This week’s releases include: woolly vengeance; an old school action flick; an over-the-top family; a biopic; an amusing story of an unlucky guy; a sexy anthology; a memorable musical; revisiting a classic science fiction franchise; a multifaceted coming-of-age story; a flamboyant rock ‘n’ roll picture; and a life awakening.

Black Sheep on blu-rayBlack Sheep (Blu-ray)
When sheep-aphobic Henry returns to sell his share of the family farm, he finds his brother has been genetically altering the animals. The resulting monsters go on a murderous rampage, and it’s up to Henry to stop them.

This is a hilarious, grotesque and incredibly fun picture about a herd of sheep’s revenge on their perverse master. The creature effects by Peter Jackson’s WETA workshop go a long way in making this movie an amusing joyride from start to finish. The New Zealand horror comedy is a must-see for genre fans, but the squeamish or easily offended should consider themselves warned – this movie is bloody and contains explicit scenes of violence and violations.

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

The Expendables on blu-rayThe Expendables (Blu-ray & DVD combo pack)
They are the Expendables: leader and mastermind Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), former SAS blade expert Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), hand-to-hand combat specialist Yin Yang (Jet Li), long barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Randy Couture), and precision sniper Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren). Living life in the fringes of the law, these hardened, highly skilled mercenaries take on what appears to be a routine assignment: a covert, CIA-funded operation to infiltrate the South American country of Vilena and overthrow its ruthless dictator General Garza (David Zayas). But when their job is revealed to be a suicide mission, the men are faced with a deadly choice – one that might redeem their souls or destroy their brotherhood forever.

This film epitomizes all that is enjoyable about action movies. The dialogue is bad and predictable, often delivered with awkward pauses. The jokes are fairly lame, save for the occasional good insult. The action on the other hand is expectedly outstanding. The physicality of these actors cannot be denied, bringing fans back to a time when the performers’ real sweat and brute strength graced the screen. The explosions and mass destruction are executed on an epic scale. The final battle is awe-inspiring with countless bombs exploding successively and debris and buildings falling everywhere. As veterans of the action genre, these guys definitely know what they are doing; they each know and understand their role as their own style of tough guy.

Special features not available. (Alliance Films)

Family Guy vol 9 on DVDFamily Guy – Volume 9 (DVD)
America’s most dysfunctional family, the Griffins, return with another outrageous, uncensored volume. Follow unconventional dad Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane) as he gets up to plenty of antics with the reluctant help of his caring wife Lois (Alex Borstein), their awkward daughter Meg (Mila Kunis), dorky son Chris (Seth Green), maniacal baby Stewie (MacFarlane) and Brian, the family dog who is both a ladies’ man and a heavy drinker.

This volume contains episodes from seasons eight and nine, including some zany – sometimes disgusting – hilarious situations, including: Peter takes over the Pewterschmidt family business; Meg goes to jail and comes out scarier than ever; a sex change; a parody of And Then There Were None; Brian finally gets a television pilot; an unexpected sexual harassment complaint; and the one in which Brian and Stewie are locked in a vault (you know the one *shudder*). There are definitely a few memorable episodes worth revisiting.

Special features include: commentaries; deleted scenes; uncensored footage; three featurettes; side-by-side animatics; and an episode of The Cleveland Show with a special introduction from Mike Henry. (Fox Home Entertainment)

Gainsbourg on DVDGainsbourg (DVD)
A glimpse at the life of French singer Serge Gainsbourg (Eric Elmosnino), from growing up in 1940s Nazi-occupied Paris through his successful song-writing years in the 1960s to his death in 1991 at the age of 62.

Special features not available. (Entertainment One)

The Life and Times of Tim - Season 2 on DVDThe Life and Times of Tim – The Complete Second Season (DVD)
Everybody makes mistakes, but for Tim – a self-conscious young guy living in New York – just getting out of bed in the morning could be the worst decision he makes all day. No matter the situation, life’s little challenges always manage to demand the most offensive solutions, which wouldn’t be such a problem if he weren’t continually caught red-handed. The Life and Times of Tim follows this everyday working guy from one scandalous crisis to the next.

Special features include: a making-of featurette. (Warner Home Entertainment)

Little Deaths on DVDLittle Deaths (DVD)
Composed of three disturbingly sensual and terrifying short narratives, unified by the twin themes of sex and death.

Special features not available. (Entertainment One)

Meet Me in St. Louis on blu-rayMeet Me in St. Louis (Blu-ray)
St. Louis 1903. The well-off Smith family has four beautiful daughters, including Esther (Judy Garland) and little Tootie (Margaret O’Brien). Seventeen-year old Esther has fallen in love with John, the boy next door who has just moved in. He, however, barely notices her at first. The family is shocked when Mr. Smith reveals that he has been transferred to a nice position in New York, which means that the family has to leave St. Louis just before the start of the St. Louis 1904 World’s Fair.

A classic musical that’s vibrant and entertaining, this high definition, collector’s edition is a beautiful release. The songs are catchy and it carries well without being a big dance number picture. Garland is a lovely girl next door, while O’Brien provides the narrative’s excitement with her antics. The costumes are practical, but still something to admire; and “The Trolley Song” is sure to be hummed long afterwards.

