News Column

New on Dvd

June 7, 2013

YellowBrix

By Amy Longsdorf

IDENTITY THIEF (2013, Universal, R, $30) -- There's nothing elegant about the latest from "Horrible Bosses" director Seth Gordon. It veers all over the road, from slapstick comedy to touchy- feely drama back to comedy again. It's both clever and condescending, smart and silly. And yet, flaws and all, the movie works primarily because fellow travelers Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy are hilarious together, riffing off each other with astonishing ease. McCarthy, who plays a credit-card scammer who's stolen Bateman's identity, also manages to stay attuned to the sadness of her character. Potholes and all, "Identity Thief" is a raucous ride. Extras: gag reel, deleted scenes and featurettes.

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013, Fox, R, $30) -- Family is uppermost in John McClane's (Bruce Willis) mind as he travels to Moscow to rescue Jack (Jai Courtney), his seemingly-screw-up son. But what McClane doesn't know is that Jack is a CIA operative on a mission to avert a nuclear weapons heist. None of the sequels, including this one, achieve the greatness of the character-driven original but if you're an action junkie, it's still a thrill to watch Willis lower the boom on the bad guys. Expect a hailstorm of artillery as well as explosions, car chases and Willis-delivered wisecracks. Yippee-Ki- Yay. Extras: extended cut, deleted scenes, featurettes and commentary by director John Moore.

WARM BODIES (2013, Summit, PG-13, $30) -- In Jonathan Levine's adaptation of Isaac Marion's young adult novel, a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) falls hard for Julie (Teresa Palmer) after he kills her boyfriend and feasts on his brains. So far, so disgusting. But Levine smartly uses zombiedom as a metaphor for the human condition. The more R falls in love, the more alive he becomes. It's "Romeo and Juliet" blended with "Night of the Living Dead" but somehow refreshingly fresh and tasty. Extras: gag reel, featurettes, deleted scenes and commentaries by Levine, Hoult and Palmer.

BREAKING BAD: THE FIFTH SEASON (2012, Sony, unrated, $55) -- Now that Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) is out of the picture, family- man-turned-meth-cooker Walter White (Bryan Cranston) assumes the mantle of drug kingpin. But as he's accumulating money and power, he has to deal with his wife (Anna Gunn) and sidekick (Aaron Paul), both of whom are becoming increasingly volatile. There's also plenty of interference from Walt's nosy brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) and Fring's former associate Mike (Jonathan Banks), a razor-sharp tough guy who makes a scary-good foil for Walt. Extras: deleted scenes, outtakes, rehearsal footage and commentaries on every episode.

ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH (2013, Anchor Bay, PG, $30) -- Meet the mismatched Supernova Brothers, alien astronauts from the Planet Baab. Scorch (Brendan Fraser) is studly and superheroesque while Gary (Rob Corddry) is a bookworm who prefers the comfort of mission control. But when Scorch is lured to Earth by an evil human (William Shatner), it's up to Gary to rescue his brother and save the universe. "Escape" lacks the imagination and wised-up humor of the best animated 'toons but the animation is colorful and the voice work by Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara and Sarah Jessica Parker is out of this world. Extras: featurettes, deleted scenes and commentary with director Cal Brunker.

THE NUMBERS STATION (2013, Image, R, $28) -- After a CIA agent (John Cusack) botches an assignment, he's sent to a godforsaken outpost in England where he must guard a computer programmer (Malin Akerman) responsible for sending out encrypted assignments to agents around the globe. When the fortress is breached, the movie turns into "Die Hard" in a bunker, with Cusack and Akerman trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. Even though director Kasper Barfoed makes the bone-headed decision to envelope much of the movie in darkness, "The Numbers Station" still manages to be relatively tense and brooding, if instantly forgettable. Extras: featurette.

MOSQUITA & MARI (2013, Wolfe, unrated, $25) -- In this modest charmer, two teenage girls from East L.A develop a life-saving friendship that tentatively inches toward romance. Sheltered Mosquita (Fenessa Pineda) is a brainiac who agrees to tutor the street-wise Mari (Vanecia Troncoso.) After a few lessons, the pair discover that, despite their differences, they're both lonely and anxious about the future. Writer/director Aurora Guerrero brings such a delicate touch to the material that this story of first love feels unique and touching. Extras: featurette.

