This week’s releases include: supernatural creatures trying to co-exist; a new imagining of King Arthur; the creation of “The Chin”; a hockey romance; a mysterious monster invasion; a funny, complicated burglary; the inspiration for The Departed; a mature love story; a classic cartoon set; and an Asian archeologist’s adventure.

Being Human - Season 1 on DVDBeing Human – The Complete First Season (DVD)
Nobody ever said being human was easy. But for three 20-something roommates – vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer), ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath) and a werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) – is it even possible? While these outsiders discover that there are fates even worse than death, they also realize that there’s more to life (and the afterlife) than most “normal” humans could ever imagine.

Special features include: a making-of featurette; “What would you choose?” featurette; interviews with the cast; and the Being Human panel at San Diego Comic-Con. (Alliance Films)

Camelot on blu-rayCamelot – The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
In the wake of King Uther’s sudden death, the sorcerer Merlin (Joseph Fiennes) has visions of a dark future and installs the young and impetuous Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower), Uther’s unknown son and heir. But Arthur’s half sister Morgan (Eva Green) will fight him to the bitter end to claim the crown. Faced with the challenge of uniting a kingdom broken by war and steeped in deception, Arthur will be tested beyond imagination.

This is a tale of King Arthur you likely haven’t heard before. It’s not much edgier, though there is quite a bit of female nudity. However, it creates new conflicts and dilemmas for the heir, as well as rewrites the epic origins of Excalibur. The cast is solid, with numerous recognizable faces and adequate portrayals. Fiennes makes his mark as Merlin, while Green turns out a wicked performance. Bower appears too frail to be the legendary king, though his circle of champions are quite worthy of their roles. The 10-episode series drags here and there, but it maintains an overall good pace; though the conclusion felt rushed and inappropriate.

Special features include: a behind-the-scenes featurette; “The characters of Camelot”; scene breakdowns; bloopers; and trailers. (Phase 4 Films)

Evil Dead 2 on blu-rayEvil Dead 2 (Blu-ray & DVD combo pack)
After a relaxing cabin vacation doesn’t go as planned, Ash (Bruce Campbell) is left with three dead friends, an undead girlfriend and an angry evil spirit on the loose. As nightfall approaches, Ash must prepare to again battle the legions of the damned if he wants to make it to dawn.

This sequel is as much fun as the first film, reuniting the original team of Campbell, director Sam Raimi, and his brother Ted Raimi. The addition of makeup effects artist Greg Nicotero simply completes the Deadite team. In this chapter of the series, Ash adopts the iconic chainsaw-hand he holds up triumphantly in most of the promotional material, as well as miniature evil Ash(s) that attack the real McCoy Gulliver’s Travels-style. This 25th anniversary high-def edition of the film looks fantastic, enhancing the groovy gore and providing the cult hero with a much deserved upgrade.

Special features include: commentary by writer/director Sam Raimi, Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel and special makeup effects artist Greg Nicotero; “Dead by Dawn,” in which the filmmakers reflect on the long journey this sequel took to reach the silver screen; interviews with the cast; “Madman Sam,” in which cast and crew reflect on working with Raimi; a look at the film’s makeup effects and stop-animation ; a look at the cinematography and production design; an examination of the film’s editing and original release; a series of production videos taken on the set of the film; an all new journey back to the original shooting location; still galleries; and trailers. (Alliance Films)

Face Off on blu-rayFace Off (Blu-ray & DVD combo pack)
Billy Duke (Art Hindle) comes to Toronto from a small Ontario town to play for the Maple Leafs and coach Fred Wares (John Vernon). His aggressive play shakes up both the league and local folk rocker Sherrie Lee Nelson (Trudy Young), who digs Duke off the ice but can’t handle his violent profession.

This 40-year-old picture is Canada’s version of 1970’s Love Story. Only Hindle’s second feature performance, he displays a talent for drama and roughness as well as impressive skating skills. The film is representative of the era, juxtaposing hippie ideals with an inherently aggressive athletic personality. In addition to being a sappy romance, the film is also a historical document for hockey fans as it features vintage footage of legendary players, including Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe.

Special features include: commentary by Hindle, Young and producer Harv Sherman; SCTV parody; and original theatrical trailer. (Video Services Corp.)

