Thursday, April 17, 2014
NEW ON THE SHELF
Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in “The Heat.”
20th Century Fox
“THE HEAT,” starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Riotous nod to the buddy cop action-comedies of the ’80s a la “48 HRS” and “Red Heat,” “The Heat” successfully pairs straight-arrow Bullock with rule-disregarding loose cannon McCarthy in an effort to bring down a Boston-area drug kingpin. Not all audiences may be prepared for the wide tonal shifts between improv-heavy comedy and surprisingly graphic shootouts, but viewers up for anything should appreciate this faithful and very funny throwback. Rated R. Running time: 1:57. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99.
“PACIFIC RIM,” starring Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba. Massive aliens facing off against massive robots: What’s not to like? Fan-favorite director Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) lets his considerable imagination run wild in this anything-goes sci-fi actioner, finding Earth beset by Kaiju (big aliens), and relying on Jaegers (big robots) to stave off the wanton destruction. Unabashedly loud and silly, “Pacific Rim” is a rock ’em sock ’em good time, a tailor-made summer blockbuster that a thousand “Transformers” sequels couldn’t hope to live up to. Special features include a blooper reel and a commentary from del Toro. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:11.
Suggested retail price: $28.98; Blu-ray $35.99.
NEW TO DVD
“THE FALL: SERIES ONE,” starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan. Her iconic performance as Detective Scully on “The X-Files” long behind her, Anderson makes a long overdue return to television in this compelling offering from BBC Two, resurrecting her long dormant British accent as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, relocated to Belfast for the purposes of catching a particularly brutal serial killer (Dornan, “Once Upon a Time”) who has managed to completely elude the local police force. Not rated. Running time: 5:00. Suggested retail price: $39.99.
“GRAVITY FALLS: SIX STRANGE TALES,” animated. With the voices of Kristen Schaal and Jason Ritter. More than enough (admittedly deserved) praises have been sung about the genius of “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show.” It’s time to show some love to “Gravity Falls,” an unfailingly delightful Disney channel offering that pits 12-year-old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines (perfectly voiced by Schaal and Ritter) against the various creatures and weirdos attracted to the titular locale, where their crotchety “Grunkle” Stan runs a dilapidated tourist trap. A nice little collection to tide one over until the complete seasons are finally released. Not rated. Running time: 2:09.
Suggested retail price: $19.99.
“VIKINGS: SEASON ONE” starring Travis Fimmel and Katheryn Winnick. Having scored a success with the miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys,” The History Channel takes another foray into scripted adaptation with this effective period piece, which follows Ragnar (Fimmel), an aspiring Viking chieftain, on his bloody, arduous battle to fulfill his destiny. True to its time, the gore flies fast and furious, and fans of such well-realized fare as “Game of Thrones” are apt to find this much to their liking. Not rated. Running time: 6:38.
Suggested retail price: $49.98; Blu-ray $59.99.
NEW TO BLU-RAY
“THE HAUNTING,” starring Julie Harris and Claire Bloom. Director Robert Wise’s (“West Side Story”) 1963 classic fright flick remains remarkably effective even today. It ratchets up unbearable tension and maintains a deeply unsettling mood as a quartet of already troubled guests (led by a memorable Harris as the least stable of the lot) attempt to debunk the terrifying legacy of Hill House, a New England mansion rumored to be riddled with ghosts and various things that go bump in the night, something “The Haunting” has no shortage of thanks to brilliant sound design that the new Blu-ray brings to vivid life. Not rated. Running time: 1:52. Suggested retail price: $19.98.
“SLAP SHOT,” starring Paul Newman and Strother Martin. Still the gold standard to which all sports comedies aspire, this notoriously foul-mouthed 1977 hit finds normally straight-laced Newman tossing off f-bombs with the best of them as Reg Dunlop, a washed-up hockey player/coach who reinvigorates his unpromising team by encouraging them to play as dirtily as they can get away with. Much violent hilarity and creative vulgarity ensues, and the new transfer captures the goings-on in all their grimy glory. Special features include the all-important audio commentary from The Hanson Brothers. Rated R. Running time: 2:03. Suggested retail price: $19.98.
“A HIJACKING,” starring Pilou Asbaek and Soren Malling. Resorting to absolutely no CGI or cinematic trickery of any sort, this Danish import manages to drum up enough suspense for several big-budget Hollywood offerings with its unbelievably stressful tale of a cargo ship taken over by Somali pirates, who menace the few tired and ailing people on board while attempting to negotiate a potentially enormous ransom from their ruthless superiors. Writer/director Tobias Lindholm (“The Hunt”) keeps the tension mounting without resorting to unbelievable heroics or explosions, and gives us living, breathing characters instead of cartoons, resulting in a class act of a thriller deserving of a far wider audience than it has garnered to date. Rated R. Running time: 1:43. Suggested retail price: $26.98; Blu-ray $29.98.
“MANIAC,” starring Elijah Wood and Nora Arnezeder. We like a good, lurid exploitation movie as much as the next bunch of video store geeks, and 1980’s “Maniac,” starring the great Joe Spinelli as a lowlife wandering the streets in hopes of adding to his collection of scalps, is a classic of the genre. It’s a proudly irresponsible sicko-fest with pitch-perfect performances, effectively cruddy cinematography and some truly clever special effects and camerawork. So needless to say we were skeptical upon learning that Elijah Wood, of all people, would be filling in for Spinelli for the remake, but it turns out Frodo outfits himself just fine as a psychopath, slicing up his ill-fated female companions with vile flair. Obviously, “Maniac” is, to say the very least, not for all tastes, but as horror remakes go, it’s top shelf, boldly depicting madness and the carnage that can accompany it. Horror fans with a few “video nasties” under their belt are most likely to appreciate its “charms,” but at the end of the day “Maniac” is a skillful and queasily entertaining example of its chosen genre. Not rated. Running time: 1:29. Suggested retail price: $24.98; Blu-ray $29.98.
– Courtesy of Videoport