The New Release Rack: 'Lawless' among the bootleggers
Plus 'Paranorman,' 'Sparkle,' 'Step Up Revolution,' and more
"Men in Black 3" (Sony) reunites Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K, and adds Josh Brolin into mix, in the time-traveling third installment of the UFO-cops sci-fi comedy franchise. Videodrone's review is here.
"Lawless" (Anchor Bay), a drama of a family of bootleggers in prohibition-era Virginia, stars Shia LaBeof of the youngest of three brothers (Tom Hardy and Jason Clark are his elders) who go to war with the corrupt local deputy (Guy Pearce). It's based on a true story, as told in the book "The Wettest County in the World" by Matt Bondurant, and the film reunites director John Hillcoat with screenwriter (and rock legend) Nick Cave, who wrote Hillcoat's breakthrough film "The Proposition."
"As the movie progresses, every scene in which LaBeouf walks through a door and is not instantly smacked in the face with the blade of a shovel proves to be something of a disappointment," complains MSN film critic Glenn Kenny. "Still, it's all handled with a lot of cinematic brio, strong action and overall cheekiness, some of which works (a bluegrass rendition of the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat," performed by Ralph Stanley, no less), some of which doesn't, but which in the aggregate keeps things percolating, if not entirely coherent." Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, and Jessica Chastain co-star.
Blu-ray and DVD, with commentary by director John Hillcoat and author Matt Bondurant, three featurettes, and deleted scenes. The Blu-ray also includes a bonus DVD and digital copy for portable media players. Also available On Demand and at Redbox kiosks.
"Paranorman" (Universal), an animated ghost story for adolescent audiences, is a spooky comedy about a boy who not only sees dead people but converses with them. Which, as you can imagine, makes him something of an outcast in his little New England town… at least until those gifts are needed to save them. MSN film critic Glenn Kenny praises the film: "every now and then I see a contemporary animated film that makes me believe that we just might be living in a new golden age of the genre. And I'm not just talking Pixar. … Laika Entertainment, the company behind the awesomely beautiful and evocative creepy-crawly stop-motion animation gem "Coraline." These folks are like the slightly family-friendlier EC Comics of the genre, and their newest picture, "ParaNorman," is, among other things, their scariest yet."
Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD, all with commentary by directors Sam Fell and Chris Butler, three preliminary animatic (essentially a rough animated sketch) scenes with commentary, the 40-minute "Peering Through the Veil: Behind the Scenes of ParaNorman," and seven additional short featurettes. The Blu-ray also features an UltraViolet digital copy for download and instant streaming. Also available On Demand.
"Sparkle" (Sony), the remake of the seventies musical drama, stars "American Idol" celebrity Jordin Sparks as an aspiring singer but became more famous for the final screen appearance by Whitney Huston, who plays the stage mother in this show-biz tale. MSN film critic Glenn Kenny describes the film as "an unholy mess of awkward staging, uneven pacing and contrived "big scenes" that strike whatever tone seems provisionally apt to the milking of the intended dominant emotion." Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, and Ceelo Green co-star.
Blu-ray and DVD, with commentary by director Salim Akil, "A Tribute to Whitney Houston," and a making-of featurette, plus an UltraViolet digital copy for download and instant streaming. The Blu-ray also includes to additional featurettes, an extended performance of "Hooked on Your Love" and a music video with Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks. Also available On Demand and at Redbox. Note that the street date on this release is Friday, November 30 for all versions.
"Step Up Revolution" (Summit), the fourth film in the underdog dance drama franchise, relocates to Miami, where aspiring professional dancer Kathryn McCormick gets involved with a dance crew called "The Mob" and steps up her moves to help save a neighborhood from demolition. "Reprising the franchise's surefire money-minting strategy, "Step Up Revolution" detonates five or six hyperkinetic dance extravaganzas in dazzling 3-D, timed to obliterate a traditionally saggy story line," writes MSN film critic Kat Murphy.
Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD, with commentary by the director, choreographer, and stars, instant access to the dance numbers, deleted scenes, and four featurettes. The Blu-ray includes both 3D and standard editions and a bonus DVD plus a digital copy of the film for portable media players and an UltraViolet copy for instant streaming. Also available On Demand and at Redbox.
"The Apparition" (Warner) stars Ashley Greene and Sebastian Shaw as a young couple haunted by a spirit that seems to be leftover from a student experiment. MSN film critic Glenn Kenny wonders "how the still-great studio Warner Brothers helped produce and is now distributing a film as lifeless, inept, and pointless as "The Apparition"." Blu-ray and DVD, with the featurette "The Apparition: A Cinematic Specter" and an UltraViolet digital copy for download and instant streaming. The Blu-ray includes three additional featurettes and a bonus DVD.
"The Day" (Anchor Bay) is an apocalyptic horror about a group of five survivors fighting for their lives when they are trapped by a band of predators. Shawn Ashmore, Ashley Bell, Dominic Monaghan, and Shannyn Sossamon star. Blu-ray and DVD, with filmmaker commentary. Reviews here.
Matthew Goode is "Burning Man" (IFC), a chef in a top Australian restaurant whose life spirals out of control in the face of tragedy. DVD only, with commentary, interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage. Reviews here.