RUNDOWN: Weekly Releases for 10/15/13

The Heat

20th Century Fox / 2013 / 117 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

Fox had a mild hit on their hands with this year's oddly comedy duo, Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock with 'The Heat'. Wisely building off of the success of 'Bridesmaids' director Paul Feig, McCarthy reteams the magic playing a similarly obnoxious character with a heart of gold playing opposite the uptight Bullock in an 'Odd Couple' crime caper. Although it's far from classic, Bullock and McCarthy share some decent chemistry in a script that works overtime for the laughs, often times at the sacrifice of logic, but nonetheless entertaining.

Costarring Kaitlin Olson, Ben Falcone, Marlon Wayans, and Tony Hale, Feig knows how to deftly play to his actor's strengths in this variation of the 48 Hours formula of two law enforcers, one an FBI investigator and the other a hardened cop, who must join forces to solve a caper and somehow become better people because of it.

In the middle of all this is a storyline involving a ruthless drug lord who has manages to slip through the cracks of both enforcement agencies. Silly, outrageous but with moments of definite hilarity, forgiving audiences will look beyond the film's obvious flaws by the sheer star power and charm of its stars.

Extras include featurettes titled Von Bloopers, Police Brutality,

Let's Get Physical, Acting Master Class, Supporting Cast Cavalcade,

Making of Featurette, Over and Out, Audio Commentaries featuring Melissa McCarthy, director Paul Feig, and The Mullins Family as well as alternate scenes.

Star Wars Clone Wars - Season 5

Sony / 2013 / 100 Minutes / Rated PG-13

Blu ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

The popular Cartoon Network series, 'Clone Wars' comes to Blu-ray with all episodes of the show's fifth season. The Clone Wars traces back to the original Star Wars film when Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker that he was once a Jedi knight and that they fought together in the Clone Wars. The series picks up immediately after the events of Star Wars-Episode II: Attack of the Clones following the adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker.

In season three, episodes include such story lines as Darth Sidious orders Ventress to be assassinated. Fans of the series will delight as the seemingly endless saga continues with another wild season of unexpected surprises. With decent but not outstanding computer generated animation, 'Clone Wars' shows no signs of slowing down with an equally loyal fan base as the films.

All episodes of the series fifth season are included, uncut and unedited as well as two director's cut episodes with never-before-seen footage, Deleted and alternate scenes, Cast and crew interviews, and Making-of materials.

Vikings: Season One

20th Century Fox / 2013 / Unrated

Blu ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

The History Channel had another mild success with its period action adventure series 'Vikings'. Parent studio 20th Century Fox is releasing the series freshman season on video in the hopes of conquering even more fans before the sophomore season kicks into gear later this year. Starring Travis Fimmel, Clive Standen, Katheryn Winnick, and Gustaf Skarsgard, this series falls short of the visual spectacle of a 'Spartacus' but makes up with it with some decent performances and intriguing story lines.

The series follows the adventures of the legendary Viking Ragnar Lothbrok (Fimmel), a Viking chieftain seeking to fulfill his destiny as a conqueror, alongside his ambitious brother Rollo (Standen) and loyal wife Lagertha (Winnick). Throughout his quest, Ragnar faces a path of betrayals and temptations to protect his freedom, family, and life. When Ragnar teams up with his boat builder friend Floki (Skarsgard) to craft a new generation of intrepid ships capable of conquering the rough northern seas, the stage is set for conflict. With a potent mix of drama and historical accuracy, 'Vikings' attempts to provide a historical perspective without skimping on the action adventure aspect you've come to expect from the subject matter.

Extras includes all nine episodes with extended and alternate scenes, featurettes titled The Armory Of Vikings, Conquest and Discover: The Journey Of The Vikings, Warrior Society, Forging The Viking Army: Warfare And Tactics, Deleted Scenes as well as commentary from Michael Hirst.


MPI / 2012 / 89 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

Elijah Wood seems to be working overtime at trying to step outside the shadow of the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, often times with mixed results. Fans however seem to be less interested in some of his forays like last year's stab at the crime-thriller genre with the flaccid 'Maniac' directed by Franck Khalfoun. Costarring Nora Arnezeder, this 21st Century version of Jack the Ripper barely made a blip on the radar with critics or audiences. Probably better suited for video, genre fans will probably stir up some interest based upon the subject matter.

