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article imageReview: New on DVD for June 27 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 28, 2017 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a sci-fi movie rooted in realism; a sequel that rivals the original; an enticing thriller; an auteur’s first feature; and a classic comedy collection.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Blu-ray & DVD)
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Arrow Video
Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante), an American writer living in Rome, inadvertently witnesses a brutal attack on a woman (Eva Renzi) in a modern art gallery. Powerless to help, he grows increasingly obsessed with the incident. Convinced that something he saw that night holds the key to identifying the maniac terrorizing Rome, he launches his own investigation parallel to that of the police, heedless of the danger to both himself and his girlfriend Giulia (Suzy Kendall).
Made in 1970, this is famous Italian filmmaker Dario Argento’s debut feature film, which propelled him to international acclaim by leaving his first mark on the classic ‘giallo’ murder-mystery genre. Teaming with legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and composer Ennio Morricone, the director begins to establish his signature screen style that include scenes of brutal violence and striking imagery. Sam clearly needs to find the killer to fulfill his personal inadequacy, no matter what danger it poses to himself or Giulia. Yet, as he suspected, the answer is in the opening murder scene, ready for anyone paying enough attention to interpret. Nonetheless, it’s fascinating to recognize the auteur in even his earliest work and the bonus features further explore this movie and as well as his larger career.
Special features include: commentary by Troy Howarth, author of “So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films”; “The Power of Perception”; new analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger; new interview with writer/director Dario Argento; new interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp); six lobby card reproductions; double-sided fold-out poster; reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp; and limited edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin, featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook. (Arrow Video)
Black Butterfly (Blu-ray)
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VVS Films
Outside a mountain town grappling with a series of abductions and murders, Paul (Antonio Banderas), a reclusive writer, struggles to start what he hopes will be a career-saving screenplay. After a tense encounter at a diner with a drifter named Jack (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Paul offers Jack a place to stay – and soon the edgy, demanding Jack muscles his way into Paul’s work. As a storm cuts off power to the isolated cabin, the two men begin a jagged game of one-upmanship that will bring at least one tale to an end.
This is a gripping thriller, which keeps audiences on their toes for most of the picture. Jack is immediately established as an alpha male, while Paul seems like a damaged man both revelling and suffering in isolation. Jack repeatedly tells Paul he wants to help, first by improving the somewhat dilapidated house and then by getting Paul back on track with his writing. However, the tension keeps growing between them until they lose any of the initial trust that led to their precarious arrangement and both men are constantly looking over their shoulders. The narrative leads audiences seamlessly into its twist, which takes them into entirely different yet still interesting territory… though the final minutes ruin it to some extent.
There are no special features. (VVS Films)
CHIPS (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Jon Baker (Dax Shepard) and Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Michael Peña) have just joined the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Los Angeles, but for very different reasons. Baker is a beaten-up former pro motorbiker trying to put his life and marriage back together. Poncherello is a cocky undercover federal agent investigating a multi-million-dollar heist that may be an inside job — inside the CHP. The inexperienced rookie and the hardened pro are teamed together, but clash more than click, so kick-starting a real partnership is easier said than done. But with Baker’s unique bike skills and Ponch’s street savvy it might just work… if they don’t drive each other crazy first.
There are so many likeable actors involved in this film, one really wants it to be equally likeable; unfortunately, not all wishes come true. That’s not to say parts of the film aren’t funny, but it’s not as amusing as it thinks it is. Ponch’s sex addiction is entirely out of place, while Baker’s blind spot for his wife is borderline pathetic. Vincent D’Onofrio is the movie’s villain — a role in which he’s almost too adequate. Everyone clearly had a good time shooting the film, but that doesn’t always translate to a similar experience for audiences. A lot of reboots of old TV shows seem to think just making them dirtier or more risqué will make them appealing to audiences, but they generally lose the attraction of the original series.
Special features include: commentary by director Dax Shepard; deleted scenes; “This Is Not Your Dad’s CHIPS”; “Practical Pursuit”; and “Ducati: The Perfect Bike.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Life (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station’s mission of discovery turns to one of primal fear when they find a rapidly evolving life-form that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.
The crew is globally representative, consisting of the type of quick-witted, courageous astronauts one expects to be selected for such a monumental mission. In addition to being well-casted for their respective roles, their training for simulated zero G really pays off since it’s nearly impossible to detect they were suspended from wires while moving through the ISS. This element adds to the film’s authenticity and makes for some interesting action sequences as they race to escape the alien predator. Realism is actually a very intentional element of the film. Director Daniel Espinosa was determined to make a movie that included practical responses to an unreal but plausible situation. Without trying to do too much, the film remains a solid sci-fi piece that builds intensity from the moment the alien organism shows the first sign of movement and maintains it until the final seconds of its climactic conclusion.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Claustrophobic Terror: Creating a Thriller in Space”; “Life: In Zero G”; “Creating Life: The Art and Reality of Calvin”; and “Astronaut Diaries.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Pink Panther Film Collection (Blu-ray)
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Shout Select
The legendary Peter Sellers stars as the irrepressible and incompetent Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) in this 6-film collection, which consists of The Pink Panther (1964), A Shot in the Dark (1964), The Return of the Pink Panther (1975), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978), and Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), each directed by Academy Award winner Blake Edwards.
