News Column

New on Dvd

November 22, 2013


2 GUNS (2013, Universal, R, $30) -- Director Baltasar Kormakur ("Contraband") tries to paper over his movie's many plot holes by having stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg banter and bicker about everything from pancakes to the meaning of family. But their gab fests can't save this convoluted actioner from slipping off course. Washington and Wahlberg play law-enforcement agents who stage a bank robbery in order to expose a Mexican drug kingpin (Edward James Olmos). When the heist goes awry, they hit the road with the stolen cash. There's so much greed and corruption and betrayal that "2 Guns" quickly becomes a real bummer. Extras: featurettes, deleted scenes and Kormakur commentary.

WE'RE THE MILLERS (2013, Warner, R, $29) -- Desperate to smuggle weed across the border, a pot dealer (Jason Sudeikis) opts to pose as an RV-driving family man. But first he has to talk a stripper (Jennifer Aniston), a nerd (wonderful Will Poulter) and a runaway (Emma Roberts) into posing as his brood. Sudeikis has an annoying habit of shouting all of his lines but otherwise "The Millers" is a lively ride, with some detours you won't see coming, including scene- sealing turns by Kathryn Hahn and Nick Offerman as squares looking to swing. Extras: outtakes, deleted scenes, featurettes and extended cut.

THE WORLD'S END (2013, Universal, R, $30) -- A comedy about five childhood pals (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan) reteaming for an all-night pub crawl might sound like a familiar brew but the writing/directing team of Pegg and Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead") use the simple premise to riff on friendship, missed opportunities and the "Starbucking" (or homogenization) of modern society. Not only are the jokes expertly crafted but the unlikely appearance of zombie-esque robots gives the film a jolt just when it needs it most. It's pure comic bliss. Extras: featurettes and commentaries.

PARANOIA (2013, Fox, PG-13, $30) -- A decades-long rivalry between two techno tycoons (Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford) ensnares hunky newbie Adam (a tepid Liam Hemsworth) who agrees to spy on Ford for Oldman. The premise is compelling, especially when you factor in the involvement of the FBI. But none of the characters are particularly likeable which makes it hard for director Robert Luketic ("Legally Blonde") to generate suspense. "Paranoia" goes down easily enough but it's the type of film that seems to evaporate from memory even as you're watching it. Extras: deleted scenes and featurettes.

PARKLAND (2013, Millennium, PG-13, $20) -- Set in the hours following President Kennedy's assassination, this ensemble film focuses on a handful of people forced to deal with the unimaginable event. There are the doctors and nurses (Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden) at Parkland Hospital where JFK died; Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) who captured the assassination on his home movie camera; as well as members of the Secret Service (Billy Bob Thornton) and FBI (Ron Livingston). Running a brisk 87 minutes, "Parkland" is never less than riveting. The only problem is that it only scratches the surface of what happened on Nov. 22, 1963. Extras: commentary by director Peter Landesman and deleted scenes.

VIOLET & DAISY (2013, Cinedigm, R, $30) -- In this cock-eyed crime thriller, Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel star as two ruthless assassins who meet their match in their latest target (James Gandolfini), a gentle soul who rattles the women with his willingness to die. As the pair try to decide what to do with Gandolfini, they polish off rival assassins, entertain existential dilemmas and consume large quantities of milk and cookies. First- time director Geoffrey Fletcher, who won an Oscar for scripting "Precious," can't sustain the Tarantino-esque mood for very long. The movie seems to run out of steam long before the last bullet flies. Extras: none.

PARADISE (2013, Image, PG-13, $28) -- For her directorial debut, Oscar-winning "Juno" scripter Diablo Cody concocts the unique saga of an evangelical Christian named Lamb (Julianne Hough) who, after surviving a plane crash, renounces her faith and heads to Las Vegas to live it up. No sooner does she hit the "The People's Republic of Bad Choices" than she hooks up with a casino bartender (Russell Brand) and a lounge singer (Octavia Spencer) who offer to show her the sights. It's loony premise that shouldn't work but does. The film suffers from too many voice-overs and an abrupt ending but Spencer's performance, in particular, is downright heavenly. Extras: featurette and Cody commentary.

