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article imageReview: New on DVD for September 10 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 23, 2013 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a number of the latest seasons from a variety of TV shows; a real-life ocean adventure; a charismatic WWI miniseries; an intergalactic fight; an unsettling horror movie; and an illogical but entertaining shark picture.
Big Bang Theory: The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital copy)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Leonard (Johnny Galecki) learns jealousy is bad for a relationship (with Penny [Kaley Cuoco]), but science is good for seduction (of Penny). Howard (Simon Helberg) finds life on the International Space Station is no escape from terrestrial turmoil between his overbearing mom and his new wife Bernadette (Melissa Rauch). Raj (Kunal Nayyar) meets someone special who may be a good match, if only he can keep her from fleeing mid-date. Even Sheldon (Jim Parsons) learns a few things: a) what not to say when called in to meet the university’s employee relations director, b) what happens to childhood TV idols and c) that Dungeons & Dragons adventure can be the icebreaker his relationship with Amy (Mayim Bialik) needs.
It's fitting that Howard's journey to space can be equated to a geek's experience at summer camp during which he is bullied, maladjusted and homesick. Though his idea of R&R upon returning pushes even Bernadette to her limits. The evolution of Sh-Amy's relationship is often shocking as Sheldon grows closer to becoming a real boy with human emotions. And the escalation that occurs during that game of D&D could never have been predicted. Raj finally gets a real girlfriend, but it seems writers are hesitant to bring anyone between the male bonds he's built with Howard and now Stuart. Leonard and Penny's relationship is somewhat on the backburner this season, giving more attention to the other couples.
Special features include: “The Big Bang Theory: The Final Comedy Frontier”; “Houston, We Have a Sit-com”; “Electromagnetism: The Best Relationship Moments in Season 6”; “The Big Bang Theory at PaleyFest 2013”; and gag reel. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Black Waters of Echo Pond (DVD)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Nine friends take a holiday at a Victorian home on a private island and uncover a game that when played brings out the worst in each of them. Jealously, greed, hatred, lust, all of the things they keep buried deep inside themselves rise to the surface and come to a boil.
Somewhat surprisingly, this is a mostly solid horror picture. The vagueness of the framing narrative creates concern that the whole film may be underdeveloped and the introductions to the young cast don't do much to quell this notion. But once they discover the game and begin to play, it picks up considerably. As each game piece is moved, the corresponding question card digs at their deepest and darkest secrets until the group becomes fragmented. From there everything degenerates into murderous chaos. While they are butchering and torturing their closest friends, most of the brutality occurs off-screen. The success is making the chase and possibility of torture the disturbing, driving force of the remainder of the movie. Rising scream queen Danielle Harris and veteran Robert Patrick also bring their experience to the party.
Special features include: alternate opening. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Da Vinci’s Demons (DVD)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
In a world where thought and faith are controlled, one man fights to set knowledge free. Leonardo Da Vinci (Tom Riley) is tortured by a gift of superhuman genius. He finds himself in a conflict between truth and lies, religion and reason, and past and future. His quest for knowledge nearly becomes his undoing, but Da Vinci's genius prevails and he emerges as an unstoppable force that lifts an entire era out of darkness and propels it into light. His story becomes a mirror into our own world, calling us all to join his fight to free the future.
Little about the inventor has been portrayed on screen. His numerous works have been referenced and he's had the odd cameo in other period pieces, but he's not been the star attraction -- though as this series points out, he was always in the spotlight. Da Vinci was a genius obsessed with flight and able to accomplish it to different degrees with various gadgets. However, his obsession as depicted here did not cast a narrow net. He becomes equally occupied with the Duke's mistress and then the Book of Leaves. His compulsive behaviour knows no limits, often hurting those closest to him or putting them in danger. Riley is entrancing in the role of Da Vinci and the narrative draws viewers in with each episode.
Special features include: commentaries by writer/creator/executive producer/director David S. Goyer, and actors Tom Riley, Laura Haddock, Blake Ritson, David Schofield and Tom Bateman; deleted scenes; “Mastering Da Vinci”; “Constructing Da Vinci”; “Dressing Da Vinci”; worldwide fanfare; and second screen promo. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Kon-Tiki (Blu-ray)
Entertainment One
Based on the amazing true adventure of Thor Heyerdahl (Pål Sverre Hagen), this is the tale of a Norwegian explorer in 1947 who embarks on the voyage of a lifetime to prove a point. When the scientific community rejects his theory that South Americans were the first to settle in the Polynesian Islands, Heyerdahl resolves to prove its validity — and save his reputation — by embarking on the voyage himself. Recruiting a group of five men who are just bold enough to tackle the seemingly impossible trip, he builds a simple raft and sets off on the epic 101 day-long journey across the treacherous ocean to meet his fate, while the world watches.
