Review: New on DVD for August 5 Special

Posted Aug 7, 2014 by Sarah Gopaul
This week’s releases include a rock opera from an acclaimed director's early work; a stunning showcase of exotic cars and high-speed chases; another year at community college; and a heartwarming documentary about never giving up.
A scene from  Need for Speed
A scene from 'Need for Speed'
DreamWorks Pictures
Community: The Complete Fifth Season (DVD)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Jeff (Joel McHale) is teaching at Greendale one year after graduation. Meanwhile, the death of Pierce (Chevy Chase) leads to shocking discoveries among the group. Troy (Donald Glover) leaves Greendale in search of new adventures; Annie (Alison Brie) and Abed (Danny Pudi) search for a new roommate; Professor Hickey (Jonathan Banks) shows Jeff the ropes; and the school board makes a shocking decision that affects the whole group.
The penultimate season featuring Greendale's bright and dysfunctional continues much in the same vein as previous chapters, even reviving favourite plots from earlier episodes. The gang reconvenes for another year of higher education post-graduation, one more session of Dungeons and Dragons complete with Abed's terrible names and everyone is animated into a G.I. Joe cartoon when Jeff has a crisis. With Pierce dead and Jeff a changed man, the show's sarcasm has been turned down a couple of notches; but with everyone pitching in it's not that noticeable. One departure causes another as Pierce's will forces one more member of the study group to exit. But there are a number of guest appearances, including Nathan Fillion, David Cross, Robert Patrick and Paget Brewster. The two-part finale returns the group to the bizarre adventures of yore with one more year to go.
Special features include: commentary on every episode; “Re-Animating the ‘80s”; “Advanced Television Production: 5 Days, 2 Scripts, No Sleep”; and outtakes. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Need for Speed (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
DreamWorks Pictures
An underground driver (Aaron Paul) who sets off on a race for revenge against the wealthy ex-NASCAR driver (Dominic Cooper) who framed him for a crime he didn’t commit.
This movie is essentially just fast cars going breakneck speeds for no other purpose than to earn the respect of their fellow drivers (and the winner-take-all stake on the line). Pure and simple, it’s a car movie. With streamlined exotic beauties such as the Koenigsegg Agera R, Lamborghini Elemento, McLaren P1, Ferrari Enzo, Bugatti Veyron, Saleen S7 and GTA Spano gracing the screen, it's enough to ignite even the lowest level car enthusiasts. But their statuses do not put them above some of the most brutal turnovers and crashes captured on screen. The cars are not the only element to make it from the video game. There are police pursuits, bounty hunters willing to do anything to collect the reward, and drag races inspired by more recent generations of the game. But audiences shouldn't be surprised when it doesn't offer much more than this, presenting a weak storyline and flat characters.
Special features include: commentary by director Scott Waugh and actor Aaron Paul; deleted scenes; “Capturing Speed: Making an Authentic Car Movie”; “Ties that Bind”; “The Circus is in Town”; “Monarch & Maverick Outtakes”; “The Sound of Need for Speed”; and trailer. (DreamWorks Pictures)
Next Goal Wins (DVD)
Ketchup Entertainment
In 2001, the tiny Pacific island of American Samoa suffered a world record 31-0 defeat at the hands of Australia, garnering headlines across the world as the worst soccer team on the planet. A decade after that humiliating night, they remain rooted to the bottom of FIFA's World rankings, having scored only twice in seventeen years. They have lost every competitive game they have ever played. It would take a miracle-maker or a madman to turn the team's fortunes around – and in maverick Dutch coach Thomas Rongen the islanders somehow find both. With the team about to embark on a grueling World Cup Qualification campaign, Rongen has just one month to transform this ragtag group of losers into a winning team – and perhaps learn a little about himself along the way.
There's nothing like being considered the worst at something, particularly when it's an opinion held by the world for an extended period of time. Perhaps it has something to do with the American Samoan culture, but they never lose their spirit even though they’ve yet to win a game. This is not a chronicle of the world's worst soccer team, but rather a team that refuses to remain in that position any longer. Even though very few of the players are profiled closely, the audience is drawn in by their absolute desire to be better. Instead, attention is given to Rongen and the transformation he experiences while surrounded by the local values. The documentary doesn’t attempt to manipulate viewers by manufacturing drama to pull on their heartstrings. It simply brings them on the team’s journey and allows them to experience the ups and downs in unison.
