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Review: It’s not often the new releases overshadow the library issues Special

Posted Dec 16, 2015 by Sarah Gopaul
This week’s releases include a more classic definition of zombie; a deadly weapon of demonic steel; a new thrilling adventure with Ethan Hunt’s team; and a compelling story featuring real wolves.
Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane star in  Ted 2
Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane star in 'Ted 2'
Universal Pictures
The Car (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Scream Factory
The peaceful tranquility of a small Western town is disturbed when a murderous car wreaks havoc by viciously mowing down innocent victims. The new sheriff, Wade Parent (James Brolin), may be the only one who can stop this menace in its tracks. But what Wade Parent doesn't realize is that the driver of this indestructible vehicle is far more dangerous than any man because it is driven by pure evil.
This is a combination of Christine and Sometimes They Come Back… as a demonic car terrorizes a small town, murdering people for pleasure. The identity of the driver is concealed for most of the film, though filmmakers do put viewers behind the wheel with a first-person camera perspective. To further enhance the eeriness of these accidents, the view from the inside is tinted an orangey-red. Though Wade spearheads the investigation, he has the support of the townspeople who don’t like the idea of their roads being unsafe to walk – which makes his job a little easier since he doesn’t have to convince them as well. Brolin is adequate in the role, treating the situation with great seriousness, though he has better horror appearances under his belt (The Amityville Horror).
Special features include: an interview with producer/director Elliot Silverstein; “The Navajo Connection — an interview with actress Geraldine Keams”; “Just like Riding a Bike — an interview with actress Melody Thomas Scott”; still gallery; TV and radio spots; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
The Dungeonmaster / Eliminators double feature (Blu-ray)
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Scream Factory
The Dungeonmaster: Paul (Jeffrey Byron), a young computer ace, is forced to pit his physical and mental skills against unimaginable odds when a hulking wizard looking for formidable opponents picks Paul as his next challenger. Paul faces a series of seven spectacular and death-defying challenges, and must survive not only to save his life but that of his girlfriend's too.
Eliminators: A mandroid (Patrick Reynolds) — part man and part machine — seeks revenge on the evil scientist who created him. Enlisting the help of a beautiful woman and a mysterious ninja, he pursues the scientist in hopes of stopping him before he can further harm humanity.
For fans of cheesy effects, ridiculous storylines and bad acting, this double feature is a goldmine. The opening scenes in the first one include very little explanation, so audiences are never too sure why Paul is engaged in a battle of wits and magic with the guy from Night Court (Richard Moll). Rather than prove capable of completing a task, Paul relies on a computer sleeve to provide all the answers in this fantasy dimension. The latter picture is slightly more coherent, but equally absurd. The mandroid is like a RoboCop prototype that has a fun, mini-tank attachment. There’s a lot of laser blasts that may inspire viewers to utter “pew, pew” (at least in their head) and the hand-to-hand combat mostly carried out by the ninja is awkwardly executed. But overall, this is probably the more entertaining of the two movies.
Special features include: interview with Eliminators director Peter Manoogian; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Extant: Season 2 (Blu-ray)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Devastated by the loss of her husband and humanich robot son, Ethan, astronaut Molly Woods (Halle Berry) is involuntarily committed to a "rest facility." Believing her confinement is part of a conspiracy to keep her quiet about the presence of aliens, Molly escapes, but she's stricken by an unknown illness... one she believes may be related to the mysterious space encounter that left her pregnant. Betrayed by friends and befriended by strangers, including ex-officer JD Richter (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Molly tracks Ethan and her hybrid alien son, who has now produced more of his own kind. Afraid the hybrids will result in mankind's extinction, the government orders the creation of powerful humanich robot soldiers to fight them — but the robots have their own agenda.
This series is based on a rather interesting concept from producer and sci-fi aficionado Steven Spielberg had a lot of potential, but lost its way rather quickly after Molly returned to Earth in the first season. In spite of the poor turnout, CBS wasn’t willing to give up on a show featuring Berry so easily. This season returns to a simpler, thrilling narrative in which Molly investigates the conspiracies surrounding her alien offspring with Richter, who supplies the gruffer side of the story. Their partnership draws the tale out of the lab and allows for more action sequences, aligning it with similar series. Unfortunately the turnaround wasn’t enough and the series was cancelled after this season.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “A Look At Season 2”; “The Carnival Of The Mind”; “Chemistry: Molly & JD”; “The Season Finale”; “Two Humanichs: Ethan & Lucy”; and “A Tour Of The Sets.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
With their elite organization shut down by the CIA, agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team (Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames) must race against time to stop The Syndicate, a dangerous network of rogue operatives turned traitors. To stop them, Ethan must join forces with an elusive, disavowed agent (Rebecca Ferguson) whose loyalty is suspect as he faces his most impossible mission yet.