Thor is laughed out of every office he enters until he risks his life to prove his theory because a theory is just that until it is practically applied. This picture invokes a range of emotions and reactions from the audience. The new theory appeals to people's curiosity, drawing them into the movie. The beauty of untouched nature often leaves the viewer in awe. The risk of injury, death and failure keeps the audience on the edge of their seat. The effortless humor incorporated throughout the narrative is an unexpected source of entertainment. In spite of the unique personalities introduced at the start of the voyage, it's difficult to connect to any one individual; though you do become attached to the crew as a whole. Nonetheless, they band together under distress, surviving severe storms, shark encounters and personal conflicts. Never reaching beyond the confines of the raft once it sets sail, the film does excellent work captivating the audience with nothing but five men on open waters.
Special features include: “Kon-Tiki: The Incredible True Story”; and visual effects featurette. (Entertainment One)
Luther: Season 3 (DVD)
BBC Home Entertainment
Luther (Idris Elba) investigates a twisted fetishist who is murdering women in a horrific echo of an unsolved case from the 1980s. The team must put all their resources into finding the copycat killer, whose murderous spree has only just begun. Luther’s focus is divided when a reluctant Schenk assigns him to another case – a malicious internet tormentor has been found murdered in his home, with all his possessions stripped from the flat. With so many people wanting the tormentor dead, Luther needs to apply brute force to a key witness for more information, unaware that every move he makes is being watched.
DCI Luther has evolved quite a bit since audiences were first introduced to the angry, temperamental detective with a chip on his shoulder and a psychopath at his side. Opening with the courageous rescue that ended the previous season, things are looking up for Luther. He uses his deduction skills to cleverly track a serial killer with a bizarre fetish and he's a courting a new love interest that sees him as a gentle man. But internal affairs will stop at nothing to nail Luther for his past transgressions. And DS Ripley is caught in the middle as Luther's partner and the chief investigator’s boyfriend. It may have toned down the volatility of the episodes and lessened the number, but Luther is still far from losing viewer interest.
Special features include: a making-of featurette. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Parade’s End (Blu-ray and Digital copy)
HBO Home Entertainment
Set over the tumultuous ten-year period in the early 20th century, the miniseries tells the story of an honourable Englishman coping with his growing disillusion at the end of a privileged era and the beginning of a new, egalitarian society. As the comfortable certainties of Edwardian England begin to give way to the chaos and destruction of WWI, nobleman Christopher Tietjans (Benedict Cumberbatch) puts principles first by marrying Sylvia (Rebecca Hall), a pretty, manipulative socialite who gives birth to a child who may not be his. Christopher endures his new wife’s whims and overt indiscretions, foreseeing a cold future with Sylvia at this family’s palatial estate, Groby. He finds himself inexorably drawn to a young suffragette, Valentine Wannop (Adelaide Clemens), but refuses to give in to their mutual passion or end his marriage with Sylvia, who is alternately infuriated and infatuated by her incorruptible husband.
This is a fascinating miniseries of war, desire and gossip. The actors are perfectly casted. Cumberbatch is fittingly passive in most matters as Christopher is too conscious of propriety to break the rules. Hall's Sylvia is brazen in every action, even when she's trying to do the right thing; the dress she wears to Christopher's mother's funeral is evidence enough. Clemens finds a precarious balance between being mousy and lion-hearted as Valentine can be both shy and outspoken. The quality is unsurprisingly high, giving the impression of a movie rather than a television series when watched back-to-back. The war is a backdrop for their personal drama, but it rears its ugly head in their business often enough to put the expected kinks in their plans.
Special features include: Tom Stoppard interview on KCRW’s The Treatment with Elvis Mitchell. (HBO Home Entertainment)
Person of Interest: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital copy)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
The Machine identifies another gripping season’s worth of potential crimes that must be stopped by billionaire tech genius Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) and ex-CIA operative John Reese (Jim Caviezel). Adversaries from Reese’s undercover past and Finch’s government work threaten the team’s crime-fighting mission and anonymity. Meanwhile, NYPD detectives Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and Fusco (Kevin Chapman) face down FBI probes and the dangerous tentacles of the police conspiracy known as “HR.”
It took some time, but Reese and Finch are now two peas in a pod. The happy owners of a dog, they're slowly learning more about each other – but visitors from their past still know more. When Finch becomes the victim, John realizes how little they actually shared and how difficult that barrier they both tried to maintain will make helping him. Flashbacks are used well to let audiences in on their secrets as those skeletons inch closer to the attack. But in the meantime, Finch has rigged the machine so it can continue to produce social security numbers without his presence – and he expects Reese to similarly continue their work. The long-arms of HR are making life increasingly challenging for Fusco, but he proves he’s capable of handling business. While it all seems to be getting more complex, the intricacy of the unfolding narrative is appropriate for the target audience and the core premise of a machine that can predict crimes.