Just when you thought the streets of Los Angeles were safe, the city of Angels finds herself being stalked by a brutal serial killer with a fetish for scalps. Frank (Wood) is the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store, but his life changes when young artist Anna (Arnezeder) shows up one day asking for his help with her new exhibition, a budding friendship develops and Frank's obsession starts to escalate. It becomes clear that this provocative beauty has unleashed a long-repressed compulsion to stalk and kill. This film is a remake of the William Lustig cult film considered by many to be the most suspenseful slasher movie ever made. Unfortunately, the film suffers by comparison and lacks the direction and suspense of the original.

Extras include a Making of Featurette, Poster Gallery, as well as the film's original theatrical trailer.

Weird Science

Universal / 1985 / 94 Minutes / Rated PG-13

Blu-ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

John Hughes reign in the 1980's seemed to be an unending gem of classic hits, like my personal favorite 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles'. Although not every Hughes film hit all the marks, the grade point average was nonetheless pretty high. The writer-director hit box-office gold with his modern day take of the Frankenstein formula with the buddy comedy 'Weird Science'. Starring Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Anthony Michael Hall, and Kelly LeBrock, this hilarious coming-of-age tale spawned a successful half-hour comedy series as well.

Although the film never had the gravitas of some of his earlier work like 'Sixteen Candles' or 'Breakfast Club', John Hughes clearly showcases his connection with adolescence with a fantasy element on this fresh twist on the Frankenstein' tale. At a time when the country started its love affair with the computer, 'Weird Science' centers on a nerdy computer whiz and his best friend who manage to put their minds together to create the "perfect woman" (Kelly LeBrock). Like a computer-generated fairy godmother, the duo's out-of-this-world creation guides the pair through the pleasures and pitfalls of adolescence. With a rock beat supplied by many music superstars including Oingo Boingo, this far-out sci-fi fable brings everyone's favorite teen fantasies to life with a not-so-thinly laced "careful what you wish for" morality tale woven in between.

Extras include the featurette, It's Alive!: Resurrecting Weird Science, Weird Science TV Pilot Episode, as well as the film's theatrical trailer.

The Haunting

Warner Brothers / 1963 / Rated G

Blu-ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

With Halloween around the corner, studios are clearly eager to look through the film vaults in search of old film properties worth dusting off and releasing on video in the hopes of finding a new audience. Feeling a bit like the grand daddy of current haunted house thriller 'Insidious', 'The Haunting' from 1963 is a G-rated thriller that plays out more like an extended 'Twilight Zone' than a nail-biting feature. Directed by Robert Wise, 'The Haunting' still does manage to deliver a few decent spooks and frights, thanks in part to a decent cast lead by Julie Harris and costarring Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson and Russ Tamblyn.

The eerie thriller centers on the ninety year old Hill House. The decaying edifice seems empty but don't let looks deceive you. Inside the house is inhabited by restless spirits eager to create havoc. Wise, whose started his directorial career with The Curse of the Cat People (1944), made his return to psychological horror for this first screen adaptation of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. Four people (Harris, Bloom, Johnson and Tamblyn) come to the house to study its supernatural phenomena with unexpected consequences. This classic story got a facelift in 1999 with an inferior remake.

Extras are sadly lacking in this fiftieth anniversary release.

The Colony

Image Entertainment / 2013 / 93 Minutes / Unrated

Blu-ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

Image Entertainment takes a stab at the apocalypse scenario with the languid direct-to-video sci-fi thriller, 'The Colony'. Despite a decent cast including Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Zegers, Bill Paxton, Charlotte Sullivan, and John Tench, this dead-on-arrival modern day Ice Age horror film lacks the punch and finesse of its contemporaries to barely make a ripple even with the most forgiving genre fans like myself.

