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New on DVD and Blu-ray Week of June 2-June 8

View Harley Lond's Profile

By Harley Lond - 06/02/15 at 03:59 AM CT

THIS WEEK'S THEATRICAL RELEASES:



"Jupiter Ascending": The Wachowskis at one time were revolutionary filmmakers. They brought us one of the best female buddy films ever, "Bound," and one of the best sci-fi films ever, "The Matrix," but after that latter milestone in cinematic storytelling and special effects the duo went fallow with a couple of duds ("Cloud Atlas" and "Speed Racer"). Unfortunately, "Jupiter Ascending" won't resurrect their reputation, thought it is an heroic Mila Kunis gets caught up in an interstellar adventure in the top 2015 sci-fi film Jupiter Ascending. effort. The film is a special effects sci-fi extravaganza that revolves around a normal young woman named Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) who gets caught up in a family battle between three interstellar siblings who are fighting over possession of the Earth. Channing Tatum plays a genetically-altered part-man, part wolf super-hero military hunter who comes to her rescue. Though the film was praised for its special effects, it -- wrongfully -- got hard knocks for its story line, which some reviewers just couldn't follow. Though convoluted, the Wachowskis have created a mythology worthy of a "Star Wars" or a "Guardians of the Galaxy" that plays out in a universe reminiscent of the old Flash Gordon serials. Ii isn't all that hard to understand -- the problem with Jupiter Ascending is that the characters are so stereotypical and one-dimensional and the plot twists so predictable that one just coasts uninvolved through the two-hour running time. Co-stars Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton, Doona Bae, James D'Arcy and Tim Pigott-Smith. Extras include several fascinating behind-the-scenes featurettes that look at the characters and special effects.

"Focus": It's always a pleasure to watch Will Smith on the big screen, whether as a formidable hero figure ("Men in Black" and "I Am Legend") or as a bad boy ("Bad Boys") or as a dramatic father figure ("The Pursuit of Happyness"). His last few outings, unfortunately, have been mundane ("After Earth," "Seven Pounds"), and his role in "Focus" definitely won't go to the top of his acting resume. Smith almost sleepwalks through the film as Nicky, a seasoned con man who becomes romantically involved with a novice (Margot Robbie) while teaching her the tricks of the trade via several outlandish scams, including escalating bets with a compulsive gambler at a football game in New Orleans and a race car scam in Buenos Aires. There's no chemistry between the two leads, the scams are mundane and the final denouement is just too sophomoric to believe. It's "The Sting" meets "American Hustle" without any action, suspense, or real romance. Co-stars Rodrigo Santoro, Gerald McRaney and BD Wong. Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, profiles of Smith and Robbie, and an alternate opening.

Also due this week: "The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water" and "McFarland, USA."

BUZZIN' THE 'B'S:


