Monday, March 25 2013, 08:30 AM MDT
DVD and Blu-ray New Releases for September 4, 2012
(KUTV) DVD and Blu-ray New Releases for September 4, 2012
This week ‘s releases are dominated by television series including the third seasons of HBO’s “ Hung ” and “ Bored to Death ” and the second season of “ How To Make It In America. ” NBC has fourth season of “ Parks and Recreation ” and the eighth season of “ The Office .” ABC offers up the eighth season of “ Grey’s Anatomy. ” Syfy has the second season of “ Haven. ” Not to be left out CBS has the first season of their hit comedy “ 2 Broke Girls ” (reviewed below).
Unfortunately I don’t have an infinite amount of time or a magic Time-Turner that allows me to be in two places at once so rather than trying to digest every television series I turned my attention to some of the weeks other titles (“2 Broke Girls” being the exception).
Here are this week’s reviews broken down by genre.
Comedy : “2 Broke Girls: Season I,” “The Five Year Engagement,” “My Sucky Teen Romance”
Drama : “8:46”
Family : “Hocus Pocus,” “Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection,” “The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series”
Foreign: “ White Vengeance”
Thriller: “Hand that Rocks the Cradle”
2 Broke Girls: Season 1 (DVD and Blu-ray)
I was excited to watch CBS’s runaway hit sitcom about street-smart Max (Kat Dennings) and her new roommate, the newly bankrupt heiress Caroline (Beth Behrs). Word of mouth was good, ratings were even better and I’ve always wanted to like Dennings more than I’ve ever actually admired her work as an actress. Having made my way through a handful of episodes I’m not so sure that I understand the appeal of “2 Broke Girls.” The writing consists of stereotypes and cheap double entendres and the performances feel forced. This isn’t unusual for a sitcom; I was just hoping for something a little more intelligent and relevant.
The Five Year Engagement (DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
When it comes to director/writer Nicholas Stoller I choose to ignore the fact that he was involved in the abysmal “Gulliver’s Travels” and focus on his finer moments like last year’s “The Muppets” and 2008’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” His latest film, “The Five Year Engagement,” stars Jason Segel and Emily Blunt as a couple perpetually putting off their wedding day due to death, career opportunities and jealousy. It’s more realistic than idealistic and that’s probably why the film failed to find box office success while the formulaic “The Lucky One” did. Segel and Blunt are fantastic and exhibit a believable chemistry that goes missing in so many romantic films. Stoller’s script is smarter and funnier than the romance genre deserves.
My Sucky Teen Romance (DVD and Blu-ray)
Once upon a time Emily Hagins caused quite the stir with a zombie film called “Pathogen.” She was 12 years old at the time. Her newest film follows Kate, a 17-year-old girl, as she attends SpaceCon, a small sci-fi convention, as a last hurrah with her friends before moving away. At the convention she meets Paul, a cute boy in a vampire costume. What starts as a romantic interlude quickly devolves into something more permanent when Paul sinks his teeth into Kate’s neck. Paul is a real vampire and he’s not the only fanged bloodsucker masquerading as a geek. OMG, Vampires are taking over SpaceCon!
Hagins’ film is a wonderful parody of teen romance and a brilliant jab at the pervasive nature of “Twlight” and vampire fandom in general. It’s silly, gleefully naïve and funnier than a dozen “Vampires Suck.”
Writer/director/actor Jennifer Gargano’s “8:46” is an intimate look at the fairly mundane moments in a handful of lives leading up to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The film is essentially a series of postcards and snapshots from the lives of people intimately impacted by unimaginable violence. It is brief, understated and effective.
Hocus Pocus (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Salem, Massachusetts circa 1693 a trio of witches (Bette Midler, Kathy Najmy and Sarah Jessica Parker) kidnap a young girl and perform a ritual that saps her of her youth in order to make themselves young again. Captured by Salem’s townsfolk the witches cast a curse upon town just before they are hung. This curse will allow the sisters to rise from the grave on Halloween night when the moon is full if summoned by a virgin. 300 years later a teenager unwittingly resurrects the trio leading to a lot of dancing, a flying vacuum cleaner and a talking cat. Yes, Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” is more than a little silly and while it might not qualify as high art it does have a particular charm that has allowed the film to become something of a cult classic for children. If you have children and are looking for a family-friendly Halloween film “Hocus Pocus” certainly qualifies.
Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
This 31-disc box set contains all eight films (Blu-ray features extended cuts on the first two and 3D on the last two) on DVD, Blu-ray and UltraViolet Digital Copy, includes all of the previously released bonus content including all eight parts of the “Creating the World of Harry Potter” documentaries that have appeared in the Ultimate Editions (both “Deathly Hallows” films have yet to have their Ultimate Editions released) as well as a collection of prop labels and a 48-page book and an exclusive bonus disc with four hours worth of behind-the-scenes features all housed in a box that looks like Professor Lupin’s traveling case. Unfortunately I was only sent the bonus discs and prop labels so I can’t comment on the packaging, but as a huge fan of all things Harry Potter I can say that I enjoyed the two new “Creating the World” features “Story” and “Growing Up.” “Growing Up” is particularly satisfying because it allows the cast pause and reflect on the journey they have just completed. The highlight of the exclusive bonus disc is “The Harry Potters You Never Met,” a documentary that puts the spotlight on the stunt doubles (it’s more fascinating than you’d ever expect). The disc is rounded out with shorter featurettes that look at how some of the film’s effects were done. The content is quite good, but you have to ask yourself if the packaging, a handful of goodies and a few hours of behind-the-scenes footage is worth $500 (or as low as $350 depending on where you shop). As someone who already owns the six Ultimate Editions that have been released I’m still tempted to get the box set to conserve space. Well, that’s what the “responsible adult” in me is claiming.
The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series (DVD)
All 52 episodes of Scholastic’s acclaimed animated series are collected together for the first time. The series is based on Joanna Cole’s popular books about a schoolteacher who teachers her students about science by going on wild adventures in their magical school bus. I’m a huge fan of the series and its ability to be educational and entertaining, even for adults. The central characters are well written and filled with distinct personality quirks. If a child is going to spend time in front of a television this is the sort of programming they should be watching.
White Vengeance (DVD and Blu-ray)
“White Vengeance” is a Chinese epic set at the end of the Qin Dynasty when former allies Liu Bang and Xiang Yu fought each other in an attempt to claim control of China. Chinese politics can be a bit confusing, particularly during this era of unrest as the various clans shifted allegiances depending on a variety of constantly changing factors. So, if you’re unfamiliar with Chinese history you might miss out on the big picture that extends beyond the film’s narrative. I don’t think this makes the film any less enjoyable, but it does lessen the dramatic tension a bit. The action, which features a little bit of wire work, is handled nicely with nothing too outlandish or jaw-dropping phenomenal. All in all director Daniel Lee (“Black Mask”) has made a solid, if not overwhelmingly impressive, film. Still, newcomers to the genre might want to start with “Red Cliff,” “Once Upon a Time in China” or “Hero” or play their way through one of the “Dynasty Warriors” video games before venturing into “White Vengeance.”
Hand That Rocks the Cradle (Blu-ray)
Rebecca De Mornay stars in this effective thriller from 1992 as an unhinged nanny intent on terrorizing the family she works for. De Mornay is fantastic, but Annabella Sciorra holds her own as the tormented wife. Julianne Moore also crashes the party in one of her early film roles. The film is also notable because it introduced director Curtis Hanson’s (“L.A. Confidential,” “Too Big to Fail”) to mainstream audiences.