RUNDOWN: Weekly Releases for 6/25/13

Upside Down 3D

Millennium Entertainment / 2012 / 103 Minutes / Rated PG-13

Blu-ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

Kirsten Dunst, Jim Sturgess, and Timothy Spall start in writer-director Juan Solanas heady sci-fi drama romance, 'Upside Down 3D'. After failing to ignite any interest at the box-office even with stalwart sci-fi fans or the critics, this uneven romantic adventure attempts to pose the question: what if love was stronger than gravity?

Sort of a Romeo & Juliet in an alternate universe, 'Upside Down' takes place where twinned worlds have opposite gravities. Sturgess plays a young man battling interplanetary prejudice and the laws of physics in his quest to reunite with the long-lost girl of his dreams (Dunst) on a poverty-stricken planet. There are bad guys in the form of interplanetary border patrol agents determined to keep these star crossed lovers apart as their worlds inevitably collide and all hell ensues. Unfortunately none of this adds up to much as things quickly get muddled and mired by a heavy concept that makes little sense and at worse fails to deliver an emotionally satisfying ending.

Extras include featurettes; An Exclusive Look: A Filmmakers Journey, Theatrical Behind the Scenes: Mysterious Characters, Designing the Look, Creating the Music, Red Carpet Premiere: Emily Wells' performance of "Becomes the Color", as well as deleted scenes.

Dead Souls

Scream Factory / 2012 / 92 Minutes / Unrated

Blu ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

This week's delivers an unexpected find with the horror-thriller mystery, 'Dead Souls'. This little gem is far more entertaining than the plethora of 'Paranormal Activity' rip-offs raking up dough at theater plexes across America but is probably too smart for it's own good not to be pandering to the same audience. With a terrific cast including Bill Moseley, Jesse James, and Geraldine Hughes, director Colin Theys milks the most from an intriguing take on a coming-of-age story.

On his 18th birthday, Johnny Petrie discovers he was adopted when he inherits a farm in Maine, abandoned for the 18 years since his natural family died at the hands of his father, the local preacher. Eager for a new life, he leaves home to start over in his new dwelling. However, as he digs into his past, he soon uncovers the horrifying details of his father's questionable teachings. In a frightening revelation, he also learns that his return has revived decades-old forces trapped in the home and sets in motion a heart-stopping finale to a ritual that already claimed the lives of his family. Obviously not the type of film that garners much interest from critics, 'Dead Souls' nonetheless gets the job done by delivering an original story and unique execution, thanks to Theys swift direction.

Extras include Audio commentary, a blooper reel, a short featurette titled "Tour on the Set" as well as TV spots.

Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan

Warner Bros. / 1984 /137 min / Rated PG / Jun 25, 2013

Blu ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

With Hollywood searching for properties to either reboot or reinvent, it's a bit befuddling no studio has looked to give Edgar Rice Burroughs classic tale of Tarzan a fresh coat of paint. Fortunately, the last noteworthy treatment, 1984's 'Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan' comes to Blu-ray this week, starring Christopher Lambert, Andie MacDowell, Ralph Richardson, Ian Holm, James Fox, and Cheryl Campbell. Although not entirely successful, director Hugh Hudson does a fine job creating a believable and compelling version, thanks in part to Lambert's subtle and sympathetic performance of the title character. This is no "Me Tarzan, you Jane" version of the Rice tale.

The film attempts to tell the entire tale starting with a shipping disaster in the 19th Century that stranded a man and woman in the wilds of Africa. The lady is pregnant, and gives birth to a son in their tree house. Soon after, a family of apes stumbles across the house and in the ensuing panic, both parents are killed. A female ape takes the tiny boy as a replacement for her own dead infant, and raises him as her son. Twenty years later, Captain Phillippe D'Arnot discovers the man who thinks he is an ape. Evidence in the tree house leads him to believe that he is the direct descendant of the Earl of Greystoke, and thus takes it upon himself to return the man to civilization. This biggest flaw for this epic lies within the miscasting of Andie MacDowell, fresh from the runway and eager to prove herself as something more than a model. The problem is she's in over her head playing lead opposite Lambert and actors like Richardson and Holm who are completely out of her league.