Special features include: commentary on the season finale; “View from the Machine: 24 Hours Behind The Person of Interest”; and gag reel. (Warner Home Entertainment)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist (DVD)
Entertainment One
A young Pakistani man (Riz Ahmed) graduates from Princeton and chases corporate success on Wall Street. He soon finds himself embroiled in a conflict between his American Dream, a hostage crisis, and the enduring call of his family's homeland.
People often ask, what makes a terrorist? This film does not provide the most explanatory or satisfactory answer to this question, but it does weave together a series of negative events that appear individually grounded in reality and have the potential to change a person's world view. Changez relays his story of great success and its abandonment through an interview and voiceover that takes audiences from present day Pakistan to his life at an Ivy League American college and prestigious firm. Everyone notes how the world changed after 9/11, but for some it changed more than others – even if Changez 's story presents a clustering of those changes. This film attempts to tell every story from the rampant discrimination and racism to the covert military operations to the death of innocent bystanders. The result is an engaging story that can appear heavy-handed when viewed as a whole.
Special features include: a making-of featurette; and theatrical trailer. (Mongrel Media)
Revolution: Season 1 (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital copy)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Imagine a world where all technology – computers, planes, cars, phones, even lights – has mysteriously blacked out. What’s left is a post-apocalyptic landscape inhabited by ruthless paramilitary groups, heroic freedom fighters and families struggling to survive. When young Danny Matheson (Graham Rogers) is kidnapped by Militia leaders, his older sister Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), armed with a deadly crossbow and fierce determination, is desperate to find their estranged uncle Miles (Billy Burke) for help. Now Charlie, Miles and a rogue band of rebels face danger at every turn as they attempt to reunite family, overthrow the Militia and ultimately return power to the people.
Our world is so reliant on technology, it's difficult to imagine living without it; though it's not surprising that the world and social order would fall apart in its absence. The series wastes no time shrouding Earth in darkness. One minute there's power, cell phones and cartoons, and then suddenly there isn't. The Mathesons are at the centre of the narrative, but their separation allows for a broader story arc that becomes more intriguing with every episode as secrets are revealed and enemies confronted. The consistent need to derail or sabotage the happy ending is necessary to extend the narrative, but it's executed plausibly.
Special features include: deleted scenes; five webisodes; “Revolution Cast and Creative Team at the 2013 Paleyfest”; an in-depth look at the Revolution pilot; “Creating a Revolution”; and gag reel. (Warner Home Entertainment)
Rizzoli and Isles: The Complete Third Season (DVD)
When an explosive misstep drives a painful wedge between Boston’s finest crime-solving colleagues, Jane (Angie Harmon) and Maura (Sasha Alexander) must set aside their personal difficulties in order to keep on top of the city’s most heinous murder cases. Yet analyzing corpses and tracking killers is child’s play compared to the complication that arise from the friends’ respective parental units: Maura meets her biological mother, who doesn’t know Maura is her daughter; and Jane learns that her father, not her brother, might actually have fathered her infant nephew, which prompts her mother to have an affair with her boss.
Special features include: unaired scenes; “Crafting the Shifting Worlds of Rizzoli and Isles”; “Personnel Files”; “Team Players”; “The Detective and the Doctor”; “The Rizzoli Clan”; “Maura’s Journey”; and gag reel. (Warner Home Entertainment)
Sharknado (Blu-ray)
Video Services Corp
When a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles, thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace, and nature’s deadliest killer rules sea, land and air.
There are now enough of these films to justifiably form a horror subgenre of ridiculous shark movies. Whether they're two-headed, fighting giant squids or flying through the air, one thing is for certain: at some point you will laugh. It can come at the expense of a stupid victim, the cheesy dialogue, the absurdity of the situation or any combination of the three, but something will be funny. This isn't the first picture to bring sharks to land via mass flooding, but it is the first to make them airborne in a tornado; though the delay to finally reach this momentous event is long. In the meantime, sharks leap onto boats and swallow people whole, and terrorize people on the road. This movie definitely falls under the category "it’s so bad it's good." And Ian Ziering makes a triumphant and buff return to the screen.
Special features include: commentary cast and crew; a making-of featurette; gag reel; and trailers. (Video Services Corp.)
Sinbad: The Complete First Season (DVD)
BBC Home Entertainment
This spin on an ancient legend follows Sinbad's (Elliot Knight) sea-bound journey when he is forced to flee from his hometown of Basra after his involvement in the accidental death of Lord Akbari’s son. Sinbad stows away on board a departing ship called the Providence, saddled with a curse that prevents him from staying on dry land for more than 24 hours at a time. After the Providence survives a violent and magical storm, Sinbad and the remaining crewmembers embark on a series of adventures – not knowing that Akbari is still bent on revenge.
