Tuesday, November 13 2012, 05:11 PM MST
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for November 13, 2012
By Ryan Painter
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for November 13, 2012
(KUTV) Pixar’s “Brave” and “Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 2” headline this week’s new releases with Ben Stiller’s alien invasion comedy “The Watch” lagging far behind. Indie film fans can take solace in Todd Solondz’s “Dark Horse” or HBO’s Blu-ray release of 2002’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” or the strange grindhouse western “Dust Up.” Oliver Stone’s “Savages” also makes its home video debut.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated” and would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the original series.
Musical fans will want to snatch up the recent New York Philharmonic performance of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” featuring an all-star cast.
A&E has also released the first season of their backwoods hit “Duck Dynasty.”
I’ve also included reviews of “Kung Fu Panda Holiday” and “Prep & Landing” for those of you looking to get into the holiday spirit.
Action: Dust Up
Christmas: Kung Fu Panda Holiday, Prep & Landing: Totally Tinsel Collection
Comedy: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Watch
Drama: Dark Horse, Savages
Family: Brave, Pixar Short Films Collection, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated
Reality TV: Duck Dynasty
Dust Up (DVD)
Somewhere south of nowhere a one-eyed plumber with a past scarred by violence takes on a cannibalistic crime lord in hopes of saving the beautiful (and somewhat desperate) housewife (Amber Benson of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame) of a drug-abusing roadie. Welcome to wild the world of Ward Robert’s “Dust Up” where the gore is cheap and clichés run amuck. It’s an exploitation of exploitation cinema where B-movie quality is the goal rather than the result of a limited budget. Is it terrible? Yes, but it intends to be. Does that make it good? Not necessarily. “Dust Up” is for those searching for a gonzo tribute to the grindhouse and all the limitations and excesses that implies.
Kung Fu Panda Holiday (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Po (Jack Black) is asked to host an annual winter feast, but quickly realizes that he’s in over his head and would rather be celebrating the season with his father at their restaurant. Fans of either “King Fu Panda” film will enjoy this short holiday-themed film. The animation is beautiful and while the story is a bit predictable it works extremely well.
Prep & Landing: Totally Tinsel Collection (DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Wayne and Lanny are “Prep & Landing” elves who work for Santa. The duo is an odd couple of sorts because Wayne is the old pro and Lanny is the wide-eyed rookie. Together they’re the perfect balance of experience and enthusiasm. The “Totally Tinsel Collection” includes the two holiday specials “Prep & Landing” and “Naughty vs. Nice” as well as the shorts “Tiny’s BIG Adventure” and “Operation: Secret Santa.” Originally produced for ABC television the two specials are well written, entertaining and beautifully animated. I enjoyed all the little references to other holiday specials and Disney properties. If you’re looking for an hour’s worth of holiday cheer “Prep & Landing: Totally Tinsel Collection” is a perfect solution.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding: 10th Anniversary Special Edition (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Nia is Greek, her fiancé is not. This doesn’t sit well with Nia’s family and Nia isn’t exactly certain how she feels about her own heritage, let alone trying to introduce a non-Greek into it. Heartwarming hilarity follows. Nia Vardalos’ unexpected box office triumph celebrates its 10th anniversary with a Blu-ray release that is generally pleasing, but not overwhelmingly so. For this release HBO has added a newly produced 30-minute retrospective with the cast and a handful of deleted scenes (which were wisely cut). The video and audio are about as good as you’d expect. I had hoped that there would be a little more depth and detail in the picture, but even with its somewhat soft edges the film looks better than the DVD release. If you haven’t seen the film I’d highly recommend it.
The Watch (DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade star as an unlikely group of strangers who form a neighborhood watch group in hopes of adding a bit of excitement to their lives only to find themselves as the last line of defense when aliens invade. The premise of “The Watch” is sound; the execution is a puzzling mess of vulgar gags that fail to be remotely as funny as they should be. The majority of the dialogue feels adlibbed and more often than not it’s crude rather than clever. “The Watch” is a rental at best; you’d probably be better served by just waiting for the December 11 release of “Ted.”
