This week’s new releases include: a short but hot relationship; animals’ lesson in sharing; an overt psychopath; a game of emotion; extreme office politics; a musical remake; a life-and-death competition; a comedian takes on two opposing roles; a long distance love story; a religious satire; a Scandinavian original; a three-part saga; a medical miracle; a dancer drama; a Hitchcock mystery; an unequal sequel; a question of betrayal; and a Western based in vengeance.

9 1/2 Weeks on Blu-ray9 ½ Weeks (Blu-ray)
A man. A Woman. And an attraction that became an obsession. Elizabeth (Kim Basinger) is a Soho gallery worker, romantically uninvolved since a painful divorce. John (Mickey Rourke) is a wealthy commodities broker, emotionally alone no matter who he’s with. A chance meeting draws them into each other’s worlds. Obsession takes them further into a mutual world of eroticism and emotional awakenings.

It may be hard to believe of a movie starring Rourke, but this is one of the sexiest releases to ever hit theatres. He didn’t always look like a punching bag, and the numerous, hot and unconventional sexual encounters made this a selection for a particular kind of date night. Of course, the volatility of such an intense relationship eventually catches up with the characters. This film established Rourke as a leading man and Basinger used her model-like physique to tantalizing effects.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)

Animals United on DVDAnimals United (Blu-ray)
When the African savannah runs dry, Billy, a courageous meerkat, and Socrates, a laid back lion, prepare to go the distance in order to find water. On their journey they cross paths with a rooster named Charles, who tells them of a place where the water still flows. But by the time Charles leads them there, humans have already staked their claim – a local entrepreneur has constructed a dam in order to divert the water to his luxury hotel. Now Billy and Socrates must call in all of their animal friends in order to teach humans a thing or two about sharing the land.

Special features not available. (Alliance Films)

Beneath the Darkness on Blu-rayBeneath the Darkness (Blu-ray)
Ely (Dennis Quaid) is a well-respected mortician in a town where he was once a legendary high school football star. But among the kids he is legendary for a more sinister reason – rumours that his house is haunted. The truth is more evil and much more dangerous. The town leader murdered his wife and her lover when he caught them having an affair, and now has secretly set up house with his wife’s embalmed corpse. The local hero is a flesh-and-blood monster who buries his victims alive, a sociopath who befriends adults and police while openly flaunting his murderous intentions to the teens. He will kill anyone who threatens to expose him or his now-perfect marriage.

The saying goes that “kids will be kids.” But one has to hope most of them are smarter than the kids in this movie, who repeatedly return to the home of a serial killer – just to make sure. Their pleas to the cops seem to leave out the most damning and obvious evidence, most of which would probably be revealed by a proper investigation. Quaid takes his typically high energy, quirky performance and channels it into a twisted, crazy, unremorseful murderer. His victims are portrayed by a group of unknown, good-looking teens who can’t seem to come together to form even one good match for Ely. Taking place over such a short time, the taunting element is lost and the action requires some disturbingly stupid mistakes.

Special features include: a behind-the-scenes featurette and the theatrical trailer. (Entertainment One)

Dangerous Liaisons on Blu-rayDangerous Liaisons (Blu-ray)
The game of conquest is underway. Anything goes when a predatory, wealthy widow (Glenn Close) challenges a notorious rake (John Malkovich) to seduce a beautiful young newlywed (Michelle Pfeiffer). But this time, a cardinal rule will be broken: two players will fall in love – with tragic results.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)

Disclosure on Blu-rayDisclosure (Blu-ray)
Sexual harassment and corporate politics provide the basis for this contemporary drama. A duplicitous female executive (Demi Moore) tries to run her ex-lover (Michael Douglas) out of the company after he rebuffs her sexual advances.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)

Footloose on Blu-rayFootloose (Blu-ray)
Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) is a city kid transplanted to the small town of Bomont where dancing has been outlawed. Ren goes up against Bomont’s reverend (Dennis Quaid) to challenge the ban with the help of the minister’s daughter (Julianne Hough) and in the process reminds the entire town that dancing is more than youthful exuberance — it’s a celebration of life.

Not quite a shot-for-shot remake of the 1984 film, this updated version contains a lot of the same dialogue, most of the same key plot points and a very similar soundtrack. There are some noticeable, but minor, differences such as showing the accident that inspired the “no fun” law; racing with buses instead of tractors (though why a tractor still appears in the scene is a mystery); and the support of more of the adult residents. One of the most enjoyable changes was made to the personalities of Ren’s aunt and uncle, making them more understanding and supportive; the uncle is particularly a source of amusement. Not surprisingly, the dance moves are improved significantly, with Hough even being a former dancer on Dancing with the Stars. However, the choreography seems to have become a higher priority than the ability to act so it often plays thin and the line delivery is not only different, but weaker than it was before.