The one thing this franchise hasn’t forgotten over the years is it’s meant to be exciting and fun. While movies in this secret agent genre share common elements, this franchise sets itself apart with its combination of humour and action. The characters that compose the core team are well-established at this point, so the scripts are able to play to their strengths. Thus Pegg’s Benji has much more screen time in this picture, having proven to be one of the most liked members of the group. Cruise is known for being very involved in the series’ productions and performing his own stunts, and this film is no different with him carrying out a fairly complex underwater sequence that is explained in the bonus features. There are several parallels between this movie and Spectre, but this operation is definitely faster paced.
Special features include: commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise; “Lighting the Fuse”; “Cruise Control”; “Heroes”; “Cruising Altitude”; “Mission: Immersible”; “Sand Theft Auto”; and “The Missions Continue.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Ted 2 (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
John (Mark Wahlberg) is dejected after a speedy marriage and divorce, while Ted’s (voice of Seth MacFarlane) romance with co-worker Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) is full-speed ahead after a dream wedding. But when the pair tries to adopt a child, they are stunned by the government’s contention that Ted is not a person. With the help of John and newly minted lawyer — and long-time weed aficionado — Samantha L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), the couple goes to all ends to fight the system for Ted’s legal personhood.
The basic line on this film is if you liked the first picture, you’ll probably like this one. The contrasting narratives don’t really complement each other, effectively sinking the boisterous mood each time any legal proceedings take the screen; but the two independent ideas combine for a rollercoaster film, which finds a way to transition between vulgarity and formality without entirely halting the flow. However, the incorporation of a third storyline involving the Tiffany-loving Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) and the head of Hasbro is asking too much of an already stretched script. From an assault on people who exercise to a running gag about porn on the Internet to a peculiar strain of marijuana to the plentiful prospects presented bullies at a comic convention, writer/director MacFarlane seizes every opportunity for a gag. It’s those funny moments that really showcase the chemistry between Wahlberg and MacFarlane, who effortlessly display a deep camaraderie and embrace even the most over-the-top moments in their already absurd friendship.
Special features include: commentary by Seth MacFarlane, Jessica Barth and writers Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild; deleted scenes; “Thunder Buddies 4 Lyfe”; “Roadtripping”; “Creating Comic-Con”; “Cameo Buddies”; “A Giant Opening Dance Number”; and gag reel. (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Wolf Totem (Blu-ray 3D)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
A young Beijing student is sent to live among the nomadic herdsmen of Inner Mongolia. Caught between the advance of civilization from the south and the nomads’ traditional enemies — the marauding wolves — to the north, humans and animals, residents and invaders alike, struggle to find their true place in the world.
This movie is an interesting look at the early effects of industrialization and expansion as the native inhabitants – human and animal – are put upon by the demands of outsiders. A government representative from the city who has a superficial understanding of the nomads’ lifestyle regularly demonstrates the ignorance of the South, often contradicting what the elders recommend even though they’re more experienced. The wolves are similarly affected as the increased population puts a strain on their food supply and numbers. While the nomads are resigned to go along with the new order, the wolves instinctually rebel. The bonus feature explaining how they trained real wolves for the film is quite interesting as they are inherently unlike domestic dogs.
Special features include: “The Nature of a Wolf”; “The Cast”; “The Director”; and “Environmentally Friendly.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Zombie High (Blu-ray)
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Scream Factory
It seems to Andrea Miller (Virginia Madsen) that the upperclassmen act like robots. They're the perfect students — dedicated, involved and loyal. Their clothes are perfectly pressed and their hair is perfectly styled. But it seems that the teachers have something to do with this ingratiating behavior. And when Andrea, the new kid at school, sees her friends turning into drones, she starts to suspect the worst.
This movie isn’t a bloody fight to graduation as it has more in common with Disturbing Behavior and The Stepford Wives than any contemporary “zombie” movie. The clues that something unusual is happening at the private school gradually mount until it’s obvious something is definitely askew. The cause is an unexpected mixed bag of automaton and eternal life. However, Andrea doesn’t have a lot of time to investigate because she’s uncomfortably pursued by a member of the faculty and is busy warding off his advances. Nonetheless, the school dance is a bit of a riot as a live band tries to instil some energy into the robotic students and the conclusion is an amusing display of special effects.
There are no special features. (Scream Factory)