SADAKO (2012, Well Go USA, unrated, $28) -- Terror goes viral in the fifth -- and weakest -- film in "The Ring" series. No longer haunting videotapes -- that's too low tech -- the long-haired spirit Sadako now lurks in a cursed website depicting the suicide of a renowned artist. Soon, high-school students are clicking on the site and promptly killing themselves. While a schoolteacher (Satomi Ishihara) makes for a welcome heroine, the plot is predictable and the special effects are cheesy, especially compared with the earlier "Ring" movies. Extras: none.

LIFE IS SWEET (1990, Criterion, unrated, $30) -- The first film to earn Mike Leigh an international audience remains one of his funniest and most touching. Alison Steadman and Jim Broadbent star as the lower-middle-class parents of twins -- the well-adjusted Natalie (Claire Skinner) and the cranky bulimic Nicola (Jane Horrocks). There's not much of a plot, just scenes of the family hanging out with each other and friends like Aubrey (Timothy Spall), a chef who opens a restaurant where "pig cyst" is on the menu. "Life" is a bittersweet pleasure. Extras: featurettes, short films and commentary by Leigh.

MAD MAX TRILOGY (1979-1985, Warner, R, $50) -- There's plenty of blood and thunder as Mel Gibson's post-apocalyptic thrillers receive the Blu-ray treatment. Series finale "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" suffers from a silly plot but the first two carnage-fests -- "Mad Max" and "The Road Warrior" -- more than make the grade. There's armored tank chases, a slew of revolting bad guys and an atmosphere of lawlessness so extreme it makes "The Walking Dead" feel like a picnic in the park. Extras: featurettes.

ONE HOUR PHOTO (2002, Fox, R, $20) -- One of Robin William's finest performances went largely unnoticed when this chilling thriller debuted more than a decade ago. The film, now on Blu-ray, revolves around Sy "the photo guy" Parrish (Williams), a lonely snapshot developer who becomes obsessed with a picture-perfect family (Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan). As Sy becomes more and more unhinged, writer/director Mark Romanek makes you believe something very bad is about to happen -- and it does (or at least it seems to). In addition to showcasing Williams' mesmerizing turn, the film is at its best capturing the antiseptic quality of modern life. "One Hour Photo" is guaranteed to give you a case of the cold creeps. Extras: featurettes, rehearsal footage and commentary by Romanek and Williams.

ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE (1973, Shout Factory, PG, $20) -- Robert Blake invests his heart and soul in this cult classic about a pint- sized motorcycle cop who longs to become a homicide detective. When Blake finally realizes his dream, the film skids to a stop and becomes a downright bizarre study of his corrupt boss (Mitchell Ryan). No sooner does Ryan exit the movie than the flick steers on track, with Blake solving a murder that's been staged to look like a suicide. While its no "Easy Rider," the new-to-Blu-ray "Electra Glide" is so stylish and odd, it practically demands attention. Extras: intro and commentary by director James William Guercio.

THE POLITICIAN'S WIFE (1995, Acorn, unrated, $30) -- Juliet Stevenson ("Truly, Madly, Deeply") delivers a smashing performance in this three-hour British miniseries about a family-values-touting politician (Trevor Eve) caught in an affair with a call girl (Minnie Driver). After Stevenson (as Eve's wife) discovers erotic telephone tapes which reveal the extent of her husband's affair, the gloves are off as she sets out to bring him down by any means necessary. While it occasionally feels padded, "The Politician's Wife" crackles with excitement whenever the scheming Stevenson is onscreen. Extras: none.

-- Amy Longsdorf

Sidebar:

Upcoming

Tuesday -- "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters," "Masquerade," "Oz the Great and Powerful," "Snitch."

June 18 -- "Jack the Giant Slayer," "The Last Exorcism Part II," "Stoker," "21 & Over."

June 25 -- "The Call," "The Incredible Burt Wonder stone."

July 2 -- "Tai Chi Hero."

July 9 -- "The Host," "Spring Breakers." -- Jaclyn Antonacci

(c) 2013 Record, The; Bergen County, N.J.. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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