Review: New on DVD for April 5 Special

Posted Apr 6, 2016 by Sarah Gopaul
This week’s releases include new adventures in a galaxy far, far away; excellent TV whether you enjoy comedy, drama or a bit of both; and a movie that plays with characters’ and viewers’ sense of reality.
A scene from  Star Wars: The Force Awakens
A scene from 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'
Banshee: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
HBO Home Entertainment
This season picks up one month after Carrie's father, gang kingpin Rabbit (Ben Cross), finally met his demise in a climactic church shootout. Carrie (Ivana Milicevic), now exposed and estranged from her husband and kids, remains in Banshee, working as a waitress by day while moonlighting with Lucas (Antony Starr), Sugar Bates (Frankie Faison) and Job (Hoon Lee) on a variety of local heists. As Lucas finds it harder and harder to keep his true identity from his deputies — especially Siobhan Kelly (Trieste Kelly Dunn), now his romantic interest – he and the Banshee police force become embroiled in a new conflict between Amish gangster Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) and Chayton Littlestone (Geno Segers), the vicious, vengeance-minded leader of the Redbone wing of the Kinaho tribe. And as fists and bullets fly in and around Banshee, Lucas concocts a new scheme that could net his thieves a fortune — by robbing a decommissioned Marine compound housing millions of dollars.
Lucas continues to rub off on his deputies as they agree to administer their own brand of justice when jail is just too good of a punishment — but it’s still a form of doing what’s right. On the other hand, if they had any idea of the illegal activities he was up to in his spare time his fellow officers would likely be equally unforgiving. However, the strain of these two lives and the lies they entail is weighing heavily on Lucas. Comparably, Proctor’s attempts to regain a foot with his family while keeping the other in a life of crime proves increasingly difficult and dangerous for all those near him. But as more lives are lost, Lucas’ past may be coming back to bite him in more ways than one.
Special features include: commentaries with cast and crew; deleted scenes; episode recaps; “Making of the Episode 2 Title Sequence”; “Banshee Origins”; “Banshee Origins Saga”; “Burton vs Nola Camera Movement”; “Burton vs Nola Stunts”; “Genoa Rehearsal”; “Zoomed In, Episodes 1-8 & 10”; and “The Heist.” (HBO Home Entertainment)
Disturbing Behavior (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
In the halls of Cradle Bay High School, something sinister is happening… something dark… something disturbing. Sure, the "Blue Ribbons" — the clique that's at the top of the food chain at Cradle Bay — appear perfect in every way. But underneath their clean-cut, well-mannered facades lurks a shocking secret — one that a group of Cradle Bay High's outsiders and rebels must uncover in order to save their school, their town and their own lives.
Before James Marsden became Cyclops or Katie Holmes finally chose between Dawson and Pacey, they starred in this delightful little sci-fi thriller about a group of ne’er-do-well teenagers trying to duck a body snatcher-type situation. Parents love their new responsible teens; except they don’t know that every time one of the Blue Ribbons experiences normal adolescent arousal, they become violent. With the help of a seemingly crazy janitor, the kids run around town piecing together the clues that could takedown the maniacal doctor using them as guinea pigs. The ‘90s alt-rock soundtrack matches the film’s fast pace as the characters discover there’s more to rebel against then just early curfews and restrictive dress codes.
Special features include: commentary by director David Nutter; deleted scenes; alternate ending; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Episodes: The Fourth Season (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Just when everybody thinks the ailing show Pucks! has been out of its misery, the network un-cancels it. For Matt (Matt LeBlanc), the hits keep coming as an embezzlement scam drains his finances, forcing him to scramble for cash. Meanwhile, Pucks! creators Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig) are back on top with a hot new script, but Hollywood politics tear them right back down.
