Wednesday, August 8 2012, 03:53 PM MDT
DVD and Blu-ray New Releases for May 29, 2012
Reviews of this week's new DVD and Blu-ray Releases
by Ryan Painter
(KUTV) DVD and Blu-ray New Releases for May 29, 2012
This week sees the highly anticipated release of HBO’s “True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season” along with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Love Never Dies,” Ralph Fiennes’ updated version of Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus,” as well as lesser-seen films “Gone” with Amanda Seyfried and “Man on a Ledge” starring Sam Worthington.
Those looking to extend their weekend tribute to fallen soldiers or looking to find a little meaning behind the holiday that kicks off summer should check out “Memorial Day.”
Other notable titles include the second seasons of cop drama “Rookie Blue” and Comedy Central’s strange, but often funny, “Workaholics.” Those looking for something a little more gritty should track down “The Aggression Scale,” a violent home invasion film that feels like an adult reimagining of “Home Alone.”
Documentary fans will want to track down “Sing Your Song,” the critically acclaimed Sundance Film Festival documentary on Harry Belafonte, and the absolutely captivating look at ’70s celebrity designer Halston in Tribeca Film’s DVD release of “Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston.”
Memorial Day (DVD and Blu-ray)
In 1993 Kyle, a 13-year-old boy, finds his grandfather’s footlocker filled with various “souvenirs” from his time spent fighting in World War II. The film flashes back to show various events connected to the items in the footlocker and flashes forward to Kyle’s experiences as a young man fighting in Iraq.
I must confess that I was somewhat uncomfortable with the film’s attempt to draw parallels between World War II and the current conflict in Iraq, Vietnam seems more suitable, but the film does a nice job of exploring the lasting emotional impact that violence and death has on soldiers. The film features James Cromwell as Bud, the grandfather, and his son, John, who plays Bud in the flashback sequences.
“Memorial Day” does stray a bit and feels somewhat forced, overly sentimental and occasionally the performances are a little stiff, but it succeeds in being a well-produced and thought-engaging film that reminds us of why we celebrate Memorial Day in the first place.
True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season (DVD and Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo)
Four seasons into the HBO’s attempt to steal werewolves and vampires back from the glittering masses of Twi-Hards and I’m sad to report that I still don’t completely understand the draw of “True Blood.” The fourth season feels disjointed as it tries to balance its many characters and the revelations regarding Sookie’s character in the third season pushes the melodrama to a new ridiculous high that borders on self-parody. Of course the show never presented itself as something literary or highbrowed and my complaints that the show is simply too sensational, over sexed and silly is probably exactly why so many people love it.
Love Never Dies (DVD and Blu-ray)
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “semi-sequel” to “Phantom of the Opera” is an interesting, but flawed, attempt to reignite the composer’s stalled career. The story takes place ten years since the disappearance of the Phantom and is set in New York’s Coney Island. The carnival atmosphere works wonderfully. Where else would a masked musician flee? There amongst the freaks and lowlifes the Phantom has concocted a scheme that brings Christine back to him once more.
Costume and scenic designer Bob Crowley has created a gorgeous spectacle that is a delight to behold. The music is properly bombastic, but isn’t nearly as memorable as I would have liked as it leans heavily on the original’s themes without really establishing its own identity.
The play’s greatest weakness is its constant need to outdo itself and provide the most dramatic ending that Webber can conjure up, even if that means relying on the sort of soap-opera clichés that make the story’s twists all too predictable. It all feels a bit hollow.
The movie is a live recording of a performance from the play’s Australian cast. It’s well directed, but occasionally the stage makeup isn’t nearly as convincing as it could have been and the actors’ microphones, often plastered to their foreheads, are visible.
Coriolanus (DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
For his directorial debut Ralph Fiennes chose to adapt “Coriolanus,” one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays. Coriolanus (played by Fiennes) is a war hero that suddenly finds himself out of fashion. Banished by the people he fought for Coriolanus sides with Tallus Aufidius (Gerard Butler), a former enemy, and prepares to wage war against his homeland.
Set in the modern age, but keeping the Shakespearian text almost intact, “Coriolanus” is an interesting examination of how politics and ego haven’t changed in the 400 years since the play was originally written. The film features a fantastic cast including a scene-stealing performance from Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia, Coriolanus’ mother.
Man on a Ledge (DVD and Blu-ray)
Ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) escapes prison in order to steal a $40 million diamond from a corrupt businessman and prove his innocence in the process.
“Man on a Ledge” is a train wreck. Worthington slips in and out of his Australian accent, Elizabeth Banks unsuccessfully channels Bruce Willis’ John McClane from “Die Hard,” Jamie Bell is unconvincing as a would-be thief and Génesis Rodríguez is reduced to being eye candy. All of this might be forgivable if “Man on a Ledge” didn’t take itself so seriously. It’s terrible in only a slightly entertaining way.
Gone (DVD and Blu-ray)
Jill (Amanda Seyfried) is convinced that her sister has been abducted by a murder. The police refuse to take her seriously so she sets out on her own to find her sister, even if that means breaking a few laws in the process. It isn’t long before Jill attracts the attention of the police and the race is on. Will Jill find her sister before the police find her?
“Gone” had a limited run at the box office and that’s at least partly due to the fact that it wasn’t promoted very well. It’s also due to the fact that it isn’t any good. “Gone” wants to be an intelligent thriller but it lacks any real thrills or twists. The film doesn’t utilize its premise, which includes a few spoilers I won’t divulge, and relies too heavily on the incompetence of the local police force.
(Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)