In "Camp X-Ray" (2014), starring Kristen Stewart, Peyman Maadi, John Carroll Lynch and Lane Garrison, a young woman (Stewart) joins the military to be part of something bigger than herself and her small town roots. But she ends up as a new guard at Guantanamo Bay instead, where her mission is far from black and white. Surrounded by hostile jihadists and aggressive squadmates, she strikes up an unusual friendship with one of the detainees. From IFC Films ... Monsters: Dark Continent Blu-Ray Cover Taking place 10 years after the events of its predecessor, the sequel "Monsters: Dark Continent" (2014) is set against the backdrop of a world proliferated by "Infected Zones" where fearsome monsters lord over the regions and threaten humanity. This film follows four fresh army recruits as they embark on a life-altering mission in the Middle East, through the heart of monster territory to save a group of fellow soldiers. Stars Johnny Harris, Joe Dempsie, Sofia Boutella, Sam Keeley. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from RADiUS/Anchor Bay ... In "Blindsided (aka Penthouse North)" (2013), starring Michael Keaton, Michelle Monaghan and Andrew W. Walker, journalist Sara (Monaghan), who lost her vision while on assignment in Iraq, is living a seemingly quiet life with her boyfriend Ryan, until she's taken hostage on New Year's Eve by a pair of murderous thieves -- including the dangerous Hollander (Keaton) -- who are on the hunt for diamonds they believe she's hiding. From Cinedigm ... A young man has to take it all off to earn money to become a famous hip-hop artist in "American Bad Boy" (2015), starring Katt Williams, Obba Babatunde, Ciarra Carter, Antoine Cleveland, Orlando Brown. From Lionsgate ... In "Asylum" (2014), starring Stephen Rea, Bruce Payne and Caroline Ford, a veteran hostage negotiator's next call leads him to an overrun insane asylum where he discovers that dark forces are pushing the patients to commit atrocities, and he may be the only one that can stop them.From Lionsgate DVD Cover for Asylum ... In "The Squeeze" (2015), starring Jeremy Sumpter, Christopher McDonald, Jillian Murray and Michael Nouri, a humble young golf phenom from a small southern town gets hooked up with a flashy gambler and the pair start hustling their way to Las Vegas, where an infamous mobster sets up a million dollar match. The gangster threatens the young man's life if he doesn't lose and the gambler friend threatens his life if he doesn't win. Caught in the squeeze, his only chance is to pull off the biggest sting in the history of golf. From ARC Entertainment ... "Asmodexia" (2014 -- Spain) follows five days in the lives of an exorcist and his granddaughter, working in the Barcelona area. Their mission is to help those possessed by The Evil One, an infection of the soul that is spreading fast among the most vulnerable members of society: children, mental patients, drug addicts. With a mysterious cult also following their every move, their battles are becoming increasingly difficult. From IFC Films ... In "Private Number" (2014), starring Tom Sizemore, Judd Nelson, Nicholle Tom and Hal Ozsan, a series of sinister phone calls haunt an ex-alcoholic writer as he struggles to finish a novel. Efforts to trace the calls result in dead ends, leaving the author with no choice but to solve the mystery himself. As he pieces together scant information he discovers the local police are hiding details about a horrific serial killer and, in his obsessive search for answers, he loses his grip on reality, and spirals downward into a maelstrom of violence and terror. From ARC Entertainment ... The Taking of Tiger Mountain Blu-Ray Cover "The Taking of Tiger Mountain" (2014 -- China) is director Tsui Hark's thrilling adaptation of Qu Bo's adventure novel stars Tony Leung Ka-fai as a ruthless bandit, ruling the lands of Northeast China from his fortress on Tiger Mountain. A captain of the Liberation Army (Lin Gengxin) launches a counter-insurgency against the dictator with a skilled investigator (Zhang Hanyu) sent to destroy the gang from the inside. Set in the late 1940s, the action unfolds with audiences immersed in spurting blood, flying bullets, airborne knives, falling rocks, cannon fire and a covert raid by skis. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA ... "Scarecrows" (1988), starring Ted Vernon, Michael David Simms, Richard Vidan and Kristina Sanborn, makes its Blu-ray debut this week. After a band of ex-military criminals pulls off a multi-million dollar heist, they hop aboard a plane headed for Mexico. But when one of their own betrays them, they suddenly find themselves on the ground and on the run through a field of scarecrows near an abandoned farmhouse. And as night sets in, the real nightmare begins. From Scream Factory.

