This week’s releases include: a ’90s trendsetter; a female-led action flick; a slow building horror movie; dunno; second chapter in alien comedy; an all-star cast celebrates a holiday; and ordinary kids fight for their freedom.

Clueless on Blu-rayClueless (Blu-ray)
Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is a beautiful and self-absorbed high school student who spends her days focused on assembling the ideal fashion ensemble, talking her way out of bad grades and searching for the perfect boyfriend.  What Cher discovers is that popularity only gets you so far, looks can be deceiving and love is sometimes found where you least expect it.

In 1995, Amy Heckerling brought the definitive Valley girl to the big screen. Phrases, such as “As if” and “Whatever,” were suddenly staples of a teenager’s vocabulary. It made Silverstone a teen star and was the first time most women were charmed by Paul Rudd. Cher’s computerized, incredibly stocked closet was something to envy and admire, and Tai’s spunky spirit is a beautiful way to remember Brittany Murphy. Being able to recite lines, or even sections, from the picture was almost a given in the late ’90s. And the soundtrack was an adolescent anthem of high energy indie rock, including The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and No Doubt.

Special features include: “Clue Or False Trivia Game”; “The Class of ‘95”; “Creative Writing “; “Fashion 101”; “Language Arts”; “’Suck ‘N Blow’—A Tutorial”; “Driver’s Ed”; “We’re History”; two original theatrical trailers. (Paramount Home Media)

Haywire on Blu-rayHaywire (Blu-ray or DVD)
Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is a black-ops agent for a government security contractor. After freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, Mallory is double-crossed and left for dead – by someone in her own agency. Suddenly the target of assassins who know her every move, Mallory unleashes the fury of her fighting skills to uncover the truth and turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.

Recent years have brought several films featuring tough, female protagonists, but the vicious fight scenes in this film show former MMA fighter Carano could match, and maybe even take, the best of them (at least physically). The power and brutality of the fights between Mallory and her male opponents are astounding as they barely appear (or sound) staged. No mercy is shown on either side as the men, aware and wary of her abilities, often try to steal the advantage by employing the element of surprise. Though the leading lady may be unfamiliar, most of the men are quite recognizable, such as Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton and Michael Fassbender. Each of them play an important, though relatively small, role in the narrative and half of them take on Carano one-on-one.

Special features include: “Gina Carano in Training”; “The Men of Haywire”; and “The Characters of Haywire.” (Alliance Films)

The Innkeepers on Blu-rayThe Innkeepers (Blu-ray)
After over one hundred years of service, The Yankee Pedlar Inn is shutting its doors for good. The last remaining employees – Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) – are determined to uncover proof of what many believe to be one of New England’s most haunted hotels. As the Inn’s final days draw near, odd guests check in as the pair of minimum wage “ghost hunters” begin to experience strange and alarming events that may ultimately cause them to be mere footnotes in the hotel’s long unexplained history.

The jump-scare is a standard element of haunting movies. When done well, it will have audiences sitting tensely, awaiting the next moment that makes their heart skip a beat. This film isn’t so good as to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time, but it does create good atmosphere leading to the occasional sudden fright. The ghost film tends to be a slow burn, eventually leading to a ghastly discovery. But the recent resurgence of Kelly McGillis is a sight to behold in itself. The Top Gun actress also appeared in the horror thriller Stake Land.

Special features include: commentary by writer/director/editor Ti West, producers Peter Phok and Larry Fessenden, and 2nd unit director/sound designer Graham Reznik; commentary by West and actors Sara Paxton and Pat Healy; and behind-the-scenes featurette. (Entertainment One)

Jeremiah Johnson on Blu-rayJeremiah Johnson (Blu-ray)
Soured by civilization, Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford) sets out in the mid-1800s to be a mountain man, seeking solitude in a wilderness whose purity he never questioned. His first Rocky Mountain winter almost kills him. Starving and nearly frozen, he finds refuge with a wily old trapper (Will Geer) whose survival teaching includes going eyeball to eyeball with a grizzly.

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

Men in Black 2 on Blu-rayMen in Black 2 (Blu-ray)
A team (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones) of black suited, Ray-ban sporting, top-secret agents in the unofficial government agency, Division 6, have a mission: to monitor extra terrestrial activity on Earth, or as they put it “protecting the Earth from the scum of the universe.”

Special features include: commentary by director Barry Sonnenfeld; alternate ending; five behind-the-scenes featurettes; creature featurettes; scene deconstructions; music video; and blooper reel. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

New Year's Eve on Blu-rayNew Year’s Eve (Blu-ray)
An ensemble cast celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts, in intertwining stories told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year.

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

Tomorrow When the War Began on Blu-rayTomorrow, When the War Began (DVD & Blu-ray combo pack)
Seventeen-year-old Ellie Linton (Caitlin Stasey) and her friends live in the quiet coastal town of Wirrawee. Before school starts, she and her friends head out for one last adventure via a week camping adventure in Hell, a secluded paradise with a deceptive name. Ellie and best mates pass their time basking in the sun, and wading in a picturesque waterfall. But the fun comes to a sudden end when the group notices a fleet of unidentified jets cutting through the night sky. Shaken, they return home to discover that the local showgrounds have been transformed into a makeshift prison camp, and that everyone they know has been imprisoned by an invading military. With little other choice, the teens decide to strike back against the occupiers with everything they’ve got.

This film is about a group of teens on the brink of adulthood who are forced to grow up very suddenly. However they don’t become skilled commandos overnight. They still get scared and make various mistakes, but they choose to take a stand. And like many in insurmountable situations, they turn to guerrilla tactics to get results. The reason for the unexpected attack and occupation, which is not revealed until late in the picture, is intriguing and in no way far-fetched, though one has to wonder about the futility if the defending forces. Ellie is a good protagonist, experiencing a variety of emotions and displaying inspiring strength. In addition, the situations, obstacles and dilemmas they face are dealt with relatively realistically. It’s an adaptation of John Marsden’s best-selling novel.

Special features include: commentary by writer/director Stuart Beattie; commentary by producers Andrew Mason and Michael Boughen; a making-of featurette; on the set with the cast; behind-the-scenes featurette; deleted scenes and alternate ending; outtakes; world premiere with cast and crew; fan reactions; TV commercials; John Marsden interview; and webisodes. (Entertainment One)

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