The series' first episode contains Sinbad's origin story, including the reason he was cursed with such a vehement and everlasting punishment. He is lucky to turn initial enemies into good friends, growing closer to the ship's crew after some fatally bad luck and a series of adventures. There even comes a time when he trusts them enough to share the secret of his curse. This take is darker than most adaptations of the tale, including a lot of death and dark magick. The characters they encounter in their travels are entrancing from the queen of cannibals who imprisons a giant bird as her pet to death himself to a goddess with the power of resurrection.
Special features include: “The Magic of Sinbad”; “The Magic of Malta”; and “The Magical Costumes of Sinbad.” (BBC Home Entertainment)
Star Trek: Into Darkness (3D blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
When a ruthless mastermind known as Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) declares a one-man war on the Federation, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the daring crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise will embark on the greatest manhunt in history.
It's fitting the second film should be a send-up to the Wrath of Khan. Having already established the characters and their personalities in the first picture, Kirk's brashness and impulsive bravery are expected. Though Spock's behavior ranges from predictable to surprising. The aggressive assault on the federation is clearly personal and being carried out by someone acquainted with their procedures. Everyone reprises their roles seamlessly, obviously more comfortable the second time around and consequently able to explore other elements of their characters' personalities. Both on the big and smaller screen, the 3D adds a depth to the sets and galaxy that enriches every scene, particularly the action sequences.
Special features include: “The Enemy of my Enemy”; “Ship to Ship”; and “The Klingon World.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Supernatural: Season 8 (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
The Leviathan threat has ended, but Dean’s (Jensen Ackles) miraculous return from Purgatory unsettles his relationship with his brother, especially his friendship with fellow escapee and vampire, Benny. Sam (Jared Padalecki) is haunted by his “last-chance” romance with a woman where he finally found something of a normal life. Both Winchesters face shattering choices along with their best chance to strike a deathblow to evil. A Divine Tablet reveals the means to closing the Gates of Hell forever, but the cost may be cataclysmic to them and their angelic ally Castiel (Misha Collins).
Having escaped Hell and cheated death on a number of occasions, it took a trip to Purgatory to derail the Winchester brothers. When Sam couldn't find Dean, he finally settled into the life he felt he was meant to have – quiet and monster-free with a caring woman and a loving dog. Dean, on the other hand, fought his way out of the hole and planned on continuing to fight on the other side of it – even if his opinions of evil seem somewhat skewed. But before long the fate of the world pushes aside their differences. The discovery of a secret society and its archive is Sam's academic dream come true. Though guarding Kevin and the tablets without angel muscle is a little more complicated. Crowley's ambitions beyond the crown of Hades has him popping up far more often this season, though Earth may have to be more concerned about the new players from Heaven.
Special features include: three commentaries; “Finding Supernatural: Creating the Found Footage Episode”; “For the Defense of Mankind: The Tablets Revealed”; “Angel Warrior: The Story of Castiel”; unaired scenes; and gag reel. (Warner Home Entertainment)
Vampire Diaries: Season 4 (DVD)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Senior year is finally here and Elena (Nina Dobrev) should be having the time of her life. Instead, she faces her worst nightmare: struggling with the painful transformation from human to vampire. As Damon (Ian Somerhalder) mentors Elena into a supernatural life, their repressed passions explode, causing Stefan (Paul Wesley) to undertake a desperate quest to restore humanity to the girl he adores. But as Elena ruthlessly quenches her newfound thirst for blood and her friends race to find a vampire cure based on clues inked onto Jeremy’s (Steven R. McQueen) flesh, the world around them falls prey to a host of sinister forces.
Elena's transformation and Jeremy's destiny changes the playing field quite a bit. While the remaining Gilberts can barely stand to be in the same room, the Salvatores would rather see less of each other anyway. Damon's new vampiric connection with Elena and her thirst pushes Stefan to great lengths to separate them. Meanwhile Bonnie digs herself deeper than she realizes, tapping into dark magicks she can't begin to completely control. The Originals continue to feud amongst themselves, but as the stakes grow steeper they become further entangled with the other characters. The visit to New Orleans infuses the story with its mystical breath and cleared the way for a spinoff that may prove a detriment to the source series.
Special features include: “Inking the Brotherhood: The Hunter’s Mark”; “Creating Silas’ Island”; “Blood, Boys and Bad Behavior: Becoming a Vampire”; “The Evolution of Elena Gilbert”; “The Vampire Diaries: The Ultimate Prop Master”; “The Impact of a Single Show: The Vampire Diaries – Fan Video”; unaired scenes; fan gallery; and gag reel. (Warner Home Entertainment)
Digital Download
World War Z
Former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is in a race against time to save bothhis family and the world from a pandemic that is toppling governments and threatening to destroy humanity itself. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
More about The Big Bang Theory, Black Waters of Echo Pond, Da Vinci's Demons, KonTiki, Luther
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