This week’s releases span the spectrum: a weapons expert seeks a more serene existence; a couple of tourists fall victim to human trafficking; an international spy lives a complex but hilarious life of luxury and tactlessness; a couple of memorable ne’er-do-wells from Calgary return for their sequel; and Alice once again takes on the Umbrella Corporation.

The American on DVDThe American (DVD)
After a job ends more violently than expected, Jack (George Clooney) retreats to the Italian countryside and accepts one last assignment to construct a deadly weapon for a mysterious contact. But when he pursues a relationship with a beautiful local woman, he may be tempting fate by stepping out of the shadows. Jack soon finds himself in an escalating battle to escape from his secretive past.

The American is a film about redemption. Jack has dealt in death throughout his career and now he hopes to escape to some much desired tranquility. However, each of his attempts at peace is intruded upon by his violent past. In the featurette, director Anton Corbijn compares the story to a Sergio Leone western in which the characters similarly sought salvation and serenity. Since Corbijn is also a professional photographer, the framing in the film is stunning. The scenes of Jack constructing the custom weapon are equivalent to an intricate love scene. Clooney is not the charming, smiling character he typically portrays; for the most part he is cold, silent and much less glamorous than usual. But he still does it really well.

Special features include: commentary by Corbijn; a making-of featurette; and deleted scenes. (Alliance Films)

And Soon the Darkness on DVDAnd Soon the Darkness (DVD)
Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie’s (Odette Yustman) vacation to an exotic village in Argentina is a perfect getaway to bask in the sun, shop and flirt with the handsome locals.  After a long night of bar-hopping, the girls get into an argument and Stephanie heads out alone in the morning to cool off.  But when she returns, Ellie has disappeared.  Stephanie fears the worst and turns to the police for help.   Skeptical of the sheriff’s competency, she enlists help from Michael (Karl Urban), an American ex-pat staying at their hotel.  Together they go on a frantic search for Ellie, but Stephanie soon realizes that trusting his seemingly good intentions may drag her farther from the truth.

This film is pretty standard of the “tourist kidnapped in a foreign country” genre. You know Ellie is attracting too much attention and pretty soon she’ll end up like the captive girl we saw in the beginning of the movie. We’re made accomplices in the kidnapping as the camera stalks the girls, peering around corners and from behind bushes. Then, we view the crime from the blurry point of view of the victim, but this does not last nearly as long as the predator’s viewpoint. The addition of Urban’s character adds a little twist in that Stephanie is not completely alone in her search. The ending did not really achieve the climax expected after the relatively slow build, but it remains conclusive and satisfying.

Special features include: commentary by director Marcos Efron, editor Todd Miller and director of photography Gabriel Beristain; deleted scenes; and the director’s video diary featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Archer: Season 1 on DVDArcher: Season One (DVD)
The show is set at the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS), a spy agency where espionage and global crises are merely opportunities for its highly trained employees to confuse, undermine, betray and royally screw each other. Suave secret agent Sterling Archer is the world’s most dangerous spy, but political intrigue and global crises are nothing compared to the sexual tension and human resources crises at the intelligence agency. Archer must deal with his overbearing, oversexed mother – who  is also his boss – and his femme fatale ex-girlfriend who seems to be sleeping with everyone but him.

Archer is a hilarious, animated, action parody for adults. Archer is an insensitive, self-centred womanizer, which are also the qualities that make him so much fun to watch. His relationship with his mother is disturbing, but she alone can also be quite troubling. In addition, his renewed passion for ex-girlfriend and fellow secret agent Lana Kane keeps getting him shot. In the meantime, other office employees’ exploits are sprinkled throughout each episode, including a sex-starved HR manager, Lana’s current “guy who she spends time with” and a secretary who changes her name in nearly every episode. There is no bad to be said about this series.

Special features include: the original unaired pilot episode, which replaces the current Archer with a dinosaur; a making-of featurette; deleted scenes; and the pilot episodes of The League and Louie.  (Fox Home Entertainment)

Fubar 2 on DVDFubar II (DVD)
The story starts in Calgary where Terry (David Lawrence) and Dean (Paul Spence) are tired of trying to give’r while barely scraping by, when their old buddy and party leader, Tron (Andrew Sparacino) hooks them up with jobs in Fort McMurray. Before long they are rolling in dough and good times. Flush with money and confidence, Terry starts dating Trish (Terra Hazelton), a local waitress, and things get serious in a hurry. Meanwhile, Dean is playing up the part of the cancer survivor and upon hearing about the glories of workers’ compensation, purposely bungs up his leg in an attempt to qualify. When Terry moves in with Trish, Dean does his best to save his buddy from swapping the banger life for domestic captivity.

If you enjoyed the first one, you can’t miss with the sequel because it’s just the continued odyssey of the same two characters. It drags a little in the middle and takes on a sadder tone than Fubar, but it remains true to the original. None of the actors have lost a beat in portraying their white trash counterparts and the new characters join seamlessly into the absurd mix. The boys deliver on all counts and really give’r this second time around.

Special features include: commentary by director Michael Dowse, cinematographer Bobby Shore, editor Reginald Harkema and a producer; commentary with Terry and Dean; deleted scenes; “Terry and Deaner on Vacation”; and a Terry and Dean coaster. (Alliance Films)

Resident Evil: Afterlife on Blu-rayResident Evil: Afterlife (Blu-ray)
In a world ravaged by a virus infection, turning its victims into the undead, Alice (Milla Jovovich) continues on her journey to find survivors and lead them to safety. Her deadly battle with the Umbrella Corporation reaches new heights, but Alice gets some unexpected help from an old friend. A new lead that promises a safe haven from the undead takes them to Los Angeles, but when they arrive the city is overrun by thousands of undead  and Alice and her comrades are about to step into a deadly trap.

This chapter of the Resident Evil series lives up to the entertaining bar set by its predecessors. Alice is as deadly as ever and they don’t dwell too long on her clones, which means the concept remains interesting while it’s featured in the picture. The film is packed with action and enough suspense to keep it exciting. It also contains the expected scenes that mimic video game battles, but even though they take you out of the story they are still cool. Jovovich embodies this character and continues to deliver an impressive performance four films later. The return of director Paul W.S. Anderson to the helm is evident in its similar style to the original 2002 release.

Special features include: filmmaker commentary; eight deleted scenes; “Undead Vision” picture- in-picture video; “Back Under the Umbrella: Directing Afterlife”; “Band of Survivors: Casting Afterlife”; “Undead Dimension: Resident Evil in 3D”; “Fighting Back: The Action of Afterlife”; “Vision of the Apocalypse: The Design of Afterlife”; “New Blood: The Undead of Afterlife”; “Pawning the Undead: Gamers of the Afterlife” outtakes; and a sneak peek of Resident Evil: Damnation. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)


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