January 31, 2013

DVD Releases

New on the shelf: 'Hotel Transylvania' / 'Paranormal Activity 4' / 'Seven Psychopaths' / 'Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2' / 'Downton Abbey: Season 3'


Colin Farrell, left, and Sam Rockwell in “Seven Psychopaths.”

CBS Films

"HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA," animated with the voices of Adam Sandler and Kevin James. Proudly goofy and slightly spooky family fare from director Genndy Tartakovsky presents Dracula (voiced by Sandler) as the ultimate overprotective dad creating a vast and impenetrable fortress to keep his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) from venturing out into the town and potentially being attacked by terrified citizens the way her mother was before her. Enter Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a wayward backpacker who stumbles upon the titular locale and improbably winning Mavis' heart, to dad's rampant chagrin. Rated PG. Running time: 1:31

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $55.99

"PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4," starring Kathryn Newton and Katie Featherston. The latest horror series that wouldn't end, this "found footage" sequel continues the simple but effective formula of shady, barely glimpsed supernatural shenanigans going on in the background and around the perimeter of everyday camcorder and webcam footage. As ever, it's a trick that works, but one wonders how many more times it needs to be played on us. Rated R. Running time: 1:28

Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $39.99

"SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS," starring Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell. The long-awaited follow-up to writer-director Martin McDonagh's cult hit "In Bruges" reunites the filmmaker with Farrell as a struggling screenwriter who unwittingly becomes involved in a ridiculous yet dangerous situation when his best friend (Rockwell) and a bizarre associate (the always welcome Christopher Walken) take it upon themselves to kidnap the beloved dog of a dumb but deadly gangster (Woody Harrelson). There's no missing with a cast like that, but for good measure, McDonagh throws Tom Waits and Harry Dean Stanton into the mix. A good time indeed for viewers who don't mind a little blood mixed into their comedy. Rated R. Running time: 1:50

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

"BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, PART 2," animated with the voices of Peter Weller and Ariel Winter. Effective continuation of Frank Miller's 1986 comic is a vivid and faithful adaptation, detailing the final battle between the Caped Crusader and the Joker. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:18

Suggested retail price: $19.98; Blu-ray $24.98

"DOWNTON ABBEY: SEASON 3," starring Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville. Everybody's favorite WWI-era English fancy soap opera is back for another season of class warfare and passive-aggressive conflicts. If you can forgive our "Abbey" overexposure fatigue for a moment, you'll of course find an exceptional program that continues its run as one of the best shows currently on television. Just stop talking about it for a second, would ya? Special features include more than two hours of bonus material. Not rated; contains mild language and some violence. Running time: 6:36

Suggested retail price: $49.99; Blu-ray $54.99


"FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR," starring Joey Cramer and Sarah Jessica Parker. Children of the '80s will fondly remember this family sci-fi from 1986, which follows young Cramer as he finds himself transported from the '70s to (then) present day, a phenomenon facilitated by a shape-shifting spacecraft voiced by Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Reubens. Not quite as silly as it sounds, "Flight" takes its central storyline fairly seriously, and Cramer's earnest performance effectively grounds the spacey proceedings. Rated PG. Running time: 1:30

Suggested retail price: $44.98

"WHITE ZOMBIE," starring Bela Lugosi and Madge Bellamy. Generally disregarded during its initial release in 1932, this surreal and nightmarish horror classic is now widely and deservedly regarded as a classic of the genre. Lugosi is his usual spellbinding self as the excellent named Legendre, a factory owner who also happens to be able to turn people into zombies -- a fairly lucrative combination if one happens to be looking for laborers that work tirelessly without demanding benefits. When unscrupulous plantation owner Beaumont (Robert Frazer) enlists Lugosi's services in mesmerizing the lovely Madeleine (Bellamy), things spiral out of control in a most entertaining fashion. Not rated; contains violence. Running time: 1:09

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