Extras include some audio commentary as well as the film's original theatrical trailer.


Starz/Anchor Bay / 2012 / 89 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

Indie and art house action-crime drama 'Pusher' comes to Blu-ray for those discerning audiences looking for something a little more off the beaten track than your typical studio fare. That's not saying this anti-hero drama is for everyone--or is particularly successful. Director Luis Prieto does manage to hit many of the right chords of this unlikeable story of a drug dealer starring Richard Coyle, Bronson Webb, and Agyness Deyn.

Based on the edgy and explosive series, 'Pusher' pushes the limits and pulls few punches n a realistic tale of a drug dealer on the skids. Richard Coyle plays the unlikeable and unsympathetic drug dealer who grows increasingly desperate over the course of a week after a botched deal lands him in the merciless clutches of a ruthless crime lord. The more desperate his behavior, the more isolated he becomes until there is nothing left standing between him and the bullet his debtors intend to fire his way. With a small cult following, this exploitative crime thriller quickly spawned two slapped together sequels that pale in comparison to the original.

Extras are limited to a litany of trailers of other films.

The Rambler

Starz/Anchor Bay / 2013 / 99 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

Dermot Mulroney plays another offbeat character in the uneven drama 'The Rambler' from writer-director Calvin Reeder. The over wrought character study tries a bit too hard to be unsettling and sinister. What remain unfortunately amounts to an utter waste of its talented cast, including Lindsay Pulsipher, and Natasha Lyonne. Even fans of Mulroney will have a hard time remaining compelled in this little thriller-that-tried-too-hard.

The mystery begins as a stranger known only as "the Rambler" (Mulroney) is just released from prison and is anxious to build a new life for himself. Returning home to a faithless girlfriend (Lyonne), he quickly realizes his old life is truly behind him. With the promise of a job and some stability from his brother, the Rambler embarks on a cross-country journey to kick off his new life. But if prison was bad, this journey will test him like never before as he encounters a litany of strange obstacles and dangers on his road to redemption, including a scientist with a dream-recording (onto VHS!) machine, a cab driver with an unnatural love of the original Frankenstein film, and don't ask, mummies in the trunk. Bizarre for the sake of bizarre, 'The Rambler' tries way to hard to be scary, funny, thrilling or memorable.

Extras include director's commentary as well as trailers of other Starz/Anchor Bay properties.

Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Warner Brothers / 2013 / 100 Minutes / Rated PG-13

Blu-ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

Even a cast headlined by Steve Carell, and costarring Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Jim Carrey, Alan Arkin, and James Gandolfini can't elevate last year's comedy misfire, 'Incredible Burt Wonderstone'. Directed by Don Scardino who had directed hundreds of hours of television including 30 Rock and The Mindy Project, this muddled attempt at poking fun at the world of Illusionists failed to connect with audiences or critics upon its "now you see it, now you don't" stay at theaters last year.

I'm sure the studio thought they had a funny premise on their hands with about Vegas superstar magician acts, Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton, two slick over-the-top illusionists who soon become mortal enemies and rivals. Why, I'm not sure, since the premise is so painfully thin and obvious jokes end up quickly vanishing into thin air after the first twenty minutes. Carell and Buscemi play the magicians who have ruled the Las Vegas strip for years, raking in millions with illusions as big as Burt's growing ego. But lately the duo's greatest deception is their public friendship, while secretly they've grown to loathe each other. Facing cutthroat competition from guerilla street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), who appears to be trying to channel David Blaine, the guys are in over their heads. But there's still a chance Burt and Anton can save the act - both onstage and off - if Burt can get back in touch with what made him love magic in the first place. It's here the film does its best to redeem itself, however the laughs are few and far between.

Extras include Deleted Scene & Alternate Takes, Making Movie Magic with David Copperfield, Best of The Brain Rapist, as well as a

Gag Reel.

