Tuesday, March 11, 2014
NEW ON THE SHELF
Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man 3.”
"IRON MAN 3," starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow. One of Hollywood's most bankable franchises, the third installment of "Iron Man" finds billionaire hero Tony Stark (Downey, in the role he was seemingly born to play) facing off against global terrorist Mandarin (a diabolical Ben Kingsley), whose unthinkable power may have a reach greater than Stark can corral. Also severely impeding Tony's progress is rival businessman Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce, adding yet another sublimely slimy baddie to his resume), a former admirer turned competitor. Writer-director Shane Black ("Kiss Kiss Bang Bang") takes over the reins from Jon Favreau (who makes an appearance all the same as Tony's ill-fated friend Happy) with largely favorable results, putting his expert storytelling skills to good use. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:10.
Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $44.99.
"REDEMPTION," starring Jason Statham, Agata Buzek. Considerably more thoughtful than your average Statham actioner (which is probably why it didn't make any money), "Redemption" casts everyone's favorite brutal bald curmudgeon as Joey, a former Royal Marine deeply scarred by his time in the Middle East who's putting his particular skills to use as an enforcer for the Chinese mafia to get his life together financially and working on his emotional issues with nun Cristina (Buzek, "Lena"), a counselor experiencing a crisis of faith who takes a liking to the broken man. The directorial debut of screenwriter Steven Knight ("Eastern Promises"), "Redemption" marks a turning point for Statham, who gets to exercise his acting chops far beyond what his typical fare allows, a largely successful endeavor that will hopefully lead to similar efforts in the near future. Rated R. Running time: 1:40. Suggested retail price: $19.98; Blu-ray $24.99.
NEW TO DVD
"DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON," starring Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman. More time-traveling madness for the good doctor's many, many fans, season seven finds the eleventh doc Smith engaging in many and sundry activities such as rescuing a spaceship full of dinosaurs, chasing ghosts, becoming trapped on a Russian submarine and, just in time for the holidays, battling an army of evil snowmen. Special features include behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews with Smith and Louise-Coleman. Not rated. Running time: 11:45. Suggested retail price: $79.98; Blu-ray $89.98.
"HANNIBAL: SEASON ONE," starring Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen. The early days of everyone's favorite cannibalistic serial killer (as embodied here by Mikkelsen of "Casino Royale," finding a new spin on a character previously thought inexorably linked to Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins) are brought to vivid life in this series. Dancy's ("King Arthur") understandably stressed out FBI profiler is working overtime to stay one step ahead of the diabolical Lecter, a task that proves less and less plausible with each grisly episode. Easily the best adaptation since "The Silence of the Lambs," "Hannibal" is well worth checking out, especially for fans who were understandably unimpressed with the last few theatrical sequels. Not rated. Running time: 9:21. Suggested retail price: $39.98; Blu-ray $39.97.
"MODERN FAMILY: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON," starring Ed O'Neill, Julie Benz. Consistently one of the best reviewed comedies on TV and a three-time Emmy winner, "Modern Family" shows no signs of slowing down (or bickering less) in its fourth season, with the arrival of Jay (O'Neill) and Gloria's (Sofia Vergara) new baby bringing even more comedic chaos than usual to the Prichett/Dunphy clan. Not rated. Running time: 8:36.
Suggested retail price: $49.98; Blu-ray $59.99.
NEW TO BLU-RAY
"HALLOWEEN: 35TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION," starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence. We have director John Carpenter to thank (or blame, depending on your point on view) for the modern slasher movie, but even after legions of copycats, it's pretty hard to top the 1978 original, with shambling, seemingly indestructible masked serial killer Michael Myers creepily pursuing scream queen Curtis through her suburban community. Hundreds of films have upped the gore quotient since, but in hindsight "Halloween" is all the more unsettling for what isn't shown, a lesson that unfortunately hasn't carried over. Special features include an all-new commentary from Carpenter and Curtis and a featurette that follows Curtis to a fan convention. Rated R. Running time: 1:31. Suggested retail price: $34.99.
"PSYCHO II" AND "PSYCHO III," starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles. While neither sequel can hope to hold a candle to Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece of terror, both "II" (1983) and "III" (1986) have their low-rent charms, giving the always entertaining Perkins a chance to flesh out his iconic character and ham it up with abandon. Special features include new interviews with cast and crew and commentaries from screenwriters Tom Holland and Charles Edward Pogue. Rated R. Running time: 1:53/1:33. Suggested retail price: $29.93.
"THE KINGS OF SUMMER," starring Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso. As blissful and irresponsible as summer itself, director and "Funny or Die" vet Jordan Vogt-Roberts' "The Kings of Summer" is a witty and wise throwback, mashing up an old-fashioned "Swiss Family Robinson" motif with a more modern improv-heavy sensibility, resulting in a true original. Concerning the efforts of teens Joe (Robinson, "Melissa & Joey"), Patrick (Basso, "Super 8"), and Biaggio (Disney Channel favorite Moises Arias of "Hannah Montana," who just about runs away with the picture) to construct a private wonderland in the woods in an attempt to escape their uninspiring parents, "Summer" will above all make you pine for the idle days of summer vacation, with gorgeous cinematography from Ross Riege ("Me Him Her") perfectly capturing the lazily gorgeous tone. Memorable supporting performances from such comic mainstays as Nick Offerman ("Parks and Recreation"), Mary Lynn Rajskub ("Mr. Show"), and popular stand-up Hannibal Buress round out the film nicely, but in the end it's the three young leads who make this "Summer" vacation one for the books. Rated R. Running time: 1:35.
Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $35.99.
"ROOM 237," documentary. More of an ode to deconstruction than to Kubrick, director Rodney Ascher's "Room 237" gathers several interviewees of varying trustworthiness, but all with one thing in common: They're obsessed with Stanley's Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's "The Shining." A film that failed to set any box office records during its initial theatrical release, "The Shining" has since taken on a life of its own over the years, with many a fan enamored with its off-kilter approach and hallucinatory visions of horror. However, there exists a select few who have managed to uncover hints and visual messages within the film itself that point to underlying messages about Native American genocide, space travel conspiracies, and all manner of diabolical "easter eggs" that Kubrick himself would likely be amazed (not to mention amused) by. With clips from the film on hand to support the various claims, the discoveries range from patently ridiculous to surprisingly astute. Either way, it's great fun listening to what these observant and quirky folks come up with, and no doubt any films you watch thereafter will be viewed with a far more incisive eye. Not rated. Running time: 1:42.
Suggested retail price: $27.98; Blu-ray $29.98.
-- Courtesy of Videoport