By Harley Lond - 09/09/13 at 08:04 PM CT
THIS WEEK'S THEATRICAL RELEASES:
"Star Trek Into Darkness"
Having grown up with so many of the TV series from the 1960s and 70s that have been rebooted into movie franchises (many with little success), it was a pleasure to see what director J.J. Abrams did with one of my favorites, "Star Trek." The original big-screen adaptations -- though fun -- lacked the excitement and sizzle that the TV series offered (except one: "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"). Abrams pumped the excitement back into the old warhorse with 2009's "Star Trek" and -- for me -- upped the ante with this sequel. The plot is complicated -- suffice it to say that Captain Kirk gets demoted for interfering with a primitive race on a distant planet, Starfleet comes under attack by a super-powerful-humanoid (named -- ummm -- Khan) who threatens the Earth, the Enterprise must travel into "the forbidden zone" near the Klingon empire, and there's a traitor of sorts manipulating everyone into a war. The action is fast-paced and coherent, the story line never obtuse, the twists not too outrageous, and the special effects worthy of "Star Trek." A real pleasure. Stars John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller and Anton Yelchin. Blu-ray extras (at most retailers) include "Creating the Red Planet" featurette, "Attack on Starfleet" behind-the-scenes featurette, "The Klingon Home World" featurette, "The Enemy of My Enemy" featurette, "Ship to Ship" visual effects featurette and "Brawl by the Bay" preparation for the film's climax. Some Blu-ray versions for some retailers (such as Best Buy and Target) have different extras. From Paramount.
Also due this week: "Chasing Ice," a documentary about photographer James Balog's trips to the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world's changing glaciers using revolutionary time-lapse cameras; from New Video. "Love is All You Need," a romantic comedy about a hairdresser -- who has lost her hair to cancer and then finds out her husband is having an affair -- who travels to Italy for her daughter's wedding and meets a widower who still blames the world for the loss of his wife. Stars Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Sebastian Jessen and Molly Blixt Egelind; from Sony. "Peeples" is the latest Tyler Perry film, a romantic comedy about what happens when a "fish-out-of-water" crashes the Peeples annual reunion in the Hamptons to ask for their daughter's hand in marriage. Stars Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, Tyler James Williams, Kali Hawk, Malcolm Barrett, S. Epatha Merkerson, Melvin Van Peebles, Diahann Carroll and Kimrie Lewis-Davis. From Lionsgate.
We loved Mike Nichols' 1996 "The Birdcage," starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion whose lives are thrown topsy-turvy when they agree to put up a false straight front for their son who's set to marry the daughter of a right-wing moralistic U.S. Senator. But 18 years earlier we fell in love with the original, Edouard Molinaro's "La Cage aux Folles" (1978), which is making its Blu-ray debut this week via The criterion Collection. How can you go wrong here: Toss in great acting and direction and a groundbreaking story line (in a less tolerant era), all set in the breathtaking environs of St. Tropez. Renato (Ugo Tognazzi) and Albin (Michel Serrault) -- a middle-aged gay couple who are the manager and star performer at a glitzy drag club -- agree to hide their sexual identities, along with their flamboyant personalities and home decor, when the ultraconservative parents of Renato's son's fiancee come for a visit. This elegant French farce about the importance of nonconformity and the beauty of being true to oneself was a breakout art-house smash in America and, of course, spawned "The Birdcage" and a major Broadway musical. In a new 2K digital film restoration, with a new interview with director Edouard Molinaro; archival footage featuring actor Michel Serrault and Jean Poiret, writer and star of the original stage production of "La Cage aux Folles"; a booklet featuring an essay by critic David Ehrenstein; and more.
The mid-1960s was a great time for spy films, with such dashing spymasters as James Bond (Sean Connery), Derek Flint (James Coburn), Matt Helm (Dean Martin), Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) and Quiller (George Segal). Each had their light-hearted moments amongst the spying, mayhem and killing (and a couple, of course, were too light-hearted), but none of them were as bleak as "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" (1965), based on the best-selling novel by John le Carre, about a Cold War spy on one final dangerous mission in East Germany. Richard Burton is superb as Alec Leamas, whose relationship with a beautiful librarian, played by Claire Bloom, puts his assignment in jeopardy. It's very hard-edged and depressing, but a perfect paradigm for the frightening Cold War atmosphere of the mid century. In a new high-definition digital film restoration from Criterion, with an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with author John le Carre; "The Secret Centre: John le Carre," a 2000 BBC documentary on the author's life and work; a booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Sragow; and more.
