By Harley Lond - 06/03/13 at 08:07 PM CT
THIS WEEK'S MOVIE RELEASES:
"Warm Bodies": I'm always thirsty for zombie flicks of all kinds, from the original "Dead" gorefests through "Dead Alive" to the more modern interpretations such as "28 Days Later"; I particularly have a soft spot for zombie comedies such as "Fido," "Zombieland" and "Shaun of the Dead." Now comes a zombie romcom, replete with star-crossed lovers, a stubborn, bull-headed father, and hordes of humans, zombies and "skeletons" (zombies who have been reduced to just skin and bone) battling it out -- it's kind of a post-apocalyptic Romeo and Juliet with great special effects, poignancy and laughs. Nicholas Hoult stars as R, a zombie who begins to have memories, learns how to talk, and even has dreams -- highly unusual for a living-dead survivor of a zombie epidemic. He encounters Julie (Teresa Palmer), a human survivor, and rescues her from a zombie attack, secreting her to a hiding place where the pair form a special relationship in their struggle for survival. Julie sees that R is different from the other zombies -- he's becoming increasingly more human -- and when she returns to safety, she has to persuade the other humans that the zombies are slowly transforming into something closer to themselves. It's exciting, romantic and transformative -- a little love can save the world. Warm Bodies co-stars Rob Corddry as R's buddy, M, and John Malkovich as Julie's militaristic dad. Based on the novel by Isaac Marion. Bonus features include a host of behind-the-scenes featurettes, commentaries, and "Zombie Acting Tips With Rob Corddry."
"Identity Thief" is a meandering slapstick comedy that bases its laughs on the interactions between a very big, brassy woman (Melissa McCarthy) -- a thief who lives off a stolen identity -- and a smaller, meeker office worker (Jason Bateman), the man who was her mark. When accounts rep Sandy Patterson (Bateman) finds that his identity has been stolen, his credit destroyed and his life threatened by outstanding police warrants, he decides to track down the culprit, the fake Sandy Patterson (McCarthy), and bribe, coax and wrangle her from Florida back to Denver, where he can prove who the real Sandy Patterson is. Along the way there's car chases, car accidents, gunfights, bounty hunters and all manner of inanity. Co-stars Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, Tip "T.I." Harris, Genesis Rodriguez, John Cho, Robert Patrick and Eric Stonestreet. Bonus features include a gag reel, alternate takes, and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Also due this week: "Escape From Planet Earth," an animated family adventure about an astronaut from the planet Baab who becomes stranded on the "dark planet" (Earth) and must find his way to safety to save the universe; and "A Good Day to Die Hard," the latest installment in the adventures of John McClane (Bruce Willis), the heroic New York cop with a knack for being in the wrong place at the right time. The latest predicament takes him to Russia to track down his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who has been imprisoned in Moscow as a spy. Aside from a wild vehicle chase on the streets of Moscow, the film is pretty tame, lame and unbelievable. Yippie-Kai-Yay, Fox.
"Perfect Understanding" (1933), starring Gloria Swanson, Laurence Olivier and John Halliday. Cinema icons Gloria Swanson and Laurence Olivier made just one film together, and now that rarely seen gem -- a 1933 romantic comedy written by an uncredited young Michael Powell -- has been recovered and restored for its Blu-ray and DVD debut. Before the Production Code Administration clamp down in 1934, Hollywood and British filmmakers had the luxury to explore romance, sex and crime in candid and straightforward ways, and this film -- a kind of combination of "Design for Living" and "Trouble in Paradise" in its treatment of sexuality and "The Rules of the Game" in its satire of the "sophisticated" upper class -- was one of the last to flaunt that freedom. It was also a pivotal film for Swanson, who had struggled in the early years of the talkies to maintain the vaunted position she had held as a silent-screen superstar. She produced the film herself, and it was the only one she made in Britain. Unfortunately, she made only two more films after this before her famous comeback in 1950's "Sunset Blvd." Judy (Swanson, 34) and Nicholas (Olivier, 26) are a young society couple who marry based on the "perfect understanding" that they will be allowed to enjoy extramarital adventures and never let jealousy come between them. That arrangement is soon put to the test when, during their honeymoon, they go to Cannes to spend time with friends. Though fairly predictable in its story line, director Cyril Gardner (who also was a film editor, writer and actor) keeps the film moving along quickly, adding some nifty flourishes of action in what is pretty much a talk oriented outing -- in one scene, for example, Judy and a would-be suitor (the extraordinary John Halliday) stroll around the grounds of a palatial estate discussing the pros and cons of marriage while in the background -- in each room they pass -- couples are quarreling and bickering over extramarital affairs and fidelity. It's all very wonderful stuff. The disc includes two Mack Sennett comedy shorts from 1933: "Husband's Reunion" and "Dream Stuff." From the Cohen Film Collection.
