New releases on DVD, Blu-ray
Updated: August 30, 2012 12:41PM
NEW THIS WEEK
★ ★ ½
Rated: Rated PG-13 for some sexual content including references and language
Stars: Kevin Kline, Diane Keaton, Richard Jenkins, Dianne Wiest
Unlike the lost pooch motivating the plot of this baby-boomer update from Lawrence Kasdan, “Darling Companion” never entirely loses its way. But the emotional territory it sniffs out is mildly diverting at best. Kline and Keaton are appealing as upper-middle-aged/upper-middle-class marrieds re-evaluating their relationship after self-absorbed hubby loses empty-nest-traumatized wife’s beloved dog in the Rocky Mountains. A handful of warm, fuzzy love stories, a thin veneer of snappy one-liners and heaps of gorgeous scenery maintain interest — but only superficially.
“The Pirates! Band Of Misfits”
Rated: PG for mild action, rude humor and some language
Stars: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven
This highly entertaining animated family-comedy adventure suffers only by comparison with earlier works from England’s Aardman Animations (“Chicken Run,” “Wallace & Gromit”) that benefited from the input of resident genius Nick Park — absent from these proceedings. This somewhat moral tale of a pirate captain (Grant) willing to sacrifice all he holds dear to win a Pirate of the Year award is intelligent, frequently funny and far more satisfying on all levels than standard-issue animated fare. The only thing lacking is that indefinable something extra which can only be supplied by inspiration.
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK
“The Amazing World Of Gumball”
Twelve episodes from the first season of Cartoon Network’s animated series about a blue cat with a giant head, the T-rex who chases him around school and his friendship with a piece of toast. Well, who doesn’t like toast?
A fleet of ships on a war-games exercise is forced to do battle at sea with an alien armada. Peter Berg (“Hancock”) directed the action thriller. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language
“Boardwalk Empire” Season Two
Twelve episodes from HBO’s Depression-era crime drama about gangsters cashing in on prohibition in Atlantic City. Extras include a 15-minute recap of season one, “The Money Decade” documentary about the Roaring ’20s, and an interactive character dossier.
“Eclipse Series 35”
In the late-’60s, novelist, activist, egotist Norman Mailer used his literary fortune to bankroll a series of experimental films (with the assistance of cinema verite specialists D.A. Pennebaker and Richard Leacock) which he directed, with himself as star. Titles in this Criterion Collection bargain side-project label include “Maidstone,” “Wild 90” and “Beyond the Law.”
“50s TV Classics”
This triple-disc set from Film Crest features eight hours of vintage cathode-ray comedy from the likes of Bob Hope, Ed Sullivan, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Dinah Shore and more.
“Looney Tunes: The Chuck Jones Collection — Mouse Chronicles”
This two-disc set features 19 remastered vintage cartoons by director Chuck Jones, featuring comical rodents in classic shorts such as “Naughty but Mice,” “Sniffles Bells the Cat,” “The Brave Little Bat,” “Lost and Foundling,” “Roughly Squeaking,” “Mouse Wreckers” and “Cheese Chasers.”
“Think Like A Man”
After reading comedian Steve Harvey’s relationship advice book, four women change their game plan with the men in their lives. Tim Story (“Fantastic Four,” “Barbershop”) directed the romance, featuring Chris Brown, Kevin Hart and Gabrielle Union. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, some crude humor and brief drug use.
“The Hunger Games”
★ ★ ★
Rated: Rated PG-13 for intense, violent, thematic material and disturbing images — all involving teens
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
The much-anticipated movie version of “The Hunger Games” does little more than faithfully replicate the mega-bestselling novel, yet, this proficient and generally satisfying adaptation gets the job done reasonably well. Primarily because of the perfect casting of Lawrence as the bow-hunting heroine of a dystopian-future televised competition in which only one of 24 teenage participants can survive. As likely to satisfy fans as it is to sweep along newcomers with its exploitational, teen-slaughtering craziness. Extras include the eight-part documentary “The World is Watching,” a conversation between director Gary Ross and screenwriter Elvis Mitchell, and “Propaganda Film” in its entirety.
“A Man Apart” Blu-Ray Debut
★ ★ ½
Rated: Rated R for strong graphic violence, language, drug content and sexuality
Stars: Vin Diesel, Larenz Tate
The best thing that can be said about “A Man Apart”: It’s better than it had to be. Director F. Gary Gray (a Highland Park native) and Diesel apparently invested some creative energy in this formulaic story about a rogue cop out for revenge. What’s more, they managed to do it without messing up the movie for fans who simply want to see Diesel do his macho stuff. Undercover DEA agent Sean Vetter (Diesel) loses his wife when a drug lord called — what else? — El Diablo attacks his home. He does what a man’s gotta do to get some pay-back. Familiar stuff. Yet, Gray’s fresh approach to action and emotion does deliver a stylish vehicle to be (ahem) fueled by Diesel. Extras include deleted scenes.
AVAILABLE NEXT WEEK
Director John Hughes celebrates the comically troubled life of teens in the Blu-ray debut of “Sixteen Candles”; while the early, pre-censorship films of director Frank Capra come to scandalous new life in “Frank Capra: The Early Collection”; and the Blu-ray debut of the 1967 animated TV classic “Mad Monster Party” (featuring Boris Karloff’s “The Monster Mash”) reminds us that Halloween is coming up frighteningly fast.