Paramount has tied in two Blu-ray releases to "Star Trek Into Darkness": "Star Trek: Stardate Collection: contains all 10 original "Star Trek" films together on Blu-ray in a premium, collectible package with 12 discs and 25 hours of bonus content: interviews with the cast and crew, commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes and much more. The "Star Trek: The Original Series -- Origins" collection showcases the origins episodes of the most significant characters from "Star Trek: The Original Series." Introduced by Rod Roddenberry, son of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, and starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig and Ricardo Montalban, this collection includes: "The Cage," the original pilot episode of the epic series that introduced the iconic characters Captain Pike and Spock; "Where No Man Has Gone Before" second pilot episode in which Captain James T. Kirk is first seen at the helm of the Enterprise; "Space Seed" debut of the unforgettable super villain, Khan; "Errand of Mercy" introduces the legendary alien race the Klingons; "The Trouble With Tribbles." Other Blu-ray releases this week: "The Fly" (1958), starring David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall, from Fox ... and, on Friday, September 13, Warner will spring "Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection" with all 12 films from Warner Bros. and Paramount in one "Horrific" collection: a 10-Disc set with seven Blu-ray debuts and 11 hours of extra content in collectible tin packaging; includes a 40-page book with behind-the-scenes photos, a Camp Crystal Lake counselor patch, more. $129.95.
And speaking of Friday the 13, the folks over at 1428 Films have put together "Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th" that takes viewers behind the mask on a journey into the making of the landmark horror franchise -- from its humble beginnings in 1980 at a New Jersey summer camp to the blockbuster release of its 2009 "reboot." Combining hundreds of rare and never-before-seen photographs, film clips, outtakes, archival documents, conceptual art and behind-the-scenes footage, and featuring interviews with more than 150 cast and crew members spanning all twelve films and the television series, this is the ultimate tribute to one of horror's most iconic and enduring franchises. $29.95 in a two Blu-ray/two DVD Combo.
BUZZIN' THE 'B'S:
In "Delete" (2011), starring Keir Gilchrist, Janet Kidder, Matt Frewer, Erin Karpluk, Ryan Robbins, Seth Green and Gil Bellows, a nearly triggered nuclear reactor meltdown turns out to be the work of a world-wide artificial intelligence that has turned into a conscious entity with the sole purpose of destroying the world, one disaster at a time, and the only way to save the world is to create a second form of artificial intelligence that is just as alive, just as intelligent and just as dangerous. Part of the Doomsday thriller series. From Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment) ... In "Wish You Were Here" (2012), starring Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Anthony Starr and Felicity Price, the lives of a group of Australian friends are irreparably changed after one of them goes missing during a spontaneous vacation in Cambodia. As the investigation into the disappearance begins to reveal the nefarious motivations behind their trip, the remaining three struggle to carry on with their lives in Sydney amidst the threat that even more damning details will emerge From Entertainment One ... In "Frankenstein's Army" (2013), starring Karel Roden, Joshua Sasse, Robert Gwilym and Alexander Mercury, Russian soldiers pushing into eastern Germany toward the end of World War II stumble across a secret Nazi lab in which a German scientist, Viktor, has unearthed and begun experimenting with the journal of Dr. Frankenstein, with the goal to create an army of super-soldiers stitched together from the body parts of fallen Germans -- in a desperate attempt to prevent Hitler's defeat. On DVD and Blu-ray from MPI/Dark Sky Films ... Nine friends take a holiday at a Victorian home on a private island and uncover a game that when played brings out the worst in each of them. Jealously, greed, hatred, lust, all of the things they keep buried deep inside themselves rise to the surface and come to a boil in "The Black Waters of Echo's Pond" (2009), starring Danielle Harris, Robert Patrick and James Duval. On DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay ... One family's world begins to unravel when a newly hired contractor with a sinister agenda enters their home, sabotaging their car, ruining the house's plumbing and planting evidence framing the husband for an affair in "The Contractor" (2013), starring Brad Rowe, Christina Cox, Danny Trejo, Taylor Spreitler and Arianne Zucker. From Lionsgate ... "Blood" (2012), starring Paul Bettany, Mark Strong, Stephen Graham and Brian Cox, is a thriller charting the moral collapse of a police family in which two cop brothers, smothered by the shadow of their former police chief father, must investigate a crime they themselves have committed. On DVD and Blu-ray from Image Entertainment ... When the teenage daughter of a reclusive family of artists falls in love with an unusual boy at school, she awakens mysterious powers -- she's the last in a long line of female mystics who have practiced their magical traditions in secret for centuries -- and discovers ancient secrets that will change her life forever in "The Last Keepers" (2013), starring Aidan Quinn, Virginia Madsen, Zosia Mamet and Olympia Dukakis. From Vertical Entertainment ... In "The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue" (2010), two slacker brothers inherit a brownstone apartment building and run it into the ground: Tenants are moving out, no one drinks at the bar downstairs, and the building's pets go missing. To make matters worse, they soon discover a mysterious creature is hiding in the basement, trying to eat every living thing in the building one by one. Stars Mike Bradecich, John LaFlamboy, Robert Englund and Tim Kazurinsky. From Level 33 Entertainment.
