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article imageReview: New on DVD for August 27 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Aug 31, 2013 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include the latest from some of television’s top series; a few high-def library classics; an unbelievable true story; some entertaining movies for the kids – and kids at heart; and a gorgeous adaptation of a classic novel.
Action Jackson (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Detroit police Sergeant Jericho Jackson (Carl Weathers) is pitted against the brutal thugs of ruthless auto tycoon Peter Dellaplane (Craig T. Nelson) who’s out to murder his way to political power. Jackson is also involved with Dellaplane’s beautiful wife Patrice (Sharon Stone) – and his exotic mistress, Sydney (Vanity). Framed up and hunted down by his fellow officers, Jackson sets up a desperate showdown.
After a couple of bouts in the ring and a round in the jungle, Weathers took his tough guy routine to the streets of Detroit. This is typical of most ‘80s action movies featuring cops, in which the crime fighter identifies corruption and sets out to eradicate it by any means necessary. Of course, there’s also an attractive woman (in this case two) he’s trying to rescue from the evildoer’s grasp. It doesn’t attempt to stray from the genre’s formula, offering only the standard fair in an unexceptional manner. ‘Action’ isn’t as catchy as ‘Cobra’ either, but it works well enough for Weathers.
There are no special features. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Among Friends (DVD)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
A close-knit group of friends gets together for an ‘80s-themed murder mystery party. Crimped hair and pastel suits rule the night until the friends discover they’ve been poisoned, resulting in paralysis from the waist down. Hostess Bernadette reveals her plan: to create an honest environment in which her friends can come clean about their transgressions against one another. In a cat and mouse game of question and answer, Bernadette doles out punishment as it is required and before the night is over, issues of morality, integrity and friendship are challenged, chopped and nailed to the table for all to consider.
Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
At Any Price (DVD)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
In the competitive world of modern agriculture, ambitious Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) wants his rebellious son Dean (Zac Efron) to help expand his family’s farming empire. However, Dean has his sights set on becoming a professional race car driver. When a high-stakes investigation into their business is exposed, father and son are pushed into an unexpected crisis that threatens the family’s entire livelihood.
Movies about farming and ranching are no longer idyllic portrayals of living off the land and helping your neighbour. Rural communities are quickly losing land to various developments and it's become every man for himself. Henry appears ruthless, approaching the grieving with offers to buy their land before the dirt even settles. Dean is typical of the small town rebel who would do anything to avoid becoming his father. As both men hope Dean's older brother will return to take over the family business, each new postcard from some distant location dashes their dreams. It glosses over some significant issues in favour of more personal drama, nearly turning the picture into a melodrama.
Special features include: commentary by director Ramin Bahrani and Dennis Quaid; “Toronto International Film Festival Q&A” interview; and four rehearsal footage scenes. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Atlantic City, 1922: the roaring ‘20s are about to begin in earnest and despite a booming economy, alcohol is scarce and gangster violence is heating up. Amidst this backdrop, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), whose marriage to Margaret has become a sham after she signed away his highway windfall to the church, faces the challenge of mending old relationships. Nucky also encounters new competition from a hair-trigger gangster who builds a strategic bulkhead between New York and Atlantic City in an effort to siphon off Nucky’s alcohol business. The conflict brings out the best and worst of Nucky as new and familiar faces undergo compelling metamorphoses.
Following the devastating and shocking events that concluded the previous season, on the surface it seems life on the shore has returned to the status quo. But there are small cracks in the facade that reveal themselves to be the consequences of these transgressions. Nucky's deal with the Irish has proven lucrative, regaining his criminal ground in the city. But a new player has taken a dislike to Nucky, threatening to throw a wrench in his operation. Margaret is transforming into quite the philanthropist, though her distaste for deception and bullying has weakened. The empire restored, it must be defended from everyone that wants a slice of the pie – which is no short list. New alliances strengthen the defense, but with so many motives influencing decisions it's difficult to know who can truly be trusted.
