RUNDOWN: Weekly Releases for 8/13/13


Lionsgate / 2013 / Rated PG-13

Blu-ray Release Date: August 13, 2013

Tommy Lee Jones gets his chance to chew the scenery in the World War II epic drama, 'Emperor'. Costarring Matthew Fox, this Peter Webber directed war flick failed to connect with audiences or generate much of a buzz for Jones as his portrayal of General Douglas MacArthur. Perhaps it was the shadow of George C. Scott was too much to live up to--or the need for another retelling of the same story that kept audiences away during its initial theatrical release. Either way, Lionsgate must be hoping for a better turn out on video before this film finds its way to cable and Netflix.

The film centers on the legend General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) as he is sent to Japan immediately after Emperor Hirohito's World War II surrender in 1945. Consequently the U.S. General suddenly finds himself the de facto ruler of a foreign nation. He challenges his expert of Japanese culture General Fellers (Fox) that he must provide evidence in less than a dozen days to decide if the Japanese Emperor, worshipped as a God by his people but accused of war crimes, should be punished or saved. A compelling tale, Jones chews the scenery in a good way while Fox does what he can to stay in step.

Extras are plentiful and will certainly satiate fans of the film and subject matter including Revenge or Justice - The Making of Emperor" featurette, Audio commentary with director Peter Webber and producer Yôko Narahashi, Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery,

Historical Photo Gallery as well as some Deleted Scenes.

Once Upon a Time: Season 2

Disney/Buena Vista / 2012 / Unrated

Blu ray Release Date: August 13, 2013

The surprise ABC fantasy hit 'Once Upon a Time' which quickly made a splash with viewers and with critics when it made it's debut two years ago comes to video with its sophomore season. Fans of this fantasy series will undoubtedly be eager to brush up on all the ins and outs and happenings of this offbeat and fantastical series before the fall season kicks into gear in a few short weeks.

Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin and Robert Carlyle star in this imaginative series set in the magical world of Storybrooke where the battle between good and evil never ends. Giants, ogres, werewolves, Frankenstein, Mulan, Captain Hook and a plethora of fairies, elves and everything out of this world exists as season two kicks into gear. Amidst the backdrop of previously unexplored lands and a newly magical Storybrooke, love and sacrifice and in the words of Rumplestiltskin, where magic is concerned, only one thing is certain: it always comes at a price. Although probably not appropriate for audiences under the ages of double digits, this wicked concoction of good and evil has something for everyone.

Extras include a slew of promotions for other ABC/Disney properties.

The Muppet Movie: The Original Classic - The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition

Disney/Buena Vista / 1979 / 96 Minutes / Rated G

Blu ray Release Date: August 13, 2013

The term modern day classic is often tossed around at random to the point it has virtually lost it's meaning. That definitely does not apply to Jim Henson's first foray into cinema with the aptly titled 'The Muppet Movie'. By utilizing all the characters we've come to love with the long running series 'The Muppet Show', Henson creates a lovable family fantasy adventure that will have you comparing it to 'The Wizard of Oz'. Truly a timeless classic, this 'Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition' dubbed because it was released in 1979 is well worth revisiting as it is destined to be cherished for generations to come. With cameo appearances by Charles Durning, Steve Martin, Frank Oz, Elliott Gould, Jim Henson, Richard Pryor, Orson Welles, Mel Brooks and many more, director James Frawley weaves an enchanting tale featuring the debut of Kermit's classic song 'The Rainbow Connection'.

'The Muppet Movie' is a tale of the origin of how our favorite characters got together in this "mostly true story" of the early beginnings of Kermit, Fozie, Miss Piggy and the rest of the whole gang. Featuring a banjo-playing frog with the Oscar nominated 'Rainbow Connection' our gang sets forth on a road trip of epic proportions. As expected there are many road bumps and dastardly bad guys along the way but with a little faith and ingenuity, Kermit and his friends manage to come out on top. Truly enchanting even three and a half decades later, this cinematic charmer is impossible to resist no matter what your age.

Extras are plentiful including Disney Intermission, Starring the Muppets, All-New Frog-E-Oke Sing-Along, Kermit: A Frog's Life

Jim Frawley's Extended Camera (includes previously unseen footage), Pepe Profiles - "Kermit: A Frog's Life" Featurette, Doc Hooper's Commercial, as well as the film's Original Trailers.

Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec

Shout Factory / 2010 / 107 Minutes / Unrated

Blu-ray Release Date: August 13, 2013

Although you may know actor/director Luc Besson best from his commercial films (Taken, The Fifth Element, Le Femme Nikita), the revered director is known abroad for some of his other creations like the wildly vivid adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, the coolest author and adventurist in all of Paris. Although it might not have made it's way to your local theater, this international family adventure certainly deserves to find an audience here considering all the American offerings Europeans have come to embrace. Starring Louise Bourgoin and Mathieu Amalric, this foreign offering is a visual delight certain to defy your expectations on a little French import.

The year is 1912 as we discover a 136 million-year old pterodactyl egg, housed on a shelf in the Natural History Museum, has mysteriously hatched, unleashing a prehistoric monster onto the Parisian streets. Then we meet the adorable and seemingly unflappable Adele, who fearlessly makes a connection with the ancient bird and reveals many more extraordinary surprises. Based on the acclaimed historical fantasy books by Jacques Tardi, the film follows this intrepid adventurer as she uncovers mysterious Egyptian treasures, attempts to tame a wild pterodactyl, eludes dangerous enemies and braves a formidable phenomenon to save her ailing sister.

Extras include a terrific making-of-documentary, including commentary by Besson, a music featurette as well as four deleted scenes.

What Maisie Knew

Millennium / 2012 / 99 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: August 13, 2013

Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, and Alexander Skarsgård star in the heartstring puller, 'What Maisie Knew'. Co-directed by Scott McGehee, David Siegel this sweet remaining of the Henry James novel failed to connect with critics to warrant a wider release. Probably better served as a TV movie considering the subject matter, however the performances of its three stars, particularly Moore, make it an enjoyable watch, if not all together that memorable.

A film that will definitely cut to the bone if you've ever gone through a divorce when children are involved, 'What Maisie Knew' tells the story of a captivating little girl's struggle for grace in the midst of her parents' bitter custody battle. Told through the eyes of the title's heroine, Maisie navigates this ever-widening turmoil with a six-year-old's innocence, charm and generosity of spirit, as well as her sardonic look at life and the future. Heartwarming without being maudlin or forced, 'What Maisie Knew' may not have rung up the accolades with critics, however, niche audiences will undoubtedly find this a winner.

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

The Company You Keep

Sony Pictures Classics / 2012 / 122 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: August 13, 2013

Sony Pictures Classics probably hoped for a critical gem on their hands with the Robert Redford directed 'The Company You Keep'. Unfortunately, not even star power including Susan Sarandon, Chris Cooper, Shia LaBeaouf, Julie Christie, Nick Nolte and Redford himself can keep this muddled attempt at a mystery suspense film from feeling anything much more satisfying than a star-studded 'Murder She Wrote'. I've never been much of a fan of any of Redford's directing efforts past 'Ordinary People', and this turkey is definitely not worthy of being mentioned in the same 'Company'.

Based upon the political thriller by Neil Gordon, 'The Company You Keep' as all the earmarkings of a terrific potboiler, however Redford never really heats things up behind or in front of the screen beyond luke warm. The film's plot line involves a wanted man and former member of the revolutionary militant group The Weather Underground goes on the run after a journalist (Shia LaBeouf) outs him when all hell breaks loose. Heavy handed from the very first frame, the film suffers from taking itself way too seriously. Some choice editing, not one of Redford's skills, would have helped considerably with at least defining and maintaining a brisk pace expected with such subject matter.

Extras are surprisingly plentiful. Clearly the producers must have thought they had a winner with such featurettes as Behind The Scenes: The Movement, Behind The Scenes: The Script, Preparation and the Cast, On the Red Carpet, 'The Company You Keep' Press Conference, as well as the film's theatrical trailer.


Magnolia / 2012 / Unrated

Blu-ray Release Date: August 13, 2013

Amber Heard, Shiloh Fernandez, Kellan Lutz, and Brittany Snow star in Aram Rappaport's edgy comedy, 'Syrup'. Set in the cut-throat world of advertising, 'Syrup' probably was hoping to do theatrically what Mad Men has done for the television screen, however this dead-on-arrival mess fails to rise much above the world of clichés. Based on the best-selling book, audiences and critics were repelled by this forgettable mess. Considering the subject matter, one might have thought the producers would have figured out a way to market a film about advertising. Perhaps they knew they had a turkey on their hands and quickly tried to cut their losses.

Set in the dog-eat-dog world of advertising as told through the eyes of a young prodigy chasing fame, fortune, and the woman of his dreams, this 'How to Succeed in Business' type comedy tries desperately to eek out laughs with a very unlikeable premise. Fresh out of school with a degree in marketing, Scat will do anything to prove that he has what it takes to swim with the rich and wildly successful, by working off the age-old adage of "sex sells". Predictable with a heavy-handed love story that tries to take the edge off the subject matter, 'Syrup' neither works as a balls out satire or a romantic-comedy.