Ready for some vintage 'B'? Synapse Films is releasing "Frankenhooker" (1990), a fairly funny take-off on Frankenstein and slasher films of the era. When Jeffrey Franken's fiancee is chopped to pieces by the blades of a remote-controlled lawnmower, he uses his dubious medical knowledge to try to bring her back to life, reassembling her using the body parts of New York City's finest prostitutes and resurrecting her during a heavy lightning storm. Unfortunately for Jeffrey, his dear Elizabeth's brain is scrambled and she runs amok on 42nd Street, turning tricks and bringing high-voltage death to her customers ... Vinegar Syndrome has a trio of double bills: "Blood Thirst/Thirsty Dead": Two blood drinking B-movies made by Americans in Manila: "Thirsty Dead" (1966): A sinister cult kidnaps beautiful women to use in their ghastly blood rites. "Blood Thirst" (1972): After a series of brutal killings, an American investigator probes the violent goings on and discovers a horrifying secret ... "The Doll Squad/Mission: Killfast Blu-ray": Two classics from cult movie legend Ted V. Mikels explode. In "The Doll Squad" (1973), a foursome of female agents are out to stop a vicious evil mastermind from unleashing the bubonic plague. In "Mission: Killfast," martial arts master Tiger Yang faces off against a group of savvy weapons dealers, resulting in a non-stop orgy of shoot-outs, explosions, and bikini clad beauties. ... "Death Force/Vampire Hookers" (1978) Two blood soaked epics from the king of Filipino exploitation, Cirio H. Santiago. "Death Force": After being left for dead by his fellow smugglers, Doug (James Inglehart) is rescued by two Japanese soldiers, living on a remote island, who teach him the ways of the samurai. Finally returning to the USA, he quickly exacts a brutal and bloody revenge. Co-stars Leon Issac Kennedy and Jayne Kennedy. Presented uncut and under its original title for the first time on home video. "Vampire Hookers": When their commanding officer goes missing, two American sailors discover a group female of vampires who pose as prostitutes to lure men into their secret lair. Stars John Carradine ... And, last but not least, Synapse Films is offering up "Twins of Evil" (1971), starring Peter Cushing, Dennis Price and Playboy centerfold models twins Mary and Maria Gellhorn in a Hammer horror classic about Satanism and witch hunts.
FOR THE FAMILY:
There's a plentiful supply if DVDs this week for the kids:
- "Chime Time Adventures" (2013): Follows the everyday adventures of 6-year-old twins Tommy and Tallulah as they work to "chime the time" and keep everything running smoothly in Tickety Town. Traveling through the special Tickety Toc clock, where Tommy and Tallulah live, audiences enter a fantastical CGI world of eclectic characters and tag along on escapades filled with surprises. First DVD release from the pre-school Nick Jr. TV Series. $14.98 from Anchor Bay.
- "Dora the Explorer: Dora's Great Roller Skate Adventure" (2012): Three new-to-DVD episodes: Dora and Boots zoom into Skate Park and stand up to the bullying Big Wheeler, Dora brings her friends to the doctor, Dora goes to the Green Power Science Fair. $14.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount.
- "Official Digimon Adventure: Volume 4" (2013): The first 21 episodes of Season 2. Commonly referred to as "Digimon Zero Two," the second season takes place four years after the original series. With most of the original characters now in junior high school, the Digital World was supposedly secure and peaceful. However, a new evil has appeared in the form of the Digimon Emperor, and three new children are chosen to save the World. Three-disc set, $19.95 from Cinedigm.
- "Sesame Street: C is for Cooking" (2013): Cookie Monster and lovable Elmo are in the kitchen with memorable songs and stories about how eating healthy can be beneficial and delicious for children. The also promotes math skills, such as counting, addition and measuring, as well cognitive reasoning skills such as following the steps of a recipe. Kids will discover how to make sushi, bread and oatmeal cookies, and then, join Murray as he takes a trip to cooking school. $14.98 from Warner.
- "Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales Run For Your 'Rife!" (2012): Two-disc set with 13 spooky mysteries in which Scooby and the gang come face-to-face with werewolves, zombies, ghosts and even the abominable snowman. Includes "Scooby-Doo! and the Spooky Scarecrow," a new 22-minute cartoon, as well as "Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Werewolf?," "A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts," "Which Witch Is Which," "A Tiki Scare Is No Fair," "Scared a Lot in Camelot," "Hang in There, Scooby-Doo," "Snow Job Too Small," "The Stoney Glare," "Scooby Doo and a Mummy, Too," "A Scooby-Doo Halloween," "Scoobra-Kadoobra," "Scooby in Kwackyland." $19.98 from Warner.