Special features include: commentary by cast crew on six episodes; “American Empires”; “Boardwalk Chronicles”; “Newsreels”; “Boardwalk Empire – Director’s Chair”; “Distilling Season 2”; “Scorsese on Season 3”; and “New Characters.” (HBO)
The Colony (Blu-ray)
Entertainment One
Forced underground by the next ice age, a struggling outpost of survivors fight to preserve humanity against a threat even more savage than nature.
Survival is a powerful motivator. It forces people to do things they may never have considered – before it became "necessary." In a world in which an uber SARS-like flu has wiped out large portions of population, the smallest symptom results in shunning and confirmation in exile, or death if the infected is uncooperative. Some, breaking under the pressure of the apocalypse, went to even further extremes of self-preservation. The methods of these predators are horrific, pushing protagonists to enter a dastardly scene that cannot be forgotten. A solid post-apocalyptic thriller, the movie provides a decent amount of foreplay before going in for the kill.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes. (Entertainment One)
Elementary: The First Season (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
A contemporary take on the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller), he investigates crimes in modern-day New York City as a consultant to the NYPD and is assisted by Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), a former surgeon, who is hired by Holmes' wealthy father to help keep the eccentric detective sober.
Literally Sherlock Holmes on heroin, Miller's character is a fast-talking head case that is always two steps ahead of those around him. His deductive abilities are so astonishing, it's difficult to become invested in the character because he seems unreal and is generally inconsiderate. Furthermore Liu is Holmes' patsy rather than his partner for much of the season, which puts another wedge between the characters and audience since Watson was the viewers' foothold into the detective's personality. The cases he is called to are not exceptional in circumstance, though some of the findings are intriguing.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “A Holmes of Their Own”; “In Liu of Watson”; “Holmes Sweet Holmes”; “Set Tour With Lucy Liu”; “The Power of Observation: Behind-the-scenes Webseries”; CBS launch promos. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Epic (Blu-ray)
Fox Home Entertainment
Transported to a magical world, a teenager (Amanda Seyfried) is recruited by a nature spirit, Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), to help the “Leafmen” save their existence – and ours – from evil warriors.
This movie contains one of the most eclectic collections of voice actors to collaborate on a single project; on the other hand, their distinctive personalities are almost too identifiable in some cases (namely musicians Beyoncé Knowles and Steven Tyler). The tale of adventure in a miniature world that exists parallel to our own isn't new, nor is the rebellious teen or disillusioned young adult, but the picture tries to tip the scale by being fun and it's mostly successful. Colin Farrell is the unexpected voice of reason and fatherly advice, while Hutcherson is careless and egotistical.
Special features include: Mub and Grub intro; “Birds, Bugs and Slugs: Forest Explorer”; “Bugs of Camouflage”; “The Epic Life at Two Inches Tall”; “Mysteries Moonhaven Revealed”; “Epic Coloring & Storybook builder app”; and theatrical trailer. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Flashdance (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Alex (Jennifer Beals) bravely fights her way out of the welding gear, off the stripper pole and onto the dance school floor.
A pivotal '80s musical, this film has inspired countless spoofs and impersonations in a variety of formats, recreating the movie’s iconic moment and speaking to its cultural impact. On the one hand, it advanced women's liberation by portraying a female welder only to take 10 steps back by showing she moonlights as a stripper to utilize her dance skills. The unconventional dancer trying to break into a traditional company is a story often repeated in the dance pictures that recently proliferated screens, but Alex is one of the originals. A combination of feisty choreography and a contemporary soundtrack makes this an '80s classic in the strictest sense.