Dark Horse (DVD and Blu-ray)
Director Todd Solondz (“Welcome to the Dollhouse,” “Happiness”) has made a name for himself by being one of the most cynical and celebrated voices in independent filmmaking. “Dark Horse” is his lightest film yet, but its still an evocative tale about Abe, a man trapped in his thirties and his parents’ basement, who sees Miranda (Selma Blair), a beautiful but troubled woman, as his escape from his entirely insignificant life. Fans of Solondz films might be surprised by the relatively gentle tone of “Dark Horse,” but it suggests that he might be more than the one-trick pony he’s been pigeonholed as.
Savages (DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Director Oliver Stone returns with the gritty tale of a pair of successful marijuana growers (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson) that attract the attention of the Mexican cartel (Benicio del Toro, Salma Hayek) who want to have their share of the profits. Throw in a shared girlfriend (Blake Lively) and a corrupt cop (John Travolta) and you’ve got the makings of a cinematic mess. Based on Don Winslow’s novel, “Savages” doesn’t seem to know if it is a campy B-movie with a bloated budget or a dark drama about the brutal side of drug dealing. The film’s multiple endings (yes, there are more than one) do nothing to clarify what tone Stone was going for.
Brave (DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo and 3D Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Pixar’s latest film is coming-of-age tale about a young princess unprepared to give into the desires of her parents to settle down, get married and abandon her tomboy ways. On the surface this plot might seem more suited for a Disney film, but if you examine the details of the story you’ll find that “Brave” offers more surprises than clichés. The Scottish history and culture gives the film a wonderful uniqueness and visually you’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful film (animated or not). Maybe it’s not nearly as good as “Up” or “Wall•e,” but few films are.
Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 2 (DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Part of the thrill of going to see a Pixar film is knowing that you’ll be treated to a short film that more often than not is charming, intelligent and beautiful as the feature length film that follows it. This second volume of shorts contains twelve shorts featuring old friends (“Your Friend the Rat,” “Burn•E” and “Hawaiian Vacation”) as well as instant classics (“La Luna” and “Presto”). As if that wasn’t enough the Blu-ray’s bonus features include the student films of Pete Docter, John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton with introductions by the directors. These early films are rough around the edges, but they foreshadow the success and brilliance that the trio would find only a handful of years later.
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated Season 2 Part 1: Danger in the Deep (DVD) I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed watching “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.” I expected the series to a basic retread of the classic cartoon series, but it was so much more. I certainly wasn’t expecting a show that was filled with social commentary, pop culture references from a variety of decades (everything from the Velvet Underground to “Twilight” to “Hellraiser” and on to “Exit Through the Gift Shop”) and an ample amount of wit. If you liked the classic series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” you’ll certainly enjoy this newest incarnation.
Company (DVD and Blu-ray)
Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” gets a barebones performance directed by Lonny Price featuring the New York Philharmonic. What the play lacks in scenery it makes up with star power. Neil Patrick Harris who plays Robert, a 35-year-old man celebrating his birthday amongst friends, headlines the extraordinary cast that also includes Patti LuPone, John Cryer, Stephen Colbert, Christina Hendricks and many others. The play is a classic and thirty something years after its Broadway debut still feels surprisingly fresh.
Duck Dynasty: Season One (DVD)
Had The Beverly Hillbillies remained in woods rather than relocating to the left coast they’d probably look and act a whole lot like the Robertson family, the stars of A&E’s reality series “Duck Dynasty.” The Robertsons made their millions by hand making duck whistles. Rather than abandoning their backwoods ways the family celebrates their financial success by hunting, cooking, building a makeshift football field and occasionally showing up for work when Willie, the fiscally responsible member of the family, can convince them that it’s absolutely necessary. I don’t connect with the Robertsons’ way of life, but I do admire their ability to remain unchanged by wealth and their stubborn reluctance to embrace technology (their reasons for doing so are quite sound). “Duck Dynasty” is an interesting voyage into a way of life that is completely foreign to me. It’s not a lifestyle I’d choose for myself, but it does make for good entertainment when viewed from the comfort of my living room.
(Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)