This week’s releases include: a supernatural science experiment; a wedding that tries the patience of everyone involved; a children’s mystery in the same vein as Nancy Drew; a not so funny version of Groundhog Day; and the tale of a superhero that lacks any super powers.

Ghost from the Machine on DVDGhost from the Machine (DVD)
After his parents die unexpectedly, a young man named Cody (Sasha Andreev) plunges himself into the murky science of the supernatural, inventing a machine he intends to be a conduit to “the other side.” In his pursuit to build the device, he befriends Tom (Matthew Feeney), an affable electrical engineer, who has his own tale of love and loss. Cody eventually reaches an unintended level of success that not only threatens his safety, but also the well-being of Tom and his younger brother James (Max Hauser).

Director Matt Osterman’s feature debut is reminiscent of Primer in its filmmaking simplicity and multifaceted subject matter. The narrative gets to a very slow start as Cody tinkers with his device, which acts as a constant distraction and threatens his ability to be a fit guardian for James. However, it soon becomes evident that he’s succeeded in his goal – for better or worse. It’s at this time the film really captures the audience’s interest and holds it until the very end. Attempting to contact the dead has been a preoccupation of some of history’s smartest and most revered men; Osterman explores the consequences of being victorious in this pursuit. The results are wholly creepy and will cause viewers to become more anxious by the minute.

Special features include: “Ghost Hunt” and “Script to Screen” featurettes. (Alliance Films)

Jumping the Broom on blu-rayJumping the Broom (Blu-ray)
Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) and Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso) may be the perfect couple, but their families are a perfect recipe for disaster. Claudine (Angela Bassett) has an upper-crust sensibility that matches her family’s Martha’s Vineyard estate, where Jason’s straight-out-of-Brooklyn mom, Pam (Loretta Devine), seems utterly out of place. When the families gather for Jason and Sabrina’s wedding, it becomes clear each side has its traditions and secrets.

This film begins as the standard clash of different worlds with both families looking down on the other’s mannerisms and ways of life. However, rather than stick to the superficial disagreements that compose good comedy, the filmmakers opt to incorporate some very serious issues and transgressions that are then glossed over with some easy, insufficient solutions to ensure the wedding still takes place as scheduled. Therefore, the second half of the film alienates the audience with its unbelievable responses to difficult situations.

Special features include: director Salim Akil and cast commentary; a behind-the-scenes featurette; and “Honoring the Tradition of Jumping the Broom.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl on blu-rayKitt Kittredge: An American Girl (Blu-ray & DVD combo pack)
Based on the popular American Girl series of books and dolls, Kit (Abigail Breslin) is a nine-year-old aspiring reporter in Depression-era Cincinnati. To stave off the bank collectors, Kit’s father (Chris O’Donnell) relocates for work while she and her mom (Julia Ormond) take in borders. Their houseguests include a travelling magician (Stanley Tucci), a vivacious dance instructor (Jane Krakowski), a madcap mobile librarian (Joan Cusack), as well as Kit’s classmate Sterling (Zach Mills) and his mother (Glenne Headly). Unable to turn away strays, they also allow two young hobos, Will (Max Thieriot) and Countee (Willow Smith), to do odd jobs in exchange for food. A sudden rash of robberies has everyone pointing fingers at Kit’s new friends leaving her to prove their innocence.

Breslin is wonderful as the bright and inquisitive Kit. Having first captured moviegoers’ hearts in Little Miss Sunshine, here she achieves just the right balance of sweet and aggressive that her ambition and convictions require. Although she treads the line of know-it-all, which bright-eyed children tend to do, she never crosses over to annoying. The adults in the film turn themselves over to the story’s charm. Cusack, in particular, is fantastic as the zany librarian, staying just under the threshold of too over-the-top. Most of the adults are eventually reduced to bumbling caricatures but nothing less could be expected of a film aimed at kids. It’s refreshing to see a film for young girls that places less value on material possessions and impossible notions of romance and focuses on the importance of friends, family and making the best of life’s hardships.

There are no special features. (Alliance Films)

Repeaters on DVDRepeaters (DVD)
Three twenty-somethings find themselves in an impossible time labyrinth, where each day they awaken to is the same terrifying day as the preceding one. Sonia (Amanda Crew), Kyle (Dustin Milligan) and Mike (Richard de Klerk) are three cynical outsiders fed up with the perceived injustices that have been inflicted upon them in their short lives. Forced into rehab, the trio is given a day pass to complete step nine of their recovery – to make amends with those they have wronged in the past. The following morning the group notices the day is passing with an eerie repetitiveness – the day’s events play out exactly like the previous day.

While Bill Murray showed audiences the merriment that could be had when given the opportunity to relive the same day, Canadian director Carl Bessai ventures to the other end of the spectrum to illustrate what happens when others decide to take “full advantage” of their new circumstances. The young actors convincingly display a range of emotions from manic to scared to sincere. As the narrative progresses and their actions become more severe, one begins to wonder what happens when time finally becomes linear again. The film’s conclusion is far from the conventional Hollywood ending, but it is still quite satisfactory.

There are no special features. (Alliance Films)

Super on blu-raySuper (Blu-ray)
When loser Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson) sees his ex-addict wife (Liv Tyler) willingly snatched by a seductive drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), he finds himself unable to cope. Instead, Frank decides to fight back under the guise of a DIY superhero called Crimson Bolt. To get his wife back, he must first fight his way up the criminal ranks. He begins by taking a monkey wrench to the heads of a couple who cut in line at the movies. When Crimson Bolt starts to make headlines, a young woman from the local comic book store (Ellen Page) joins in on the fun as his sexually charged sidekick, Boltie.

At the start of the film, when the character discusses his two perfect moments “which offset a life of pain, humiliation and rejection,” Wilson is believable as that guy who’s been pushed around a lot, but is still capable of being intimidating. This is a side of Page we haven’t seen before; she’s manic, unstable and highly aggressive. Her likeability is somewhat reduced, but her character is attention-grabbing. In addition, Nathan Fillion flawlessly plays the “The Holy Avenger,” who inspires Frank’s vigilante path. The animation sequence that plays in the beginning of the film is very entertaining; even though it looks a little rough or unpolished, that’s entirely appropriate since the same can be said about the movie’s protagonist. However, colourful wordart such as “Blam” and “Pow” that fills the screen is very sporadic in the first half of the film, then unexpectedly consecutive near the end. To say the ending is unconventional is somewhat of an understatement, but it does tie up any loose ends.

Special features are unavailable. (Entertainment One)


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