Special features include: commentary by director Craig Brewer; deleted scenes with optional commentary by Brewer; “Jump Back: Re-Imagining Footloose”; “Everybody Cut: The Stars of Footloose”; “Dancing with the Footloose Stars”; “Footloose” music video by Blake Shelton; “Fake ID” music video by Big & Rich; “Holding Out For A Hero” music video by Ella Mae Bowen; and “Footloose Rap.” (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season on Blu-rayGame of Thrones: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
Summers span decades. Winters can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plots, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; and all the way to the frozen north, where an 800-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords, and honest men will all play the “Game of Thrones.”

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)

Jack and Jill on Blu-rayJack and Jill (Blu-ray)
Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler) has his normal tranquil life turned upside down when his twin sister Jill (also Adam Sandler) arrives for a visit. To make matters worse, his only chance at signing Al Pacino to a commercial deal is if a reluctant Jill agrees to date the eccentric actor.

It’s nothing new for an actor to play opposite himself in a movie, though his counterpart is not usually of the opposite sex. The plight of an annoying sibling is easy to relate to, but Sandler-times-two is somewhat distracting from what is otherwise a simple story. The constant retreat to sight gags and physical comedy is trying and repetitive. It’s made even worse when it’s gross. This is the type of picture one has come to expect from Happy Madison productions, though no one could have predicted Pacino would take the place of Rob Schneider as the token weirdo. Does he really need that money that much?

Special features include: deleted scenes; “Look Who Stopped By”; “Boys Will Be Girls”; “Stomach Ache”; “Don’t Call it A Boat – Royal Caribbean”; and “Laughter is Contagious” blooper reel. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Like Crazy on DVDLike Crazy (DVD)
When a British college student (Felicity Jones) falls for her American classmate (Anton Yelchin), they embark on a passionate and life changing journey only to be separated by circumstances beyond their control. The story explores how the couple faces the real challenges of being together and of being apart.

Though the film begins with a romance, the remainder of the movie is a confused back and forth of love, regret and nostalgia. At such a young age and so far apart, they cling to the intense feelings they experienced with each other while fighting a desire to grow and move on with their lives. The thread binding the characters is so thin, there’s barely a narrative link to tie the two stories together for 90 minutes. Their reunions almost seem insignificant to the separate lives they lead. Jones and Yelchin are adequate in their yearning, and Jennifer Lawrence makes an impression as the “other woman.”

Special features include: commentary by director Drake Doremus, editor Jonathan Alberts and cinematographer John Guleserian; and deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail on Blu-rayMonty Python and the Holy Grail (Blu-ray)
Follow King Arthur and his knights in their search for the Holy Grail as they encounter the Black Knight, the Killer Rabbit, The Knights Who Say ‘Ni’! and the Black Beast of Aaaargh!

Special features include: commentary by Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones; commentary by John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin; “The Holy Book of Days” second screen experience; “Lost Animations” with introduction by Terry Gilliam; outtakes and extended scenes with introduction by Terry Jones; “Quest for the Holy Grail Locations” with Michael Palin & Terry Jones; “Lego Knights: The Knights of the Round Table in Lego”; special Japanese version; “How To Use Your Coconuts (an educational film)”; “BBC Film Night on location”; three songs to sing-along; and cast directory photo gallery. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Reykjavik to Rotterdam on DVDReykjavik to Rotterdam (Blu-ray)
Christopher (Baltasar Kormákur) is like a fish on dry land after being fired from a freight liner. He doesn’t stand much chance of being rehired, having been caught in the act of illegal alcohol trafficking. Because alcohol is so expensive in Iceland, Christopher and his mates simply couldn’t resist earning an extra buck by smuggling vodka each time they sailed in. Faced with serious money problems, Christopher manages with the help of a friend to get his old job back. He is tempted to do one last gig, determined to get all his problems behind him, once and for all.

The plot summary may sound familiar because the American remake, Contraband starring Mark Wahlberg and Ben Foster, was released in theatres in January. Surprisingly, that film did a more engaging and entertaining job of telling this story. As is usually the case, the main plot points remained intact but they are not given enough dramatic impact. Though they are racing against a deadline and risking jail, the events occur without what seems major incidence.

