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Monday, Aug. 9, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

Releases for the Week of 08/03 - 08/09/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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KICK-ASS

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Starring Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Chloe Moretz, Nicolas Cage

Lionsgate//Rated R//Comedy//117 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-Ray

Tired of being pushed around by bullies, high school student Dave Lizewski (Johnson), purchases a wet suit and sets out to exact revenge in the guise of "Kick-Ass." His first encounter is a disaster that teaches Dave he'll need to toughen up. Soon Dave's ass-kicking inspires others to follow in his footsteps. He's joined by Big Daddy (Cage) and 12-year-old Hit Girl (Moretz), a father-daughter duo of caped vigilantes with an agenda of their own. Together the trio take on killers and run afoul of the aptly named Red Mist (Mintz-Plasse). Warning: Kick-Ass is shockingly violent and filled with profanity. It also happens to be hilarious. DVD and Blu-Ray extras include a feature on the comic book origins of Kick-Ass, a gallery of Kick-Ass art and an audio commentary by Vaughn. DVD features: director commentary, Marketing Archive, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. Blu-Ray features same plus: Ass-kicking bonusview mode, making of featurette, BD Touch and metamenu remote enabled for iPhone/iPod/iPad interactivity, D-box metadata track to connect to d-box motion-based systems, BD-live menu system with access exclusive content, special offers, ringtones, English or French language tracks.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID

(2010)

* * (C)

Directed by Thor Freudenthal

Starring Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn, Devon Bostick, Chloe Grace Moretz

Fox//Rated PG//Comedy//92 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

Wisecracking seventh grader Greg Heffle (Gordon), chronicles his adventures in middle school. Having yet to hit his growth spurt, young Greg is subjected to swirlies, morons, and bullies that threaten to make him lie down with putrefying cheese. In an effort to survive his never-ending ordeal, Greg devises a series of can't-miss schemes, all of which go awry. Rated PG, this movie for tweens (based on Jeff Kinney's web-comic from 2004) features an arrogant, unlikable hero you hope they won't root for. DVD features: Greg's deleted diary pages, More gross, silly Fregley fun, The benefits of the Cheese Touch, Chirag's trail of tears, Rowley's lost Zoo-Wee Mama cartoons, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: film on DVD, digital copy, Cantonese subtitles.

THE GHOST WRITER

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed by Roman Polanski

Starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton, Eli Wallach, Robert Pugh, Jim Belushi

Summit Entertainment//Rated PG-13//Drama//128 min

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

A ghost writer matches wits with a controversial politician in this thriller evoking Hitchcock's anxious works. Eager to pen a British Prime Minster's (Brosnan) memoirs, a successful writer (McGregor) travels to an island off the U.S. Eastern seaboard where he is surrounded by the PM, the PM's wife (Williams), his mistress (Cattrall), and a contingent of loyal bodyguards. The former PM is besieged by accusations that he committed illegal acts during his tenure, but most distressing, the writer learns more about the suspicious death of the PM's first ghost writer. Based on a Robert Harris novel, the author wants us to believe his fictional tale isn't inspired by his friendship with Tony Blair. DVD features: The Ghost Writer: Fiction or Reality, The cast, An interview with Roman Polanski, English, Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: film on DVD, digital copy.

ROAD TO PERDITION

(2002)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stanley Tucci, Dylan Baker, Daniel Craig, Liam Aiken, Tyler Hoechlin

DreamWorks//Rated R//Drama//117 minutes

Available on: Blu-Ray

Director Sam Mendes corrals three generations of gifted actors, but they never quite overcome Perdition's stilted script. Paul Newman portrays John Rooney, an Irish mobster who assassinates his cronies, then throws each dead man a grand wake. Jude Law takes on a demanding character role as Maguire, a neurotic hit man whose main interest lies in photographing his dead victims. In a riveting performance, a careworn Maguire tracks Sullivan (Tom Hanks) through the rural backcountry of the 1930's Midwest. Because Sullivan was John Rooney's right hand man, Rooney's jealous son Connor (Daniel Craig) murders his rival's wife and youngest child, leaving Sullivan to flee with his surviving 12-year-old son (Tyler Hoechlin) in tow. Sullivan robs a series of mob stashes to persuade Rooney to hand over Connor. Depicted as logical, perceptive and sensitive, Sullivan's failure to foresee the hit on his family is puzzling while Rooney's refusal to respond to Connor's murderous rampage, baffles. Giving no reasonable explanation for its characters' diminished capacities, Perdition is dark, but less affecting than it should be. Blu-ray features: Introduction by director Sam Mendes, Commentary by director Sam Mendes, The library: a further exploration of the world of Road to Perdition, A cinematic life: the art and influence of Conrad Hall, Making-of, deleted scenes, Theatrical trailer, English, French, Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

CHARLIE'S ANGELS

(2000)

* 1/2 (C-)

