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July 26, 2012
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Out on home video

AMERICAN REUNION

*1/2 (C-)

Directed by Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg

Starring Jason Biggs, Eugene Levy, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Ali Cobrin, Tara Reid, Mean Suvari, Natasha Lyonne, Jennifer Coolidge

Universal//Rated R//Comedy//110 minutes

Available on: DVD, DVD/Blu-ray Combo Pack, On Demand, Digital Download

For those wondering what ever happened to the "American Pie" gang of 1999, this fourquel finds its membership attending their 13th high school reunion. The gathering is an excuse for pals to revisit their carefree youth, repeating the scatological gags and off-color humor that carried the first three films to box office success. Although each of the guys attempts to impress his friends by portraying his life as cool, we learn that none of them are happy. Following the birth of their son two years earlier, Jim (Jason Biggs) and wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) have a sexless marriage. Now a minor celebrity, Oz's (Chris Klein) relationship with a shallow young model leaves him dissatisfied. Defeated Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) allows his wife to schedule their activities lives around "The Housewives of," Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) falsely claims to be a free-spirited, world traveler and Stifler (Seann William Scott), remains a clueless hound-dog. The one bright spot occurs when Jim brings his lonely Dad (Eugene Levy) to Stifler's party and sparks fly between Pops and Stifler's hot-to-trot mom (Jennifer Coolidge). The story works best when placing its characters in humorous situations, but these are few and far between and we realize its mistake in under-utilizing Levy's comic skills. The film's point: we grow older but frequently not wiser, should not also apply to the filmmakers. DVD Features: Feature commentary, Deleted scenes, Gag reel, Jim's Dad, Ouch! My Balls!, The "Reunion" reunion: re-launching the series, English language tracks, Spanish or French subtitles. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Features same plus: film on both DVD and Blu-ray, Digital copy, The "Out of Control" track, Extended scenes, Alternate takes, The best of Biggs: hangin' with Jason B., Lake bake, Dancing with the Oz, American reunion yearbook.

LOCKOUT

(2012)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by James Mather, Stephen St. Leger

Starring Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Vincent Regan, Lennie James, Joseph Gilgun, Tim Plester, Jacky Ido

FilmDistrict//Rated PG-13//Sci-Fi//95 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, On Demand, Digital Download

This mindless, entertaining actioner borrows the premise of "Escape From New York," including that film's heart-stopping action and Kurt Russell's sarcastic attitude. The gambit pays off, establishing Guy Pearce as "Lockout's" wisecracking action icon. It's "Die Harder in Space," based on Luc Besson's concept. In 2079 mankind's progress can be measured via the birth pains of an earth-orbiting super max prison, known as MS-1. This global effort to incarcerate the worst among us in escape-proof conditions will eventually place 500,000 inmates in chemically-induced sleep known as stasis. MS-1 is perfecting its procedures on 500 badasses when the president's do-gooder daughter, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), arrives to investigate rumors that the drugs in use may cause dementia and psychosis. In short order, a prison loon (Joseph Gilgun) kidnaps Emilie and releases all 500 inmates. Back on Earth, U.S. Federal Agent Snow (Guy Pearce) and his partner Mace (Tim Plester) are wrongly convicted of murder and stealing state secrets. His 30-year sentence aboard MS-1 will be commuted provided he rescues the president's daughter. Snow agrees because his partner and friend Mace is aboard MS-1 and knows the location of a metal case containing information Snow hopes will clear their names. Snow carries electronic blueprints to guide him through hidden portals within the ship, but he must confront a whip-smart alpha inmate (Vincent Regan) and his battalion of homicidal maniacs. Relatively empty, the enormous ship presents endless opportunities for games of hide-and-seek. Explosions, battles and chases keep viewers engaged as does Pearce's magnetism and the fine work of Joseph Gilgun and Vincent Regan playing the lead villains. Snow's potential redemption and romance with Emilie are hackneyed plot elements that wear on the action and should have been locked out of "Lockout." DVD or Blu-ray Features: Unrated or theatrical version, Making-Of featurette, Production Design & Special Effects, English, Italian or Spanish language tracks.

