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article imageReview: New on DVD for May 28 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 29, 2013 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a troubling horror story; research gone horribly awry; an amusing collection of library titles; and an original diva classic.
A Haunting At Silver Falls (DVD)
Untitled
Anchor Bay Entertainment
After the loss of her parents, Jordan (Alix Elizabeth Gitter) is sent to live with her aunt (Tara Westwood) and uncle (Steve Bacic) in Silver Falls, a small town on the edge of the Pacific Northwest where she soon finds herself haunted by two victims of Silver Falls’ bloody past. Her family history, along with the sleep disturbances and chilling visions she experiences have those closest to her questioning her mental health, while she wonders who she can really trust.
There are no special features. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Airheads (DVD)
Untitled
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Three intelligence-challenged rock ‘n’ rollers (Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler) decide to take drastic action after their music continually falls on deaf ears. They break into a radio station, hoping to get their demo played on the air. But when the deejay (Joe Mantegna) and station manager (Michael McKean) refuse to play their song, the boys have no choice but to take the entire station hostage.
Every band wants to make it. How they handle rejection often defines their future. It certainly does for these guys who make a name for themselves by being consistently stupid. Their constant screw ups add to their personalities, which are already engaging and distinctive. While it may not seem noteworthy on paper, Fraser, Buscemi and Sandler give amazing, hilarious performances that contribute to the film's ability to be re-watched repeatedly over time. Stereotypes of the music industry are the narrative's prime targets, but there's lots to laugh at and enjoy in this movie.
There are no special features. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Assassin’s Bullet (DVD)
Untitled
Entertainment One
When an unknown vigilante begins killing high-priority terrorists from America’s Most Wanted list in Europe, a former FBI field agent (Christian Slater) is brought in by the U.S. Ambassador (Donald Sutherland) to discover the identity of the assassin.
It's been some time since Slater starred in anything worth mentioning and sadly the wait continues. There are three stories unfolding within the narrative: a young woman is trying to access suppressed memories; a mysterious killer is murdering numerous terrorists efficiently; and a romance is blooming between the retired agent and a dancer. These tales operate so independently of each other that even though it's possible to predict the link between them, there still appears to be a notable disconnect when the truth is revealed. In some ways it's attempting to be too clever, incorporating too many additional characters and complexities. In the end it's wholly forgettable.
Special features include: making-of featurette; and behind-the-scenes featurette. (Entertainment One)
Cleopatra (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Fox Home Entertainment
Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) is the glamorous and cunning queen of Egypt. To secure her hold on power, she seduces the rulers of Rome, only to meet her match in Mark Antony (Richard Burton). Their passionate romance could decide the fate of the world’s greatest empires.
Special features include: commentary by Chris Mankiewicz, Tom Mankiewicz, Martin Landau and Jack Brodsky; “Cleopatra Through The Ages: A Cultural History”; “Cleopatra’s Missing Footage”; Fox Movie Channel presents “Fox Legacy with Tom Rothman”; “The Cleopatra Papers: A Private Correspondence”; “Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood”; “The Fourth Star of Cleopatra”; New York and Hollywood premieres via Fox Movietone News; and theatrical trailers. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Dark Skies (DVD & Blu-ray combo pack)
Untitled
Entertainment One
As husband and wife Daniel (Josh Hamilton) and Lacy Barrett (Keri Russell) witness an escalating series of disturbing events involving their family, their safe and peaceful home quickly unravels. When it becomes clear that the Barrett family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying and deadly force, Daniel and Lacy take matters in their own hands to solve the mystery of what is after their family.
To really enjoy this film, avoid watching the trailer beforehand. The best sci-fi horror films delay the big reveal but previews spoil many of the picture’s surprises, removing the “unknown” aspect. The horror element, on the other hand, still strives. It subtly shifts from unsettling to effectively employing jump scares. Filmmakers establish an eerie atmosphere early with the children’s scary bedtime tales. As the strange occurrences become a consistent concern, the tension in the house grows and oozes out of the screen. One of the elements that make the movie work is its link to the real world outside of the narrative. Most viewers will be aware of the mass bird deaths that occurred around the world. This film offers an alternative reason for this unexplained phenomenon.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Scott Stewart, producer Jason Blum, executive producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and editor Peter Gvozdas; and alternate and deleted scenes with optional commentary. (Entertainment One)
Dead Mine (DVD)
Untitled
Entertainment One
The legend of Yamashita's Gold lures a treasure hunter and his group deep into the Indonesian jungle. Once they are trapped in an abandoned World War II Japanese bunker, they face the terrifying reality that the only way out is to go further in.