Directed by Jeff Renfroe who landed a mild critical hit with 2004's 'Paranoia 1.0' this chilly tale fails to ignite many genuine thrills despite four credited writers (including the director). The film opens as an endless winter engulfs Earth. Humans struggle to survive in remote underground outposts. When Colony seven receives a distress call from a nearby settlement, Sam (Zegers) and Briggs (Fishburne) race through the snow on a dangerous rescue mission. What they find at the desolate base could mean mankind's salvation, or its total annihilation. Unfortunately it's all too little and late as this dull post-apocalyptic thriller slowly connects the dots with nary a surprise or new take on an old cliché.

Extras include Behind-the-Scenes Interviews with Cast and Crew.

In the Mouth of Madness

New Line Cinema / 1994 / 95 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

Horror meister John Carpenter tries his hand at yet another attempt to stand outside the shadow of his masterpiece 'Halloween' with another misstep with 1994's 'In the Mouth of Madness'. Trading psychological thrills for the visceral might have seemed like a Nobel effort, however this muddling story provides nothing but yawns despite a decent cast including Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jurgen Prochnow, David Warner, and John Glover.

The film features a promising premise involving best-selling author and Stephen King contemporary Sutter Cane whose latest novel is literally driving his readers insane. Things unfortunately never live up to the concepts potential. When the author inexplicably vanishes, an insurance investigator named John Trent (Neill) is hired by Arcane Publishing director Jackson Harglow (Heston) to track the author down. But Trent, along with Cane's editor Linda Styles (Julie Carmen), soon finds himself crossing the barrier between fact and fiction. Things quickly spin out of control with the lines between evil and madness blurring to the point of sheer incomprehensibility. If you're expecting classic horror or Carpenter's earlier genius, you'll be sadly disappointed.

Extras are nonexistent.

The Eagle Has Landed

Shout Factory / 1976 / Rated PG

Blu-ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

Shout Factory has found another forgotten action adventure from the mid-seventies with the John Sturges directed adaptation of Jack Higgins' suspense novel 'The Eagle Has Landed'. Set during the height of World War II, this riveting tale centers on the attempted kidnapping of Winston Churchill. Featuring an all-star cast including Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasence, 'The Eagle Has Landed' remains one of the most memorable war movies of the decade.

'The Eagle Has Landed' refers to the German high command during World War II. When it is discovered that in November 1943 Winston Churchill is scheduled to spend a weekend in a country home in Norfolk, the Germans create an elaborate plan to kidnap British Prime Minister. Heinrich Himmler (Pleasence), under orders from Hitler, assigns Nazi colonel Max Radl (Duvall) the untenable task of sneaking the English-hating Irishman Liam Devlin (Sutherland) into the British countryside to arrange for a 16-man task force to be parachuted into the English country town with the able assistance of Colonel Kurt Steiner (Caine). But no perfect plan goes without a hitch, especially when the Nazis are involved. As the timetable of events quickly start to crumble, the Germans effort in capturing Churchill soon fall apart despite their better efforts.

Extras are jam packed including featurettes titled, The Eagle Has Landed Revisited, Tom Mankiewicz: Looking Back, ATV Today on Location, Film Night Location Report, On Location in Norfolk, On Location Interviews, as well as the film's original theatrical trailer.

The Hitchhiker

Kino Classics / 1953 / 71 Minutes / Unrated

Blu-ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

Kino Classics digs up a real treasure from 1953 with the tour-de-force thriller, 'The Hitchhiker'. Directed by Ida Lupino, Hollywood's sole female filmmaker of the time, directs this taut 70-minute thriller featuring an all male cast lead by Frank Lovejoy, Edmond O'Brien and William Talman. This moody thriller involved a crazed hitchhiker was ahead of its time for 1953 and deserves another look by contemporary audiences.

The film features two war buddies taking a break from the wives for a Mexican fishing trip when the lone hitchhiker they pick up turns out to be a crazed killer wanted in nine states. Forcing the friends to drive them through the desert at gunpoint, the audience gets mere glances at his appearance. Starting off as a discorporate flurry of hands and feet, then as a satanic figure whose grinning, key-lighted face seems to float by itself in space. With his paralyzed right eye that doesn't close even when he sleeps, this creepy figure taunts the former soldiers in ways that are subtle yet disturbing, nearly six decades since its release.