MIRROR MIRROR

(2012)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Nathan Lane, Sean Bean

Relativity Media//Rated PG//Fantasy//106 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, On Demand, Digital Download

Julia Roberts portrays an aging queen determined to hang onto her beauty as a means to power. To keep both her rivals and "crinkles" at bay, her highness orders stepdaughter Snow White (Lily Collins), to remain locked away in her room. The queen's beauty treatments employ parakeet poop and bee stings, but fearing these measures are not enough, she resorts to black magic. Cheeky and narcissistic, the queen is a combustible mix with the woman in her mirror, a reflection with an evil sense of humor responsible for conjuring her beauty magic. While the queen is a more interesting version of "The Housewives of New York," Snow White suffers from her lackluster characterization and Collins inexperience. Nathan Lane, appearing as the queen's errand boy Brighton, is a study in witty line delivery and physical comedy. His cowardice compels him to do her bidding, but he flounders, allowing Snow White to escape when the queen orders Brighton to feed her to the beast. The girl is subsequently sheltered by seven tiny thieves played by actual dwarfs. For their stealing sprees, the dwarfs hilariously don special black suits transforming them into tall, acrobatic beings that might have sprung from an impressionist's painting of a circus act. Meanwhile, the young and wealthy Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) is twice attacked and stripped to his skivvys by the dwarfs. The queen's mirror-ego makes him magically fall in puppy love with the money-hungry queen, an inspired form of ardor that involves much licking and fetching. The film's displaced Bollywood coda aside, Roberts and Lane gamely vie for our affections and win it by the hair of their chinny chin chins. DVD Features: Looking through the mirror, Prince and puppies, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles. Blu-ray Features same plus: Deleted scenes, I believe I can dance, Mirror Mirror storybook.

THE HUNTER

(2011)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by Daniel Nettheim

Starring Willem Dafoe, Frances O'Connor, Sam Neill, Morgana Davies, Finn Woodlock, Jacek Koman

Magnolia//Rated R//Drama//102 minutes

Available on: DVD

"The Hunter," briefly released in L.A. and NYC, is that rare sleeper that challenges viewers to reconsider our definition of a good man. Martin (Willem Dafoe) is hired by military biotech company Red Leaf to recover biological samples from the last remaining Tasmanian tiger in Australia. Martin's home base is to be the remote cabin-home of an eco-activist and his family, but soon after arriving Martin learns the activist has been missing for months. Unable to deal with the loss, the activist's wife Lucy (Frances O'Connor), remains in a bedridden stupor. Their children, Sass (Morgana Davies) and her younger brother, Bike (Finn Woodlock), do as they like, but are desperately worried about their parent. Martin initially avoids the grieving family, leaving for 12-day, high-tech hunting quests, returning only to resupply and rest. Over the course of his stays, Martin begins to connect with the kids, and repairs the family's broken generator -- its source of power. The family's one friend is Jack (Sam Neill), a neighbor who regularly appears bearing food along with the pills and booze that paralyze Lucy until Martin sobers her up. For a time, Martin, Lucy and the kids compromise happy until Red Leaf applies pressure to his search and local loggers become evermore hostile towards Martin's claimed wildlife study. Equal parts drama and thriller, Martin can't foresee the consequences of his actions, but this well-written script takes the action to credible and uncomfortable places that prompt the viewer to wonder what we might have done in his place. DVD Features: Commentary with Director Daniel Nettheim and Producer Vincent Sheehan, Making of The Hunter: The Story, The Characters, Tasmania, The Tiger, Deleted Scenes with Commentary, Theatrical Trailer, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles.

FRIENDS WITH KIDS

(2011)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Jennifer Westfeldt

Starring Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Megan Fox, Edward Burns

Lionsgate//Rated R//Comedy//110 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, On Demand, Digital Download

Writer-director Jennifer Westfeldt costars in this comedy that examines the pros and cons having children. Longtime friends Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) both want a child but are troubled by the effect they've seen parenting have on their married friends, Leslie and Alex (Rudolph and O'Dowd), and Missy and Ben (Wiig and Hamm). Since both Julie and Jason remain unattached, the pair decide to have a child together and raise it as platonic co-parents. A son is born and their alternative lifestyle appears to be working until Julie becomes attracted to Kurt (Burns) and Jason falls for head-turning dancer Mary Jane (Fox). During a ski weekend away with their new paramours and married couple friends, Julie and Jason argue about their unusual family structure, and what it will mean to their son. We can see they are meant for one another, but must wait it out while a game cast helps them realize it for themselves. The film's sometimes raunchy humor overreaches, but enough real issues are tackled in a humorous manner, to make this comic drama worthwhile. DVD or Blu-ray Features: Commentary with Westfeldt, Jon Hamm and Director of Photography Will Rexer II, Deleted Scenes with optional audio commentary, Gag Reel, Making of featurette, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles.