The opening episodes of this season are hilarious as everyone is disappointed to be dragged back to the show they’ve waited years to escape. Its creators and star are forced to abandon their new projects to begrudgingly return to a project no one enjoys any longer. In addition to this upsetting news, Matt discovers he’s lost half of his fortune although few are willing to sympathize with his loss for various reasons. Sean and Beverly try not to let this setback be a dead stop, choosing instead to shop around a new show idea; unfortunately it attracts a lot of unwanted attention and they wind up at the wrong end of a revenge plot. And Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) decides to try out being a lesbian, only to discover that any and all her relationship issues remain.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
The Gong Show Movie (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
The feature-length film depicts a week in the life of beleaguered game show producer and Gong Show host Chuck Barris (played by Barris himself, in a masterstroke of casting.) Between a ratings-obsessed executive, out-of-control contestants and judges, and a seemingly endless string of auditions and encounters with "fans," Chuck's got his hands full… which leaves him no room to keep a grip on his own sanity. Can he get it together before the gong is struck on both his private life and his career?
The first condition of enjoying this movie is liking The Gong Show, as most of the narrative is built around and features the outlandish acts that took the stage each night. For those unaware, it was the ‘70s version of “America’s Got Talent” for people without any talent. They pushed the envelope of decency, often offending audiences and constantly risking cancellation — a notion Barris both feared and relished. Thus, not taking pleasure in watching people make fools of themselves makes it nearly impossible to enjoy this movie. On the flipside, it’s interesting that Barris would direct, star and co-write a film that chronicles the gradual loss of his sanity considering most people believe he eventually did experience a mental break that resulted in a delusion about being a CIA agent.
Special features include: commentary by pop culture historian Russell Dyball. (Shout Factory)
The Great Hypnotist (DVD)
Well Go USA
Xu Ruining (Xu Zheng) is a nationally renowned therapist incredibly skilled in hypnotherapy. But when his career takes off, he meets a patient named Ren Xiaoyan (Karen Mok) who brings him a complex problem. Xu Ruining discovers that with this particular case, the struggle between the doctor and the patient isn’t as easy as he’d expected. Despite her thin and weak appearance, Ren Xiaoyan always reacts violently to any problems with Xu Ruining. He wonders what exactly makes her closed-off to everyone. Is it from a painful memory in her childhood or the ring mark still visible on her middle finger? While sparing no efforts to figure out what has happened, he finds himself falling into a horrible trap.
This is somewhat of an Inception-type movie in which its characters often seem to be experiencing dreams within dreams, or, as in this case, a hypnotic trance within a hypnotic trance. As the doctor’s techniques become subtler, it becomes increasingly difficult to know when the character is in a trance and, more importantly, who is controlling the illusionary world. Ren is somewhat of a mystery that needs solving as Ruining digs into her past to uncover the source of her visions. However he never seems to be able to get to the bottom of her issues and appears to be confronted with some of his own. The push-and-pull of these characters is rather intriguing with a relatively unpredictable ending.
There are no special features. (Well Go USA)
House of Lies: The Fourth Season (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Fresh from a stint in prison, brilliantly manipulative management consultant Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle) is driven to rebuild his faltering firm. Nothing is going to distract him, even if that means booting his extremely pregnant off-and-on partner Jeannie (Kristen Bell). While spin master Clyde (Ben Schwartz) initiates a start-up relationship with a hot computer nerd and number cruncher Doug (Josh Lawson) copes with a marriage turned psycho, Marty remains laser focused on out-stabbing the backstabbers in a corporate battle for survival.
Unsurprisingly Marty’s incarceration has had a negative effect on his personal and professional relationships. Roscoe’s rebellious teen attitude has been taken up a few notches in his father’s absence as he challenges dad’s authority based on his own disregard for the law. In the meantime, Kaan and Associates hasn’t been able to land a big client in spite of their former glory and must leverage a begrudging connection to a young, temperamental inventor to get back on top. But no one is better at this game then Marty and he always gets what he wants — even if it’s only to realize he doesn’t want it anymore. Jeannie is determined not to let pregnancy slow down her career, though prospects outside of K&A for the mother-to-be are limited. As usual, the season ends with some big career moves as well as some major emotional blows for everyone. The addition of Valorie Curry as another skilled, driven female character (that isn’t crazy) is welcome and something to look forward to in the next season.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Identicals (DVD)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
The organization Brand New-U identifies networks of “Identicals” – people who walk like you, talk like you, but are walking through different, better lives — and helps their customers make a life upgrade: eliminating the better-life donor and relocating their client to that new life. Slater (Lachlan Nieboer) seems to have the perfect life, the perfect job and the perfect girlfriend. But when Slater’s girlfriend (Nora-Jane Noone) is abducted by Brand New-U and a corpse left in her place, he is forced to become an Identical. As he moves through a series of parallel lives, he becomes more and more obsessed with finding his girlfriend; but what he must find in the end is himself.