The Call

Sony / 2013 / 94 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

Halle Berry, Evie Thompson, and Abigail Breslin star in the paint-by-number thriller 'The Call'. Released early last year after the buzz of the films garnering awards and accolades and before the onslaught of summer fare, this affable heart pounding thriller may not win the hearts of critics but does provide an entertaining diversion, thanks in part to Berry's participation and some swift direction by Brad Anderson.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what's going to happen from the very first 911 call, when veteran operator takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl who is the midst of trying to avoid getting captured by a home invader. Berry plays the operator, Jordan Turner, and resident expert in remaining calm under pressure and most of all, never getting emotionally involved. But all that flies out the window when Jordan makes the fatal error of calling back the victim and blows her cover. Soon things start to unravel as Berry finds herself inextricably pulled into a similar abduction only this time she's determined not to make the same mistake again--and find a way to get the girl out alive. With plot holes the size of Everest, 'The Call' wisely doesn't try to pretend to be anything than it is--a B-movie in all of its exploitative glory. With a preposterous ending that will have you howling, I wouldn't be surprised if the studio bangs out a couple direct-to-video sequels given the film's perfect formulaic delivery.

Extras include Commentary with Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin and Filmmakers, Emergency Procedure: Making the Film featurette - A look at every aspect of the making of the film, from Richard D'Ovidio's experience writing the screenplay through the final days of production, an Alternate Ending, Deleted and Extended Scenes

Michael Eklund Audition Tape, A Set Tour of The Hive and The Lair, Inside the Stunts, as well as the film's original theatrical trailer.


20th Century Fox / 2013 / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

If you don't recall 20th Century Fox's war drama 'Phantom' hitting your local theater last year, it's probably because the studio chose to release it in selected theaters across the country hoping to create some traction with some critical buzz and some good word of mouth. When that didn't happen they must've decided to cut their losses and hope for a livelier reception on video. This submarine adventure has its moments but clearly has a hard time comparing with the visuals of last year's 'Battleship' or the script and acting of something a little meatier like 'The Hunt for Red October'.

With a terrific cast lead by Ed Harris, David Duchovny, William Fichtner, Lance Henriksen, Johnathon Schaech, and Jason Beghe, director Todd Robinson gives his players plenty to do in the cold war drama. Set against the height of the Soviet threat, the world holds its breath when a Soviet submarine armed with nuclear missiles goes missing in the Pacific. On board the vessel, the battle-tested captain (Harris) and a rogue KGB agent (Duchovny) are waging a life-and-death game of cat and mouse. With enemy forces closing in and time running out, the captain fights to keep control with nuclear Armageddon hanging in the balance. Although an intriguing story, the film suffers by obvious comparisons. I can see how interest theatrically is minimal however home video audiences will be much more forgiving and should definitely give this well acted drama a chance.

Extras include some director's commentary as well as a handful of trailers for other 20th Century Fox properties.

Serenity: Steelbook

Universal Studios Home Entertainment / 2005 / 119 Minutes / Rated PG-13

Blu-ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

Long before Joss Whedon proved he could cut his teeth on a big budget tent pole picture like 'The Avengers', studio executives let him try his hand at directing the medium budget follow-up to his cult series 'Firefly' with 2005's 'Serenity'. Well received by both critics and diehard fans, this highflying sci-fi adventures stars Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite and Adam Baldwin. Although you don't need to have watched the series to enjoy the film, it certainly helps to have the backstory on the characters and their relationships.

The film picks up with our band of 26th century renegades are on the run in outer space. The galaxy colonized by a military force known as the Alliance, but a league of rebels known as the Independents has challenged its leadership. After a brutal war, the surviving Independents are left scattered around the galaxy. Also wandering the edges of the galaxy are the Reavers, who have won few allies due to their violent behavior and habit of ripping apart their enemies and eating them before they're dead. Capt. Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Fillion), who fought as an Independent in the galactic war, is the head of Serenity, a rogue ship whose crew includes Mal's first mate, Zoe (Torres), hotshot pilot Wash (Tudyk), mechanic Kaylee (Staite), and trigger happy gunman Jayne (Baldwin). The crew of Serenity wanders the galaxy, taking on whatever work they can get, from criminal activities like smuggling and stealing to legitimately offering transport to travelers. Like with the Star Trek franchise, Universal was keen to see if there was a worldwide appetite to continue the series however given the tepid results at the box-office, this appears to be the beginning and end of Serenity.

