News Column

New on Dvd This Week: Aug. 23

August 23, 2013

YellowBrix

In stores:

EPIC (2013, Fox, PG, $30) Even though the plot feels like it was cadged from "FernGully," there's reason to rejoice over "Epic," a brightly colored cartoon dazzler that practically leaps off the screen. Amanda Seyfried voices M.K., a cynical teenager transported to a magical forest where tiny people are locked in a battle between growth and decay. After an encounter with Queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles), the newly shrunk M.K. helps the Leafmen (Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell) kick the butt of evil warriors. "Epic" falls short of greatness but you'll laugh at the comic sidekicks -- slugs Mub (Aziz Ansari) and Grub (Chris O'Dowd) -- and marvel at the lush visuals. Extras: featurettes.

AMOUR (2012, Sony, PG-13, $30) "Devastating" is the best way to describe Michael Haneke's latest, a deeply moving look at a couple struggling to come to terms with aging, illness and imminent death. French film icon Emmanuelle Riva ("Hiroshima, Mon Amour") stars as a woman who suffers a series of strokes that leave her unable to feed or care for herself. In the months that follow, her brave husband (Jean-Louis Trintignant) tends to her, with little help from their pre-occupied daughter (Isabelle Huppert). At its heart, the Oscar- winning "Amour" is both a love story and a look at the ways that old age can rob you of all the things you love about life. See it once and you'll never forget it. Extras: featurettes.

ON THE ROAD (2012, IFC, R, $28) -- There's a reason why several generations of filmmakers failed to bring the Jack Kerouac classic to the screen. The largely autobiographical story of how Kerouac alter ego Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) came under the sway of free- spirited Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) and his gal pal Marylou (Kristen Stewart) is too episodic to exert much of an emotional pull. That said, there are many fleeting pleasures along the way, including Kirsten Dunst's tightly wound turn as Dean's unhappy wife and Viggo Mortensen's dead-on impersonation of William Burroughs. Extras: deleted scenes.

THE KILLING SEASON (2013, Millennium, R, $30) -- What's up with John Travolta's hair? It's so black and close-cropped, it looks like it was applied with a magic marker. And now he has an equally bizarre beard to match. You'll have plenty of time to ponder Travolta's grooming choices if you check out this inane actioner pitting a Serbian war criminal (Englewood's Travolta) against a retired career solider (Robert De Niro.) The setting is a deserted patch of land deep in the Appalachian Mountains and the action consists almost solely of the two men taking turns torturing each other. This is easily the silliest movie that De Niro and Travolta have made, and given the duds on their resumes, that's saying something. Extras: featurette.

NICKY DEUCE (2013, Gaiam, unrated, $15) -- Now that Jersey hero James Gandolfini has passed away, this frisky Nickelodeon TV movie co-starring Steve Schirripa (aka Bobby Bacala) Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts), Michael Imperioli (Christopher) and Englewood's Vincent Curatola (Johnny Sack) is the closest thing we'll get to a "Sopranos" reunion. The teenage Noah Munck stars as an uptight math geek who comes into his own while spending a summer in Bensonhurst with his grandmother (Rita Moreno), his uncle (Schirripa) and a bunch of wise guys. The comedy is broad but -- admit it -- it's great to see the "Bada Bing" gang back together again. Extras: none.

THE HOT FLASHES (2013, Vertical, R, $20) -- When budget cuts force a small Texas town to close down a mobile mammogram unit, a handful of former high-school basketball champs (Brooke Shields, Virginia Madsen, Wanda Sykes, Daryl Hannah, Camryn Manheim) vow to raise the needed funds by challenging the current team to a series of games. Yes, its corny. But it almost doesn't matter because the cast members are so much fun to watch, particularly Sykes and a surprisingly game Shields. Nearly three decades after "Desperately Seeking Susan," director Susan Seidelman still has game. Extras: none.

SCARY MOVIE V (2013, Anchor Bay, unrated, $30) -- A candidate for the worst movie of the year, this slapdash horror spoof riffs on "Black Swan," "Mama" and "Evil Dead" for 88 long, unfunny minutes. Ashley Tisdale and Simon Rex star as a couple undergoing a haunting but the only slightly amusing moments are provided by Molly Shannon as an accident-prone ballerina and Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan as, well, Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan. Wyckoff's Katrina Bowden, so funny on "30 Rock" and in "Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil," is wasted in a tiny role. Extras: deleted scenes.