The premise of this movie is interesting, but the execution doesn’t make a lot of sense. Brand New-U’s process of locating a match or stealing the target’s identity is a total mystery beyond the minor plastic surgery that makes it all possible. Rules such as the client’s need to completely disassociate from their own life and eliminate their match is discussed, but still not clear. The “cloning” aspect of the film is also ambiguous. With all the opacity, the rest is just an action movie in which a man tries to rescue the woman he loves even though she’s unaware she needs to be saved.
Special features include: “Discussion with Writer/Director Simon Pummell”; and “Visual Effects Breakdown.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXV (DVD)
Shout Factory
As the excitement justifiably mounts for the sexy new MST3K, let us not forget the classic MST3K that kept us warm and fed for many years. When we first scraped our knees on the sidewalk of cheesy movies, it was there to patch us up with inspired riffing. When we were too scared to face bikers, knockoff spies, process shots and rubber-suited monsters, it was MST3K that took us by the hand and made us feel safe in its soft blanket of loving mockery. We were raised by ten seasons of cable comedy genius, and there's still plenty more classics to enjoy. Case in point: the four never-before-released episodes in this collection, including a triple play from Roger Corman. Joel, Mike and their robot compadres Crow and Tom serve it up old school in this delirious celebration of cinema's cracks and seams — like-old-times. Titles Include: Teenage Cave Man, Being from Another Planet (a.k.a. Time Walker), 12 to the Moon, and Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell.
Director Roger Corman’s movies often fall in the “so bad it’s good” category… or the simply “it’s bad (and not the way Michael Jackson used the word)” section of film history. So it’s not surprising his pictures would be the subject of a little MST3K riffing. These movies, in particular, are terrible. From the dialogue to the production value to the terrible acting, they are all rife with reasons for which to be made fun. And in case you think the crew is being a little too harsh on these films, the original cuts sans commentary are also included on the DVD for a couple of the titles.
Special features include: “I Was A Teenage Caveman”; “Richard Band Remembers”; Time Walker original version; “You Are There: Launching 12 to the Moon”; “Medieval Boogaloo: The Legend of Deathstalker III”; and four exclusive mini-posers by Artist Steve Vance. (Shout Factory)
Murders in the Rue Morgue / The Dunwich Horror [Double Feature] (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Murders in the Rue Morgue: In early 20th-century Paris, a theatrical company with a specialty in Grand Guignol undertakes their most gruesome production yet. But when a madman with an axe to grind arrives on the scene, the stage is set for real mayhem and murder most foul.
The Dunwich Horror: When a beautiful student named Nancy (Sandra Dee) catches the eye of the weird Wilbur Whateley (Dean Stockwell), it's up to her professor, the good doctor and occult expert Dr. Henry Armitage (Ed Begley), to warn her that no good will come of it. But as Armitage digs deeper into the Whateley family history, he uncovers a buried secret — and a plot intended to call forth an evil beyond imagination.
It’s not surprising Vincent Price was originally asked to play the theatre star as the role would have suited him perfectly as would the dark narrative of stalking and murder; nonetheless, Jason Robards does a fine job in the part. In any case, most of the attention is on the madman running around killing people and throwing acid in their faces. It’s classically dark tale with many secrets and severe punishments. The second picture is not nearly as sophisticated or direct as Wilbur’s plot, although obvious, takes most of the film to unfold. In the meantime, evil takes the form of blinding strobe lights that become increasingly maddening as the movie continues. This is undoubtedly the weaker of the two films as its occult narrative never really captures the audience’s attention.