SILENT HOUSE

(2012)

* * (C)

Directed by Chris Kentis, Laura Lau

Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens

Universal//Rated R//Horror/88 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, digital download and on demand

It's tough being a young girl in a haunted house movie, and it's especially tough on a young actress when that movie telegraphs is final twist during its opening scenes. Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley, might have a promising career provided she gets cast in better projects. She appears as Sarah (Olsen), helping her father Joe (Trese), and uncle Peter (Stevens), to renovate their vacation home for its sale. The house has no electricity, prompting the trio to use a generator, lanterns and candles for their inside work. Odd noises and other events persuade Sarah there's someone else in the house. The film, an American adaptation of Gustavo Hernandez's Uruguayan horror "La Casa Muda," is edited so that events unfold in real time. The concept dissipates much-needed tension that can't be recovered by numerous close-ups of Olsen's frightened face. DVD and Blu-ray extras include an audio commentary by Kentis and Lau. DVD Features: English language tracks, Spanish subtitles. Blu-ray Features: Digital Copy of film and UltraViolet.

THE THREE STOOGES

(2012)

CR: * * (C)

Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly

Starring Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Sasso, Jane Lynch

Fox//Rated PG//Comedy//92 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, On Demand, Digital Download

Brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly attempt to retool "The Three Stooges" for the 21st century while remaining true to the original group's slapstick humor. As newborns, the three brothers are dropped on the doorstep of an orphanage run by nuns. As adults, the trio stays on as inept maintenance men. When they learn that financial difficulties threaten to close the only home they've ever known, the guys decide it's their turn to come to the rescue. Along the way, Larry, Moe and Curly stumble into a murder plot, become involved with the cast of "Jersey Shore," and are soon starring in their own reality TV series. The Farrellys and their actors duplicate the trio's signature finger-poking, head bonking and nyuk-nyuk-nyuking, but the 90-minute runtime means stuffing the film with too many characters into too much plot. DVD Features: Deleted/Extended Scenes, The Three Stooges Mash-Up, English, French or Spanish language tracks. Blu-ray Features same plus: Digital Copy, A History of The Three Stooges, Behind the Scenes, The Sound Effects, Casting The Three Stooges, Original Screen Test.

ALPHAS: Season 1

(2011)

* * * (B)

Created by Zak Penn, Michael Karnow

Starring David Strathairn, Warren Christie, Laura Mennell, Malik Yoba, Ryan Cartwright, Azita Ghanizada

Universal//Not Rated//Science Fiction//497 minutes

Available on: DVD, On Demand, Digital Download

Like "The 4400" and "Heroes," the SyFy Channel's "Alphas" showcases a group of humans gifted with extraordinary abilities. Led by Dr. Rosen (David Strathairn), these superhuman patients called alphas, must join Rosen in a coordinated effort to stop other alphas from using their super-abilities to evil ends. The show is darker and more interesting than its predecessors due to the psychological and antisocial effects suffered by Rosen's super-patients. The CIA watches Rosen's team closely, and they are all just one step away from being sent to Bingham, a fortified facility that turns the super-gifted into experimental subjects. The CIA is especially interested in stopping Red Flag, a loosely organized army of alphas with an agenda of their own. Red Flag considers Rosen's team a threat, and uses various approaches to try assassinating Rosen, or at least to have his program shut down. Forced to deal with his team as both patients and criminal investigators, Rosen's practice is a study in conflicted interests. During season one the creators do an admirable job constructing compelling characters, plots and superpowers. The trick will be to maintain this level of creativity. DVD Features: Pilot Extended Version, Deleted Scenes, Alphas at Comic-Con 2011, Alphas: Fan Q & A.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jul 26, 2012 05:03PM Published Jul 26, 2012 05:02PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.