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New on DVD and Blu-ray Week of February 12 -- February 18

View Harley Lond's Profile

By Harley Lond - 02/11/13 at 04:44 PM CT

THIS WEEK'S PICKS:

"Skyfall":
Daniel Craig is back as James Bond -- 007 -- in this 23rd adventure in the longest-running film franchise of all time. Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. Someone is going after MI6 and its agents in an effort to discredit M (Judi Dench), and the service's leader is left with only one ally she can trust: Bond. 007 takes to the shadows -- Daniel Craig as James Bond in one of the Top Action Movies of 2012, Skyfall to follow a trail to the mysterious Silva (Javier Bardem), an ex-MI6 agent who seeks revenge on M for being drummed out of the service years before. Bond captures Silva, takes him back to England, setting the stage for a spectacular final act pitting Bond and M against a horde of Silva's men. There's a lot to like in Skyfall, the highest grossing of the entire series: Virtually non-stop action, Bardem as one of the nastiest Bond villains in recent memory, and the return of the august Aston Martin DB5. Hats off to director Sam Mendes, who's breathed new life into the franchise.

"Robot & Frank":
This delightful indie film, set in the near future and starring Frank Langella as a retired cat burglar whose memory has begun to fade, was a pleasant surprise in an uneventful early fall movie release schedule. Though his daughter thinks he's ready to be placed in a nursing home, his son chooses a different option: Against the old man's wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health. Frank hates the robot, but eventually comes round -- and the two "companions" try their luck as a heist team. It's a pleasing, funny and somewhat heartbreaking story about finding friends and family in the most unexpected places. Co-stars James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard and Jeremy Strong.

"The Man with the Iron Fists":
This very complicated martial arts action-adventure -- inspired by kung-fu classics as interpreted by actor-turned director RZA and producer Eli Roth -- is a no-holds barred bloodfest of gigantic proportions. Set in 19th century China, warring clans (named the Wolves, Lions, Hyenas and Rodents) battle each other in Jungle Village using weapons created Rick Yune in the action-packed film The Man with the Iron Fists by ex-American slave The Blacksmith (RZA). When the emperor entrusts the Lion clan with a shipment of gold, the head Lion's lieutenants assassinate him and hijack the loot, setting the stage for a series of pitched fights involving the emperor's secret agent Jack Knife (Russell Crowe); X-Blade, the head Lion's avenging son (Rick Yune); Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu), the head of the local brothel and also leader of the female assassins The Black Widows; and the Brass Body (David Bautista), a giant of a killer whose flesh turns to metal when attacked. When the Lions cut off The Blacksmith's arms, Jack Knife grafts a pair of iron limbs and fists on the stumps, giving the movie its title and raison d'être for a monumental closing act of extreme carnage. The well-choreographed action sequences make up for some mundane non-action interludes as well as RZA'S dead-pan and lackluster acting chops. Loads of fun.

ALSO THIS WEEK:
"The Sessions" is based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes) who, confined to an iron lung, was determined -- at age 38 -- to lose his virginity. With the help of a sex therapist (Helen Hunt) and the guidance of his priest (William H. Macy), he set out to make his dream a reality. A well-told, adult drama that highlights Hawkes' and Hunt's talents.

"Bully" is the critically-acclaimed documentary that sparked a national movement that rallied people to stand up to bullying, hate and intolerance. The film follows five kids and families over the course of a school year, including two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. The documentary offers insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is an adaptation of Stephen Chbosky's acclaimed best-selling coming-of-age novel and centers around a freshman named Charlie (Logan Lerman) who is always watching from the sidelines until a pair of charismatic seniors takes him under their wing: the beautiful, free-spirited Sam (Emma Watson) and her fearless stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller); Chbosky also directs.

"Silent Hill: Revelation" is the sequel to 2006's scary horror film (in turn based on the ground-breaking video game franchise) that has Heather Mason and her father on the run, one step ahead of dangerous forces that she doesn't fully understand, until her father disappears, she discovers that she's not who she thinks she is, and she's thrust into a demonic world that threatens to trap her forever. So what else is new?