Special features include: commentaries by author and film historian Steve Haberman; “Stage Tricks & Screen Frights”; and theatrical trailers. (Scream Factory)
The Sicilian (Director's Cut) (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
World War II is finally over and a war-torn world is at rest. But for the island of Sicily, whose inhabitants dream of independence from Rome's oppressive, ironhanded regime, the struggle has just begun. Three powers have always ruled the island – the Church, the landowners and the Mafia – until Salvatore Giuliano (Christopher Lambert) pronounced himself the fourth. Determined that Sicily shall gain its freedom, Giuliano and his "brothers" rob and ransom the rich, and cold-bloodedly murdering all who dare to defy or betray them. As Giuliano proudly redistributes his newfound wealth among the peasants, Don Masino (Joss Ackland), the head of the Sicilian Mafia, declares that Giuliano must be stopped – at any cost. Now it's a fight for survival, as the bloodiest manhunt in Italian history sweeps the countryside of the notorious outlaw, Giuliano.
This movie is based on the true story of a Robin Hood-like outlaw who challenged the elite on behalf of his starving brethren. One of the main issues is foreign landowners and the inability for locals to buy land in the country. A prince (Terence Stamp) and his beautiful young wife (Barbara Sukowa) are at the centre of the protests, as Giuliano covets both the land and the woman. The outlaw and his growing group of bandits have no qualms about killing for their cause or to make a point, but it’s only a matter of time before their aggressive tactics cross the line; a warning given repeatedly by Giuliano’s wife. His right hand is played by an impressive John Turturro who is willing to lay down his life for his friend and the cause – in that order. Lambert is adequate in the main role, matching the story’s rather blasé portrayal of a legend.
There are no special features. (Shout Factory)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Lucasfilm & Disney Home Entertainment
As Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the sinister First Order rise from the ashes of the Empire, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is missing when the galaxy needs him most. It’s up to Rey (Daisy Ridley), a desert scavenger, and Finn (John Boyega), a defecting Stormtrooper, to join forces with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) in a desperate search for the one hope of restoring peace to the galaxy.
Scrupulous fans can finally take home Episode VII and examine it frame-by-frame for any missed details. The mix of old and new characters mesh seamlessly, interacting naturally, drawing on the past and combining their efforts for good or evil. The return of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) provides a surge of nostalgia and it’s equally satisfying to see the Millennium Falcon is still a formidable piece of machinery. Rey and Finn have an entertaining and sustainable chemistry, while Poe is the new smart-aleck of the group. On the opposite side of The Force, Kylo Ren’s temper tantrums rival even Anakin Skywalker’s as the dark side nurtures his anger and petulance. J.J. Abrams’ efforts to create a visually captivating experience are well worth the trouble, as using real sets and practical effects give the film a tangible feel that cannot be accomplished with CGI. The bonus features are collected on a third disc with more than 90 minutes of additional content, including a 68-minute making-of featurette, and all of which contains info fans will enjoy as well as demonstrate the cast and crew are as big admirers as anyone. Lastly there are six deleted scenes, all of which could have added something to the story but are ultimately not missed in the final cut.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Secrets of The Force Awakens”; “The Story Awakens: The Table Read”; “Building BB-8”; “Crafting Creatures”; “Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight”; “John Williams: The Seventh Symphony”; “ILM: The Visual Magic of The Force”; and “Force For Change.” (Lucasfilm & Disney Home Entertainment)
Stealing Cars (DVD)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Billy Wyatt (Emory Cohen) is a young man with tremendous promise, but a troubled past leads him to the Burnsville Camp for Boys. Billy must navigate his way through dangerous inmates and a cruel and punishing staff, but during it all, he learns to inspire others and find out the truth about himself in the process.
Billy’s story is gradually revealed via flashbacks until a heart-to-heart with the warden (John Leguizamo) finally lays all the cards on the table. Up to then, Billy walks around camp like he has a death wish: aggravating guards and picking fights with fellow inmates, eventually earning and losing their respect for the same deed. He forms a bond with the camp’s nurse (Heather Lind), who is dealing with unexplored personal issues, as well as another boy who desperately needs medical treatment and is, therefore, the easiest target for bullies. In spite of the futility of his actions, Billy proves to be sensitive with a big heart that still manages to peak through in most situations. It’s nothing audiences haven’t seen before, but may try to condense too much story into a short narrative.
There are no special features. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)