Blake Edwards and Sellers are brilliant together, so it’s fortunate they had the rare opportunity to make all of the films in this series together (save for the last one, which was made after Sellers’ death via flashbacks and unused footage). The first film contains the fewest pratfalls as Sellers crafts the Clouseau character’s personality and general shtick. The second film, which was released immediately after, does much more to establish the clumsy Inspector and introduced other characters that would have recurring roles in later films. It’s so rare to see such a collaboration go without interruption for an entire franchise, but they clearly had something together. Conversely, even though different cartoonists tackled the opening credit sequence featuring the even more recognizable pink cat, it always had the same feel and sense of humour. Though watching the films back one begins to see certain trends, it’s still a wholly enjoyable comedy collection.
Special features include: Disc 1: commentary by writer/director Blake Edwards; “An Italian Indian: The Pink Panther Princess — an interview with actress Claudia Cardinale”; “The Pink Panther Story”; “Behind the Feline: The Cartoon Phenomenon”; “A Conversation with Robert Wagner: Coolest Cat in Cortina”; “Diamonds: Beyond the Sparkle”; “The Tip-Toe Life of a Cat Burglar: A Conversation with Former Jewel Thief Bill Mason”; photo galleries; and theatrical trailer. Disc 2: commentary by Jason Simos of the Peter Sellers Appreciation Society; “Back to the Start: The Origin of the Pink Panther”; Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews on The Dick Cavett Show; photo galleries; and theatrical trailers. Disc 3: commentary by Jason Simos of the Peter Sellers Appreciation Society; “A Bit of Passion and Lots of Laughs: an interview with actress Catherine Schell”; an interview with production designer Peter Mullins; making-of featurette; photo galleries; TV and radio spots; and theatrical trailers. Disc 4: commentary by Jason Simos of the Peter Sellers Appreciation Society “Panther Musings: an interview with actress Lesley-Anne Down”; “A Cut Above: Editing the Pink Panther Films – an interview with editor Alan Jones”; making-of featurette; photo galleries; TV and radio spots; and theatrical trailers. Disc 5: commentary by author and film historian William Patrick Maynard; photo galleries; TV and radio spots; and theatrical trailers. Disc 6: commentary by author and film historian William Patrick Maynard; photo galleries; and theatrical trailers. (Shout Select)
Saban’s Power Rangers (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Five ordinary high school kids must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove — and the world — is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, the unlikely group of teenage heroes are the only ones who can save the planet, but first, they have to band together in order to harness their super powers and become Power Rangers.
Fans of the original American series will recognize a lot in this feature film adaptation/reboot. The five teens have the same names as their predecessors with the same ranger colours, though their owners differ somewhat. The film opens with a prologue in which Zordon and his team fail to defeat Rita Repulsa and then fast forwards millions of years to a now in which the Rangers don’t yet exist. It stretches the narrative to give the formerly normal kids superhuman strength and agility, which they initially use irresponsibly and unintentionally. Rita’s rock soldier Putties make an appearance and Alpha 5 is still full of attitude. Of course, everything is leading up to them finally morphing and using their Zords before transitioning to the Megazord to defeat Rita’s giant monster. The mid-credit sequence suggests they’ll be back… and they won’t be alone.
Special features include: commentary by director Dean Israelite and writer John Gatins; deleted/alternate/extended scenes; “The Power of the Present”; outtakes; and theatrical trailer with commentary by director Dean Israelite. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Striking Out: Series 1 (DVD)
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Acorn
When Dublin-based solicitor Tara Rafferty (Amy Huberman) discovers that her fiancé and fellow solicitor, Eric (Rory Keenan), has been cheating on her with a colleague, she breaks up with him, quits her job at the prestigious law firm where they worked together, and begins accepting clients out of a makeshift office in the back of a café. With the help of Ray (Emmet Byrne), her street-smart client-turned-assistant, private detective Meg Riley (Fiona O’Shaughnessy), and friend and mentor Senior Counsel Vincent Pike (Neil Morrissey), Tara takes on a series of cases that often pit her against her former colleagues and the influential families of the legal establishment she is trying to leave behind.
This is a fast-paced series that crams a lot into its first 10 episodes. It uses the first to separate Tara from Eric and his firm, followed by a series of attempts by their parents to make amends. However, even though Tara is now trying to fight on behalf of the little guy, their opponents always seem to have the Goliath funds required to hire her almost in-laws. In the meantime, midway through the season it becomes obvious someone is trying to sabotage her little enterprise and those close to her. Huberman is a competent lead, though Morrissey inadvertently dominates any scene in which he appears.
Special features include: interviews with the cast and crew; and behind-the-scenes photo gallery. (Acorn)
T2 Trainspotting (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
First there was an opportunity... then there was a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by and much has changed, but just as much remains the same. Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to the only place he can ever call home. They are waiting for him: Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Other old friends are waiting too: sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, diamorphine, self-destruction and mortal danger, they are all lined up to welcome him, ready to join the dance.
