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Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

For the week of 12/21/10 - 12/27/10

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SALT

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Olbrychski, Andre Braugher, August Diehl

Sony//Rated PG-13//Action//100 minutes

Available on: DVD (Rated or Unrated) and Blu-ray (Unrated)

Little acting is required of Angelina Jolie as a CIA Agent who may also be a Russian terrorist -- but the actress makes good use of her killer stare. After being outed as a terrorist by Russian defector Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski), Salt morphs into a one-woman army. At the behest of G-Man William Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Salt is placed in a holding cell by her boss Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber). She escapes during a nail-biting sequence that sets the tone for the action to come. Programmed as a child by USSR Agents, Evelyn is sleeper agent and longtime US resident. Whether she remains devoted to the Russian cause remains well-concealed until the climactic finale. Willowy Jolie possesses a confidence in her physicality that comes through during the chases and confrontations. Her hazel eyes shift from soft to sad, cold to hard, making Evelyn Salt a compelling figure. Liev Schreiber provides counterpoint, holding Ted Winter's cards close to the vest. The motives of Chiwetel Ejiofor's G-man seems straightforward enough, but we are never certain of any character's actual intentions. Little relief is provided by nonstop action leaving us no time to solve the central riddle. "Salt's" ending sets up a sequel and a franchise that could fill the hole left behind by the peppery "Jason Bourne" flicks. Rated DVD features: director commentary, The ultimate female action hero, Spy disguise: The looks of Evelyn Salt, Radio interview with director Phillip Noyce, English or French language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen. Unrated DVD features same plus: Unrated Director's Cut. Unrated Blu-ray features same plus: Making-of featurette, The real agents, The modern master of the political thriller: Phillip Noyce, False identity: creating a new reality, Spy cam: picture-in-picture track, Movie IQ, English, French or Spanish language tracks.

DEVIL

(2010)

* * (C)

Directed by Drew and John Erick Dowdle

Starring Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O'Hara, Bojana Novakovic, Geoffrey Arend, Jacob Vargas, Matt Craven, Josh Peace

Universal//Rated PG-13//Horror//81 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

The notion of five ordinary people trapped in a skyscraper's elevator, is frightening, but realizing they are victimized by a murderous force, is downright creepy. Drawn from a story by M. Night Shyamalan, the film opens promisingly with an upside down shot of Philadelphia's skyline -- beautiful, but sufficiently off-kilter to be dizzying. Inside a skyscraper lobby, morning breaks as an ear-muffed janitor buffs the floor, neither seeing nor hearing a body fall onto a parked delivery truck just outside. The spell is broken by a voice-over claiming that a suicide creates a hole the devil can slip through. Five people board an elevator that becomes stuck many floors up. Its lights flicker, and someone is attacked during each bout of darkness. Essentially a puzzle movie, most of the fun lies in identifying the evildoer, or in this case, the devil's embodiment. Shyamalan scripts a terrible sin for each passenger, persuading us the devil has possessed this one, then that one, then that one. Coming in at a trim 80 minutes, this mildly entertaining sermon probably won't send viewers in search of redemption. DVD and Blu-ray extras include deleted scenes, a couple shorts related to the film and a bit where Shyamalan discusses one of his new projects. DVD features: Deleted Scenes, The Story, The Devil's Meeting, The Night Chronicles, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. Blu-ray features same plus: D-Box Motion Enabled.

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed by Oliver Stone

Starring Shia LaBeouf, Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin, Eli Wallach, Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella, Vanessa Ferlito

Fox//Rated PG-13//Drama//133 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Much has changed during the 23 years between Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" and this sequel. The story opens just prior to the 2008 meltdown. The market crisis unfolds from the vantage of paneled boardrooms. Stone's version is a good watch, though he doesn't delve into the origins of "bad paper" tied to real estate hedge funds, that led to the debacle. Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) makes colorful observations from the sidelines as the film plays with the notion of whether he's a changed man. Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) is a young broker working for a large investment brokerage under a kindly CEO (Frank Langella) serving as both Jake's mentor and benefactor. Jake tends to his romance with do-good blogger Winnie Gekko (Carey Mulligan), and tries to raise funds for promising alternative energy research. Sadly, Jake's mentor becomes the first casualty of the financial crisis, driving Jake into the arms of his fiancee's father, Gordon Gekko, a best selling author and hotshot on the speaker circuit. Jake needs Gekko's help to bring down Bretton James (Josh Brolin), a rival investment banker responsible for his boss's woes. LaBeouf's soft-sided Jake doesn't fit. He's a loose thread catching on the sharper minds surrounding him. Douglas tempers Gekko's arrogance with yearning and regret, although the strength of each remains mysterious. Winnie's distaste for money, is integral to the story, but is a tough sell. Stone delivers a fast-paced film that is most alive when focused on Gekko and Bretton's energetic gambles. Manhattan's skyscrapers become the glittering landscape through which these Wall Street denizens strut. 2-Disc DVD features: Digital Copy, director commentary, Gordon Gekko Is Back, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: A Conversation with Oliver Stone and the Cast, Money, Money, Money: The Rise and Fall of Wall Street, Deleted and Extended Scenes w/optional director commentary, Fox Movie Channel presents In Character With- Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin and Frank Langella.



