November 29, 2012

DVD Releases

'Lawless' / 'Men in Black 3' / 'Paranorman' / 'Step Up Revolution' / 'Sparkle' / 'The Apparition'


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Shia LaBeouf and Mia Wasikowska in “Lawless.”

Richard Foreman Jr. photo

"LAWLESS," starring Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf. A brutally effective Depression-era drama from director John Hillcoat and writer Nick Cave, who previously teamed so memorably for 2005's "The Proposition." Down-and-dirty saga of the Forrest brothers (Hardy, LaBeouf and Jason Clarke), deep South bootleggers who run afoul of the law in the form of Special Agent Charlie Rakes, a Chicago fed who isn't above property destruction and outright torture in the course of getting his man, played with sublimely evil oiliness by Guy Pearce in the performance of his career. Unflinching in its desperation and violence, "Lawless" may prove too much to take for unprepared viewers, but they'd be missing out on one of the most entertaining releases of the year. Rated R. Running time: 1:56

Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99

"MEN IN BLACK 3," starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. It's depressing to realize that it's been a full decade since the second film in this sci-fi/comedy franchise was released, but the years haven't dulled the comic timing of the ever-sharp leads. Supporting players end up walking away with the picture this time, however, with Josh Brolin pulling off an uncanny and hilarious impersonation of Jones as Agent K's younger self, encountered by Smith in a purposefully convoluted time travel plot, and "Flight of the Conchords" favorite Jemaine Clement is a scream as a truly disgusting alien villain. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:46

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $40.99

"PARANORMAN," animated with the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee and Anna Kendrick. Imaginative, amusing and even genuinely disturbing at times, this anything-goes family film features young Norman (Smit-McPhee, "The Road"), an outcast with an occasionally useful ability to talk to the dead. Tasked with protecting his hometown from a witch's curse, Norman teams up with dim older brother Mitch (Casey Affleck), humiliated sister Courtney (Kendrick), bullied pal Neil (Tucker Albrizzi) and school bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to attempt to rescue his unsuspecting neighborhood. Likely to induce nightmares in the very young, "Paranorman" is an ideal sleepover choice for kids not quite ready to venture into Freddy Kruger territory. Rated PG. Running time: 1:33

Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98

"STEP UP REVOLUTION," starring Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Guzman. The best advice one can offer concerning the "Step Up" films is to ignore the ridiculous semblance of a plot and enjoy the dancing, which is plentiful and impressive. Boogaloo Shrimp would be proud. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:39

Suggested retail price: $29.95; Blu-ray $39.99

"SPARKLE," starring Jordin Sparks and Carmen Ejogo. Loose remake of the 1976 cult hit makes for a decent star vehicle for the likable and talented Sparks, playing an aspiring songwriter who forms a girl group with her sisters -- against the wishes of their overprotective mother, fiercely played by Whitney Houston in her final screen performance before her death. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:56

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $35.99

"THE APPARITION," starring Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan. A young couple find their new home beset upon by the ghost of a man one of them resurrected during an experiment back in college -- which is the type of information one should really share with their partner before going in on a house, if you ask us. Some spooky stuff surrounding a slightly silly plot. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:22

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