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Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

For the week of 2/28/10 - 01/03/11 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE

(2010)

* * (C)

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

Starring Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Spencer Locke, Boris Kodjoe, Wentworth Miller, Kacey Barnfield

Sony//Rated R//Horror//96 minutes, 97 minutes on 3D Blu-ray

Available on DVD, Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray

Paul W. S. Anderson writes and frequently directs his wife, Milla Jovovich, who stars in the pair's moneymaking franchise for a fourth time. The actress plays Alice, a heroine owing her super strength to the Umbrella Corporation's T-virus. Engineered to create the ultimate soldier, the virus instead turned most of its subjects into zombies that then escaped the lab and infected nearly everyone on the planet. In chapter four, Alice is preoccupied with dismantling the corporation. Alice and her clones (manufactured by Umbrella in the third installment), attack Umbrella's heavily fortified underground headquarters. They take out a small army of well-armed soldiers before Alice squares off against the film's villain (Shawn Roberts). Sporting a plastic coif and speaking in a clipped lilt, he injects Alice with a T-virus antidote that strips away her extraordinary strength. However, her training in martial arts and weaponry allow Alice to remain effective. Alice escapes and is reunited with her friend, Claire Redfield (Ali Larter). The women join Claire's brother—accused killer Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller)—who is holed up at an abandoned Los Angeles prison along with a handful of survivors. Fast-moving zombies surround the prison as far as the eye can see, while a gigantic zombie-troll plods toward the fortress dragging a giant hammer. Other zombies have developed rasp-like mouths able to chew through rock. Threats from within prove as perilous as the looming zombies. Jovovich fulfills the film's action requirements admirably, therefore, had the film been either more thrilling or more fun, her leaden line delivery would go unnoticed. DVD features: Filmmaker commentary, Casting Afterlife, The Action, Sneak Peek of Resident Evil: Damnation, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. Blu-ray features same plus: Deleted & Extended Scenes, Outtakes, Directing Afterlife, Undead Dimension: Resident Evil in 3D, The Design, The Undead, Gamers of the Afterlife, PS3 Wallpaper Theme, movie IQ sync and BD-Live providing real-time information on the cast, music and trivia while watching the movie, Undead Vision: Picture-in-Picture. Blu-ray 3D features same plus: Film in 3D.

MERANTAU

(2009)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Gareth Evans

Starring Iko Uwais, Laurent Buson, Sisca Jessica, Mads Koudal

Magnolia//Rated R//Action//112 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Indonesia gives the martial arts genre a swift kick in the behind with the release of this film set in Jakarta and focused on the Silat form. Welsh writer-director Gareth Evans became interested in featuring the fighting style after working on a documentary that introduced him to Silat practitioner Iko Uwais. Villager Yuda (Iko) is a young man leaving home for his merantau, a ritual that requires him to make it on his own in the big city. Yuda attempts to rescue a boy and his elder sister pursued by human traffickers, necessitating many a lopsided confrontation that finds smallish Yuda up to the challenge. Little if any wirework is used in displaying Silat battles to the max in this thinly plotted yarn. The optional English dub allows us to fully appreciate the minting of new action star Iko Uwais, as he makes his bones in multiple trials by fire. DVD or Blu-ray features: deleted scenes, Bloopers, Making-of featurette, Video Production Journal, Bamboo Pole Stunt, Storyboard to Screen Fight Comparison, International Trailer, English or Indonesian language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

TWELVE

(2010)

-Bomb- (F)

Directed by Joel Schumacher

Starring Chace Crawford, Rory Culkin, Curtis Jackson, Emily Meade, Emma Roberts, Billy Magnussen

Narrated by Kiefer Sutherland

Fox//Rated R//Drama//93 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Joel Schumacher directs a clutch of appealing young people in a bleak film that wants to be Kids for an older, more privileged set. Those interested in such fare might check out the 1995 Kids, which follows a young girl tripping from one high to the next while taking increasingly dangerous risks. Twelve's uninspired protagonist is White Mike (Crawford), a college dropout turned marijuana dealer. He isn't a substance abuser, but he lies to his only friend (Emma Roberts) and ignores his family because he's wallowing in grief over his mother's death last year. Kiefer Sutherland narrates, lifting a plethora of poetically arranged, redundant passages from Nick McDonell's novel, a story written when the author was just 17. This pointless tale slowly and painfully wends its way toward a tragic ending that spills over with gratuitous violence. DVD or Blu-ray features: English language tracks, Spanish or French subtitles, widescreen.