DVD Collectibles:
Belgium auteurs Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have long made idiosyncratic films about working class people and societal outsiders, using a naturalistic, almost minimalist approach, many times with first-time actors. Their films are heart-wrenching studies of The Kid with the Bike Criterion Collection Blu-Ray Cover life on the edge -- delving into the spiritual and psychological casualties of modern society. "The Kid with a Bike" (2011), here re-released by The Criterion Collection in a beautiful Blu-ray edition (also available on DVD) follows 12-year-old Cyril (Thomas Doret) who, living in a group home, attempts to reach his estranged, single father by any means possible, including running away. To his aid comes the compassionate Samantha (the radiant Cecile de France), who agrees to help him in his Don Quixote quest. She provides him with a bicycle -- a symbol of his lost parental relationship -- and together the pair track down Cyril's dad, with unintended consequences. A moving and powerful film not to be missed. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. New digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Alain Marcoen, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition.


The Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collections: Musicals As everyone should know by now, Warner Bros. is celebrating its 90th anniversary with a flurry of boxed sets highlighting the studios filmic output -- including a massive "Best of Warner Bros 100 Film Collection" and a gigantic "Best of Warner Bros 50 Film Collection Blu-ray" set. This week Warners is releasing "The Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collections: Musicals," one of many 20-film collections honoring different genres. Included here are such classics as "The Jazz Singer" (1927), "Broadway Melody of 1929" (1929), "42nd Street" (1933) and "The Great Ziegfeld" (1936) as well as more modern outings such as "Cabaret" (1972), "Victor, Victoria" (1983), "Little Shop of Horrors" (1986) and "Hairspray" (1988). On DVD, $98.92.


Buzzin' the 'B's:
The South Korean heist film "The Thieves" (2012) was that country's highest-grossing movie to date, with more than a half-million tickets sold on the first day and over 10 million tickets sold in the first three weeks of its release. The film -- stylishly photographed and choreographed -- follows a group of five thieves who go after the score of The Thieves Blu-Ray Cover a lifetime: a 318-carat diamond, worth $20 million, locked away in a casino, defended by a bevy of cops. But the cops and the vault aren't the least of their problems: the thieves have to watch out for each other. Slow-going at times -- particularly as the culprits plot their robbery -- but things pick up as the action progresses. On DVD and Blu-ray, with two behind-the-scenes featurettes. From Well Go USA ... In a town overrun with zombies, vampires, and a melting mad scientist with plans for an impending alien invasion, it's up to a select few to try and keep order in "Doomsday County" (2012), starring Tara Lightfoot, Paul Alessi and Mike Santi; from Troma Entertainment ... In "Kill for Me" (2012), starring Katie Cassidy, Tracy Spiridakos, Ryan Robbins and Donal Logue, two roommates with abusive men in their pasts consider murder as an option to help settle each others problems; from Sony ... After losing his high-powered political job and his fiance on the same day, a young man escapes to the small New England town of Harpswell in Cape Cod, where he falls in love with a bookstore owner as well as the quaint town itself, giving him new purpose and a sense of belonging in life, in the Hallmark Channel movie "Fairfield Road" (2012), starring Jesse Metcalfe and Natalie Lisinska; from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment ... A troubled teen goes online to test an urban Smiley DVD Cover legend and mistakenly summons a devious murderer named Smiley (so called because he has nothing but a carved "smiley" on his face) to kill a stranger online but ends up being marked as his next victim in "Smiley" (2012), starring Caitlin Gerard, Melanie Papalia, Michael Bart, Keith David and Shane Dawson; from ARC Entertainment ... "The Euro-Sleaze Collection" includes three depraved European films on three discs: "The Sister of Ursula" (1978), about two beautiful sisters who go to a seaside resort for a relaxing vacation that soon becomes a depraved nightmare of kinky exhibitionists, dope-sick Lotharios and lust-crazed lesbians; "The Sinful Dwarf" (1974), about a pint-sized pervert who imprisons drugged teenage sex slaves in the attic of his drunken mother's decrepit rooming house; and "Hanna D: The Girl From Vondel Park" (1982), about a Dutch schoolgirl who goes from coy teenage tease to depraved junkie whore; $29.95 from Severin Films.


