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Lisa’s home video capsules

CONTRABAND

(2012)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Baltasar Kormakur

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, J. K. Simmons, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones

Universal//Rated R//Action//109 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

There’s enough plot in “Contraband” for two heist movies, making it extra disappointing that director Baltasar Kormakur doesn’t milk more tension from its hairpin turns and last minute twists. The film, adapted from the Icelandic hit “Reykjavik-Rotterdam,” sets much of the action aboard a cargo ship, where ship routine, and hidden crannies, lend credibility to the action. Mark Wahlberg appears as Chris Farraday, retired from smuggling since marrying Kate (Kate Beckinsale), and fathering two sons. He’s settled into running a successful burglar alarm company until his brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones) loses a cache of heroin belonging to brutal crime lord Tim Briggs (an aptly greasy Giovanni Ribisi) and Farraday agrees to repay the debt by smuggling a pallet of counterfeit notes out of Panama. Once in Panama, unforeseen complications set into motiona a series of derivative action sequences. Back home in New Orleans, Farraday’s best friend Sebastian (Ben Foster) has promised to watch over Farraday’s family. This slow-moving portion of the tale is important for its revelations. Saved by the occasional odd turn of events, this adaptation comes to life aboard the cargo ship, carefully filmed to illuminate its layout and inner workings. DVD or 2-Disc Blu-ray features: Commentary with Director/Producer Baltasar Kormakur and Producer Evan Hayes, deleted scenes, Making of featurette, Stunts and Action, English, French and Spanish language tracks. Exclusive Blu-ray features: film on both DVD and Blu-ray, Digital copy, Ultraviolet.

FROZEN PLANET: The Complete Series

(2011)

* * * * (A)

Hosted by David Attenborough

BBC Video//Not Rated//Documentary//300 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Sir David Attenborough’s presence should be sufficient reason to recommend “Frozen Planet,” but this series stands on its own two icebergs. Episode one of six opens in the Arctic, where an amorous polar bear catches the sent of a female who leads him on a merry chase. Miles and hours later, he is deemed worthy and the two climb a snow-covered mountain. The arrival of a large, second male, clarifies the pair’s reason for seeking privacy. A battle royale ensues, leaving both males bloodied, and one vanquished. This scene is one of many to chronicle rarely or never-before-filmed events. Coupled with spot-on narration, delivered by 85-year-old Attenborough, the six-part BBC series follows earthly rhythms that bring months of both continuous daylight and darkness to the North and South poles. Time-lapse photography illuminates the movement of glaciers, or changing seasons that attract and repel millions of birds and thousands of mammals. The camera takes viewers beneath the water and deep into the ice, to reveal stunning natural forms that appear to come from a different world, but are all part of our incredible frozen planet. 3-Disc DVD or Blu-ray features: Science at the Ends of the Earth: Examines scientific work being performed at the South Pole, Freeze Frame – A series of seven 10-minute “making of” featurettes, Production Video Diaries: 47 shorts made by the Frozen Planet producers, directors and camera crew, Frozen Planet: The Epic Journey – compiles the best moments of the series compiled into a 60-minute highlights special.

THE WICKER TREE

(2012)

*1/2 (C-)

Directed by Robin Hardy

Starring Christopher Lee, Graham McTavish, Honeysuckle Weeks, Henry Garrett, Brittania Nicol

Anchor Bay//Rated R//Horror//96 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

Intended as a companion piece to “The Wicker Man,” this film follows an American cowboy (Garrett) and a white-trash beauty queen (Nicol), as they prosthelytize for the Lord on a trip through Scotland. Their plans are interrupted when a car accident strands them in the wee town of Tressock. Here the couple is persuaded to attend the annual town festival, little more than an orgy of pagan rites. Top-billed Christopher Lee, cast as the villain in “Wicker Man,” shows up in a cameo, while Graham McTavish plays the real bad guy, a nuclear-power magnate. Adapted from the director’s own novel, “Cowboys for Christ,” the film is gory but fails to be scary or to develop its camp value. DVD or Blu-ray features: Behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes, theatrical trailer, English or Spanish language tracks and subtitles, widescreen.

