Two and a half stars
Pity the poor, beleaguered vampire: Not even he can find fresh blood these days. Drained by teen franchises and endless reincarnations, the once mighty night-stalker has become the stuff of kiddie cartoons — such as the kind, doting daddy at the heart of Hotel Transylvania. Adam Sandler lends his vocal talents to this story of a vampire who runs a hotel for monsters, where he can keep his daughter safe from the outside world. Part Heathcliff and part Opera Man, Sandler’s shtick doesn’t lend anything more than fart jokes to a tired story of father-daughter tension. The kids will find the computer-generated images and top-notch animation seductive, but grown-ups may tire of the dirty-diaper theme and meaningless action sequences. Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Molly Shannon and CeeLo Green also star. Special features include Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, Ultra-violet features and more.
BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS
Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten chronicles his heartbreaking, and often funny, battle with produce giant Dole in this documentary that gets to the very core of the spin machine, and how it warps all notions of “freedom of speech.” Alarming, but also human and raw, this is a little movie about a very large, and frequently invisible, issue that defines our everyday reality. More than an issue movie, Gertten’s narrative makes it personal, and more than a little entertaining. Special features include digital transfer and more.
Three and a half stars
Wither the man of war. He is friend to no one, and the enemy of all. But we need his unquestioning service to maintain the status quo, and so, he has been exploited by the powers that be since time began. Shakespeare certainly understood the soldier’s sacrifice at every level, and nowhere are his feelings more articulate — perhaps aggressively so — than in Coriolanus, one of the Bard’s longest, densest and bloodiest oeuvres that chronicles the rise and fall of a glorious Roman hero.
Caius Martius (Ralph Fiennes) cuts an intimidating figure as he strides into the opening frames wearing combat fatigues, ammo belt and a facial expression so intense it could stop a tank. In fact, it does stop a tank — in addition to a roiling stampede of revolting Romans desperate for food. Undeniably prescient for something half a millennium old, this literary classic reaffirms the tragedy of war by disemboweling the human condition before our eyes. Tough but dramatically redeeming thanks to Fiennes, Gerard Butler and a breathtaking turn from Vanessa Redgrave as power-matron Volumnia, the movie lands like a punch to the face. Special features include the making-of, audio commentary and more.
TAI CHI ZERO
Two and a half stars
A knock-off action movie that borrows from the likes of Tarantino as much as traditional Chinese martial arts movies, Tai Chi Zero is called a “steampunk” action movie as it stars Wushu gold medalist Yuan Xiaochao as a warrior with superpowers seeking to elude a death sentence. While the whole tone of the movie is firmly tongue in cheek and the comedy seems as important as the acrobatics, the film feels a little too silly to be of sincere interest, despite some raucous action choreographed by veteran Sammo Hung.
Rebecca Hall stars in this rather stylish period thriller that takes place in a boy’s school, where a ghost appears to roam the hallways and terrorize its young residents. A crafty piece of suspense with excellent art direction, Hall takes charge of the narrative as a skeptic who suddenly finds herself facing down the unexpected, while everyone around her seems eerily distant. Imelda Staunton and Dominic West co-star in this quiet little piece of creepy. Special features include Dolby, digital transfer.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4
The only scary sound in this fourth installment of the low-budget horror franchise is the sound of producers scraping the bottom of the barrel. Unoriginal and now entirely derivative, the premise of home video recordings is getting a little worn around the edges.
Also released Jan. 29:
Best of Warner Bros: 100 Film Collection
Born to Beat
Cold Light of Day
Downton Abbey: Season 3
Fight Club Blu-ray
Flo-Rida Wild One
InYusha Season 7
Maaya Best Clips
Musical Journey: France
Musical Journey: Russia
PanAm Complete First Season
Turner at the Tate White Zombie
© Copyright 2013