FOR THE FAMILY:


"Tom and Jerry: The Gene Deitch Collection" (2014) contains 13 fully re-mastered theatrical shorts, produced by Gene Deitch. For decades, that tussling twosome Tom and Jerry have chased their way into the funny bones and hearts of moviegoers and television viewers in a variety of unforgettable cartoons. In the 1960s, acclaimed animation director Deitch was selected to bring a new set of Tom and Jerry shorts to life. Adding his own distinctive style to the famous cartoon, Deitch worked with William L. Snyder's Prague-based animation studio, Rembrandt Films, to create these memorable shorts. First time on DVD, completely re-mastered. From Warner ... DVD Cover for The Dog Who Saved Summer "The Dog Who Saved Summer" (2015), starring Dean Cain, Gary Valentine, Elisa Donovan, Patrick Muldoon, Joey "Coco" Diaz, Martin Kove, and Mario Lopez as Zeus the Dog, is the sixth film in the family franchise. When former police K-9 Zeus accidentally destroys an important party, the Bannister family decides it's time to send him to obedience school. Classes start off on the wrong paw when the no-nonsense instructor Vernon and his Marine K-9 assistant Apollo fail Zeus on every lesson. Fearing the pound may be his next stop, Zeus and the Bannister children enlist help from a janitor who teaches them his unique training methods that could help Zeus win Top Dog at the school's showcase. Meanwhile, a familiar trio of bumbling burglars is planning a daring diamond heist and Zeus must outsmart the thieves, as well as his hard-nosed instructor, in order to win the big tournament and foil the jewelry robbery before it's too late. From Anchor Bay.

SPECIAL INTEREST:


"Smiling Through the Apocalypse: Esquire in the 60s" (2013) explores the revolution in journalism sparked by the turbulence of the 1960s. The documentary is the story of maverick editor Harold T.P. Hayes, who made Esquire magazine a galvanizing force in American culture. DVD Cover for Smiling Through the Apocalypse: Esquire in the 60s Filmmaker Tom Hayes (Harold's son) paints a portrait of editorial genius using the voices and images of the iconic writers, photographers and artists who, with Hayes at the helm, brought Esquire to the vanguard of the cultural revolution. Encouraging unprecedented journalistic freedom, Hayes curated many of the most talented artists and writers of the time including Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Nora Ephron, Peter Bogdanovich, Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, and George Lois, all of whom provide vivid recollections of those charmed years in the film. He also gave bylines to established literary giants, among them Dorothy Parker and W.H. Auden. From First Run Features ... DawnSignPress, a company that produces high quality children's American Sign Language products, has launched the "Once Upon a Sign" series of DVDs that re-create classic children's stories with clever modern themes performed by an all-deaf cast entirely in ASL with voice-over and English subtitles. The first three titles: "The New Goldilocks and the Three Bears in American Sign Language," "The Magic Mirror in American Sign Language" and "The New Little Red Riding Hood in American Sign Language." For ages 3 to 8, $15.95 each.

FROM TV TO DVD:


