New on DVD and Blu-ray Week of May 8
By Harley Lond - 05/08/12 at 02:48 AM CT
"Underworld: Awakening": Every three years Kate Beckinsale returns to the big screen as Selene, the beautiful vampire warrior who fends off the werewolves in the eons-long battle between the bloodsuckers and the Lycans. This one -- which is short on exposition and long on violence -- picks up after the end of "Underworld: Evolution," in which humans discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans and began an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species. Selene wakes up after a 15-year coma to discover she has a vampire-Lycan hybrid daughter and that the remaining werewolves are developing a drug to create super-Lycans; she teams with her daughter to fight the good fight. "Underworld: Awakening" is the third sequel in the franchise and, though it got a lukewarm critical reception, it keeps the series chugging on, much like the "Resident Evil" films. There's got to be something about kick-ass female heroines.
"The Vow" uses a by-now hackneyed plot line -- a young woman loses her memory in a car accident and can't recall her life with her newlywed husband -- that is more suitable for Oprah's network or The Hallmark Channel than a big-screen outing. Still, the movie took in north of $120 million at the box office, making it a moderate hit. Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum are likeable and nice on the eyes, which must account for the film's success since the story line is so predictable and syrupy. Definitely a "date" movie.
"Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" is a new feature film from cult comedy heroes Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim ("Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job"). Tim and Eric are given a billion dollars to make a movie, but squander the money ... and have to go on the lam to save their lives. When they come across a failing shopping mall, they figure they can revitalize it and make their money back. The story is as far-fetched as the laughs are: far, far away. More TV junk gunking up the cinema screens. Pass.
Mathieu Kassovitz ("The Crimson Rivers," one of our favorite creepy horror-thrillers) took the film world by storm with 1999's "La haine (Hate)," a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically the low-income banlieues on Paris's outskirts. Aimlessly passing their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Kounde) and Said (Said Taghmaoui), white, black, and Arab give human faces to France's immigrant and otherwise marginalized populations, seethe with resentment at their situation until they reach the boiling point. A work of tough beauty, "La haine" is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country's ongoing identity crisis. Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director Mathieu Kassovitz, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Bonus features include an introduction by actor Jodie Foster; "Ten Years of La haine," an 80-minute documentary that brings together cast and crew a decade after the film's landmark release; a featurette on the film's banlieue setting, including interviews with sociologists Sophie Body-Gendrot, Jeffrey Fagan, and William Kornblum; deleted and extended scenes; more. From The Criterion Collection.
Buzzin' the 'B's:
The sadistic members of a villainous family -- headed up by their mother -- return to their childhood home to terrorize the new home owners and their guests in "Mother's Day" (2010), a remake of the Troma cult film, starring Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Patrick John Flueger, Warren Kole and Deborah Ann Woll. From Anchor Bay ... In "From Reykjavik to Rotterdam" (2010 -- Iceland), an ex-con working as a security guard is sucked back into the smuggling business; remade in a U.S. version as "Contraband." Stars Baltasar Kormakur, Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson, Lilja Nott Porarinsdottir. From Entertainment One ... "Playback" (2011), starring Christian Slater, Johnny Pacar, Toby Hemingway and Amber Childers, follows a group of high school students who begin to dig into their town's infamous past and unwittingly unlock a dark secret that has been kept hidden for years: an evil spirit is awakened and will stop at nothing to get what it wants. From Magnolia Home Entertainment ... "Shock Labyrinth 3D" (2009), starring Yagira Yuya, Maeda Ai, Renbutsu Misako and Katsuji Ryo, is Japan's first full-length, live-action digital 3D feature, directed by Takashi Shimizu ("The Grudge"). The horror-thriller follows a group of teenagers dealing with the sudden return of a friend who went missing a decade ago. When the friend falls ill they take her to a hospital, but end up trapped in a horrific labyrinth. The film was inspired by Fuji-Q High Land's famous "Labyrinth of Horrors" haunted house ride, and the film was shot at night in the amusement park. From Well Go USA ... "Elvira's Movie Macabre: Wild Women" is a two-disc set with four 'B' films: "Untamed Women" (1952), about a tribe of beautiful, primitive cave-women discovered by a stranded American bomber pilot during WWII; "Hercules and the Captive Women" (1961), in which the mighty and heroic Hercules battles the seductive powers of the wicked Queen of Atlantis; "Wild Women of Wongo," from iconic director Roger Corman, starring Adrienne Barbeau as one of the Wild Women tasked with fending off a tribe of evil ape men; "The Wasp Woman" (1959), Susan Cabot's ("Machine-Gun Kelly") final film, in which she turns into a lusting Queen Wasp after administering a serum developed to stop the aging process. From Entertainment One.
Norman Mailer was an American iconoclast who lived by his own rules. "Norman Mailer: The American" (2012) goes beyond the Mailer of the bookshelves and The New York Times best sellers list to the social critic, family man, filmmaker and lover, taking a look into the life of a complex, intellectual, working class hero. The documentary includes footage and interview from wives and lovers, enemies and admirers, his children and the man himself. From Cinema Libre Studio ... In the desperate hours and days after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the fate of thousands of Japanese citizens fell into the hands of a small corps of engineers, firemen and soldiers who risked their lives to prevent the Daiichi nuclear complex from complete meltdown. Now, one year later, "Frontline: Inside Japan's Nuclear Meltdown" (2012) presents their story, with rare footage from inside the plant and eyewitness testimony. From PBS Distribution ... An international team of experts explore the Great White Shark's anatomy to find out how it has evolved into one of the most feared predators in the ocean in "Inside Nature's Giants: Great White Shark".
Check out other new May 8 DVD releases at OnVideo.