Special features include: “The History of Flashdance”; “The Look of Flashdance”; “Flashdance: Music and Songs”; “Flashdance: The Choreography”; “Releasing the Flashdance phenomenon”; and trailers. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Flashpoint: The Final Season (DVD)
Phase 4 Films
This season finds Team One facing its toughest challenges yet, which make its members wrestle with the very reasons they chose their paths as police officers. For Team One, the duty to keep the peace is one it performs proudly – until its faith is shaken by events beyond its control. “What is this ‘peace’ that we protect?” “What happens when it doesn’t feel the same as justice?” In this fifth and final season, Team One questions what it’s always taken for granted, and as it continues its fight to save lives, the deeply personal journeys of the team members pulse through each episode building to a powerful finale that changes the team forever.
From the deaths of innocents to rogue cops to criminals becoming the victims, Team One is forced to deal with a lot of uncertainty that unsurprisingly shakes them to the core of their professions. The more routine calls do little to reassure them that the good outweighs the bad, but they continue to do their best to do the right thing. Since premiering in 2008, the series proved to be one of Canada’s most popular television exports. With the luxury of knowing this would be the series’ final season, writers were able to give the show a fitting conclusion that allows audiences to avoid the nagging feeling of incompleteness that has plagued other shows.
Special features include: “The Final Salute.” (Phase 4 Films)
The Great Gatsby (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, Midwesterner Nick Carraway (Toby Maguire) is lured into the lavish world of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). However, he soon sees the cracks of Gatsby's nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.
This is a vibrant, emotional adaptation of the classic book. Director Baz Luhrmann applies his musical style to the lavish drama, accentuating the extravagance with which Gatsby worked so hard to surround himself. DiCaprio is flawless in the role of the lovelorn Gatsby, who has lived his whole life in the pursuit of regaining the love of Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). Joel Edgerton portrays an excellent Tom Buchanan, the tempermental and manly husband who is confidant in everything he does. Conversely, Maguire was a poor casting selection. He does not suit the role of Carraway, detracting from every scene in which appears. It’s a disappointing element to an otherwise accomplished film.
Special features include: deleted scenes with alternate ending; “The Greatness of Gatsby”; “’Within and Without’ with Tobey Maguire”; “The Swinging Sounds of Gatsby”; “The Jazz Age”; “Razzle Dazzle: The Fashion of the ‘20s”; “Fitzgerald’s Visual Poetry”; “Gatsby Revealed”; 1926 The Great Gatsby trailer. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Home Entertainment
This Disney classic includes the first Tigger “pounces” Pooh and when Pooh’s rumbly tummy gets him stuck in a sticky situation. All the Hundred Acre Wood characters come alive in this timeless picture.
This childhood favourite transfers exceptionally well to the screen. The opening theme song is a happy memory of bouncing along the lyrics and falling in love with the silly old bear. From singing the morning song to getting stuck at Rabbit's house to meeting Tigger, this story brings endless joy to viewers of all ages. Everyone has a favourite personality that resides in the Hundred Acre Wood; because each character is so different from the other, they appeal to a large demographic of viewers. The film also creatively maintains a connection to the source material by turning the page of a book to transition between tales.
Special features include: “Pooh Play-along”; five mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh shorts; theatrical short “A Day for Eeyore”; “The Story Behind the Masterpiece”; and music video, “The Winne the Pooh Theme Song.” (Disney Home Entertainment)
Pain & Gain (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
A group of personal trainers (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie) in 1990s Miami get caught up in a criminal enterprise that goes horribly wrong in pursuit of the American Dream.
This story is so unbelievable, director Michael Bay rightfully remind the audience occasionally that it's based on a true story. Their half-cocked plan results in a series of failings before they finally kidnap their target and embark on another series of failures trying to extort the money from him. The actors are perfectly casted, finding a balance between an entertaining and convincing performance. Wahlberg is an amusing combination of ambitious and motivated, rising to the position of man-in-charge by being the least stupid of the group. Johnson is a sensitive hulk with a good heart that trusts people to a fault. While much of the script is naturally ridiculous, Mackie provides most of the intentionally funny humour.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Shane (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Shane (Alan Ladd), a drifter and retired gunfighter, comes to the assistance of a homestead family terrorized by a wealthy cattleman and his hired gun (Jack Palance). In fighting the last decisive battle, Shane sees the end of his own way of life.