"Mad Max Trilogy" BLU-RAY: Here are the films that set the benchmark and template for all post-apocalyptic films in modern cinema: "Mad Max" (1979), "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior" (1982) and "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" (1985). Director George Miller -- with fledgling actor Mel Gibson (as highway cop Max Rockatansky) -- created a post-oil end-of-civilization scenario where gangs of punks with spiked hair, body piercings and violent genes drove all sorts of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and souped-up cars across the wasteland of Australia in search of ever-dwindling supplies of gasoline, kicks, death and destruction. In "Mad Max" (which Miller made by earning money as an emergency room doctor), Max and his cop buddies still patrol the roads of Australia in a futile effort to uphold what remains of the law. When the evil Toecutter and his band of insane motorcyclists attack his family, Max goes above the law to bring his own brand of justice to the road. In "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior," civilization has finally crumbled, and Max, wandering alone in the Australian Outback, joins up with a small camp of desert survivors to defend an oil refinery under siege from a ferocious marauding horde of crazies. Both films are noted for their incredible vehicle chases, stunts and crashes. In the weakest of the three, Max travels to Bartertown -- an "oasis" of water, food and gasoline run by Tina Turner -- and becomes the savior of a tribe of children. Warner has repackaged all three films in a nifty limited premium tin container for $49.99; perfect for Father's Day. Note: Warner Bros. and Miller are reteaming for "Mad Max Fury Road," starring Tom Hardy as Max, with Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult and Zoe Kravitz, with a 2014 theatrical release date.
BUZZIN' THE 'B'S:
In "Sadako 3D," (2012 -- Japan), starring Satomi Ishihara, Koji Seto, Tsutomu Takahashi and Shota Sometani, a deranged man attempts to bring back Sadako -- the vicious spirit, hungry for blood and souls on the haunted videotape from "The Ring" -- to the Internet in the form of footage of a suicide said to drive anyone who sees it to also commit suicide. This time the rein of terror of the long-haired girl in the white nightgown extends to all forms of technology: PC screens, mobile phones, jumbotrons and more. On DVD and Blu-ray from Well Go USA ... "Mental" (2013), starring Liev Schreiber, Toni Collette, Caroline Goodall, Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Fox, Deborah Mailman, Rebecca Gibney and Lily Sullivan, is a comedy about a charismatic, crazy hothead who transforms a family's life when she becomes the nanny of five girls whose mother has cracked from her husband's political ambitions and infidelity. On DVD and Blu-ray from Universal ... In "12 Rounds 2: Reloaded" (2013), starring Randy Orton and Brian Markinson, paramedic Nick Malloy (Orton) receives a terrifying call from a vengeful psychopath connected to his past: The maniac threatens to unleash a murder spree unless Nick can complete a series of 12 challenges without involving the cops or missing a single deadline. In a DVD/Blu-ray Combo from WWE/Fox ... In "Charlie Zone" (2011), a disgraced boxer and ex-convict is hired to abduct a runaway from a crack house in the city's notorious "Charlie Zone," and return her safely to her family. But nothing goes quite as planned and nothing is quite what it seems. Stars Amanda Crew, Glen Gould, and Mpho Koaho. On DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay ... "The Last Ride" (2012), starring Henry Thomas, Jesse James, Kaley Cuoco, Fred Dalton Thompson and Stephen Tobolowsky, is based on the controversial life story of singer-songwriter Hank Williams, country music's original bad boy. The man, the myth and the music come together when Williams travels from Alabama in 1952 to a series of New Year's shows in West Virginia and Ohio. This remarkable journey leads straight into the heart and soul of the legendary performer ... as he takes one last shot at redemption. Featuring all-new versions of Williams' greatest songs. On DVD and Blu-ray from Fox ... A woman's life is turned upside down when it is revealed that her husband, a member of the British Parliament, has been having an affair with a former prostitute; though she publicly stands by her man, she secretly orchestrates a political power play against him in "The Politician's Wife"(1995), from Acorn Media.