There are no special features. (Entertainment One)

Robot Chicken: Star Wars III on blu-rayRobot Chicken Star Wars: 1-3 (DVD)
The most entertaining and concise summary of the three epic sci-fi pictures is being released in a box set. Follow the paths of various characters and laugh as they say all the things you only thought while watching the movie.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)

The Skin I Live In on Blu-rayThe Skin I Live In (Blu-ray)
Ever since his wife was burned in a car crash, Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), an eminent plastic surgeon, has been interested in creating a new skin with which he could have saved her. After twelve years, he manages to cultivate a skin that is a real shield against every assault. In addition to years of study and experimentation, Robert needed three more things: no scruples, an accomplice and a human guinea pig. Scruples were never a problem. Marilia, the woman who looked after him from the day he was born, is his most faithful accomplice. And as for the human guinea pig …

Special features include: a seven-part making-of featurette; “An Evening with Director Pedro Almodóvar” Q&A; and “On The Red Carpet: New York Premiere.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Striptease on Blu-rayStriptease: Unrated Version (Blu-ray)
The pulsating, steamy world of gentlemen’s clubs and the strippers and patrons who inhabit the get skewered in this lively film starring Demi Moore.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)

To Catch a Thief on Blu-rayTo Catch a Thief (Blu-ray)
John Robie (Cary Grant) is a reformed jewel thief who was once known as “The Cat.” Robie is suspected of a new rash of gem thefts in the luxury hotels of the French Riviera, and he must set out to clear himself. Meeting pampered heiress Frances (Grace Kelly), he sees a chance to bait the mysterious thief with her mother’s (Jessie Royce Landis) fabulous jewels. His plan backfires, however, but Frances, who believes him guilty, proves her love by helping him escape. In a spine-tingling climax, the real criminal is exposed.

Director Alfred Hitchcock takes on a sexy mystery with two of the best looking leading actors in Hollywood in the beautiful French Riviera. This picture is pure eye candy, from the stunning landscapes viewed from helicopter to the gorgeous costumes of Kelly (though Grant is a little too tanned, even for a man of leisure). The formulaic plot devices mean it’s not impossible to figure out who the culprit is early on, but there is no yearning for lost time after watching this film. It’s still masterful, brought to life by magnificent performances. It’s easy to see why Kelly was Hitchcock’s irreplaceable muse.

Special features include: commentary by Dr. Drew Casper, Hitchcock Film Historian; “A Night with the Hitchcocks”; “Unacceptable Under the Code: Film Censorship in America”; “Writing and Casting To Catch A Thief”; a making-of featurette; “Behind the Gates: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly”; “Alfred Hitchcock and To Catch A Thief: An Appreciation”’; “Edith Head: The Paramount Years”; “If You Love To Catch A Thief, You’ll Love this Interactive Travelogue”; four galleries; and theatrical trailer. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Tooth Fairy 2 on DVDTooth Fairy 2 (DVD)
Larry Guthrie (Larry the Cable Guy) is a fun-loving dreamer with a serious mission: win back the love of his life before she makes a terrible mistake and marries the wrong man. In his attempt to get back on his long lost love’s good side, Larry visits the school where she works and make’s a horrible mistake – he accidentally tells a child the Tooth Fairy isn’t real. Crushing the child’s dreams sets off a chain of events that are far more than Larry bargained for including being “sentenced” to become a Tooth Fairy or face having his memories erased for good. Larry must prove Tooth Fairies really do exist and collect 20 teeth in 20 days.

Special features include: “Why Do I Lose My Baby Teeth?”; “Return to Fairyland – Making Tooth Fairy 2”; “Larry the Hairy Fairy”; “Tooth Fairy 2 introduces – Crusher the Pig”; and “A Memory to Remember.” (Fox Home Entertainment)

The Town Collector's Edition - Blu-rayThe Town – Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) is the leader of a Boston bank robber gang, but he’s not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. When Doug falls into a passionate romance with a bank manager (Rebecca Hall) briefly taken hostage during their last heist, he decides he wants out of the life and out of the town. As the Feds close in and the crew questions his loyalty, he has one of two choices: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)

Wyatt Earp's Revenge on DVDWyatt Earp’s Revenge (DVD)
Based on the true story of the legendary lawman, Wyatt Earp (Val Kilmer) recounts how he brought together the ‘Best of the West’ to avenge the vicious murder of his beloved Dora. Joined by the famed Bat Masterson, Charlie Bassett, Bill Tilghman and Doc Holliday, Earp rides after the Kenedy brothers, who are on a murder spree that spans from Dodge City to Mexico. Protected by their powerful father, the ruthless brothers know that the law won’t touch them – but they gravely underestimated Earp and his posse.

Kilmer is not unfamiliar with the genre, having portrayed Doc Holliday in 1993’s Tombstone. But this story takes place well before that one, so he leaves the gun slinging to the younger men and instead takes on the iconic role of an older Wyatt Earp. Unfortunately the narrative takes no risks, making it predictable and consequently less enjoyable.  The villain is brutal to everyone he encounters, while the lawmen do whatever is necessary to catch their man. There are few real plot developments, leaving the narrative to clunk forward through dull desert tracking and the occasional shootout.

Special features include: “Riding Along With Wyatt Earp” featurette. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)


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