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Monday, July 26, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

Releases for the Week of 7/20 - 07/26/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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THE LOSERS

(2010)

* * (C)

Directed by Sylvain White

Starring Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans, Columbus Short, Oscar Jaenada, Jason Patric, Holt McCallany

Warner//Rated PG-13//Action//97 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

The screen adaptation of Andy Diggle's DC Comics/Vertigo series, casts Zoe Saldana as a kick-ass heroine. A militia of five special ops soldiers observe school-aged children on the premises of a Bolivian drug lord's compound. When they radio their superior Max, asking him to delay the imminent bombing of the compound, Max refuses. The team barely manages to rescue the kids before the compound is blown to smithereens, but Max leaves the team stranded in Bolivia. "Colonel" Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) leads a unit consisting of demolitions expert Roque (Idris Elba), transportation expert Pooch (Columbus Short), a sniper known as Cougar (Oscar Jaenada), and tech wizard Jenson (Chris Evans). After months of working odd jobs, their prospects of returning home look bleak until Aisha (Zoe Saldana) comes along, offering to supply the crew with funds to take down Max (Jason Patric). Depicted as a crazed, powerful operative, Max behaves like a cartoon character, mistreating his right-hand man (Holt McCallany), and threatening to kill his associates. Though Saldana creates a conflicted character and a few action set pieces are clever, the sloppy "Losers" lacks the smarts to win us over. DVD features: Zoe and The Losers, English, French, Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: film on DVD, digital copy, deleted scene, Band of Buddies: Ops Training with military advisor and ex-navy seal Harry Humphries, Close-up look at the intense action sequences, Transforming Puerto Rico as a location stand-in, Action style storytelling, writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock explain their development of the original comic series, Sneak peak - Batman: Under the Red Hood.

THE RUNAWAYS

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Floria Sigismundi

Starring Dakota Fanning, Kristen Stewart, Michael Shannon, Alia Shawkat, Scout Taylor-Compton, Stella Maeve

Sony//Rated R//Drama//107 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Although less hard-hitting than the 2005 documentary, Edgeplay: A FilmAbout the Runaways, this biopic depicts the formation of the '70s all-girl rock band, and the band's demise. Guitarist/songwriter Joan Jett's key relationships are explored, specifically her attachment to the group's Svengali-like manager, Kim Fowley (Shannon), as well as her friendship -- and more -- with the group's lead singer, Cherie Currie (Fanning). Based on Currie's book, Neon Angel, the film depicts the singer's ongoing clashes with lead guitarist Ford (Taylor-Compton) and Fowley. Though positioned as an outcast within the band, it's Currie the crowd goes wild for on their 1977 tour of Japan. The group's original recordings and recreations are overlaid by Dakota's vocal performances, but Fanning, while adequate, isn't the singer Currie was. Spot-on acting brought the cast critical acclaim, though the film's $3.3 million gross was a disappointment considering its $10 million budget. DVD and Blu-Ray features: commentary by Jett, Behind-the-scenes making-of featurette, On the road with The Runaways, English language tracks, widescreen.

COP OUT

(2010)

* 1/2 (C-)

Directed by Kevin Smith

Starring Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jason Lee, Seann William Scott, Adam Brody, Fred Armisen

Warner//Rated R//Comedy//113 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

This messy buddy-cop comedy is mainly notable as the first (and possibly the last time) Kevin Smith directs someone else's screenplay. When a valuable baseball card is stolen from veteran NYPD detective Jimmy Monroe (Willis), he recruits his partner Paul Hodges (Morgan), to help him track down a memorabilia-obsessed crook. Since the card represents his life savings, Monroe enlists the aid of stoner-thief Dave (Scott), but the thief's nonstop rambling annoys Hodges, fixated on his own woes. Robin Williams, claiming he was promised a starring role, sued the studio for $6 million dollars—only to see his lawsuit dismissed, but it's enough to make you wonder who stole what from whom. DVD features: Deleted scenes, English, Spanish, Canadian French language tracks, widescreen. Blu-Ray Combo Pack features same plus: Picture-in-Picture commentary by Smith and Scott, Over 40 minutes of never-before-seen extended scenes and outtakes, Maximum Comedy Mode, Walk ons by Director Kevin Smith, 9 focus points, Making the Movie trivia, DVD version of the film, Digital Copy of the film on Disc.

THE NEW RECRUITS

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

PBS Video//Not Rated//Documentary//56 minutes

Available on: DVD

Soon to graduate college students are recruited to test the radical notion that it's good policy to sell essential items to the impoverished—provided the price is affordable. The strategy reasons that people would rather be treated as customers than as charity cases, but the principle is difficult to implement. This documentary follows three college graduates who sign on with companies that are hard-pressed to create functioning infrastructures and market items at realistic costs to their buyers. DVD features: English language tracks, widescreen.

