By Harley Lond - 09/10/12 at 10:11 PM CT
This week's theatrical-to-DVD highlights:
"Snow White and the Huntsman" is the latest entry in the twisted-fairy-tale skein that's enthralled Hollywood for the past few years -- and we hope the last (it won't be; next year we have "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" and in 2014 we can look forward to "Maleficent"). "Snow White and the Huntsman" is notable for a decent but not impressive post-"Twilight" acting turn by Kristen Stewart (who, we hear, knocks 'em dead in the upcoming Walter Salles' filmization of Jack Kerouac 's "On the Road") and some spectacular action and fight sequences, but it's hampered by uneven acting by heroes Chris Hemsworth and Sam Claflin and a meandering storyline. But we're thankful for another chance to check out the lovely Charlize Theron as a very mean villain, coming so soon after her equally nasty role in "Prometheus."
Also out this week: "What To Expect When You're Expecting," inspired by the New York Times best-selling self-help book of the same name (oy!) that wastes a pretty talented cast that includes Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Jennifer Lopez and Dennis Quaid; "For Greater Glory," a period actioner that chronicles the Cristeros War (1926-1929), a revolutionary Mexican uprising against their atheistic government, starring Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Bruce Greenwood and Peter O'Toole; "Girl in Progress," a coming-of-age melodrama about a single mom and her precocious daughter, starring Eva Mendes, Cierra Ramirez, Matthew Modine and Patricia Arquette; and "October Baby," a drama about a young woman who heads out to find her hidden past when she discovers that she was adopted ... after a failed abortion attempt. Stars Rachel Hendrix, Jason Burkey, John Schneider and Jasmine Guy.
The folks at the Warner Archive are digging deep into their vault every month, coming up with some interesting additions to their gigantic DVD catalog of Warner Bros. and MGM tiles from the late 20th century. This week on offer are two oddball Westerns: "The Wrath of God" (1972), starring Robert Mitchum, Frank Langella (his first big role), Rita Hayworth (in her last role), Victor Buono and Ken Hutchison. The film follows the story of an adventurer, a hard-drinking priest (Mitchum) and a smuggler who team up to topple a Latin American despot in the 1920s. The other outing this week is "The Five Man Army" (1969), starring Peter Graves and James Daly. This Spaghetti Western is about a group of bandits, led by Graves, who plan on robbing a train transporting gold for the Mexican army. Both are available now from The Warner Archive.
With the release date fast approaching for Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie" (due Oct. 5), Warner is releasing a nifty Blu-ray set of Burton's films, called, appropriately enough, "The Tim Burton Collection
." The set includes "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," "Batman," "Batman Returns," "Beetlejuice," "Mars Attacks!", "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory" and "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride," as well as a 64-page collectible hardcover book. $59.99.
And last but not least, for you ghoul lovers, Fox has the Blu-ray debut of "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" (1986), directed by Tobe Hooper and starring Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley and Bill Johnson. Extras include a couple commentaries and a pair of featurettes, "The Cutting Room Floor" and "It Runs in the Family."
Buzzin' the 'B's:
"Appropriate Adult" (2011), starring Dominic West, Emily Watson and Monica Dolan, is based on the true story of British serial killer Fred West and his relationship with his "appropriate adult," Janet Leach. After volunteering as West's appropriate adult -- a person from the community who assists vulnerable adults facing criminal charges -- Janet finds herself sitting with West during his highly-charged police interviews, where she was privy to unknown facts about the scale and the nature of his crimes. From Inception Media Group ... A near-death experience forces a con man to come to terms with his shady past, and although he builds a new life for himself, he's dragged back in for one last job in "Bad Karma" (2011), starring Ray Liotta, Dominic Purcell, Andy McPhee and Vanessa Gray. From Anchor Bay ... Set in the strange and oppressive emotional landscape of 1983, a heavily-sedated young woman tries to make her way out of Arboria, a secluded, quasi-futuristic commune, in "Beyond the Black Rainbow" (2010), a Reagan-era fever dream inspired by hazy childhood memories of midnight movies and Saturday morning cartoons. Stars Michael Rogers, Eva Allan, Scott Hylands and Marilyn Norry. From Magnolia Home Entertainment ... A British Secret Service Agent is forced to go "off the grid" in a desperate bid to thwart a radical group operating inside London, facing off against a British-born law student turned extremist in "Cleanskin" (2012), starring Sean Bean, Abhin Galeya and Charlotte Rampling. From Entertainment One ... Director Noboru Iguchi and special effects director Yoshihiro Nishimura, creators of "Mutant Girls Squad," reunite for the cyborg-filled action-packed comedy-thriller "Karate-Robo Zaborgar" (2011 -- Japan), about a secret-police officer who teams up with his super robot "Zaborgar" to battle all manner of mechanized super weapons in their quest for justice. From Well Go USA.