Special features include: commentary by Garland, biographer John Fricke with O’Brien, composer Hugh Martin, screenwriter Irving Brecher and Barbara Freed-Saltzman; introduction by Liza Minnelli; Lux Radio Theater broadcast (audio only); music-only audio tracks; a four-song CD sampler; and a 40-page book. (Warner Home Entertainment)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes on blu-rayRise of the Planet of the Apes (Blu-ray & DVD combo pack)
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a neuroscientist living in San Francisco trying to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s disease by testing on chimpanzees, giving them a human level of intelligence. After a test subject’s baby, Caesar (Andy Serkis), is orphaned, Will decides to raise him at home on his own with his Alzheimer-stricken father (John Lithgow). What begins simply as a continuation of his experiment quickly turns into a problem for Will, as Caesar is taken away from him and forced to live in a primate facility. As Caesar’s intelligence continues to grow, he begins to stake his claim as the leader of his new primate counterparts, which will ultimately lead to an ape uprising.

The idea of going back to the beginning and exploring the source of ape domination had been kicking around for some time. There were important questions to be answered, such as how did they become so intelligent and learn to speak, or what happened to the human race? This film answers those questions in a satisfying way without becoming lost in the CGI or asking for an excessive suspension of disbelief. Serkis’ Caesar is an even greater achievement than Gollum, creating an incredibly convincing and sincere creature. The conclusion is a little hard to fathom as not all the primates are altered, but it’s simple enough to explain away any significant doubts with loose logic.

Special features include: commentary by director Rupert Wyatt; commentary by writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver; deleted scenes; “Pre-vis for The Future”; “Capturing Caesar – Script to Screen”; “Studying the Genius of Andy Serkis”; “Multi-Angle: Rocket Cookie Scene”; “A New Generation of Apes”; “Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries”; “Breaking New Sound Barriers: The Music and Sound Design of Rise of the Planet of the Apes”; ape facts; character concept art gallery; and theatrical trailers. (Fox Home Entertainment)

Tanner Hall on blu-rayTanner Hall (Blu-ray)
As Fernanda (Rooney Mara) enters her senior year at Tanner Hall — a sheltered boarding school in New England — she’s faced with unexpected changes in her group of friends when a childhood acquaintance, the charismatic yet manipulative trouble-maker Victoria (Georgia King), appears. Shy and studious, Fern is usually the voice of reason among her friends — adventurous and sexy Kate (Brie Larsen) and tomboy Lucasta (Amy Ferguson) — but when she begins a complicated friendship with Gio (Tom Everett Scott), an older family friend, she decides it’s finally time to take some risks. Jealous of Fern’s exciting relationship, Victoria begins to sabotage Fern’s plans and plots to publicly humiliate her. Meanwhile, Lucasta struggles with her newfound feelings towards another classmate, and mischievous Kate is too preoccupied with making her teachers nervous to pay much attention to her actual classes.

Unlike your typical boarding school picture, most of this film’s drama occurs outside the confines of their educational institution. We also don’t see much of their traditional learning, putting almost complete focus on their lessons in life. The character of Victoria is a difficult one, as she is obviously a victim of her mother’s ill treatment but also the source of some significant trouble for her friends. Though her final act is supposed to be one of redemption, it seems insignificant in comparison to her other actions, including her initial intent in this last case. Fern’s situation is less convoluted, though it takes her a considerable amount of time to figure it out. None of the girls are really relatable, making it impossible to become wholly engaged in their stories. Moreover, it’s difficult to envision Mara in the edgy lead role of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).

Special features include: commentary by writer/director/producers Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Velvet Goldmine on blu-rayVelvet Goldmine (Blu-ray & DVD combo pack)
It’s been 10 years since glam-rock superstar Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) faked his death and vanished from the spotlight. Now, it’s the job of an investigative reporter (Christian Bale) to uncover the truth behind his disappearance and explore his inspiration (Ewan McGregor).

The film opens by telling viewers to watch the movie at the loudest possible volume – which is wholly valid since the story is accompanied by an awesome soundtrack. As glam rock was all about being gorgeous, the casting of three youthfully pretty guys is appropriate and appreciated; Bale, Rhys Meyers and McGregor portray their roles to a tee, including providing vocals for the songs they perform. In addition, Toni Collette plays Brian’s outrageous, American wife who teeters between supportive and ridiculous.

Special features include: commentary by writer/director Todd Haynes and producer Christine Vachon; and the theatrical trailer. (Alliance Films)

Women on the 6th Floor on DVDWomen on the 6th Floor (DVD)
Paris, 1960. Jean-Louis Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) lives a peaceful yet boring bourgeois existence with his wife (Sandrine Kiberlain), a perfect socialite, his children in a boarding school and his finance office. The family has their world turned upside down when exuberant Spanish maids move into their building’s sixth floor, the servant’s quarters: Teresa, Carmen, Dolorès, Concepciòn (Carmen Maura) and her niece Maria (Natalia Verbeke), who just arrived from Burgos. Jean-Louis unexpectedly bonds with them, especially with Maria.

Special features not available. (Entertainment One)


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