ON THE INDIE FRONT:
In the doomsday comedy "It's a Disaster" (2012), starring Julia Stiles, America Ferrera, David Cross, Rachel Boston and Erinn Hayes, four couples who meet for Sunday brunch find themselves stranded in a house together as the world may be about to end. When Tracy Scott (Stiles) decides to introduce her new beau Glenn (Cross) to her three friends and their significant others, what starts out as a friendly brunch turns into an impromptu therapy session and airing of domestic grievances. Compounding the situation is a mysterious attack on the city that may signal the end of civilization. From Oscilloscope Laboratories ... "A Portrait of James Dean: Joshua Tree, 1951" (2012) is set primarily in the early 1950s and focuses on James Dean's experiences as an up-and-coming actor in Los Angeles in a series of revealing and sometimes dreamlike vignettes that blend biographical and fictionalized elements to present pivotal moments in a remarkable life. Stars James Preston, Dan Glenn, Dalilah Rain, Edward Singletary Jr., Robert Gant and Erin Daniels. From Wolfe Video ... In the ensemble urban rom-com "The Company We Keep" (2010), starring Nefetari Spencer, Shelli Boone and Stephen Bishop, a female record company exec juggles life and love in a cut-throat world. From Entertainment One ... "Mosquita Y Mari" (2012) is a coming of age drama on family, friendship and first love. After being assigned as study partners, two Latina high schoolers fall gradually in love against the backdrop of life in Southeast Los Angeles. From Wolfe Video ... In "Sistas the Musical" (2013), a group of sisters come together after their grandmother passes away to pick a song to honor her legacy at her memorial service. Going through her keepsakes, the women uncover mementos that testify to their grandmother's profound contributions to their family history and their community ... telling their stories through the many indelible songs that trace the rich and conflicted history of Black women that span the days of Jim Crow, the 60's Girl Groups, the emerging female empowerment of the 90s, and the unique challenges of today's youth. Stars Tracey Conyer Lee, Jennifer Fouche, Amy Goldberger, April Nixon and Lexi Rhoades. From One Village Entertainment.
FOR THE FAMILY:
"Curious George: The Complete Sixth Season" (2012) is a two-disc set with 20 fun-filled episodes with George and friends as they explore his world and invent clever solutions to memorable mis-adventures. From Universal ... "Dora the Explorer: Dora Rocks!" (2012) consists of three sing-along, rockin' episodes with Dora and Boots: "Dora Rocks!" "Baby Bongo's Big Music Show" and "Little Map." $14.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount
"Journey of the Universe" (2012) is the Emmy Award-winning documentary, broadcast on over 275 PBS television stations, that weaves a tapestry of scientific discoveries in astronomy, geology, biology, ecology and biodiversity with humanistic insights concerning the nature of the universe. From The Big Bang, or Great Flaring Forth, to the epic impact humans have on the planet today, "Journey of the Universe" is designed to inspire a new understanding and closer relationship with Earth in a period of growing environmental and social crisis. A companion DVD, "Journey of the Universe: Conversations" (2012), is a 20 episode collection of interviews with some of the world's greatest minds in science, history and environmental studies. The 10 hour, four-disc series integrates the perspectives of the sciences and the humanities into a retelling of our 14 billion year story. Both are from Shelter Island ... "Frontline: The Economic Meltdown" (2013) is a two-disc set with five fascinating "Frontline" programs about one of the worst economic crises in America's history: "Inside the Meltdown," "Ten Trillion and Counting," "Breaking the Bank," "The Warning" and "Cliffhanger." $39.99 from PBS Distribution ... The documentary "Aroused" (2013) gets up close and personal with 16 of the most successful women in the adult film industry, revealing personal stories about their lives, why they chose the business of sex, how they got into porn in the first place, and more. The film was directed by Deborah Anderson and stars Alexis Texas, Allie Haze, April O’Neil, Ash Hollywood, Asphyxia, Belladonna, Brooklyn Lee, Francesca Le, Jesse Jane, Katsuni, Kayden Kross, Lexi Belle, Lisa Ann, Misty Stone, Tanya Tate and Teagan Presley. $22.99 from Ketchup Entertainment ... "Brooklyn Castle" (2012) is an intimate look at the challenges and triumphs facing members of a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school champion chess team that has won more national championships than any other in the country amidst financial crises and unprecedented public school budget cuts. $19.99 from Millennium Entertainment.