Unsurprisingly, the best thing these four ever did was stay away from each other… and in Begbie’s case, away from the general public. Although nothing will ever be the same, in some ways very little has changed. Simon is always playing an angle, Begbie is still busting heads, Spud remains the sole proprietor of most disgusting scene in the film and Mark is forever the idea man who enjoys a good rant once in a while. Each of the actors reprises their roles flawlessly, to the extent that it feels as if they never stopped playing them. It’s easy to fill in the gap and imagine how these characters spent the time between films because they still feel so familiar. Watching the first movie shortly before seeing the second enhances this uncanny feeling that everyone’s gotten older, but nothing has truly changed. Using similar filming and editing styles, Danny Boyle ensures every aspect of this picture is an extension of the first… but possibly better.
Special features include: commentary by director Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge; deleted scenes; “20 Years in the Making: A Conversation with Danny Boyle and the Cast.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Trespass (Blu-ray)
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Shout Select
In the rubble of a four-alarm blaze, Vince (Bill Paxton) and Don (William Sadler), two Arkansas firemen, discover a map leading to a fortune in stolen gold hidden in an abandoned East St. Louis tenement. What they don't know is that the building is headquarters to a vicious mob, led by the notorious King James (Ice-T) and Savon (Ice Cube). When the firefighters accidentally witness the mob executing some of their enemies, they become the gang's next targets.
In spite of a cast perfectly suited to their roles, the movie tries to incorporate too many twists into the narrative, which makes it unnecessarily complex. Don is clearly a harder man than Vince, who would’ve run at the first sign of trouble given the chance. But before they know it, they’re holding James’ nephew and a vagrant hostage. Outside the building is enough firepower to make it all fall down around them, yet the standoff goes on for hours. There’s obvious and unavoidable racial connotations in the film, which is somewhat further complicated by the all-white creators; though one realizes the gang is led by two formidable voices that wouldn’t partake if they didn’t like the script. Ice-T and Ice Cube also collaborated on the film’s title song, which is appropriate and memorable.
Special features include: deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes featurette; “Fool’s Gold — An Interview with Actor William Sadler”; “Born Losers — An Interview with Co-Writer Bob Gale”; “Wrongful Entry — An Interview with Producer Neil Canton”; “Gang Violation — The Stunts Of Trespass”; “Trigger Happy — The Weapons Of Trespass”; music video; and theatrical trailer. (Shout Select)
The Unholy [Collector’s Series] (Blu-ray)
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Vestron Video
In New Orleans, a city with a dark underside of black magic and satanic worship, two priests have been brutally murdered at St Agnes Church. Now the unholy reign can only be challenged by the purest of mortal souls. Father Michael (Ben Cross) is appointed to the ungodly parish, but is he strong enough to fight off this terrible evil? Or will he be its third victim?
The demon’s modus operandi is fairly straightforward — it lures in pure souls and causes them to sin, then brutally murders them. For the priest, it uses the most obvious temptation: a beautiful, nearly nude woman. Father Michael, however, is determined to fulfill his vows regardless of the circumstances or enticement. But he’s not its only target as a young woman who seeks his help is also afraid of falling victim to the demon. This movie feels overly complicated when compared to other films featuring evil spirits and priests as Michael experiences numerous hallucinations and dreams before accepting he must battle the demon. There are also some surprisingly gruesome scenes in the picture, but it all comes together for the unusual but expected ending.
Special features include: commentary by director Camilo Vila; original ending featuring optional commentary with producer Mathew Hayden; isolated score selections and audio interview with composer Roger Bellon; audio interview with production designer & co-writer Fernando Fonseca, featuring isolated selections from his unused score; “Sins of the Father with Ben Cross”; “Demons In The Flesh: The Monsters of The Unholy”; “Prayer Offerings with Production Designer & Co-Writer Fernando Fonseca”; original storyboard gallery; still gallery; TV and radio spots; and theatrical trailer. (Vestron Video)
Workaholics: The Complete Series (DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Blake, Adam and Anders (Blake Anderson, Adam Devine and Anders Holm) are three friends who work together as telemarketers from 9 to 5, live together from 5 to 9 and party together 24/7. Whether they’re at their house in Rancho Cucamonga or getting ready to rage at a Renaissance Faire, the guys find trouble wherever they go.
For seven seasons, these guys just do stupid stuff at home and at work, and somehow avoid being fired or incarcerated the entire time. They ingest copious amounts of alcohol, weed and other recreational drugs at all hours of the day, masturbate regularly and endlessly “prank” their co-workers. It’s unsurprising they can’t manage a relationship beyond their threesome, though they are constantly trying to hook-up. It’s nearly impossible to know in which direction any given 30-minute episode will go as they’re always doing something outrageous that no normal person would ever consider. Essentially they enjoy being immature man-children and nothing can change them. Notably, Jillian Bell plays one of their more outspoken co-workers and she delivers many laughs throughout the series. And even in the series finale, they stick to what they know best… which admittedly isn’t much.
Special features include: commentary; deleted scenes and alternate takes; “The Final Shot”; bloopers; and wrap reel. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
More about Life, T2 trainspotting, Chips, Sabans Power Rangers, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
 
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