News Column

DVD Reviews: 'Oz the Great and Powerful,' Hansel & Gretel' and 'Snitch'

June 13, 2013


e_SDLqOz The Great and Powerful" (2013, PG, 130 min., $29.99) Returning to the magical land of Oz can be a difficult task for any director, even Sam Raimi. "Oz the Great and Powerful" serves as a prequel to the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz," and it's best not to compare the two films. Victor Fleming's legendary flick has captured the imaginations of millions, and that will continue. Raimi's pic is a lot of fun, and it re-creates a beautiful world filled with bright colors and a great collection of characters. Unfortunately, it lacks some story depth and feels a bit shallow in revisiting a world created by L. Frank Baum in his 1900 novel. Starring an A-list cast - - Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff and James Franco -- the film basically sets the table for the arrival of Dorothy. It opens up with the Wizard (Franco) working as a magician in a traveling circus in Kansas. When a tornado wipes him away, he wakes up in Oz. It's here where he is told he's fulfilling a prophecy, and he has to defeat a couple of wicked witches (Weisz and Kunis), and deliver Oz back to a time of peace.

"Snitch" (2013, PG-13, 112 min., $29.95) Wrestler Dwayne Johnson broke into acting a number of years ago, but with "Snitch," viewers get a chance to see how much he's taken to the craft. Indeed, Johnson is the best part of director Ric Roman Waugh's standard dramatic thriller. Even though the plot for "Snitch" is far- fetched, Johnson gives it a layer of believability with a steady performance that has the hulking performer grounded in reality. Johnson assumes the role of John, a father who's forced to help his son (Rafi Gavron) get out of jail. After receiving drugs in the mail from a friend in a misunderstanding, John's son is tossed in jail by the DEA. John volunteers his help to cut his son's jail time. Using his construction company and some help from an employee (Jon Bernthal) with a checkered past, John promises to get the DEA a major player in the drug trade, but soon gets in over his head.

"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" (2013, R, 88 min., $29.99) If they had seen it, the Brothers Grimm probably wouldn't feel too good about "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters," a disappointing adaptation of a story they published in 1812. The film kicks off with a telling of the actual fairy tale before going into the meat of the movie. Their experience with a witch as young children have turned Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) into, you guessed it ... witch hunters. They begin to investigate a series of kidnappings, and soon realize they're facing a witch (Famke Janssen) with extraordinary powers. While the film delivers a few good action sequences and the great services of Renner and Arterton, there's not much else. As far as fairy-tale films go, "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" is one of the worst. The story doesn't offer much depth, and it settles for an unusual amount of gore.

"The Law in These Parts" (2011, NR, 100 min., $29.95) A winner of the Grand Jury Prize for documentaries during its run at the Sundance Film Festival, director Ra'anan Alexandrowicz's fascinating picture explores the 44-year-old military legal system held by Israel in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, also known as the occupied Palestinian territories.

"Knife Fight" (2012, R, 100 min., $24.98) A good group of actors - - Rob Lowe, Carrie-Anne Moss, Julie Bowen and Jamie Chung -- is assembled for this political film about a strategist who specializes in getting his candidates out of trouble and back into public office. When his body of work starts to haunt him, though, he finds a different way in politics.

"Fred Won't Move Out" (2012, NR, 74 min., $24.99) Elliott Gould and Judith Roberts star in this film written and directed by Richard Ledes. The picture details the relationship between elderly parents and their grown children. The children want to move their father into an assisted-living facility, but he's not nearly ready to leave his home.

"The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg" (1993, NR, 82 min., $29.95) Filmmaker Jerry Aronson's powerful documentary on writer Allen Ginsberg finds new life on DVD. Aronson's portrait of Ginsberg explores the icon's life through the 200 hours of film he compiled on the literary legend remembered for groundbreaking works such as "Howl."

"The Last Ride" (2011, PG-13, 114 min., $29.99) Arguably the greatest country music star that ever lived -- Hank Williams -- is the centerpiece of this film from Harry Thomason. The film takes viewers into Williams' life on stage with a series of concerts throughout West Virginia and Ohio. Fred Dalton Thompson, Henry Thomas and Jesse James star.


- "Betty & Coretta"

- "The Newsroom: The Complete First Season"

- "Perry Mason: The Ninth and Final Season, Volume 1"

-- Garrett Conti

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