Directed by McG

Starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray

Sony//Rated PG-13//Action//98 minutes

Available on: Blu-Ray

Charlie's Angels hoped to succeed based on nostalgia and cheesecake. The film attempts to amplify the formula using skimpily clad Angels and high karate kicks. But, whether these elements help or hurt, it's impossible to escape the film's incoherent plot and jumpy direction by McG. Cameron Diaz plays fun-loving angel Natalie, a free spirit offset by Drew Barrymore's pouty Angel, Dylan. Wrestling her insatiable appetites for love and attention, Dylan lands in a series of scrapes. Lucy Liu assumes the role of third Angel, Alex. She cooks inedible gourmet foods, but clad in a series of siren get-ups, Alex combines a dominatrix mind set with her undercover work as an efficiency expert. Thirty years after the show aired, the movie continues to cast the Angels as "little girls" bowing to fatherly figures. Barrymore produced the film that was also her brainchild, so it's only fair to blame her for the abysmal result. Blu-ray features: director commentary, 5 featurettes, Bloopers, deleted scenes, movieIQ sync, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH

(1996)

* * *1/2

Directed by Henry Selick

Voices of Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon

Disney//Rated PG/Animated, Family//79 minutes

Available on: Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack

Orphaned little James is sent to live with his lazy, spinster aunts, where he is treated cruelly. One day a man gives James a bag of magical creatures able to help the boy escape. Alas, James releases the creatures who now work their magic willy-nilly. Suddenly, a peach appears on a bare tree and quickly grows as big as a house. The delighted aunts only see dollar signs, but James finds an entry to the interior of the peach. Inside he discovers a group of friendly, people-sized bugs. The peach tumbles from its hilltop perch, and lands in the ocean, commencing an incredible voyage. Many surprises ensue and the film's songs are nicely performed. The computer animated picture glows with stark beauty in this adaptation of a Roald Dahl childrens book. 2-Disc Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack features: "Spike The Aunts" Interactive Game, feature film also on included DVD, behind the Scenes making-of featurette, "Good News" Music Video, Theatrical Trailer, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK

(1981)

* * * (B)

Directed by John Carpenter

Starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau, Season Hubley

MGM//Rated R//Sci-Fi//99 minutes

Available on: Blu-Ray

An entertaining setup calls for Manhattan to serve as a prison for the nation's worst criminal offenders. Hardened prisoner Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), accepts the offer of a pardon in return for rescuing the U.S. President, whose plane has crashed inside a prison that is so tough there are no guards inside. More action than sci-fi, exquisite pacing and plot turns, make this a cult classic. 2-Disc Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack features: Original Theatrical Trailer, DVD disc of film, English or French language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

HEROES: Season Four

(2009)

Created by Tim Kring

Starring Hayden Panettiere, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Greg Grunberg, Milo Ventimiglia, Masi Oka, Ali Larter

Universal//Not Rated//Sci-Fi//812 Minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-Ray

Though the show was not renewed for a fifth season, creator Tim Kring reports he is in negotiations to wrap up the storyline with a miniseries. Panettiere leads a cast showcasing humans gifted with extraordinary superpowers. The "X-Men" style premise explores battles, confrontations and the mind games played by opposing forces vying for control of the mutants. 5-Disc DVD features: cast and crew commentaries, deleted scenes, Extended scenes, Deconstructing Sylar, Milo speaks, Sullivan Brothers design gallery, Heroes revolution, Genetics of a scene, English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen. 4-Disc Blu-Ray features same plus: Hero connections network.

THE PROPHET

(2009)

Directed by Jacques Audiard

Starring Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup

Sony//Rated R//Drama//155 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

This critically acclaimed film is set in a French prison where illiterate 18-year-old Malik (Rahim) is beginning a 6-year prison sentence. A Frenchman of Arab descent naive to criminal ways, Malik is forced to work for the Corsican gang that controls the prison through violence and bribes. This means committing a murder against his will. The story documents how Corsican gang leader, Cesar Luciani (Arestrup), shapes the man Malik seems destined to become. DVD and Blu-Ray features: commentary with director and co-writer Jacques Audiard, co-screenwriter Thomas Bidegain and Rahim, deleted scenes, Rehearsal footage, screen tests, French or Spanish language tracks, English subtitles, widescreen. Blu-Ray only also features: French or German language tracks, Turkish subtitles.

AFTER.LIFE

(2009)

Directed by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo

Starring Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci, Justin Long, Josh Charles, Celia Weston

Anchor Bay//Rated R//Horror//103 minutes

Christina Ricci appears as Anna, a temperamental young woman who awakens, following a serious car accident, to find herself on a mortuary slab. Liam Neeson appears as the mortician who argues with Anna while preparing her for burial. A little boy sees Anna through the window, and reports that she is still alive to her boyfriend (Long) who attempts a rescue. DVD and Blu-Ray features: features: Commentary with Co-writer/Director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, The Art of Making a Thriller, Theatrical Trailer, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.