Extras are sadly nonexistent.

A Highjacking

Magnolia / 2012 / 99 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

Indie thriller 'A Highjacking' directed by Tobias Lindholm quickly became a hit with critics and will undoubtedly find a wider audience on video due to the similarity of story lines with Tom Hanks' upcoming sea faring drama, 'Captain Phillips'. This involving import from Denmark hits all its marks thanks to some swift direction by Lindholm and his capable cast including Johan Philip Asbæk, Søren Malling, and Dar Salim.

The film features the plight of the crew on a container ship that is on the Indian Ocean on its way to Mumbai, when they find themselves hijacked by a group of Somali pirates. When the pirates ask a ransom of $12 million, the CEO initially counters with $250,000. Lindholm wisely hooks you with characters you instantly care about, including the ship's cook and engineer, who both are subjected to all kinds of physical and psychological abuse by the pirates. Loosely based upon real-life stories, this seafaring adventure thriller is often times hard to watch while still impossible to tear your eyes away from until the final frame.

Extras include the featurettes, Making of A Hijacking, AXS TV: A Look at A Hijacking, Extended Scenes, as well as the film's theatrical trailer.


Sony / 1999 / 95 Minutes / Rated PG

Blu-ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

It's hard to believe it's been a decade and a half since Mara Wilson charmed audiences with the delightful family fantasy, 'Matilda'. Costarring Embeth Davidtz, Danny DeVito, and Rhea Perlman, this enchanting effort represented a huge departure for DeVito both in front of and behind the camera, as the director was responsible for such edgy comedies like 'War of the Roses' and 'Throw Mama from the Train'. Based on the novel by British children's author Roald Dahl, this film is a very faithful adaptation other than moving the setting from England to the United States.

Matilda Wormwood (Wilson) is an extremely curious and intelligent little girl who is very different from her somewhat ignorant and obnoxious parents (DeVito and Perlman), who quite cruelly ignore her. As she grows older, she begins to discover that she has telekinetic powers. Not until a teacher shows her kindness for the first time does she realize that she can use those powers to do something about her sufferings and help her friends as well. Matilda's adventure forces her to battle such villains from her hideous teacher Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris), the headmistress of her school, not to mention her parents and older brother. Despite cameos including Paul Reubens as an FBI agent, it's Wilson who manages to carry the whole film off with the panache of a seasoned pro.

Extras are nonexistent other than a plethora of trailers of other Sony properties.

Jumper 3D

20th Century Fox / 2008 / 88 Minutes / Rated PG-13

Blu-ray Release Date: October 15, 2013

Although it didn't exactly rock the box-office or become a fan with critics upon its initial release in 2008, Fox studios is nonetheless trying to "jump" on the 3D craze by re-releasing it's action thriller 'Jumper' in an all-new 3D format. Directed by 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' action director Doug Liman, this frothy mix of action and science fiction definitely has its share of visuals however the story is sadly lacking with holes the size of Antarctica to overlook. That said genre fans may look past the obvious especially considering the film's rapidly paced 88-minute length.

Starring Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Diane Lane, and Michael Rooker, 'Jumper' is based upon the novel by the same name by Steven Gould. The film concerns the plight of a young man who quite literally wills himself away from his miserable family life by teleporting to another place with the power of his mind. It isn't long before he discovers how to use his newfound power for profit by raiding bank vaults, seducing women and living the high life. But he soon discovers that he is not the only one bestowed with this unique gift, and all is not well in the world of jumpers. There are people who view jumpers as a threat to all humankind, and have made it their mission to find and eliminate them. What evolves is a race against time for survival, however, given the contradictions in the film's conceit, it's difficult for Liman to make it all work.

Extras include commentary by director Doug Liman, writer-producer Simon Kinberg, and producer Lucas Foster, Picture-in-picture: Jumping Around the World, Doug Liman's Jumper: uncensored documentary, Making an Actor Jump featurette, Jumping from Novel to Film: The Past, Present, and Future of Jumper featurette, as well as Jumpstart: David's Story animated graphic novel.


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