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article imageReview: New on DVD for June 4 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 4, 2013 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include an old school action flick; a modern horror anthology; a sibling rivalry of intergalactic proportions; cyclical teen angst; and a portrait of a rebel who died young.
A Good Day to Die Hard (Blu-ray)
Fox Home Entertainment
John McClane (Bruce Willis) is the heroic New York cop with a knack for being in the wrong place at the right time. John’s latest predicament takes him all the way to Russia to track down his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who has been imprisoned in Moscow. But the mission takes a deadly turn as father and son must join forces to thwart a nuclear weapons heist that could trigger World War III.
There should be only two things you want to see when sitting down for a Die Hard movie: Bruce Willis reprising his role as John McClane and a lot of stuff being blown up. Expecting anything more is inviting disappointment. Granted the earlier films in the franchise are the better liked, but that doesn’t mean this movie doesn’t deliver on its promise of a cowboy come to take out the bad guys. The father-son element does not add much to the film – and the “heart-to-heart” moments don’t fit in the slightest. In many instances it would have been more fun just to watch John take on the terrorists like the old days. But there’s this unfounded need to partner him up in recent years that fans will just have to accept. In any case, Willis is still an action hero to be reckoned with in this fifth chapter.
Special features include: commentary by director John Moore and first assistant director Mark Cotone; extended cut of the film; deleted scenes; 15 making-of featurettes; “Anatomy of a Car Chase”; “Maximum McClane”; “Two of a Kind”; “Back in Action”; Pre-vis featurettes; VFX sequences; stills gallery; and theatrical trailers. (Fox Home Entertainment)
The ABCs of Death (DVD)
Video Services Corp
This film is comprised of 26 individual “chapters” on the topic of death, each helmed by a different director assigned to a specific letter of the alphabet.
When compiling a list of this many directors, you're sure to get a variety of results -- especially when few restrictions are enforced. They range from gross to funny, from clever to predictable, and all of them are strange. Most are live-action, but there are also animated and claymation segments. Part of the fun is guessing how the filmmaker chose to interpret their designated letter, so none of the deaths will be revealed here. But "D" is a particularly poignant tale, while "L" will cause alternate expressions of “WTF?!” and “Oh no.” “M” is one of the more controversial and shorter pieces, and “Q” is nonsensical comedy. This anthology is provocative and diverse. There’s something to entertain, offend and/or disgust everyone in this collection.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes, making-ofs and deleted scenes for A, B, C, D, H, I, J, R, T, V and W; AXS TV’s “A Look at The ABCs of Death”; filmmaker commentary from more than 30 filmmakers; and theatrical trailer. (Video Services Corp)
Escape from Planet Earth (3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray DVD and Digital copy)
Entertainment One
Sibling rivals from the Planet BAAB, brainiac Gary Supernova (Rob Corddry) works all the gizmos at Mission Control, while his studly brother Scorch (Brendan Fraser) performs all the superhero stuff. But when Scorch is sent on an SOS operation to the Dark Planet (otherwise known as Earth) from which no alien has ever returned, it’s up to Gary to rescue him, their planet and the universe.
This is an enjoyable movie for all ages. Mr. James Bing is a snarky computer intelligence that always has a comment. Voiced by Ricky Gervais, it's even more amusing to hear him state the obvious or point out an error. Older viewers will be able to predict the direction of the story and what little "surprises" the characters have in store for each other, but that doesn't take away the fun from the viewing experience. The additional characters Gary encounters at the containment facility in Area 51 are also hilarious. They're all very intelligent and experts in their field, having invented key Earth advancements including Facebook. There are some clever jokes for adults incorporated into the dialogue, as well as some British humour. The action occurs at regular intervals and varies in type from threatening chases to food fights. Overall, it’s family friendly alien entertainment.
Special features include: commentary by director Cal Brunker; alternate and deleted scenes; making-of featurette; “How to Make an Animated Feature” with Brunker; and music featurettes with Delta Rae, Owl City and Cody Simpson. (Entertainment One)
Funeral Kings (DVD)
Entertainment One
It's always a good day for a funeral at St. Mark's Middle School. Andy (Dylan Hartigan) and Charlie (Alex Maizus), two altar servers, don't just get to miss class anytime a parishioner kicks the bucket, they cut out early and play hooky as soon as the service is over. Eventually their irreverent personalities will put them in situations that are too big for them to handle. When Bobby (Brandon Waltz), a 16-year-old dropout and former altar boy, hides a padlocked trunk in Andy's bedroom, he explicitly tells Andy not to open it. In spite of the warning, Andy and Charlie do whatever it takes to get inside. They crack it open to find just what they had hoped for--fireworks, cigarettes, even dirty magazines. The most alluring of all the contraband, however, is the piece they didn't expect: gleaming back at them is a small, silver, .38-caliber revolver enticing the boys to get in over their heads.
Fourteen is a difficult age. You no longer feel like a kid and your hormones are raging, but you lack the experience of your older peers - which you can do nothing about because everyone still treats you like a kid. It's a vicious cycle that plagues most adolescents. This movie captures it in a nutshell. Baby-faced Charlie can't get any respect (even for his age), while Andy tries to maintain a facade of maturity. The trunk of paraphernalia, especially the revolver, help the boys walk with their heads held a little higher. But it also forces them a little closer to adulthood. One of the reasons this narrative works is it takes place in the recent past before downloading and Facebook changed the landscape forever; though a similar narrative in the current landscape would be interesting in contrast.
Special features include: “My Brother’s Treasure” short film; and trailers. (Entertainment One)
The Last Ride (Blu-ray)
Fox Home Entertainment
Based on the controversial life story of singer-songwriter Hank Williams, the film tells the tale of country music’s original bad boy. The man, the myth and the music come together when Williams (Henry Thomas) travels from Alabama to a series of New Year’s shows in West Virginia and Ohio. Features all-new versions of Hank Williams’ greatest songs.
For a generation that may be unfamiliar with Hank Williams, this is an inadequate introduction. For those who are fans, this is an unsatisfactory biopic. Focusing on his last days before his lifestyle caught up with him, the film portrays a hard-drinking womanizer that could be harsh and lonely. His musical talents are a secret from everyone who doesn't already know who he is -- including his hired driver (Jesse James). Though the description boasts about his popular songs, this movie could have been about any arrogant drunk with money. That's the problem. As much as this is a depiction of "the man behind the music", it doesn't seem specific to Williams. In addition, it's a relatively long, uneventful car ride that ironically goes on too long.
Special features include: “A Look Inside The Last Ride.” (Fox Home Entertainment)
More about The ABCs of Death, Escape from Planet Earth, A Good Day To Die Hard, Funeral Kings, The Last Ride
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