In old Westerns, drifters are often the enforcers of justice. Happening upon abuses of power or tyranny, they mobilize the victims to take a stand for themselves and end their oppression. When the evildoers have been overthrown or are dead, then they ride off into the sunset leaving the town behind to heal and move forward alone. Shane's presence in this town executes this formula to a tee. He's a man of few words, but is good to have on your side during a fight. The family with which he stays would have welcomed him forever, but that's not how the story goes. It's not a fast-paced film with many developments, though it is a perfect example of the traditional Western.
Special features include: commentary by production assistant and son of the late director/producer George Stevens Jr. and associate producer Ivan Moffat; and theatrical trailer. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Sons of Anarchy: Season Five (Blu-ray)
Fox Home Entertainment
As SAMCRO's new president, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is surrounded by ruthless enemies and gut-wrenching betrayal. With Gemma (Katey Sagal) fighting for control of the family and a bloodthirsty Clay (Ron Perlman) out for revenge, Jax finds himself haunted by the sins of his past. Alliances are forged, friends are murdered, and loyalties are put to the ultimate test. Now, with the truth in sight, Jax must do whatever it takes to secure the legacy of brotherhood and protect his family – even if it costs him everything.
Jax's position at the head of the table doesn't have the desired effect. Though he insists he's trying to do what's best for the club, every plan leads to another scheme that just puts them in deeper than they were before – to the extent that former allies question their allegiance to him. With the death of a brother, Jax becomes colder in his decision-making going as far as hurting the mother of his child. Clay becomes more difficult to like, letting his hate for Jax lead down a path of extreme darkness and solitude. By the end of the season, everyone has damned themselves in one way or another, and for some there is no turning back.
Special features include: commentary on select episodes; deleted scenes; “Opie Winston”; “Kurt Sutter: Creating Anarchy”; “Fan Concert at The Club House”; and gag reel. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Super Buddies (Blu-ray & DVD)
Disney Home Entertainment
An ordinary day at Fernfield Farms turns extraordinary when Budderball, Mudbud, B-Dawg, Buddha and Rosebud discover mysterious rings that grant them each a unique super power. Before you can say, “Buddies, assemble,” the pups unleash their amazing abilities and race to the rescue when a shape-shifting bully from outer space threatens the planet.
If you like puppies in costumes, this is undoubtedly the movie for you. The adorable group of golden retrievers return to the screen – this time with super powers. Living out every kid's dream, the pups gain supernatural abilities, including abnormal strength, telekinesis and invisibility. The sources of their new K-9 powers are simple glowing rings that demand little of the furry actors. The aliens' interpretation of our world is amusing and their colorful appearance is unique. There isn't much more to this movie beyond the cute factor, but sometimes that's enough to keep audiences entertained.
There are no special features. (Disney Home Entertainment)
The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
In this uncertain world, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his band of survivors must not only fight the dead, but also face a whole new fear: the living. In this season, Rick and his fellow survivors continue to seek refuge in a desolate and post-apocalyptic world and soon discover that there are greater forces to fear than just the walking dead. The struggle to survive has never been so perilous. This season also introduces new characters, including the Governor (David Morrissey) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), along with her zombie pets.
This season takes a more apocalyptic tone by adding a new element to fear: other humans. The introduction of Woodbury, a small guarded, full function town, turns out to be the worst threat they've faced thus far. The Governor is not as wholesome as he tries to appear, with more monsters hiding in his closet than a sane person would be comfortable. With Rick still not at 100 per cent, Darryl's (Norman Reedus) role in the prison and the series was given the opportunity to grow; but the return of his brother jeopardizes everything he's worked to protect. As is necessary in a show with relentless risk, several core characters are permanently written out – some of which evoke a surprising emotional reaction.
Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
More about Sons Of Anarchy, The Great Gatsby, Boarkwalk Empire, Pain & Gain, Flashpoint
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