Extras in this Steelbook release include Audio Commentaries with cast and Whedon, several behind-the-scenes featurettes as well as deleted scenes and the film's original theatrical trailer.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Universal Studios / 2010 / 112 Minutes / Rated PG-13

Blu-ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

'Arrested Development's' Michael Cera costars with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh and Kieran Culkin in Universal Studio's offbeat comedy from 2010, 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'. Although it didn't exactly ignite the box-office, this niche comedy based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's Oni Press comic book quickly became a critical darling as developed a cult following.

The film follows the plight of the above named slacker on his adventure to defeat his dream girl's seven evil ex-boyfriends. While fronting the bass for his garage band, Scott has eyes for the beautiful Ramona Flowers (Winstead), determined to make her his own. But Ramona has some serious baggage; her supercharged exes rue the thought of her being with another man, and they'll crush any guy who gives her a second glance. But in order to win her heart, Scott must do battle with each of her former lovers ranging from vegan-powered rock gods to sinister skateboarders. Well acted and directed, this charming little comedy is destined to become a future classic as well as one of Cera's finest roles.

Extras are overflowing including Four Audio Commentaries, a Trivia Track, Deleted and alternate scenes with commentary from Edgar Wright, Scott Pilgrim vs. the Bloopers, Behind-the-scenes photo galleries including Edgar Wright's photo blog, Galleries: production photos, art galleries and marketing concepts, as well as the film's theatrical trailer.


Olive Films / 1969 / 92 Minutes

Blu-ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

Long before Peter Benchley redefined how we look at going to the beach and Steven Spielberg created the blockbuster, Burt Reynolds starred the sunken treasure action-adventure 'Shark!' Costarring Arthur Kennedy and Silvia Pinal, this 1969 action film definitely wasn't one of Reynolds's finest, however co-written and directed by the legendary director Samuel Fuller ('China Gate', 'The Big Red One'), this potboilers delivers for the time and considering the four and half decades since its release, holds up quite well.

Reynolds plays American gunrunner, Caine who stumbles into a small dusty town in Sudan after escaping corrupt government soldiers. Broke and desperate, he agrees to sign up as a deck hand to ichthyologist Dan Mallare (Barry Sullivan) and his mistress Anna Pinal) who are supposedly collecting rare fish specimens. Caine soon discovers that his new employers are crooked treasure hunters looking for gold bullion buried in the deep, shark-infested waters and that they would stop at nothing to get their hands on sunken treasure. Despite what the title of the film suggests, the action in this melodrama is left more above the ocean than below. Reynolds delivers a fine, if not completely memorable performance.

Extras are spry in this Olive Film's release, limited to the film's original theatrical trailer as well as some previews for other Olive Film's releases.

North Face

Music Box Films / 2008 / 121 Minutes / Unrated

Blu-ray Release Date: June 25, 2013

Music Box Films is releasing a terrific German import with the 2008 adventure 'North Face'. Starring Benno Fürmann, Johanna Wokalek, director Phillip Stölzl does a terrific job of bringing audiences into the treacherous true story about a competition to climb the most dangerous rock face in the Alps. Even if foreign movies are not your thing, 'North Face' (Nordwand) is fine filmmaking with a potent mix of action and human sacrifice at a time in history the world will never forget.

Set in 1936, as Nazi propaganda urges the nation's Alpinists to conquer the unclimbed north face of the Swiss massif. Henry Arau (Ulrich Tukur), the publisher of one of Berlin's biggest newspapers, is a loyal son of the Third Reich, and when his editorial secretary, Luise Fellner (Johanna Wokalek), tells him she knows some climbers who would be willing to take on the Eiger, a mountain thus far proven un-climbable. Tukur begins to put together his team including German soldiers Toni Kurz (Benno Fürmann) and Andi Hinterstoisser (Florian Lukas). As they begin their climb in mid-summer to discover that a pair of Austrians, Willy Angerer (Simon Schwarz) and Edi Rainer (Georg Friedrich), are now challenging them in a race to the top. With some breathtaking visuals filmed on location, 'North Face' is a heart pounding thrill ride right up to the climactic ending.

Extras include The Making of North Face, The Visual Effects of North Face, Deleted Scenes, as well as the film's theatrical trailer.


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