Foreign:
"Dangerous Liaisons" (2012 -- China) stars Zhang Ziyi, Jang Dong-Gun and Cecilia Cheung in a re-imagining of the classic 18th-century French novel, here set in 1930s Shanghai, the glamorous, tumultuous "Paris of the East." From Well Go USA ... A student is sucked into the dangerous and alluring world of Iceland's drug trade, where he becomes the drug lord's right hand pusher, rolling in cash, drugs and girls in "Black's Game" (2012 -- Iceland), starring Thor Kristjansson, Vignir Rafnlborsson Val and Johannes Haukur Johannesson; from Lionsgate.


For the Family:
In "Babar: The Movie" (1989), the lovable pachyderm, star of Jean de Brunhoff's charming and best-loved children's books, makes the leap from page to film in this Dove-approved, feature-length animated movie originally theatrically released by New Line Cinema; from Entertainment One ... "Dora the Explorer: Dora's Butterfly Ball" (2012) features three new-to-DVD episodes from the current season: "The Butterfly Ball," "¡Vamos a Pintar!" and "¡Feliz Día de los Padres!"; $14.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount ... "Duck Dodgers: Babar: The Movie DVD Cover Dark Side of the Duck: Season 1" (2003) stars Daffy Duck as the heroic Captain Duck Edgar Dumas Aloysius Dodgers and Porky Pig as his trusted companion, as they blast off into outer space to protect the Earth from menacing Martian invaders. Two-disc set with 13 episodes, $19.97 from Warner ... "Slugterra: Return of the Shane Gang" (2012) features five episodes of the Nerd Corp's popular animated action series; $14.97 from Shout! Factory Kids ... In "Martha's Magnificent Egg" (2013), Martha Stewart's animated series celebrates Easter with an episode in which 10-year-old Martha and her friends create and craft their Easter baskets to enter an Easter contest; $6.95 from Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment/A Squared Entertainment ... "The Red Hen ... and More Cooking Stories" (2013) presents four delectable tales about food: the title story plus "Bread Comes to Life," a live action film narrated by Lily Tomlin; "How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?"; and "Arnie the Doughnut," the hilarious tale of pastry run amok; $14.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures ... "Chuggington: Safari Adventures" (2013) includes six jungle-inspired episodes that has the Chuggington crew embark on a trainload of escapades -- with non-stop adventure and positive messages -- with a variety of exotic animals at the Safari Park. For ages 2 to 7; $14.98 on DVD; a DVD with a collectible Mtambo Chugginton: Safari Adventures DVD Cover toy engine sells for $16.98; from Anchor Bay ... "Bible Stories From the Old Testament" (2013) is a compilation of History specials that retell stories from the Bible in new and unexpected ways. On the three-disc set: "Mysteries of the Bible: The Story of Creation," "Adam and Eve: Lost Innocence," "History's Mysteries: Sodom and Gomorrah," "Mega Disasters: Noah's Great Flood," "Moses and the Ten Commandments," "Battles BC: Joshua's Epic Slaughter," "Samson and Delilah: Love and Betrayal," "Battles BC: David, Giant Slayer," "Solomon." A companion three-disc set is "Bible Stories From the New Testament," which includes "Lost Worlds: Herod the Great," "Mary of Nazareth," "Joseph: Silent Saint," "Jesus: His Life," "Mary Magdelane," "Peter," "Pontius Pilate," "Judas," "Paul the Apostle." $19.98 each from Lionsgate.