- "The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow" (2013): New animated mini-movie (22 minutes) -- with the voices of Hank Azaria, Alan Cumming, Fred Armisen and Anton Yelchin -- that revolves around the annual Smurfberry Hunt and the Headless Horseman. $6.99 from Sony.
- "Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Bitty Mysteries" (2013): Strawberry and her pals learn to face their fears, become real-life heroines and find some missing VIPs (Very Important Pets) in this hour of mysteries. From Fox.
- "Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk" (2013): Brings two of Marvel's greatest heroes -- Wolverine and the Hulk -- together like never before for their most brutal encounter yet in Marvel Knights Animation's latest animated adventure in a unique comic book style packaging that bridges the comic book to DVD concept. $14.97 from Shout! Factory.
"Ping Pong" (2012 -- U.K.) is a documentary about eight pensioners -- in their 80s and 90s and one 100-year-old, with 703 years of experience between them -- from across the planet who compete in the World Over 80s Table Tennis Championship in Inner Mongolia. The film shows that the advanced masters scene is like those in other sports, with rivalries, egomania and even dirty tricks -- like stealing an opponent's bat. From Cinedigm ... From Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney comes "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks" (2013), a gripping, edge-of-your-seat thriller about Julian Assange and the creation of WikiLeaks, the controversial website that facilitated the largest security breach in U.S. history. Paralleling Assange's rise and fall with that of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the young soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents, the documentary is a multi-layered expose about transparency in the information age and our ever-elusive search for the truth.From Universal ... Even though summer is officially over, party-time never stops. Here's two DVDs to help you throw a great soirre: "Flair Bartending: The Working Flair Series" (2013) is a two-disc instructional DVD that includes step-by-step, slow-motion tutoring of 240 Flair Bartending moves, hosted by Scott Young, an internationally renowned bartending instructor and founder of ExtremeBartending.com. Flair Bartending series and Extreme Bartending have been seen on "The Rachel Ray Show" and featured in over 400 TV interviews and magazine/newspaper articles. $19.98 from Shelter Island; "How to Be the Life of the Party" (2013) is a jam-packed, ultra-fun three- hour program that teaches viewers how to be the center-of-attention at any party, birthday bash, BBQ or friendly gathering. $9.98 from Shelter Island.
FROM TV TO DVD:
"Blue Bloods -- The Third Season" (2012-13) is a Six-disc set with 23 episodes of the series about the Reagans, a multi-generational family of cops dedicated to New York City law enforcement, starring Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, Amy Carlson, Sami Gayle and Len Cariou, $64.99 from CBS/Paramount ... "Chicago Fire: Season One" (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, $44.98. An up-close and personal view into the lives of everyday heroes follows the adventures of the men and women of Chicago Firehouse 51, the courageous firefighters, rescue squad and paramedics whose actions make the difference between life and death. From Emmy Award-winning executive producer Dick Wolf ("Law & Order"), from Universal ... "Homeland Season Two"
(2012) is a four-disc set with 12 episodes, on DVD, $59.98 and Blu-ray Disc, $69.99; from Fox ... "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 8" (2012) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $39.98 from Fox ... "The League Season 4" (2012) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes $29.98 from Fox ... In "Luther 3" (2013), Idris Elba returns as John Luther in the third installment of the riveting psychological mini-series, in a two-disc DVD, $34.98 BBC Home Entertainment ... "Parade's End" (2012) is a five-part miniseries that explores a bygone England -- spanning from the Edwardian era to the chaos and destruction of World War I, based on four related novels by Ford Madox Ford published in the 1920s. Adapted for the small screen by Tom Stoppard, who vividly captures the devastation of war and the end of Edwardian ideals, bridging the gap between feudal England and the dawn of modernism. From HBO ... "Supernatural: The Complete Eighth Season" (2012-13) is a five-disc set with 23 episodes, $59.98. Also available as a four-disc Blu-ray with UltraViolet digital copies, $69.97. After a year apart, Sam and Dean are reunited in the Eighth Season premiere. After escaping from Purgatory with the help of a vampire named Benny, Dean heads straight for Sam, but the reunion isn't exactly everything he imagined it would be. Although Sam drops everything to join his brother, leaving the life he had grown accustomed to enjoy turns out to be harder than he imagined. In the meantime, Benny's help turns out to be more than what Dean bargained for. As the brothers struggle with their unexpected reunion, they make a shocking discovery that could lead them on a deeply personal mission to settle old scores. From Warner.
Check out other new September 10-16 DVD releases at OnVideo.