Wednesday, April 23, 2014
NEW ON THE SHELF
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Great Gatsby.”
"THE GREAT GATSBY," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. Director Baz Luhrmann's ("Moulin Rouge!") characteristically stylized take on the enduring F. Scott Fitzgerald classic and high school classroom staple proves a perfect fit for Gatsby's (DiCaprio) opulent lifestyle, and certainly far more entertaining than the bland 1974 attempt with Robert Redford. Carey Mulligan ("Drive"), Joel Edgerton ("Warrior") and Isla Fisher ("Wedding Crashers") round out the top notch cast. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:22.
Suggested retail price: $28.98; Blu-ray $35.99.
"PAIN & GAIN," starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson. Director Michael Bay takes a welcome breather from the pyrotechnics, leaden one-liners and enormous budgets of such films as "Transformers" and "Bad Boys" and comes up with easily his best film to date, a darkly funny and endlessly entertaining true crime tale of a trio of none-too-swift bodybuilders (Wahlberg, Johnson and Anthony Mackie) whose get-rich-quick kidnapping scheme falls through in spectacular, horrific fashion. Nasty fun with terrific performances across the board. Rated R. Running time: 2:09. Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $39.99.
NEW TO DVD
"ELEMENTARY: THE FIRST SEASON," starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. Viewers may rightly wonder if there's any possible way to wring any more quality entertainment from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series, what with BBC's hugely successful "Sherlock" and Guy Ritchie's popular movies overtaking TVs and cineplexes alike. Surprisingly enough, however, creator Robert Doherty ("Medium") finds another intriguing modern slant to the character, and Miller ("Eli Stone") brings Holmes a rarely seen vulnerability that pays off, with the always engaging Liu serving as a worthy Watson. Not rated. Running time: 17:18. Suggested retail price; $55.98.
"SONS OF ANARCHY: SEASON FIVE," starring Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal. SOA shakes up the status quo for its fifth season, with Jax (Hunnam) taking over for the disgraced Clay (Ron Perlman, "Drive"), leading to more than a few intense situations. Joining the seedy fun this time around is the ever-dependable Jimmy Smits as a local pimp (or "companionator," as he prefers to be addressed) who proves to be an important ally, and a surprise cameo appearance from Walton Goggins ("Justified") that we'll let you discover for yourself. Includes commentary on select episodes from cast and crew. Not rated. Running time: 14:16. Suggested retail price: $59.98; Blu-ray $69.99.
"THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE SEASON THREE," starring Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus. One of TV's finest -- and, let it be said, most punishing -- hours surpasses all expectations with its third season, offering its many slavish fans more unthinkably tense situations, more horribly difficult decisions (and their rarely favorable results), and, above all, more zombies. You may wonder why you're so addicted to something so horrific and depressing, but addicted you will unfailingly be. Running time: 11:18. Suggested retail price: $69.98; Blu-ray $79.99.
NEW TO BLU-RAY
"DARK ANGEL (I COME IN PEACE)," starring Dolph Lundgren and Brian Benben. While it may sound like faint praise to deem 1990's "Dark Angel" (better known as "I Come in Peace" around these parts") Dolph Lundrgren's finest film, we don't want that distinction to sway you from watching this hugely enjoyable B-movie, which teams the former Ivan Drago with wiseacre FBI agent Benben ("Dream On") against a formidable alien roaming the streets of Houston and killing its citizens to obtain a potent drug found only in the human brain. Clearly we're not dealing with a Merchant Ivory production here, but nonetheless "Angel" is just pure dumb action/sci-fi fun from start to finish. Special features include interviews with director Craig R. Baxley ("Action Jackson"), Lundgren, and Benben. Rated R. Running time: 1:31. Suggested retail price: $19.97.
"KON-TIKI," starring Pal Sverre Hagen and Odd Magnus Williamson. For starters, how can we NOT recommend a film starring someone named Odd Magnus Williamson. Awesome stage names aside, this Academy Award nominee from Norwegian directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (the upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean 5") is a marvel, an old-fashioned adventure yarn the likes of which you thought they didn't make anymore, relating the incredible fact-based tale of explorer Thor Heyerdahl (Hagen, "Troubled Water"), who took it upon himself to cross the Pacific Ocean on a balsa wood raft with five other men, all to prove that it would have been possible for South Americans in pre-Columbian times could have settled in Polynesia. With excellent performances and seamless CGI, "Kon-Tiki" is an effective throwback with up-to-the-minute special effects, a feat few filmmakers manage to pull off with quite this level of success. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:58. Suggested retail price: $24.98; Blu-ray $29.99.
"THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST," starring Riz Ahmed and Kate Hudson. It's never a sure bet as to what type of genre director Mira Nair ("Monsoon Wedding") will take on next, but you can always count on a fresh perspective and absolute respect for the material, and in taking on Mohsin Hamid's controversial novel, Nair presents a compelling tale centered on a protagonist with uncertain loyalties, and Ahmed's ("Four Lions") portrayal of Khan, a Pakistani lecturer from Lahore University being questioned about the kidnapping of an American professor, is a complex study in grey areas. By design, there are more questions than answers raised in this thought-provoking thriller, but Ahmed's award-worthy performance and Nair's sure-handed direction carry the patient viewer through. Rated R. Running time: 2:10. Suggested retail price: $24.98; Blu-ray $29.98.
-- Courtesy of Videoport