THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT(2012)*1/2 (C-)Directed by Nicholas StollerStarring Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Rhys Ifans, Alison Brie, Chris Pratt, Kevin Hart, Lauren WeedmanUniversal//Rated R//Comedy//125 minutesAvailable on: DVD, Blu-ray, On-Demand and Digital DownloadExploring the theme of self-sacrifice within romantic love, "The Five-Year Engagement" begins by making its case for a pair of lovebirds meeting at a San Francisco New Year's Eve costume party. Pink bunny Tom (Jason Segel), spots Brit Violet (Emily Blunt) in her Princess Di get-up. Fast-forward to the following New Year's Eve when Tom bungles his ultraromantic proposal, but the wins Violet's acceptance. The setup introduces Tom's doofus coworker Alex (Chris Pratt), and Tom's unhinged boss (Lauren Weedman). Another fast-forward stops at the pair's engagement party, where Violet's drunken sister Suzie (Alison Brie) hooks up with Alex. When Suzie subsequently turns up pregnant, her rushed nuptials with Alex delay Tom and Violet's weddings. Then Violet's accepts a post-doc position at the University of Michigan, Ann Abor. For Tom, accompanying Violet is supposed to represent a major sacrifice, but instead appears to be a lucky escape from a bad work situation. In Michigan, Violet's psychology peers are harmless head cases more in need of treatment than capable of dispensing it. Comparatively normal, Violet's experiment -- involving stale donuts and instant gratification -- is selected for further research by Welch professor Swinton Childs (Rhys Ifans). Meanwhile, Tom puts his chef skills to work at an iconic deli run by a menacing boss. The pair's ensuing on-and-off-again wedding plans are subjected to Violet's extended appointment and Tom's effort to go "Michagander" (depicted as Jeremiah Johnson meets "My Strange Addiction"). Poor communication is the order of the day, and that includes this misfiring comedy's communication with its audience. Its few quirky ideas do little to alleviate the film's two-and-a-half-hour runtime that feels longer than the five years it represents. DVD features: English, Spanish or French language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, Anamorphic Widescreen. Blu-ray features same plus: Digital Copy, UltraViolet, Feature Commentary with Nicholas Stoller, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie and Rodney Rothman, Documentaries, Deleted Scenes, Extended & Alternate Scenes, Gag Reel, Line-O-Rama, Experiment-O-Rama, Weird Winton, Gonorrhea Trouble, Top Chef: Alex Eilhauer, My Scenes, BD-Live, pocket BLU App. THE HUNGER GAMES(2012)* *1/2 (B-)Directed by Gary RossJennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Alexander Ludwig, Isabelle Fuhrman, Amandla Stenberg, Willow ShieldsFox//Rated PG-13//Science Fiction//142 minutesAvailable on: DVD, Blu-ray, On-Demand and Digital DownloadAdapted from the first in a series of books by Suzanne Collins, the author envisions future Panem (formerly North America), comprised of 12 districts where food supplies are severely rationed. At 18, Katniss living in one of the poorest districts, hunts to feed her younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields). Played by Jennifer Lawrence of the acclaimed "Winter's Bone," Katniss routinely defies the law by using her bow and arrow to bring down squirrel, birds and other prey found in the neighboring where she is frequently accompanied by Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), the boy she sorta likes. Each year, the annual "Reaping" requires all 12 districts each submit one boy and one girl, aged 12 to 18, to the annual gladiatorial-style games from which only one survivor will emerge. An emissary from the Capital City draws 12-year-old Primrose's name, prompting Katniss to volunteer in her little sister's stead. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), one of Katniss's few friends is also chosen and the pair is marched off to the capital. The city is a hideous site where a pampered population wears the fashions of Marie Antoinette, festooned with neon touches. After receiving makeovers, the combatants are trotted out to a morbidly adoring public. Katniss and Peeta are mentored by their district's past winner, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), a cynical, spoiled drunk. Following brief training, the kids are loosed in the arena, a several square mile area of forest and meadows. The ensuing action establishes Katniss's unshakable integrity as she attempt to help those in need, and kills only when her life, or that of whomever she protects, is in imminent danger. Meanwhile, back at Capital headquarters, futuristic technology ensures the games are rigged for the purpose of good TV. Where Collins set out to externalize the struggles of adolescence, this film adaptation cloaks its central character in warm fuzzies that leaves its audience out in the cold. DVD Features: Game maker: Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games phenomenon, The world is watching: Making The Hunger Games, Letters from the Rose Garden, Controlling the game, A conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell, Propaganda Film Marketing archive, English, Spanish or French language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, Widescreen. Blu-ray features same plus: Preparing for the Games: A Director's Process. SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN(2012)* * * (B)Directed by Rupert SandersStarring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Nick Frost, and Bob HoskinsUniversal//Rated PG-13//Fantasy, Action//128 minutesAvailable on: DVD, Blu-ray, On-Demand and Digital DownloadTo set itself apart from other sentimentalized adaptations of the Grimm fairytale, "Snow White and the Huntsman" provides its evil queen with a backstory, depicts dwarfs that are thieving thugs and finds Snow White (Kristen Stewart) beset by two suitors. She is master of her own fate, fighting and killing as required. Murderous Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) fell into psychosis after her home town was invaded and her mother, who managed to cast a spell granting young Ravenna eternal youth and beauty, was killed. The gifts exact a terrible toll. Ravenna's magical mirror drips from the wall and morphs into a prophesying, metallic man. Ravenna