THE TO DO LIST (2013, Sony, R, $30) -- On her quest to lose her virginity, class of '93 valedictorian Brandy Klark ("Park and Recreation's" Aubrey Plaza) gets herself into all kinds of dodgy situations, some funnier than others. Writer/director Maggie Carey seems intent on proving that gals can be as crude as guys but it's the quieter, more offbeat scenes between Brandy and her friends (Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele) and slacker boss (Bill Hader) that make the film unique. Extras: gag reel, featurettes, deleted scenes and commentary by Hader and Carey.

PLANES (2013, Disney, G, $30) -- Even though the logo for this 'toon is almost identical to the one used for "Cars," this sorta- spinoff of "Cars" is not a Pixar film but rather a Disney vehicle that was originally meant as a straight-to-DVD release. Dane Cook voices the main character, a rickety crop-duster who longs to fly around the world with the aviation greats. Despite an overly familiar flight plan, this underdog saga maintains altitude thanks to a first-class cast, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Val Kilmer and Teri Hatcher. Extras: featurettes.

BREAKING THE GIRLS (2013, IFC, unrated, $27) -- While it probably includes one twist too many, this lesbian spin on "Strangers on a Train" is good, cheap fun. Busted for stealing at work, law student Sara (Agnes Bruckner) hooks up for a wild night out with rich girl Alex (Madeline Zima). The next morning, the pair joke about making a pact to kill each other's enemies, with Alex eventually following through with the plan. The pay-off is a bit of a disappointment but director Jamie Babbit keeps the film pulsing along with suspense and erotic tension. Extras: featurette.

JFK: 50 YEAR COMMEMORATIVE ULTIMATE COLLECTOR'S EDITION (1991, Warner, R, $50) -- Oliver Stone's best film takes an everything-and- the-kitchen-sink approach to the JFK assassination, offering up conspiracy theories about LBJ, Fidel Castro, the Mob and a bunch of right-wing homosexuals led by the menacing Tommy Lee Jones. Kevin Costner stars as Jim Garrison, the New Orleans D.A. who attempts to prove that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone when he shot JFK. Extras: commentaries, deleted scenes, three documentaries about JFK and "PT 109" starring Cliff Robertson.

ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13: COLLECTOR'S EDITION (1976, Shout Factory, R, $30) -- Forget about the 2005 remake with Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne. John Carpenter's original, now on Blu-ray, is the superior entry in the police-station-under-siege sweepstakes. Carpenter wrote, directed, edited and scored "Assault" right before making "Halloween" and both films share an eerie way of portraying evil. In "Halloween," Michael Myers is incapable of being stopped. Here, it's gang members who relentlessly pursue the inhabitants of an about-to-be-shuttered precinct. It's scary good. Extras: commentaries and featurettes.

WILLIAM POWELL AT WARNER BROS. (1931-1934, Warner Archive, unrated, $48) -- Before he teamed up with Myrna Loy for "The Thin Man" series, Powell proved his versatility by starring in nine features for Warner Bros., the finest of which are collected in this terrific four-film set. Powell is at his fast-talking best in "High Pressure," the saga of a promoter trying to sell investors on ersatz rubber. Fans of Powell's sleuthing abilities will prefer "Private Detective 62," which calls for the actor to suss out his partners' shady side-business. A pair of unique romances -- "The Road to Singapore" and "The Key" -- round out the collection. Extras: none.

TREME: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (2012, HBO, unrated, $40) -- No one will ever accuse series creator David Simon of rushing things along but this year, episodes seem a bit tighter, with a number of unexpected plot twists adding some tension to the New Orleans-set drama. Among the developments: Albert (Clarke Peters) gets devastating news, Sonny (Michael Huisman) tries sobriety, LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) receives death threats, and Davis (Steve Zahn) turns to Aunt Mimi (Elizabeth Ashley) to fund his opera project. Extras: featurettes and commentaries.

-- Amy Longsdorf



Tuesday -- "Breaking Bad: The Complete Series," "Getaway," "The Grandmaster," "Jobs," "Red 2."

Dec. 3 -- "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane," Drinking Buddies," "Matilda," "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," "The Smurfs 2," "The Wolverine."

Dec. 10 -- "Despicable Me 2," "Fast & Furious 6," "The Hunt."

-- Caitlin Callons

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