THE AMERICAN

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed by Anton Corbijn

Starring George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Paolo Bonacelli, Johan Leysen, Filippo Timi, Irina Bjorklund

Universal//Rated R//Action//105 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Martin Booth adapts his 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman for the screen, but the story ultimately distorts its anti-hero into a reformed criminal seeking redemption. George Clooney leads an international cast as Jack, an expatriate holed up in a remote Italian village while constructing a high-powered weapon for his ruthless employer (Leysen). Mathilde (Reuten) arrives to ensure Jack completes the job, but in the process Jack falls for a local prostitute (Placido). Learning Swedish hitmen are gunning for him, Jack must decide whether to stand and fight, or flee. DVD or Blu-ray features: director commentary, deleted scenes, Making of featurette, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

HAUNTING OF AMELIA (aka The Other Side of the Tracks)

(2008)

Directed by A.D. Calvo

Starring Brendan Fehr, Chad Lindberg, Tania Raymonde, Beatrice Rosen, Natassia Malthe, Sam Robards, Shirley Knight

MTI//Rated PG-13//Horror//92 minutes

Available on: DVD

More romance than horror, this retitled release documents a man's obsession with the tragic death of his high school sweetheart, a decade earlier. Despite his best friend's (Lindberg) urging that Josh (Fehr) move on, the 28-year-old still lives with his parents and works at the pizza parlor that employed him at the time of his girlfriend's death. When he meets a young woman exhibiting an uncanny resemblance to his deceased love, Josh is predictably smitten. However, the price of being with her may be too high, even for Josh. DVD features: Trailers, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

LEGENDARY ASSASSIN

(2008)

Directed by Li Chung Chi, Wu Jing

Starring Wu Jing, Celina Jade

Lionsgate//Rated R//Action//89 minutes

Available on: DVD

Romantic sparks fly after assassin Bo Tong Lam (Jing), defends a police woman (Jade) being attacked by local thugs. The pair is happily flirting when associates of a crime lord killed by Lam arrive, apparently planning to kick him to death. Kung Fooey fans are rewarded by dozens of martial arts beat downs, though purists may object to wirework that detracts from Jing's native skills. DVD features: Making-of featurette, Inside the characters, Trailer gallery, English or Cantonese language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

Also Out This Week

UNITED STATES OF TARA: Season Two

(2010)

Created By Diablo Cody

Starring Toni Collette, John Corbett, Brie Larson, Nathan Corddry, Keir Gilchrist

Showtime//Not Rated//Dramadey//300 minutes

Available on: DVD

This lessor Showtime vehicle casts Toni Collette as Tara, a wife and mother suffering from split personality disorder. Her alter egos include an angry teenager, an idealized '50s housewife, and a redneck truck driver, all of whom interfere with Tara's domestic life and her efforts to run an interior design business. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and penned by Diablo Cody of Juno fame, the writer's trash-loving wit lacks sufficient range to carry this episodic format. 2-Disc DVD features: Short Interviews with the Cast, Cast Bios, English or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

BOB THE BUILDER: THE GOLDEN HAMMER

(2010)

Lyons/HIT Entertainment//Not Rated//Family//60 minutes

Available on: DVD

Bob the Builder characters, Spud and Scrambler, embark on a seafaring adventure to find Pirate Brickbeard and his lost Golden Hammer, a prize they hope to obtain for Bob. DVD features: free child's ticket to Legoland California and the Sea Life Carlsbad Aquarium, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

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