer/director team Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano successfully disprove this theory, creating an uplifting, heartfelt story about embracing circumstances and enjoying life in all its conditions. Viewers feel almost an instantaneous connection with Philippe and Driss that brings immeasurable enjoyment to watching the movie. It's a filmmaker’s accomplishment not easily attained, and a demonstration of maturity and experience behind the camera. Moreover, Cluzet and Sy are exceptional. The role of Driss was tailored for Sy, who brings an energy, humor and likability to his character that immediately endears audiences to him. And Cluzet accepts and excels in the challenge of playing Philippe, establishing a personality that transcends his physical limitations.
Special features include: deleted scenes. (Alliance Films)
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Alliance Films
Red Dawn (DVD)
The unsuspecting citizens of Spokane, Washington, wake up one morning to the shocking sight of foreign paratroopers dropping from the sky in a surprise attack on the United States. Soon the entire region is under enemy control, but a group of courageous teenagers has decided to fight back, waging an all-out war against the invaders, to take back their town and their freedom.
This is a remake of the 1984 film of the same name, starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen as the heroic brothers. The latest version makes several improvements on the original. To start, the events leading up to the invasion are presented via a montage of news clips, which is far more effective than the rapid intertitles explaining the situation in the first film. The ability for a group of kids to effectively challenge a trained military force is also given slightly more traction by providing Jed (Chris Hemsworth) with a service background. There is some genuine humour built into the film, but there are also numerous moments of tried-and-true patriotism. Though this film is fictional and often hard to believe, there are some ideas presented about war and insurgents that could stimulate post-screening discussions.
There are no special features. (Alliance Films)
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Anchor Bay Entertainment
Ultramarines: Warhammer (DVD)
It is 41st Millennium, and the only force that stands between humanity and alien hordes are the Space Marines. Genetically enhanced, clad in power armour and knowing no fear they are the angels of death. And the greatest of them are the Ultramarines™. But when a select squad of scarred veterans and raw recruits responds to a distant planet’s distress beacon, they’ll discover that a horrific evil has been unleashed. And amidst a living nightmare of chaos, carnage and daemonic fury, these steel battle-brothers must now survive the ultimate enemy: themselves.
Terence Stamp's and John Hurt's voices lend a military authority to the animated film. The gritty storyline is matched by the sandy terrain and gruff characters. Their weapons are futuristic, but obvious enhancements of currently available hardware, such as the inventive and effective sword crossed with a chainsaw. These modified jarheads are conditioned to know no fear in the face of any enemy. This is a useful trait since they battle supernatural threats labeled "heretics." In short, they appear to be possessed humans with no hope of salvation. It would not be surprising to see a live action version of this tabletop war strategy game, but the computer animation really lends itself to the story type. The hard lines, armored suits and fully imagined locations are ideal for the medium.
Special features include: making-of featurette; “Between Chaos & Darkness: The World of the Space Marines”; “Creating the Daemon”; and Ultramarines prequel animated onscreen graphic novel. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Westworld (Blu-ray)
In a futuristic resort, wealthy patrons can visit recreations of different time periods and experience their wildest fantasies with life-like robots. But when Richard Benjamin opts for the Wild West, he gets more than he bargained for when a gunslinger robot (Yul Brynner) goes berserk.
This is sort of like Disney World on acid where your wildest movie-inspired fantasies can come true, and there's no risk of being hurt or hurting anyone else. Adults indulge in the excesses of the Roman Empire or engage in a Wild West gunfight. But when the robot uprising occurs, no one is safe. Brynner is outstanding as the main mechanical character - a rogue robot gunslinger. The malfunction has the gunfighter stalking the various theme parks, looking for new (albeit defenseless) challengers.
Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
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Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
Wreck-it Ralph (3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy)
For decades, Ralph (John C. Reilly) has played the bad guy in his popular video game. In a bold move, he embarks on an action-packed adventure and sets out to prove to everyone that he is a true hero with a big heart. As he explores exciting new worlds, he teams up with some unlikely new friends including feisty misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman).
This film follows the same concept of toys coming to life when you leave the room or go to sleep. In a sense, it's like any job: you put in the hours and clock out for the night. Once a week video game bad guys even meet for a support group, “Bad-Anon.” There are a lot of recognizable characters and those included were chosen from the classics pile. But even if you’re unfamiliar with the characters, the story is accessible. Ralph’s feelings of being underappreciated are easy to relate to. Vanellope walks the line of sweet and annoying, but she eventually grows on the audience just as she does Ralph. Filmmakers do a good job in developing this imaginary world while anchoring it in the real one. The characters travel via electrical wiring and only view the outside world through the glass of their game (which is another reason watching in 3D is actually multi-dimensional). As a result the pop culture references are restricted to the gaming world, keeping it true to the story.
Special features include: alternate and deleted scenes; “Bit by Bit: Creating the Worlds of Wreck-It Ralph”; video game commercials; “Disney Intermission: The Gamer’s Guide to Wreck-It-Ralph,” when the film is paused, host Chris Hardwick appears on screen to guide viewers through a series of 10 video segments offering an inside look at the many video game references, Disney references and other hidden surprises featured in the film; and Oscar winning animated short film, Paperman. (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
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