There are no special features. (Ketchup Entertainment)
The Other Woman (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Fox Home Entertainment
New York attorney Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz) is nobody’s fool. So when she accidentally discovers that her too-good-to-be-true boyfriend Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is married, she’s less than thrilled. Not only that, she and Mark’s wife Kate (Leslie Mann) learn about yet another mistress (Kate Upton). Before long, however, the betrayed beauties have become unlikely pals who’ve decided to teach their three-timing man a lesson. The more the trio learns about Mark, the worse he seems, and the more fun they have without him.
There are quite a few high profile names attached to this project even though the premise is ridiculous. The notion that three women who never met but were betrayed by the same man could become best friends is absurd. As the story devolves they sink to silly revenge tactics that include putting his toothbrush in the toilet and giving him diarrhea – and these are the ideas they came up with sober. Then it decides to once again mature matters with a legal complication before letting the evil cheater get his physical and financial just desserts. The women scorned are casted perfectly to match their characters' respective personalities, but the narrative in which they must work is too fantastical. Even director Nick Cassavetes couldn't work his magic on this script.
Special features include: eight deleted scenes; “Giggle Fit”; gag reel; and gallery. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Phantom of the Paradise (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Swan (Paul Williams), an evil record tycoon, is haunted and taunted by the disfigured composer Winslow Leach (William Finley) who he once wronged.
Like many of his contemporaries, writer/director Brian De Palma dabbled in the unusual before finding his niche in the crime thriller. This is a rock 'n roll version of Phantom of the Opera that incorporates supernatural elements such as the devil and selling one's soul for music. Even though it's wholly bizarre, it's an intriguing and enjoyable little film that not only shows De Palma's potential as a filmmaker but also his talent as a storyteller. Everyone’s willingness to sign three-inch contracts written in confusing prose with blood is just one of the film’s many fascinations. Winslow’s accident has surprising effects, while Swan’s despicable actions become more contemptible as the movie continues. There are some plot holes, but it all works in the end however strangely.
Special features include: commentary by Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham and the Juicy Fruits (Archie Hahn, Jeffrey Comanor and Harold Oblong aka Peter Eibling); commentary by production designer Jack Fisk; interview with director Brian De Palma; interview with Paul Williams talking about the music of the film; interview with make-up effects wizard Tom Burman; alternate takes; Swan song outtakes footage; “Paradise Regained” documentary; interview with Paul Williams moderated by Guillermo Del Toro; interview with costume designer Rosanna Norton; interview with producer Edward R. Pressman; interview with drummer Gary Mallaber; “Alvin’s Art and Technique,” a look at the neon poster; 1974 Publicity Sheet written by and read by Gerrit Graham; still gallery; radio and TV spots; theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Good, The Bad, and Casey Jones (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Casey Jones steps up and takes on pure evil. Meanwhile, the Turtles learn a shocking secret about April’s past and they come face-to-face with another mutant turtle called Slash, a rewired Metalhead, a fungus mutant spreading through the sewers and the Rat King.
Nickelodeon's reboot of the '80s TV show does not venture too far from the source. This sampling of episodes from the first two seasons is an adequate overview of the series and its computer-animated characters. None of them are as hulking or old as they once were, but the storylines are similar. Raphael and Casey Jones's kinship remain intact as they both try to control their anger after an amusing introduction. The hallucinogenic mushroom plot is an interesting one, as is the appearance of Slash a.k.a. Spike.
Special features include: “Meet Casey Jones”; and six shorts: “The Mutation of a Scene.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Without Warning (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
A group of teenagers head out to the lake for a relaxing camping trip in the mountains. They ignore the warnings of the local truck stop owner and head to their destination. Things go terribly wrong when they run into an extraterrestrial who throws deadly discs that suck the blood of their victims. The group heads back to the truck stop for help from the eclectic group of residents – a crazy war veteran (Martin Landau) and a determined hunter (Jack Palance).
Not all sci-fi horror movies make sense, though this picture is a bit of a precursor to Predator combined with elements of a slasher film. The alien is the typical tall, thin creature with an oversized head in a long robe. The "discs" are ugly flying animals with extendable legs. Other than the obvious killing, there is no purpose given to the attack on the small town. Still the most amusing view is through a windshield at a practical creature effect with suction cups and chomping teeth. Landau's character isn't as sophisticated as his later roles would be, but his portrayal of a former soldier with severe PTSD is one of the movie's best assets. Palance is the usual tough as nails fighter taking the battle to the alien on his terms. Sadly the female protagonist is virtually useless thorough the entire film.
Special features include: commentary by producer/director Greydon Clark; interview with cinematographer Dean Cundey; interview with co-writer/co-producer Daniel Grodnik; interview with special make-up effects creator Greg Cannom; interview with actors Christopher S. Nelson and Tarah Nutter; still gallery; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)