DARK TIDE

(2012)

* (D)

Directed by John Stockwell

Starring Halle Berry, Olivier Martinez, Ralph Brown, Luke Tyler, Mark Elderkin, Sizwe Msufu, Thoko Ntshinga

Lionsgate//Rated PG-13//Horror//114 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

A dull shark movie that lacks bite, the film’s surprise casting features Halle Berry and Oliver Martinez in the leads. It’s been a year since one of Kate’s (Berry) shark wranglers was killed by a great white while she was shooting a shark documentary. Weighed down by a guilty conscience, Kate is poised to lose her boat until her boyfriend (Martinez) brings her a rich businessman (Brown) with more money than sense. Willing to pay 100,000 Euros for the privilege of diving with sharks, he’s obnoxious and might as well have “shark bait” tattooed on his forehead. Yes, there’s Berry clad in a bikini to soften the effect of unfocused dialog, but when the climactic shark attack occurs during a squall, we can decipher neither the action nor her swim wear. DVD or Blu-ray feature: Trailer gallery.

SOUTH PARK: Season 15

(2011)

* * * (B)

Created by Trey Parker, Matt Stone

Voices of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mona Marshall, April Stewart

Comedy Central//Not Rated//Comedy//308 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

Trey Parker and Matt Stone continue to lambaste popular culture, wedding their views on the iApple products to parody the horror “Human Centipede,” renamed “HumancentiPad.” They view the world through the eyes of arrested juveniles, telling their stories via fifth graders Stan, Kyle, Eric, and Kenny (all voiced by Parker or Stone), residents of South Park, Colorado. Among others, topics include, aging, occupy Wall Street, penis size, illegal immigration, gossip websites, racial conflict and Tyler Perry. This season seems slightly less clever as it ramps up its gross-out factors. 3-Disc DVD or 2-Disc Blu-ray set features: 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park, 6 Days to Air: Behind the Scenes of “City Sushi,” Mini-Commentaries on each episode by creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Deleted Scenes.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL

(2011)

* * * (B)

Directed by Brad Bird

Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner, Michael Nyqvist

Paramount//Rated PG-13//Action//133 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

Cruise returns to the role of Ethan Hunt for this fourth installment of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise raking in a half billion per film. Lavish globe-trotting action depicts the Kremlin blown to bits and Cruise in Dubai, scaling the world’s tallest building. After Ethan and his IMF crew are framed and branded as terrorists, they attempt to clear their names by hunting down a European baddie (Nyqvist) who plans to launch a nuclear holocaust. To fully immerse the viewer, director Brad Bird filmed the action sequences in IMAX, yielding exquisite detail. Cruise, 49, performs his own stunts — including one placing him 1,000 feet in the air when Hunt scales a glass and steel edifice. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. DVD features: Impossible Missions, The Sandstorm, Props, Deleted Scenes with optional director commentary, French, Spanish, and English language tracks. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: Film on both DVD and Blu-ray, Mission Accepted, Heating Up In Dubai, Vancouver Fisticuffs, Alternate Opening, Trailers, plus Portuguese language track. 3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: Suiting Up In Prague, Art Department, A Roll of Film, Life Masks, Stepping into the Storm, Dubai Car Crash, Lens on the Burj, Composer, Trailers.

THE DIVIDE

(2011)

*1/2 (C-)

Directed by Xavier Gens

Starring Rosanna Arquette, Michael Biehn, Courtney B. Vance, Milo Ventimiglia, Lauren German, Ivan Gonzalez, Jennifer Blanc, Michael Eklund, Abbey Thickson, Richard Thomas

Anchor Bay//Unrated//Horror//122 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

“The Divide” is essentially post-apocalyptic, torture porn. Depicting a nuclear bomb detonating in New York, director Xavier Gens stylizes the attempted escape by the residents of one apartment building. Moments after the bomb goes off, a fortunate few are admitted into the Mickey’s (Biehn) basement apartment, a place he has fortified to double as a bomb shelter. As the days wear on, no one is allowed in or out, causing dissension within the group. Well armed attackers try to enter, spurring Josh and Bobby (Ventimiglia and Eklund) to become increasingly warlike. Eventually, these young men unleash a reign of terror upon those locked in with them, turning a distraught mother (Arquette), and a nice young woman (German) into sex slaves. They do far worse to others, including viewers roped into this nasty, pointless story that fails to justify its existence. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: film on both Blu-ray and DVD, English, French and Spanish language tracks.

