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article imageReview: New on DVD for December 17 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 19, 2013 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include an epic television event; a sophomore sci-fi outing; a classic Western revived; and a parent’s worst nightmare.
Adore (DVD)
Untitled
Remstar Films
Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts) are the best of friends, and have been since childhood growing up as neighbours in an idyllic beach town. As adults, their teenaged sons (Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville) have developed a friendship as strong as that which binds their mothers. One perfect summer, the boys, along with their mothers, are confronted by the simmering emotions that have been mounting between them.
This movie takes the May-December romance to a new level and redefines the oedipal complex. Rather than meet and fall in love, these women watch these boys grow into attractive young men who are in turn drawn to the older, alluring mother figures. While their respective feelings for each other appear genuine, it still feels unseemly. Fortunately the women are not oblivious to the inappropriateness of their relationships, assuring each other they would conclude their affairs and push their lovers to seek more suitable partners “when the time came.” The contentious subject matter is sure to turn off some viewers, but writer/director Anne Fontaine is skilled at lascivious storytelling. She approaches desire without judgement and does not pervert the situations in spite of them being unorthodox. Wright’s and Watts’ charm is unaffected by the perceived impropriety of their actions and their friendship seems uncommonly authentic.
There are no special features. (Remstar Films)
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor (3D blu-ray, Blu-ray & DVD)
Untitled
BBC Home Entertainment
In the 50th anniversary special, the Doctors (Matt Smith and David Tennant) embark on their greatest adventure across space and time. In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him.
For even the non-Whovian, this celebratory episode is incredibly captivating. John Hurt reprises his role as the War Doctor, bringing three Doctors to the same space and time at once. Smith and Tennant are charismatic in their own unique ways, while Hurt is the more sombre one carrying the weight of the most important decision they will collectively make. In addition to the already familiar Daleks, series creators reach into the past and force them to also battle the shape-shifting Zygons, which have not made an appearance since 1975. Anticipating the appeal of the record-breaking episode for even the uninitiated, the pro-active inclusion of an everything-you-need-to-know-about-Doctor-Who featurette shows excellent forethought, and is extremely informative and fascinating. The 3D is worthwhile, providing depth to many of the scenes. It’s most significant when viewing the complex paintings at UNIT, practically going right into the images – even the dialogue is slightly altered to draw attention to the attribute.
Special features include: “Doctor Who Explained,” the entire 50-year history in one 50-minute special; two mini-episodes: “The Night of The Doctor” and “The Last Day”; a behind-the-scenes featurette; “San Diego Comic-Con trailer; teaser trailer; and commemorative trading cards. (BBC Home Entertainment)
Elysium (DVD)
Untitled
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest who live in an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) will stop at nothing to preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium – but that doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in by any means they can. Max (Matt Damon) agrees to take on a life threatening mission that could bring equality to these polarized worlds.
In this dire future, poverty and sickness suppress the population. Robotic police patrol the streets to keep the increasingly desperate populace in line. It's the return of the division between noblemen and serfs – with a sci-fi twist. In spite of all the technological improvements, the main fight sequence still boils down to an old fashioned knife fight though it’s a bit blurry. While all the visual and political elements were obviously composed with careful thought and attention drawing on the current economic climate, there are still some holes in the story's logic that are never addressed. The main issue can be found with a world that has escaped the trappings of overpopulation to create a society that has virtually eliminated natural death. Damon channeled his Jason Bourne action hero persona during several scenes in the film, though he also displays moments of extreme desperation and compassion.
Special features include: “Engineering Utopia: Creating a Society in the Sky”; and “Collaboration: Crafting the Performances in Elysium.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Force of Execution (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Alexander Coates' (Steven Seagal) criminal empire has been good to him and devastating to his enemies until his number one hit-man, Roman Hurst (Bren Foster), messes up what should have been a routine hit. Alexander spares his protégé's life but cripples his hands, thus 'retiring' Hurst forever. Before long, Alexander realizes that he'll need Hurst's help one last time when Iceman (Ving Rhames), a ruthless killer, surfaces.
A straight-up, bad action movie, it attempts to compensate for its deficiencies by telling the story of redemption for a rejected killer. Roman goes from badass assassin to crippled drunk who feels the need to protect a diner owner played by Danny Trejo and the waitress who works for him. Foster’s moves are undoubtedly the most impressive of the cast. Rhames is stiff and unnatural in his fights, while Seagal moves slower than ever. Conversely, Foster is fast and effective. The inevitable return to full strength for Roman comes via a mostly ridiculous treatment that is right at home with the rest of the narrative.