Extras are limited to a slew of trailers of other Magnolia Picture properties.

House of Seven Corpses

Severin Films / 1974 / 91 Minutes

Blu-ray Release Date: August 13, 2013

Severin Films has dug up a horror gem from the mid-1970's with 'House of Seven Corpses'. Definitely a throwback to a simpler time, this top-notch period thriller stars John Ireland, Faith Domergue, and John Carradine. Directed by Paul Harrison, these corpses may not walk around mumbling "Brains', however this "Ten Little Indian" style mystery still has enough going for it to make it a worthy entry for any horror film buff's list of classics.

The slightly movie-within a movie premise features a director on location filming in a house where seven murders were committed. The caretaker warns them not to mess with things they do not understand (the murders were occult related), but the director wants to be as authentic as possible and has his cast re-enact rituals that took place in the house thus summoning a ghoul from the nearby cemetery. Things quickly start going awry as crew members start falling by the wayside one-by-one and it's up to the director to find a way to put the genie back in the bottle before it's too late. The thrills are less visual considering the time, however Harrison does a fine job delivering the chills with some choice direction and terrific performances, particularly with Carradine who had made his mark already as the reigning horror king of the day.

Extras are thankfully abundant here with an Exclusive Interview With Star John Carradine, Audio Commentary With Associate Producer Gary Kent, Moderated By The Alamo Drafthouse's Lars Nilsen, as well as the film's original theatrical trailer.

Olympus Has Fallen

Sony / 2013 / 119 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: August 13, 2013

Studios often double develop hot ideas and then proceeds to race to the finish line in an effort to get a leg on the competition. This year saw two similar themed "White House in jeopardy" films at theaters including 'Olympus Has Fallen' and the aptly titled 'White House Down'. While neither ignited much interest at the box-office, the lower budget 'Olympus' probably was named the winner. After watching both films, however, creatively I'd probably call it a draw. While neither film was the inferior, neither was the more memorable as well. With a decent cast including Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd and Rick Yune, director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) delivers a potent mix of melodrama and terrorism to create an engaging two hour roller coaster ride.

With a plot line that seems to merge 'Die Hard' with 'In the Line of Fire', 'Olympus' tackles the dilemma of a secret service agent (Butler) who is a friend of the President (Eckhart) and accidentally lets him down when a freak accident in a snowstorm leaves the First Lady taking a spill off a bridge. But the time to step up quickly rears its ugly face in the form of a terrorist mastermind able to infiltrate the security of the White House and kidnap the President and his cabinet. Locked away in the bowels of the White House, our national security team scrambles to respond, when the nation's hope falls squarely on the shoulders of the formerly disgraced CIA agent. The film aims to be as realistic as possible with some incredible CGI visuals. But considering what this country has already experienced with 9/11, you can't help but find yourself less entertained but disturbed by all the violence. That said Fuqua puts his players through all the expected paces for a thrill ride to the end.

Extras are plentiful including featurettes, The Epic Ensemble,

Under Surveillance: The Making of 'Olympus Has Fallen', Deconstructing the Black Hawk Sequence, Ground Combat: Fighting The Terrorists, Creating The Action: VFX and Design as well as a blooper reel.


Oscilloscope Pictures / 2012 / 123 Minutes / Unrated

Blu-ray Release Date: August 13, 2013

Oscilloscope Pictures delivers an unsettling fable about the price of fame with last year's indie hit, 'Reality'. Directed by Matteo Garrone, this Italian comedy stars Claudia Gerini, Nando Paone, Nunzi Schiano and Paola Minaccioni in a darkly comedic look at one man's journey from fishmonger to superstar, propelled by his dreams into the Zeitgeist of his wildest imaginations. Imaginative and often unpredictable, it's no wonder this aptly timed comedy quickly became a critical darling considering the world's current obsession with instant reality TV stars.

Luciano is your average schmo; a charming and affable fishmonger whose unexpected and sudden obsession with being a contestant on the reality show "Big Brother" quickly leads him astray. With hopes of fame taunt his every waking and sleeping moment, Luciano finds himself quickly lead down a rabbit hole of skewed perceptions and paranoia. So overcome by his dream of being on reality TV, Luciano's own reality begins to spiral out of control making him a true tragicomic legend in his own mind. With some terrific performances and creative visuals, Garrone's cautionary tale will definitely have you looking at your favorite reality show with a new perspective.

Extras include audio commentary by director, Matteo Garrone, as well as the film's theatrical trailer.


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