BORN TO BE WILD

(2011)

* *1/2

Directed by David Lickley

Narrated by Morgan Freeman

Starring Dr. Birute Galdikas, Daphne Sheldrick

Warner//Rated G//Documentary//41 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D

This documentary, made for IMAX theatres to be presented in 3D, runs the length of a one-hour television show sans commercials. Few babies are more endearing than an orangutan or elephant. Since wild populations of both species are in decline, the film functions as a love letter to women helping wild animals to survive and return to the wilderness. In Kenya, Daphne Sheldrick raises orphaned baby elephants while in Borneo, Dr. Birute Galdikas labors to restore orangutan orphans to their native rain forest. Forty minutes is insufficient to chronicle such heroic deeds, or to see enough humorous, touching and gorgeous footage. Richard Leakey serves as creative consultant to this documentary that depicts raising and freeing the orphans. Afterwards, we wish for more. Perhaps that’s the idea. DVD features: Digital copy, Webisode #1 – Borneo, Webisode #2 – Kenya, Ultraviolet, English, French, Hebrew, Spanish or English language tracks. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: Film on both DVD and Blu-ray, Digital copy, Webisode: Camp Leakey, “Wild” filmmaking, Caregivers.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – The ’89 TV Season DVD

(1989)

* * (C)

Created by Bruce Geller

Starring Peter Graves, Thaao Penghlis, Antony Hamilton, Phil Morris, Jane Badler, Terry Markwell

Voice of Bob Johnson

Paramount //Not Rated//Action//772 Minutes

Available on: DVD

Not to be confused with the superior “Mission: Impossible” TV series that ran from 1966-1973, this resurrection is silly and irritating, but occasionally adorable. A visibly lined Peter Graves returns as Jim Phelps, leader of the Impossible Mission force. Briefed via cassette tapes and photographs in the 60s, in 1989 each episode opens with Phelps meeting a character who guides him to a portable laser disc player. The new technology allows Phelps to see the target doing bad-guy stuff while listening to narration by Bob Johnson, who returns from the original series to explain the nuts of bolts of each new mission. Filmed in Australia to save money, the show suffers the loss of Martin Landau as the team’s resident impersonator, but nepotism thrives in the casting of Greg Morris’s real-life son Phil Morris as the team’s technical expert. Jane Badler appears as its less than convincing femme fatale, but the show’s main weakness are scripts that fail to drum up much-needed tension. More special effects are incorporated, but this final season, and its 1988 predecessor, constitute a sad end to an otherwise enchanting fantasy series. 4-Disc DVD features: Episodic promos on select episodes, Holiday promo.

Also out:

SHAME

(2011)

Directed by Steve McQueen

Starring Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie

Fox //Rated NC-17//Drama//101

Available on: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

A New Yorker’s compulsive sexual behavior becomes an issue when his needy sister (Mulligan) arrives for an extended stay. Brandon (Fassbender) fears intimacy, but is addicted to sex. He seeks casual sexual encounters, and possesses the income to afford call girls. When time constraints prevent either of these, Brandon relies on Internet sites and pornography. The level of Brandon’s addiction prompts him to take regular breaks from work. Meanwhile, his sister’s self-destructive practices are expressed differently. She’s insecure, cuts herself, and has attempted suicide. We may not understand how they reached this point in their lives, but writer/director Steve McQueen demonstrates a keen understanding of their behaviors and the manner in which these control everything the siblings say and do. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: Film on both DVD and Blu-ray, shorts on Fassbender and McQueen, several making-of features.

YOUNG GOETHE IN LOVE

(2011)

Directed by Philipp Stolzl

Starring Alexander Fehling, Miriam Stein, Moritz Bleibtreu, Volker Bruch, Burghart Klaubner, Henry Hubchen

Music Box Film//Not Rated//Drama – German with English subtitles//102 minutes

Available on: DVD

Based on the early experiences of German poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe (Fehling), when we meet the writer after he’s failed his law exams in 1772, and has been sent to the quiet town of Wetzlar to study by his disappointed father (Hubchen). The young man’s future in law appears brighter when he is befriended by a local, high-ranking court official (Bleibtreu), but Goethe strays from the subject at hand and falls for the lovely Lotte (Stein). She returns his affection, unaware her father has made a secret bargain to marry her to another. Goethe’s efforts to deal with this blow helps him to find his voice on paper. DVD features: Making-of featurette, Visual Effects, theatrical and international trailer, German language track with English subtitles.