When Brent rejects classmate Lola's invitation to the prom, Lola goes ballistic and gets twisted revenge on him by capturing him and keeping him alone at her own terrifying and demented private dance, in "The Loved Ones" (2009), winner of the Toronto International Film Festival's Midnight Madness People's Choice award. Stars Xavier Samuel and Robin McLeavy. From Paramount ... On the eve of the annual Scarecrow Festival, two St. Charles police officers search for a return killer the same night four teenagers go missing on "Munger Road" (2011), starring Bruce Davison, Randall Batinkoff, Trevor Morgan, Brooke Peoples, Lauren Storm and Hallock Beals. From Freestyle Digital Media ... When radio talk show therapist Sonny Blake moves back to her childhood home on seemingly idyllic "Rosewood Lane" (2011) after her alcoholic father dies, she discovers her neighbors are terrified of the local paperboy, a cunning and dangerous sociopath who may have gruesomely killed her father ... and others. Stars Rose McGowan, Daniel Ross Owens, Bill Fagerbakke, Ray Wise and Lesley-Anne Down. From Universal ... "6 Bullets" (2011) is the latest Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle, about an unstoppable ex-mercenary with a dark past who reluctantly returns to action in order to help rescue a kidnapped American girl from a foreign crime syndicate. Co-stars Joe Flanigan, Bianca Bree and Anna-Louise Plowman. From Sony ... When greedy Las Vegas casino owner Alex Stratholme steals $20 million dollars from his employees' pension fund, ex-baseball-phenom-turned-electrician Nick Davis rallies a ragtag team of casino staff to pull off an against-all-odds Las Vegas heist with a twist in "Stealing Las Vegas" (2012), starring Eric Roberts, Ethan Landry, Antonio Fargas and Michael Tylo. From Anchor Bay ... "Vile" (2011) is another "Saw" clone, here about a group of strangers who find themselves imprisoned in a house, willing to do anything to survive. Stars Eric Jay Beck, April Matson, Akeem Smith and Greg Cipes. From Inception Media Group.
On the Indie Front:
When a young man prepares to leave Tucson for his freshman year at an East Coast prep school, he also faces separation from his flaky, new age mother and the only real father he has ever known: Goat Man, in "Goats" (2011), starring David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, Ty Burrell, Keri Russell, Justin Kirk, Graham Phillips and Dakota Johnson. On DVD and Blu-ray from Image Entertainment.
"Where Do We Go Now?" (2011 -- Lebanon) blends humor and lighthearted musical moments to take a powerful look into the deeply rooted religious differences between Christians and Muslims living in a small Lebanese village. The critically-acclaimed film follows the antics of the town's women as they try to keep their blowhard men from starting a religious war, from faking a miracle to hiring a troop of Ukrainian strippers. On DVD and Blu-ray from Sony.
For the Family:
"Awesome Adventures: Thrills & Chills" (2012) is a collection of seven Halloween episodes featuring Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder, $14.98 from Lionsgate ... In "Barbie: The Princess & the Popstar" (2011), Princess Barbie magically swaps places with a pop star who's visiting her kingdom on a music tour. From Universal ... "Power Rangers Monster Bash" (2011) brings together three Halloween-themed episodes from the "Power Rangers Samurai" series, $14.98 from Lionsgate.
In "Ghosts of the Abyss 3D" (2003), director James Cameron travels back to the site of his greatest inspiration -- the legendary wreck of the Titanic. With a team of the world's foremost historic and marine experts and friend Bill Paxton, he embarks on an unscripted adventure back to the final grave where nearly 1,500 souls lost their lives a century ago. Using state-of-the-art technology developed expressly for this expedition, Cameron and his crew are able to explore virtually all of the wreckage, inside and out, as never-before. Available as a three-disc Blu-ray set (Blu-ray 3D Disc + Blu-ray 2D Disc + DVD), $44.99 from Disney ... "My Trip to Al-Qaeda" (2010) chronicles fundamentalist Islam's rise to power, the people behind it, and why they're terrorizing the entire world, while also exploring writer Lawrence Wright's struggle to maintain his objectivity as a journalist writing about Islamic terror. One of the interesting facts in the documentary: "the number of Muslims that have died at the hands of al-Qaeda in Iraq alone far exceeds the total of Americans that died on 9/11." Directed by Alex Gibney and based on Pulitzer Prize-winner Wright's play. From Docurama ... "John Leguizamo: Tales From a Ghetto Klown" (2012) profiles award-winning actor and playwright John Leguizamo's unorthodox rise to success and his struggles to mount his latest one-man show on Broadway and beyond. From PBS Distribution.
From TV to Video:
International comedy sensations Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley return to their celebrated roles as Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone in "Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials" (2012), which includes three all-new specials, written by Jennifer Saunders. Twenty years since we first met them, the ladies are a tiny bit older, none the wiser, but definitely still Absolutely Fabulous. $24.98 from BBC Home Entertainment ... "The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season" (2011-12) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner ... "Blue Bloods: The Second Season" (2011) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $64.99 from CBS/Paramount ... "Castle: The Complete Fourth Season" (2011-12) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $45.99 from ABC/Disney ... "Spartacus: Vengeance -- The Complete Second Season" (2011) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes, available on DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay ... "30 Rock: Season 6" (2012) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $49.98 from Universal ... "The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Third Season" (2011-12) includes all 22 episodes, on DVD ($59.98) and Blu-ray Combo Pack ($69.97); from Warner.
Check out other new September 11 DVD releases at OnVideo.