"Falling Skies: The Complete Fourth Season" (2014) includes all 12 episodes of the sci-fi series that takes place in the chaotic aftermath of an alien attack that has left most of the world completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, the few survivors have banded together outside major cities to begin the difficult task of fighting back. Each day is a test of survival as citizen soldiers work to protect the people in their care while also engaging in an insurgency campaign against the occupying alien force. In this season, the pressure continues to mount for survivors as they try to regain control of earth. Keeping up their fight in the war is becoming increasingly difficult as their hopes of life after the alien destruction become more of a distant reality. With the new capitol in Charleston, the 2nd Mass could end up revisiting old territory. Three-disc DVD: $39.98, two-disc Blu-ray: $49.99, from Warner ... "Justified: The Complete Final Season" (2015) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes. Timothy Olyphant returns one last time as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, a man who attempts to bring law and order back to Harlan County. Based on Elmore Leonard's short story, "Fire in the Hole," this critically acclaimed series comes to a head in the series' final hours with a standoff between Raylan and his longtime enemy, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). From Sony ... Box Set for The L Word: The Complete Series "The L Word: The Complete Series" (2004-09) is a 24-disc set with all six seasons, $72.99. Dive into a woman's world when this collection arrives in a sleek new repackage on DVD. After Showtime made gay men the focus of its original series "Queer as Folk," the network created this series about a tight-knit group of lesbians in Los Angeles. The drama was far removed from its working-class male counterpart in both style and content: While the men of "QAF" enjoyed a fabulous if melodramatic life on the middle-class streets of Pittsburgh, the women of "The L Word" lived it up in sunny California, with gorgeous houses, glamorous careers, and sexy wardrobes. Filled with complex characters, some straight and some gay, "The L Word" aired for six seasons, creating both a loyal fan base and television history with its iconic portrayal of the lesbian community. The series stars an ensemble cast including Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey, Laurel Holloman, Pam Grier, Katherine Moennig and Mia Kirshner. From Paramount ... "Parks & Recreation: Season Seven - The Farewell Season" (2015) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.98. The year is 2017, and Leslie Knope's life has changed dramatically: she's now the mother of triplets and works for the National Parks Department but -- most shockingly -- has become sworn enemies with her former friend and mentor, Ron Swanson. Join Leslie's final acts of determination (and sometimes desperation) to make Pawnee "the greatest town in America" even better. From Universal ... "Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Fifth Season" (2014) is a five-disc set with 25 episodes, $59.98. Season five begins in the moments following the epic Season Four finale, in which Ezra was shot, among other shocking acts and revelations. Alison is alive and back in Rosewood, and everyone is affected by her return -- but is she the same Alison after being on the run? Hanna's ex, Caleb, returns, but he, too, is changed. Plus, how does Mona fit into everything and what is Melissa hiding? With more questions than ever and other familiar faces back in Rosewood, there are now five pretty little liars trying to piece together who has been tormenting them. Includes the series' landmark 100th DVD Cover for Rectify: The Complete Second Season episode. From Warner ... "Rectify: The Complete Second Season" (2014) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes, $29.98. Nineteen years ago, Daniel Holden was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of his teenage girlfriend, Hanna Dean. Thanks to newly discovered DNA evidence and the efforts of his sister Amantha and lawyer Jon Stern, Daniel's conviction has been vacated and he's returned to his mother Janet's home in Paulie, Georgia. But not everyone is convinced of his innocence nor is his future as a free man secure. Season Two finds Daniel committed to living in the present and making choices that prove frustrating for some of the Holden/Talbot family. Unfortunately, there are places and faces in Paulie that remind Daniel of the past: his incarceration, Hanna, and his role the night of Hanna's murder. He's forced to the realization that he must understand and accept what really happened if he's ever going to know any peace, a conclusion that shapes his determination to do whatever it takes to finally put his past behind him, no matter how high the price ... "Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete Fifth Season" (2014-15) is a four-disc set with all 18 episodes, $39.98 from Warner ... The Wire Blu-Ray Complete Series Box Set< "The Wire: The Complete Series Blu-ray" (2002-2008) is a 20-disc set with all 60 episodes remastered in 16x9 fullframe HD, $199.99. In the six years that have passed since the conclusion of the HBO series "The Wire," the critically acclaimed drama has turned into a worldwide phenomenon that has been hailed as "the best show in the history of television" by MSNBC. "The Wire" depicts an American urban dystopia, framed in our time, in which easy distinctions between good and evil and crime and punishment are challenged at every turn. In five successive seasons, the series depicts a Baltimore in which institutional prerogatives, economic inequalities and a brutalizing drug war confound the efforts to advance the city and its people. The series' first season lays out the futility of the drug war, while the second highlights the deindustrialization and the death of the working class. The third season introduces the city's political culture and lays out the forces that stand in the path of actual reform. The fourth season addresses the educational system and the actual opportunities that remain to coming generations. The fifth and final season examines the media culture and its role in perpetuating the status quo. Amid all of this, carefully drawn characters on both sides of the law and from a variety of Baltimore cultures move forward as best they can, human to a flaw, struggling against a system that seems weighted against civic progress. From HBO.

Check out other June 2-June 8 DVD releases and reviews at OnVideo.

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