EASY A

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed by Will Gluck

Starring Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Dan Byrd, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, Aly Michalka, Stanley Tucci

Sony//Rated PG-13//Comedy//92 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Tired of being a high school nobody, nice girl Olive (Stone) invents the rumor she's become sexually involved with a college guy. Suddenly, Olive's high school fortunes soar as male students, seeking to grow their reputation as studs, offer Olive inducements to pretend she is sleeping with them. Church appears as Olive's English teacher, Kudrow plays the school counselor and Tucci and Clarkson are cast as Olive's latter-day hippie parents. Social networking provides momentum for Olive's story. She is the subject of numerous Twitters, catching her classmates off-guard, more than once, in this clever teen comedy. DVD features: Gag Reel, Emma Stone's Audition Footage, Commentary with Director Will Gluck and Emma Stone, English or French language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen. Blu-ray features same plus: The school of Pop culture: movies of the eighties, Vocabulary of Hilarity, Making of featurette, Pop-up trivia track, Movie IQ, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

STEP UP 3

(2010)

*1/2 (C-)

Directed by Jon Chu

Starring Sharni Vinson, Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani, Alyson Stoner, Keith Stallworth, Joe Slaughter, Harry Shum Jr, Ally Maki, Stephen Boss, Christopher Scott, Luis Rosado, Kathy Najimy

Disney//Rated PG-13//107 minutes

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

Leaden acting and corny dialogue weaken the drama informing this 3D-dance flick. Luke (Malambri) is poised to lose his Brooklyn nightclub and dance studio, unless his dance group, the Pirates, win the upcoming World Dance Jam. Luke falls for dancer Natalie (Vinson), while another member (Sevani) neglects both his studies and his galpal (Stoner) to rehearse his moves. Against a win-or-die premise, and two romantic subplots, the crew battles a rival dance team led by Julien (Slaughter), a nasty opponent wielding power over one of the Pirate's members. Elaborate dance-offs are choreographed for maximum 3D punch. DVD features: Music montage featuring the dancers with alternate angles and extra footage, Making of the Music Videos, 8 music videos, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: film on both DVD and Blu-ray, Born From A Boombox: A Luke Katcher Film, 8 Deleted Scenes with intros by Director Jon M. Chu. 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack features same plus: Film on both 2-D and 3-D, Digital Copy.

CAPRICA - Season 1.5

(2010)

* *1/2

Created by Remi Aubuchon, Ronald D. Moore

Starring Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Paula Malcomson, Alessandra Torresani, Magda Apanowicz, Sasha Roiz, Brian Markinson, Polly Walker

Universal//Not Rated//Sci-Fi//360 minutes

Available on: DVD

A prequel to the acclaimed remake of "Battlestar Galactica," Caprica is set 58 years prior to the cylon attack kicking off the "Battlestar" universe. Knowing where "Caprica" will wind up siphons off some of the show's energy. Additional oomph falls prey to slow-moving early episodes that lack passion and direction. The second half of the first and only "Caprica" season, takes place in reality and a virtual world. Stoltz plays Daniel Graystone, developer of the technology that will usher in the cylons. This DVD set features five unaired episodes set to air in a marathon on January 4, 2011. Fans needn't despair as another spin-off, "Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome," is planned. 3-Disc DVD features: Deleted Scenes, Cast And Crew Commentaries, Video Blogs, Podcast Commentaries, English language tracks, French or Spanish Subtitles, widescreen.

Also Out This Week

STONEHENGE APOCALYPSE

(2010)

Directed by Paul Ziller

Starring Misha Collins, Hill Harper, Peter Wingfield, Torri Higginson, Michael Kopsa

Anchor Bay//Rated PG-13//Sci-Fi//91 minutes

Available on: DVD

When an American scientist activates earth's natural internal power grid, Stonehenge and the pyramids become conduits emitting deadly lightning. Earth's end is nigh, and is celebrated by a cult prepared to gun down those trying to stop the apocalypse, including a discredited scientist with a plan to institute counter measures. Silly, but sometimes entertaining, this made-for the Syfy Channel movie makes the most of its low-budget CGI effects. DVD features: Behind The Scenes featurette, Trailer, English language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen.

 TURNING GREEN

(2005)

Directed by Michael Aimette, John G. Hofman

Starring Timothy Hutton, Donal Gallery, Colm Meaney, Alessandro Nivola, Killian Morgan, Billie Traynor, Deirdre Monaghan, Brid Ni Chionaola

Image//Rated R//Drama//89 minutes

Available on: DVD

Sent to live in a small Irish town with their three aunts, it's 1979 when American teens James (Gallery) and Pete (Morgan), smuggle outlawed pornographic magazines into the country to earn the money to get back home. Their aunts suspect nothing and the boys' plan is going well until they run afoul of the two Bills (Nivola and Hutton), a pair of local thugs determined to keep every last illegal dollar for themselves. DVD features: English language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen.

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