NOVA: Mount St. Helens: Back From The Dead

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Nick Davidson

PBS//Not Rated//Documentary//56 minutes

Available on: DVD

Though the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens buried the surrounding area under 300 feet of debris, biologist Charlie Crisafulli has been documenting the surprising return of plant and animal life after just 30 years. In 2004, explosions belched steam and ash high into the air and presently, Crisafulli sees lava bubbling up to the surface. Using GPS and magnetic mapping, geologists track magma movement deep within the volcano that appears to be rising through a network of faults located beneath the mountain. While no one can predict future eruptions, NOVA documents scientific efforts to better understand the forces at work in our own backyard. DVD features: English language tracks, widescreen.

FORMOSA BETRAYED

(2009)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Adam Kane

Starring James Van Der Beek, Wendy Crewson, John Heard, Will Tiao, Tzi Ma, Leslie Hope, Joseph Forunda, Nirut Sirichanya, Kenneth Tsang

Screen Media//Rated R//Drama//103 minutes

Available on: DVD

James Van Der Beek portrays FBI Agent Jake Kelly in a drama that functions as both history primer and a diplomat's worst nightmare. Following the murder of Henry Wen (Forunda), a Taiwanese professor of economics in Chicago, Kelly travels to Taiwan to assist in the homicide investigation. Much to the displeasure of Taiwanese authorities, Kelly conducts his own inquiry, greatly complicating the job of U.S. diplomatic attaché, Susan Kane (Crewson). The film wants to be a thriller, but is neither tense enough nor facile enough to earn the designation. Based on actual events, the characters are predictable even if the politics at play are not. DVD features: Behind the scenes, Music featurette, English language tracks, Mandarin subtitles, widescreen.

SAINT JOHN OF LAS VEGAS

(2009)

*1/2 (C-)

Directed by Hue Rhodes

Starring Steve Buscemi, Sarah Silverman, Romany Malco, Peter Dinklage, John Cho, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Tim Blake Nelson

Vivendi//Rated R//Comedy//85 minutes

Available on: DVD

Inspired by Dante's Inferno, this comedy plays its Hell-card, yet barely wins a chuckle. Buscemi portrays John, an insurance investigator and gambling addict, sent to Las Vegas by his unscrupulous boss (Dinklage), to determine whether an exotic dancer (Chriqui) was injured in an auto accident. The sight of a disabled stripper giving lap dances from her wheel chair, is funny, as is Cho's carnival performer stuck in a fire suit that bursts into flames every 20 seconds. John's flirtations with sin are neither provocative nor amusing while Silverman, as the coworker John pines for, is so annoying she makes Hell seem like a break room. Surely there's a funny movie to be had when sending a gambling addict to Vegas, but you'll have to look elsewhere to find it. DVD features: English language tracks, widescreen.

THE HOST

(2007)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Joon-Ho Bong

Starring Kang-ho Song, Ko A-sung, Bae Doo-na, Bae Hae-il, Byun Hee-bong

Magnolia//Sci-Fi//Rated R//119 minutes

Available on: Blu-Ray

Though it gets no points for subtlety, this Korean monster is spellbinding. The 30-foot amphibian leaves its Han River home to attack the Park family who reside in a trailer home doubling as a food stand. Old man Park, his son Gang-du (Song), and the son's daughter Hyun-seo (A-sung) attempt to flee but the creature swallows Hyun-seo whole and dives beneath the water. Several hours later, the daughter telephones Gang-du with news that the creature is holding her captive somewhere inside the area's mammoth sewer. A mad dash to find and rescue the girl reveals the acrobatic monster using its prehensile tail to grip, whip and thwart all escape attempts. Some heavy-handed jabs at the US Government are laughable, though the playful monster, and Hyun-seo's efforts to prevent her younger brother from becoming an appetizer, charm. Blu-Ray features: Dubbed English language track, widescreen.

