Friday, April 18, 2014
NEW ON THE SHELF
Jai Courtney, left, faces off against Tom Cruise in “Jack Reacher.”
Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau and Jessica Chastain in “Mama.”
"JACK REACHER," starring Tom Cruise and Rosamund Pike. Based on the bestselling novels by Lee Child, this hard-hitting adaptation from writer-director Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects") makes expert use of Cruise's trademark cockiness as "Reacher," an elusive investigator willing to go to destructive and violent lengths to get his man, in this case a sniper accused of killing five innocent people. Special features include commentaries from McQuarrie, Cruise and composer Joe Kramer. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:10
Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $39.99
"MAMA," starring Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau. Executive producer Guillermo Del Toro's name in the credits is always a sure sign of impending creepiness, and first-time director Andres Muschietti's atmospheric cross between a fairytale and a fright flick is one of the most truly, organically frightening films in some time. The film relies on clever effects and a deep sense of foreboding rather than cheap shocks to wring scares out of its unsettling tale of young sisters who survived in the forest for five years under the guidance of "Mama," a terrifying if helpful ghost unwilling to share her guardianship with Annabel (Chastain) and Lucas (Coster-Waldeau), the young couple who have assumed the girls' care.
Not recommended for solo nighttime viewing, "Mama" is likely to get under the skin of even the most jaded viewers, and we mean that as a compliment. Special features include the original short that inspired the film. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:40
Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98
"SAFE HAVEN," starring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough. Setting aside the fact that havens are, by definition, safe, thus rendering the title of this film as redundant as if it were titled "Unsafe Hellhole," "Haven" marks another return to the well for beloved novelist Nicholas Sparks ("The Novelist"). He delivers more windswept implausibility with this reasonably compelling story of a young woman (Hough) with the inevitable dark secret relocating to North Carolina and falling for brawny but wounded widower Alex (Duhamel).
Will her mysterious past catch up with her? While you can most likely answer that question without watching the film itself, fans of Sparks and romances in general will find plenty here to keep them entertained. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:55
Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99
"30 ROCK: SEASON SEVEN," starring Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. Having provided some of TV's most reliably ridiculous laughs for the past seven years, the doors of "30 Rock" finally and regrettably closed for good, but not before providing more of that perfect balance of high- and low-brow comedy that Fey and company delivered week after week. An ideal send-off for a class act of a class clown. Not rated; contains crude humor. Running time: 4:42
Suggested retail price: $44.98
NEW TO BLU-RAY
"THE GREAT ESCAPE," starring Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. War movies don't come much more thrilling than this still-unequalled 1963 adventure, with the ever-unflappable McQueen leading fellow POWs to hopeful freedom from a WWII German camp via an elaborate plan involving tunnels and impressive motorcycle stunts. One of those unassailable classics that even viewers who tend to avoid older movies should enjoy. Not rated; contains mild language and violence. Running time: 2:52
Suggested retail price: $19.99
"JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR," starring Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson. Director Norman Jewison's ("Fiddler on the Roof") 1973 big-screen adaptation of the ultra-popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical presents a logical enough union between Jesus (Neeley, "Django Unchained") and hippies, lending a psychedelic air to the gospels that alternately delighted and rankled viewers at the time.
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