NEW ON THE SHELF
“TRANSCENDENCE,” Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall. The debut feature of longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister (“Memento”), “Transcendence” failed to ignite the box office furor its backers were probably hoping for, in spite of Depp’s presence, but in the comfort of one’s living room, the thoughtful creativity and patient craft on display overpowers the occasionally pokey pacing, presenting a world where computers have free will, a development that terminally ill technological genius Depp takes full advantage of by uploading his consciousness into his own A.I. system. It’s art house sci-fi masquerading as a popcorn movie, and in trying to please everyone, Pfister may have ultimately left us all a bit perplexed, but if any summer flick is deserving of a second chance, its “Transcendence.” Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:59. Suggested retail price: $28.98; Blu-ray $35.99.
“HEAVEN IS FOR REAL,” Greg Kinnear, Thomas Haden Church. A small-town pastor (Kinnear) has his faith significantly tested when his young son (newcomer Connor Corum) becomes seriously ill. But as the boy recovers and relates a seemingly earnest story of entering heaven and encountering angels and Jesus, the church leader must put aside his own misgivings to truly understand his son’s experience and its relation to their oft-troubled daily life. Director Randall Wallace (“Secretariat”) lends credence to what could have come across as sentimental treacle, and Kinnear works overtime to convey a true sense of wonder and hurt. Rated PG. Running time: 1:39. Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $40.99.
“SABOTAGE,” Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington. A group of DEA agents (led by Schwarzenegger) endeavor to steal $10 million from the safe house of a notorious drug lord, a mission that proves most unwise once the agents start getting picked off one by one, and the paranoia threatens to derail their considerable effort. Co-writer and director David Ayer (“End of Watch”) specializes in over-the-top displays of deeply unethical law enforcement, and “Sabotage” finds him taking his preferred motif to the extreme, punctuating his points with scenes of shockingly brutal violence and viscera-flecked shootouts. Viewers prepared for such things should find plenty to entertain within. Rated R. Running time: 1:49. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98.
NEW TO DVD
“TYLER PERRY’S SINGLE MOMS CLUB,” Nia Long, Wendi McLendon-Covey. The usual histrionics and mixed messages apply once again in Perry’s tri-annual attempt to teach us all a thing or two about ourselves, this time setting his sights on the tragedy and comedy inherent in the plight of the single mother, establishing a quintet of harried moms who bond over their triumphs and tribulations. The talented cast (which also includes Amy Smart, Zulay Henao and Cocoa Brown) does what they can with the spotty material they’re given. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:51. Suggested retail price: $29.95; Blu-ray $39.99.
“WAHLBURGERS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON,” Mark Wahlberg, Donnie Wahlberg. The cinematic and musical exploits of the brothers Wahlberg are well known far and wide, but not until this likable, knockabout reality show were their adventures in the restaurant business laid bare. As ever, it’s impossible not to root for the big lugs, and their dedication to both family and good business shines through. Not rated. Running time: 3:41. Suggested retail price: $19.98.
“BLUE RUIN,” Macon Blair, Devin Ratry. One of the best reviewed films of the year and a thriller unlike any other, “Blue Ruin” is that cinematic rarity – a movie you haven’t seen before. Beginning with the unlikeliest of heroes – a scraggly, not entirely confident drifter (portrayed, in a starmaking performance, by sure to be future character-actor extraordinaire Blair), who learns that the man who killed his parents has been released from prison, and the unsteady steps he takes toward cold-blooded revenge. Writer and director Jeremy Saulnier (“Murder Party”) cut his teeth as a cinematographer for fellow filmmaker Matthew Porterfield (“I Used to Be Darker”), and his distinct, unwavering eye and ability to find beauty in the mundane serves him incredibly well here, and “Blue Ruin” absolutely marks him as a director to keep an eye on. Rated R. Running time: 1:30. Suggested retail price: $24.98; Blu-ray $29.99.
“GMO OMG,” documentary. Not sure what’s left for dinner after “Food, Inc.,” “Fast Food Nation” and this similarly eye-opening doc, which focuses on the history, ongoing application and aftermath of genetic modification in our food supply, rendering us a populace of guinea pigs with no idea what’s going into our mouths. Sobering, to say the very least, but engagingly presented. Not rated. Running time: 1:30.
Suggested retail price: $24.98; Blu-ray $29.98.
– Courtesy of Videoport