TIN MAN: Special Edition

(2007)

* * (C)

Directed by Nick Willing

Starring Zooey Deschanel, Kathleen Robertson, Alan Cumming, Neal McDonough, Richard Dreyfuss, Callum Keith Rennie, Raoul Trujillo

Rhino//Not Rated//Fantasy//267 minutes

Available on: Blu-Ray

This take off, inspired by "The Wizard of Oz," isn't family fare. Reimagined in cyber-punk dark, the film looks great, but is stretched thin and characterized by lackluster performances. Deschanel appears as D.G., a small town waitress longing for more. She gets her wish when she finds herself in the Outer Zone (Oz). Here she meets a brainless ninny (Cumming), a psychic man-lion hybrid (Trujillo), and a cowboy cop (McDonough) going by "tin man." A beautiful, but evil sorceress, Azkadellia (Robertson) pursues D.G. for an inevitable showdown. While Deschanel is listless and Cumming is whiny, Robertson and McDonough give focused performances in a production boasting special effects as good or better than many big-screen offerings. 2-Disc Blu-Ray features: Making of featurette, On set with the director, bloopers & gags, director & cast interviews, Raw and uncut with Raoul Trujillo, Making the mystic man with Richard Dreyfuss and director Nick Willing, English language tracks, widescreen.

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE

(2010)

Directed by Brian A. Miller

Starring Chris Klein, Adam Rodriguez, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Christine Lakin, Richard Timothy Jones, Lyle Kanouse, Michael Matthias

Lionsgate//Rated R//Action//85 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Two Michigan police detectives (Rodriguez and Klein) investigate a suspicious crime that puts them in the crosshairs of both gang-bangers and crooked cops. DVD and Blu-Ray features: Outtakes, Trailer gallery, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

JUST ANOTHER DAY

(2009)

Directed by Peter Spirer

Starring Clifton Powell, Wood Harris, Jamie Hector, Big Daddy Kane

Image//Rating R//Action//95 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Young Eastie (Hector) is an emerging rapper seeking the assistance of hip-hop legend A-Maze (Harris), to land a record contract. Eastie is surprised to learn that A-Maze, who appears to have it all, is battling to keep his own career alive. DVD and Blu-Ray features: Making of featurette, Making the music, Deleted Scenes, trailer, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

NINJA'S CREED

(2009)

Directed by Babar Ahmed

Starring Eric Roberts, Noriyuki Morita, Gail Kim, LaLaine, Alexander Wraith

Lionsgate//Rated PG-13//Action//90 minutes

Available on: DVD

A ruthless assassin is sent to Washington, D.C. to kill a high school teenager and end the modern day Himalayan Kingdom's line of succession. The King sends a soldier to protect his daughter and an extreme battle ensues that blurs the lines between good and evil. DVD features: Behind-the-scenes interviews, the Composing Process, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Trailer Gallery, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.



SUTURES

(2009)

Directed by Tammi Sutton

Starring Andrew Prine, Jason London, Kate French, Carlos Lauchu, Allison Lange

MTI//Rated R//Horror//90 minutes

Available on: DVD

A group of young friends are dropped into a life-and-death struggle after crossing paths with a surgeon dealing in black market body parts. DVD features: Behind-the-scenes featurette, trailers, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

JERSEY SHORE: Season One, Uncensored

(2009-2010)

Starring Vinny Guadagnino, Nicole Polizzi, Ronnie Magro, Angelina Pivarnick, Julissa Bermudez, Pauly Del Vecchio, Jenni Farley, Mike Sorrentino

MTV/Paramount//Not Rated//Reality TV//487 minutes

Available on: DVD

MTV tries to make titillating television from eight young singles sharing a summer home in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. The show's immature participants clash over love and friendship while making the party scene. 3-Disc DVD features: deleted scenes, Reunion Special, Tips from The Situation and Snooki, Cast Commentary by The Situation, Snooki and Pauly D, "Before the Shore," makeover with Michael Cera, English language tracks, widescreen.



CATS & DOGS

(2001)

Directed by Larry Guterman

Starring Jeff Goldblum, Elizabeth Perkins

Voices of Joe Pantoliano, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, Jon Lovitz, Michael Clarke Duncan, Tobey Maguire, Sean Hayes

Warner//Rated PG//Comedy//87 minutes

Available on: Blu-Ray

In Cats & Dogs, canines and felines battle each other for world supremacy. Cats attempt to infect humans with an allergy to dogs, but the premise runs out of steam just as the plot thickens. Blu-ray features: commentary with director Lawrence Guterman, producer Chris DeFaria and production designer James Bissell, featurettes: HBO first look: the making of cats & dogs, Teaching a new dog new tricks, Mr tinkles' audition tape, Dogs Rule, Mr Tinkles' speech, Storyboard comparisons, Concept sketches, English, French, Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

THE PROFESSIONAL

(1981)

Directed by Georges Lautner

Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Desailly, Jean-Louis Richard

Lionsgate//Not Rated//Action//108 minutes

Available on: DVD

Assigned to kill an African president, French secret agent Joss Baumont (Belmondo) is turned in to the African authorities, by his own government, before carrying out his mission. Baumont makes a daring prison escape and decides to exact his revenge by going after his original target. DVD features: Theatrical trailer, English or French language tracks, widescreen.