THE HOT SPOT/KILLING ME SOFTLY (1990/2001, Shout Factory, R, $20) -- Shout Factory's latest Blu-ray two-fer unearths two forgotten erotic thrillers from directors Dennis Hopper and Chen Kaige. Kaige's "Killing Me Softly" is in no need of a revival but Hopper's "Hot Spot" is an incendiary delight. Don Johnson stars as a drifter- turned-car-salesman who blows into a small Texas town and quickly finds himself ensnared by an innocent bookkeeper (Jennifer Connelly) and the boss's two-timing wife (Virginia Madsen). It's a bit like "Double Indemnity" but with sweaty sex, nude bathing scenes and a twist of lesbian lust. Extras: none.

THE MUPPET MOVIE: THE NEARLY 35TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (1979, Disney, G, $27) -- New to Blu-ray, the Muppets' big screen debut is a charmer about Kermit's transformation from Georgia swamp-dweller to Hollywood hotshot. On his journey, the singing frog hooks up with soon-to-be pals Fozzie Bear, Animal, Gonzo and Miss Piggy. There are tunes by Paul Williams (including "Rainbow Connection") as well as dozens of cameos by the likes of Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Orson Welles and Mel Brooks. Extras: featurettes.

MURDER IS MY BEAT (1955, Warner Archive, unrated, $25) -- On her way to prison for murder, Eden Lane (Barbara Payton) sees the man she was convicted of killing standing on a train platform. With a smitten detective (Paul Langton) in tow, Eden manages to avoid the slammer long enough to investigate. Director Edgar G. Ulmer ("Detour") brings a jittery energy to this sordid tale of crime and punishment. Extras: none.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (2012, HBO, unrated, $60) -- Of all the gangsters that Atlantic City bootlegger Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) has gone up against on this terrific, Jersey-centric series, Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Canavale) is the most deranged and dangerous. The showdowns between Nucky and Gyp are electric. Meanwhile, Nucky's marriage to Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) disintegrates, sniper Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) attempts to shield young Tommy Darmody from the influence of Tommy's increasingly devious grandmother (Gretchen Mol), and former FBI agent Van Alden (Michael Shannon) starts over in Chicago. Extras: featurettes including an interview with exec producer Martin Scorsese.

THE GOOD WIFE: THE FOURTH SEASON (2013, Paramount, unrated, $65) - - This superb show might have failed to net an Emmy nod for best drama series but nearly 100 episodes into its run, ace attorney Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) continues to fascinate. This season, she has to contend with plenty of tough cases as well as her husband's (Chris Noth) run for governor. There's also great story arcs featuring the guesting Nathan Lane and Maura Tierney. Only a ridiculous subplot involving Kalinda's (Archie Panjabi) violence- prone-husband (Marc Warren) fails to deliver. Extras: featurettes.

THE MINDY PROJECT: SEASON ONE (2012, Universal, unrated, $30) -- Former "Office" regular Mindy Kaling returns to TV with her own series, a mostly funny take on her search for Mr. Right. Kaling stars as Dr. Mindy Lahiri, a successful OB/GYN who yearns for a romance out of a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks comedy. The writing gets sharper as the season goes along but the supporting characters (Anna Camp, Chris Messina) could still use more spit and polish. Extras: deleted scenes.

REVENGE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (2012, Disney, unrated, $45) - - Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) is back in the Hamptons and ready to bring down those responsible for her father's murder. On the plus side, Jennifer Jason Leigh joins the cast as Emily's mother, and Madeleine Stowe remains the kind of villain you love to hate. But there's too much folderol about a super-secret society called the Initiative. All in all, a mixed bag of a season. Extras: featurettes, bloopers and commentaries.

-- Amy Longsdorf

Sidebar:

UPCOMING

Tuesday -- "The Great Gatsby," "Pain & Gain."

Sept. 3 -- "Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie," "Stories We Tell."

Sept. 10 -- "The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Sixth Season," "Love Is All You Need," "Star Trek Into Darkness."

-- Jaclyn Antonacci

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.


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