Special features include: “Behind the Story.” (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
The Great Muppet Caper & Muppet Treasure Island – 2 movie collection (Blu-ray & DVD)
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Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
The Great Muppet Caper: Kermit, Gonzo and Fozzie are reporters who travel to Britain to interview a rich victim of jewel thieves and help her along with her secretary, Miss Piggy.
Muppet Treasure Island: The Muppets' twist on the classic tale.
These classic Muppet movies are remastered and restored so you can now enjoy all the laughs without having to tolerate the dull colours and poor quality of aging copies. The Caper is classic Muppet fair, in which the guys consistently find themselves in absurd situations. Kermit and Fozzie are “identical twin” reporters and Gonzo is their photographer. John Cleese contributes to the fun, while Charles Grodin plays a bumbling, greedy leech mooching off of his wealthy sister (Diana Rigg). Tim Curry and Billy Connolly are hilarious in the swashbuckling tale. Kermit is a fair captain and Sam the Eagle’s interpretations of his moods are amusing. And the extended presence of Sweetums is always enjoyable.
Special features include: commentary by Gonzo, Rizzo and Brian Henson; “The Tale of the Story Beyond the Tail”; “Frog-e-oke” sing-along; and “Let the Good Shine Out” music video. (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Lone Ranger (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Untitled
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
The Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer), the last of his kind, teams with Tonto (Johnny Depp), a dark and mysterious vigilante, to seek vengeance after justice has failed them. These two unlikely heroes must learn to work together before the ultimate showdown between good and evil.
While parts of the origin story remain faithful to the source material, there are significant differences. It injects a lot of humour into the story via an observant and witty Tonto, and a very peculiar Silver. Purists may not be impressed by this modernization, but judged independently it's an entertaining narrative. The two main action sequences consist of exceptional stunt performances, even if the scenes are similar in nature. The train is yet another iconic symbol of the Western so it's not entirely unfit that there be two battles on the rails between our heroes and the murdering thieves. In the end, it takes some strong actors to pull off a film like this, and Hammer and Depp were more than ready to meet the challenge. In spite of the length, it's still an enjoyable watch filled with more laughs than expected, or is probably appropriate for the genre. But all is forgiven in the pinnacle moment when the theme song rings out.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Riding the Rails of The Lone Ranger”; “Armie’s Western Road Trip”; “Becoming a Cowboy”; and bloopers. (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
“Practically perfect in every way” Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) flies out of the windy London skies and into the home of two mischievous children. With the help of a carefree chimney sweep named Bert (Dick Van Dyke), the spirited nanny turns every chore into a game and every day into a “Jolly Holiday.”
Whether or not you’ve seen the film, you likely know much of the music as it has extended beyond the film to become part of the cultural canon. When Jane and Michael compose their list of characteristics they’d like their new nanny to possess, they voice every child’s desires for their ideal caregivers. Of course, Mary Poppins is beyond anyone’s expectations – and most people would love her ability to make inanimate objects put themselves away. Andrews is exceptional and Van Dyke is delightful. Though they are not romantically involved, they have terrific chemistry and really elevate the film’s quality. It’s no coincidence this special release was held until the end of the year as it now coincides with the theatrical release of Saving Mr. Banks, which tells the story of how Disney acquired the rights from Mary Poppins’ creator, P.L. Travers. In addition, the corresponding bonus feature offers insight into one of the film’s characters and enriches the theatrical experience as well as expands on the popular soundtrack.
Special features include: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” a making-of featurette; a musical reunion with Andrews, Van Dyke and Richard Sherman; deleted song, “Chimpanzoo”; “Mary-oke” sing-along; and “Becoming Mr. Sherman,” a conversation between legendary composer Richard Sherman and actor Jason Schwartzman, who plays Sherman in Saving Mr. Banks. (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
Prisoners (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Untitled
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is facing a parent’s worst nightmare: his young daughter and her friend have gone missing. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests his only suspect – the driver (Paul Dano) of an RV on which the girls had been playing – but a lack of evidence forces his release. As pressure mounts, Loki’s team pursues multiple leads while a frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands.
It's common to hear parents say they would hurt or kill anyone that harmed their children. Thankfully most do not have to test the resolution of their statements. Keller's actions not only raise questions of the viewer's convictions, but also the rightness of his plan since the driver's involvement is in constant doubt. The audience is kept in the same suspense as the characters as they are not offered omnipotence regarding the girls' condition or whereabouts. This makes it easier to empathize with Loki's frustration and the parents' various emotions. Jackman is outstanding in the role of a father at the end of his rope. Keller takes his role as patriarch very seriously, repeatedly proving he is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family. The supporting cast is forced to the background against his performance, but they were still well chosen and deliver in every scene.
Special features include: “Every Moment Matters”; and “Powerful Performances.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
More about adore, Doctor Who, The Day of the Doctor, Elysium, Force of Execution
 
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