kills the king and imprisons Snow White in the castle tower. Snow's youth will be consumed by Ravenna on the girl's 18th birthday. To save herself, Snow White stabs her keeper and escapes. First-time feature director Rupert Sanders creates a well-paced adventure that maintains its momentum, and frequently, its tension. He creates stunning special effects, whether in the mud of the dark forest, the muted metal and stone of the castle, or the a vibrant sanctuary that plays host to the dwarfs. Snow White is magically connected to animals and fairies, but she's no shoo-in with the huntsman sent to kill her, or with an octet of disenfranchised dwarfs. Stewart credibly projects an array of emotion and gives them depth. Other versions presume we will love the princess and hate the usurping queen without further justification. "Snow White and the Huntsman" wants us to feel something more, and we do. DVD features: English, Spanish or French language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, Anamorphic Widescreen. Blu-ray features same plus: Digital Copy, UltraViolet. JEEPERS CREEPERS (2001)* *1/2Directed by Victor SalvaStarring Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck , Patricia Belcher, Eileen BrennanMGM//Rated R//Horror//90 minutesAvailable on: Blu-rayThe quarrelsome relationship of siblings provides an inspired arena for Victor Salva's slasher-horror flick. Driving home from college, on central Florida's country roads, Trish and Darry (Gina Philips and Justin Long) test one another and bicker with a familiar mix of love and animosity. The realistic nature of these exchanges sets an ordinary tone that writer-director Salva juxtaposes with his otherworldly man-creature, a murderous winged predator driving a vehicle that is even uglier than himself. In a rusty old truck-van, outfitted for ramming cars with its attached cattle catcher, he attacks the kids. Though they flee, he has caught their scent, pursuing them through a series of back water towns. The strangely unconcerned townsfolk appear to know more than they are saying, while clueless cops are lambs to the creature's slaughter. Mainly a cast of unknowns, Patricia Belcher appears as a gospel quoting psychic, while the one recognizable actor, Eileen Brennan, portrays a batty old woman living with a score of angry kitties. However uneven Salva's effort is, "Jeepers Creepers" scores some genuinely scary moments and uses its memorable titular song, to creepy effect. Blu-ray features: English, Spanish or French language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widesecreen. GOOD WILL HUNTING: 15th Anniversary Edition(1997)* * *1/2 (A-)Directed by Gus Van SantStarring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin WilliamsLionsgate//Rated R//Drama//126 minutesAvailable on: Blu-rayReal-life friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck write and star in the story of Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a troubled young genius. While working as a janitor at M.I.T., Will's talents come to the attention of a university math professor. Hoping to capitalize on the lad's abilities, the professor extricates him from trouble with the law. The court orders counseling for Will whose difficulty in trusting others is revealed through his confrontational exchanges with his therapist (Robin Williams). The issues raised in therapy cause the counselor to reexamine his own life. Honest characterizations and flawless portrayals by this pair draw us into their emotional journey. Blu-ray features: 4-Part Retrospective - Reflecting on a Journey: Good Will Hunting 15 Years Later,The Era of Good Will Hunting, Cast and Crew Spotlight, Academy Awards: A Winning Season, Life Goes On, Matt Damon Remembers Good Will Hunting, Audio Commentary by Director Gus Van Sant and Academy Award Screenwriting Winners Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, 11 Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary, Production Featurette, Academy Award Best Picture Montage, "Miss Misery" Music Video, Behind-the-Scenes Footage, Theatrical Trailer, English, French, German, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. SWIMFAN(2002)* * (C)Directed by John PolsonStarring Jesse Bradford, Erika Christensen, Shiri ApplebyFox//Rated PG-13//Drama//85 minutesAvailable on: DVDThe star swimmer of his high school team, Ben's (Bradford) future looks bright. He's got it all, including the perfect girlfriend (Appleby), until things spin out of control after a night of passion with Madison (Christensen). Ben tries to end the affair, but Madison won't go away. Finally, a date movie that'll do your boyfriend some good. DVD features: deleted scenes with optional commentary, The Girlfriend from Hell featurette, English, Spanish or French language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen. Also OutBAD KARMA(2011)Starring Ray Liotta, Dominic Purcell and Andy McPhee, Vanessa GrayAnchor Bay//Rated R//Drama//87 minutesAvailable on: DVDJack Malloy is a reformed career criminal until his former partner Drake (Purcell) blackmails Jack into pulling one last job. Jack's determination to lead an honest life is matched by Drake psychotic need for vengeance, as Jack realizes that only one of them is going to emerge from the job alive. DVD features: English or Spanish tracks and subtitles,Anamorphic Widescreen. SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE: The Complete Second Season(2011)Created by Steven S. DeKnightStarring Andy Whitfield, Lucy Lawless, Manu BennettStarz//Not Rated//Action//440 MinutesAvailable on: DVD and Blu-rayThe sandal and toga epic that began with "Spartacus: Blood and Sand." Gaius Claudius Glaber leads Roman troops in an effort to crush the rebellion led by Spartacus (Whitfield) and other gladiators, and joined by freed slaves. Spartacus must choose between avenging his wife's death, or holding the rebellious forces together. The second season continues to feature bloody action and bawdy sexual escapades. 3-Disc DVD or Blu-ray features: Making of Spartacus: Vengeance, Behind the Camera: Directing the Rebellion, On Set with Liam McIntyre, The Legend of Spartacus, Famous Last Words, Bloopers, 9 Extended Episodes and Audio Commentaries (Blu-ray only), English or Spanish language tracks and subtitles, widescreen.
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