This is not the first film to play with the idea of what other human experiments may have been performed during World War II, but it does introduce and carry through with an interesting concept. The group, led by an arrogant Westerner, and their military escort find themselves hunted by an experiment gone wrong... or terribly right. The first half is hampered by bad acting and extended foreplay before finally getting to the meat of the story. A different actor in the role of the rich boss' son could have made this section a little more tolerable. But the fast-paced ending of running, hiding and scrambling balances out the film's entertainment quotient.
Special features include: deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes featurette; and interviews. (Entertainment One)
Jumpin’ Jack Flash (DVD)
Untitled
Anchor Bay Entertainment
A computer operator (Whoopi Goldberg) at a bank is plunged into an exciting world of international intrigue, danger and romance when her terminal gets an S.O.S. from “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” a British spy stranded in Eastern Europe. She is soon matching wits with the deadliest members of the espionage community from the CIA to the KGB.
Watching this movie is like viewing an artifact of how things used to be – in the '80s. Stopping and rewinding a cassette tape to write down the lyrics; the Tina Turner Halloween costume found in so many closets along with the distinctive wardrobe of loose fitting clothing; and the large MS DOS computers. But beyond being a blast from the past, it's a fun, head-first leap into the spy game by a novice who does exceptionally well evading the enemy. Goldberg is entertaining and charming as she completes secret missions of varying complexity and risk to save the life of a man with whom she's only texted.
There are no special features. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
The Newton Boys (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Anchor Bay Entertainment
It seems the only way the Newton boys can make good is by goin’ bad. Faster than you can say “nitroglycerin,” they’ve knocked over more than 80 banks from Texas to Canada. Now their sights are set on a multimillion-dollar Federal Reserve train robbery, but the Feds are about to turn up the heat.
Criminals become famous based on the acts they commit. They're memorable when they're charming, good looking and/or interesting in some other uncommon way. These are the men and women immortalized in books and movies. If the brothers on whom this story is based are half the characters portrayed in the movie, it's not surprising someone thought their tale would appeal to a mass audience. Matthew McConaughey is the focus as the often greedy heart of the operation, but Ethan Hawke is the centre of attention whenever he's on screen. Overall the acting and casting of the film is without fault, and the narrative is more than captivating enough to keep viewers' attention.
There are no special features. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Simply Irresistible (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Beautiful restaurant owner Amanda Shelton (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is falling head over heels for handsome, hard-driving executive Tom Bartlett (Sean Patrick Flanery). Unfortunately, Tom is too busy to recognize that she’s truly the girl of his dreams – until Amanda puts him under her tantalizing spell.
Not exactly a teen rom com, it does star a former teen idol that softened her badass image to make friends with a mystical crab, cook amazing food and fall in love with a handsome department store prince. The magical element of the film is rooted in a well-known adage suggesting food prepared with love tastes better, making it seem less far-fetched than it might have otherwise. There is a captivating chemistry between Gellar and Flanery that makes their rocky courtship even more amusing. This is one of those movies that warms your heart while remaining playful throughout – even their fights are lighthearted.
There are no special features. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
The Star Chamber (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Steve Hardin (Michael Douglas), a young judge, must grapple with his conscience as vicious criminals in his court are going free as a result of slick lawyers finding obscure loopholes in the law. Hardin feels utterly powerless until he discovers The Star Chamber, a small group of powerful men bent on their own kind of vigilante justice. Meeting behind closed doors in the utmost secrecy, they decree their own punishment for the guilty who have slipped through the system without paying for their crimes.
This is more of a morality tale than is necessary or good for the film. It's heavy-handed and seems to work out because the good guys have to win – not because it's the most logical or believable ending to the story. The frustration illustrated in the beginning of the film is relatable as anger towards unpunished lawbreakers of this nature is relatively uniform. No one likes technicalities in these situations. The vigilante route is the only possible one based on the setup to the narrative. But then it retreats from its own solution. Moreover, Douglas never seems sure of his decisions – either in or out of character.
There are no special features. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
More about dark skies, Cleopatra, The Newton Boys, Simply Irresistible, Airheads
 
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