Fading of the Cries on DVDFading of the Cries (DVD)
When a malevolent sorcerer (Brad Dourif) puts a curse on a small town and turns the inhabitants into crazed zombie-like creatures, one girl holds the secret to saving everyone. Teenager, Sarah (Hallee Hirsh), is thrown into a waking nightmare when she is attacked by the demons infecting the town. She narrowly escapes when she is rescued by Jacob (Jordan Matthews), a mysterious young man armed with a deadly sword and the skills to use it. Continually pursued, they soon realize that they are each keeping secrets that may be the cause of their plight.

First, the parallel storylines are so drastically different that one highlights the other’s flaws. The “origin” tale is plagued by a terrible voiceover narrative that repeatedly disrupts the film’s flow. The “present” is a combination of action scenes and brooding that’s reminiscent of video game sequences, which is only reinforced by the unexplained and random appearances of enemies.

Special features include: a behind the scenes featurette. (Entertainment One)

Flypaper on blu-rayFlypaper (Blu-ray)
A man (Patrick Dempsey) caught in the middle of two simultaneous robberies at the same bank desperately tries to protect the teller (Ashley Judd) on whom he’s developed a crush.

This is a bank robbery scenario I don’t think I’ve seen before: two sets of thieves attempting to steal from the same bank, which is also being used as the setting of a major criminal cover-up. The whole scenario is made even more ridiculous as a hostage with OCD pulls together the pieces of the mystery. But, luckily, the film does all of this in a skilled, comedic fashion. Most of the actors are veterans of comic timing and know how to deliver a line. Tim Blake Nelson and Pruitt Taylor Vince are especially funny as “Peanut Butter” and “Jelly”, while Mekhi Phifer plays the amusingly annoyed professional bank robber.

Special features include: soundbites. (Entertainment One)

Infernal Affairs on blu-rayInfernal Affairs (Blu-ray & DVD combo pack)
Chan Wing Yan (Tony Leung, Hero) is a hard-nosed veteran cop sent undercover to infiltrate the notorious Triad crime ring. An expert at bringing down violent syndicates, Chan thinks it’s going to be a routine mission. What he’s not prepared for is the discovery that the Triad’s boss (Eric Tsang) has planted a mole (Andy Lau) in the police department and now Chan is being hunted down. This film inspired Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Special features include: a making- of featurette; a behind-the-scenes featurette; alternate ending; and theatrical trailers. (Alliance Films)

Larry Crowne on DVDLarry Crowne (DVD)
When he suddenly finds himself without his long-standing blue-collar job, Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) enrolls at his local college to start over. There, he becomes part of an eclectic community of students and develops a crush on his teacher (Julia Roberts). Now this simple guy will discover that when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might find your reason to live.

Special features include: deleted scenes; a making-of featurette; and “Fun on set” featurette. (Alliance Films)

Looney Tunes - Volume 1 on blu-rayLooney Tunes Platinum Collection – Volume One (Blu-ray)
Fifty of some of the greatest Looney Tunes cartoons are together for the first time on blu-ray. This collection is derived from the original negatives and the shorts have been digitally restored.

The Looney Tunes are a fount of childhood memories for both our generation and our parents’ – and maybe even those after us if they continue to air the well aged reruns. Everyone has their favourite character(s) and most memorable episodes. But in addition to being outlandishly violent, many of the cartoons were also a lesson in culture. It was Chuck Jones who first exposed young minds to Sweeney Todd, Beethoven and Salvador Dali – and for this I’m forever grateful.

Special features include: a 52-page book with rare images and cartoon guide by historian Jerry Beck; featurettes; commentaries; and documentaries. (Warner Home Entertainment)

The Treasure Hunter on DVDThe Treasure Hunter (DVD)
A chivalrous young man (Jay Chou) is chosen by the keepers to guard an ancient map leading to secret treasures. He is forced to release the map in order to protect his mentor’s beautiful daughter, Lan Ting (Chilling Lin). Aided by Hua Ding Bang (Daoming Chen), a famous archaeologist, and Lan Ting, he will embark on a dangerous journey in a fight to recover the lost map.

The subpar acting and laughable dialogue mixed with adequate fight scenes and flat image are reminiscent of an extended episode of Power Rangers. Nonetheless, Chou’s heroics and sensational martial arts antics are amusing in an otherwise less-than-mediocre movie.

Special features include: theatrical trailer. (Entertainment One)

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