Special Interest:
To coincide with the release of the latest James Bond film, "Skyfall," BBC Home Entertainment will release "Top Gear: 50 Years of Bond Cars" (2012), featuring "Top Gear" presenter Richard Hammond celebrating 50 years of Bond films by revealing the interesting behind-the-scenes stories of Bond's most iconic cars, including the "Goldfinger" Aston Martin DB5 and the Lotus Esprit submarine car. Additionally, ex-Bond Top Gear: 50 Years of Bond Cars DVD Cover Roger Moore shows up to host a segment on Bond's greatest car stunts. Quite a bargain at $9.95 ... "Jedi Junkies" (2010) is a film about the world's most dedicated "Star Wars" fans, from lightsaber wielding martial arts academies to a filmmaker who built the world's only life-size Millennium Falcon, from a Monster Garage-esque sculptor whose professional livelihood is building custom lightsabers to metal-bikini wearing dancers who embody Slave Leia. This documentary offers a rare glimpse into the lives of rabid fans whose personal and professional self expression via "Star Wars" borders on obsession -- and a way of life. $19.95 from Cinedigm/Docurama ... The documentary "Girl Model" (2012) explores how young girls are discovered in obscure corners of the globe and initiated into the high stakes modeling industry. The film follows Girl Model DVD Cover two protagonists: Ashley, a former model and now scout who scours Siberia looking for fresh faces; and one of her discoveries, Nadya, a 13-year-old plucked from her rustic home and dropped into the center of bustling Tokyo with promises of a profitable career. From First Run Features ... "The Origins of Oz" (2013) is a Smithsonian Channel documentary that pulls the curtain back on L. Frank Baum and reveals the inspiration behind his books: Who Dorothy was modeled after, why a scarecrow and a tin man served as main characters, how the 1893 Chicago World's Fair sparked the conception of Emerald City, and much more. $14.98 from Inception Media ... "Undersea Edens" (2013) is a Smithsonian Channel documentary that journeys through New Guinea, Australia, South Georgia Island and beyond to explore the breathtaking underwater empires of the southern oceans; $24.98 from Inception Media.


From TV to DVD:
"Bonanza: The Official Fifth Season" (1963-64) is a nine-disc set with 34 episodes of the long-running Western series that follows the High-Sierra adventures of the Cartwright family's wise patriarch Ben Cartwright and his three dissimilar sons, Adam, Hoss and "Little Joe," as they attempt to maintain and operate their sprawling timberland ranch, the Ponderosa, in an era of violence and lawlessness in mid-1800s Nevada; $58.98 from CBS/Paramount ... "Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror" (1964) is a digitally remastered Bonanza: The Official Fifth Season DVD Cover edition of the Doctor Who classic that includes the original episodes 1, 2, 3 and 6 plus brand new animated versions of episodes 4 and 5, currently missing from the BBC Archives. The Tardis and First Doctor William Hartnell arrive near Paris during the French Revolution, a time of great upheaval, bloodshed and terror. $24.98 from BBC Home Entertainment ... "Family Matters: The Complete Third Season" (1991-82) is a three-disc set with 25 episodes, $29.98 from Warner ... "Matlock: The Eighth Season" (1993-94) is a six-disc set with 20 episodes of the courtroom/crime drama starring Andy Griffith as a high-priced but successful Atlanta defense attorney; $54.99 from CBS/Paramount ... "Nurse Jackie: Season Four" (2012) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes, on DVD and Blu-ray with cast and crew commentaries, a "Cruz Control" featurette, an "On the Floor at All Saints" featurette and a gag reel; $39.98 from Lionsgate ... "Storage Wars: Volume 4" (2012) is a two-disc set with 16 episodes, $19.98 from Lionsgate ... "Weeds: Season Eight, The Final Season" (2012) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $35.98 on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate.

Check out other new February 12 -- February 18 DVD releases at OnVideo.

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