FROM TV TO DVD:
"Adventure Time: The Complete Second Season" (2010-11) is a two-disc DVD and one-disc Blu-ray set with 26 episodes, from Cartoon Network/Warner ... "Breaking Bad: The Fifth Season" (2012) features all eight episodes: "Live Free or Die," "Madrigal," "Hazard Pay," "Fifty-One," "Dead Freight," Buyout," "Say My Name" and "Gliding Over All" in a four-disc DVD ($55.99) and three-disc Blu-ray ($65.99). Extras include an eight-minute, uncensored bonus scene "Chicks 'N' Guns," created and produced exclusively for the home entertainment release; cast and crew commentaries on every episode; deleted scenes; outtakes; and three featurettes: "Nothing Stops This Train," "The Cleaner: Jonathan Banks as Mike" and "Chicks 'N' Guns: Behind-the-Scenes"; and much, much more. From Sony ... "Combat!: The Complete Third Season" (1965-66) is an eight-disc set with 32 episodes of the classic TV war series starring Vic Morrow and Rick Jason, $39.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Falling Skies: The Complete Second Season" (2012) has all 10 episodes of TNT's alien invasion series on a three-disc DVD, $39.98 and two-disc Blu-ray, $49.99. Extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes, "The Skitter Evolution," a tour of the "Falling Skies" set, commentaries, and an exclusive trading card from Rittenhouse included on pack. From Warner ... "The First Churchills" (1969) is a three-disc set of the classic miniseries that launched Masterpiece Theatre, $59.99 from Acorn Media ... "Ice Road Truckers: Season 6" (2012) is a four-disc set with 16 episodes, $39.99 from History Channel/Lionsgate ... "Mountain Men: Season 1" (2012) is a two-disc set with eight episodes of the reality series, $19.98 from Lionsgate ... "Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Third Season" (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes of the very popular ABC Family teen drama mystery-thriller series based on the novels written by Sara Shepard. As the third season began, a summer had passed since Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer found out about Mona being "A" and the death of Maya. With the terror seemingly over and an alleged murderer now behind bars, the town of Rosewood was slowly healing from old and new wounds ... but the four girls are hardly over what happened. With post-traumatic stress, anger and the acquisition of more secrets, they're anything but fine. Now back together and coming upon the second anniversary of Alison's disappearance, the girls find themselves back on the defensive when a shocking event rocks Rosewood. $59.98 from Warner ... "Rawhide: The Sixth Season -- Volume One" and "Rawhide: The Sixth Season -- Volume Two" (1963-64) are four-disc sets with 15 episodes and 16 episodes, respectively, of the classic TV Western about cowboys and cattle drives, starring Eric Fleming, Clint Eastwood and James Murdock. $45.99 each from Paramount ... "Ring of Fire" (2013), based on the book "Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash," penned by Cash's son John Carter Cash, is a Lifetime biopic that delves into the history of the legendary singer-songwriter. June Carter Cash wrote Johnny Cash's most famous song, "Ring of Fire," while she was falling in love with the fascinating yet difficult musician. The telefilm explores that volatile relationship, as seen through the eyes of their son, John, as well as profiles the woman who patiently supported one of country music's biggest stars as she found her own idiosyncratic path to stardom. Stars Jewel as Carter and Matt Ross as Cash. From Lionsgate ... "Storming Juno" (2010) is a docudrama about the Canadian assault of Juno Beach on D-Day, as told via reenactment and through interviews with those who were there. From Entertainment One ... "The Twilight Zone: The Complete Second Season" (1960-61) is a five-disc set with 29 episodes, $29.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Vexed, Series 2" (2012) is the U.S. debut on DVD of the British buddy cop drama starring Toby Stephens and Miranda Raison, featuring sharp scripts, strong performances, and an enjoyable mix of comedy and crime-solving with a twist. Two-disc set with six episodes, $49.99 from Acorn Media.
Check out other new June 4-10 DVD releases at OnVideo.