‘John Carter’ now on DVD
Inadvertantly interplanetary: Taylor Kitsch in “John Carter.”
Updated: June 18, 2012 12:31PM
NEW THIS WEEK
★ ★ 1/2
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action
Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe
Any chance that “Tarzan” author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ second-most-famous creation might catch on with the general public pretty much bite the red Martian dust with this much-anticipated, mega-budgeted misfire from Pixar wizard Andrew Stanton (“Wall-E”). There are a fair number of impressively entertaining scenes in this tale of a transplanted Civil War hero (Kitsch) fighting to save a Martian princess (Collins), yet somehow the story fails to come to truly fantastic, adventurous life. Gotta love those big, green, four-armed Tharks, though. Extras include commentary, deleted scenes, Barsoom bloopers.
★ ★ ★ 1/2
Rated: R for strong violence throughout and some language
Stars: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds
A safe bet if you’re up for a stylish, well-made, nicely acted espionage thriller. Washington is as good as you might expect as a rogue former CIA agent who’s bundled into the Capetown safe house manned by greenhorn agent Reynolds—who’s not bad either. “Safe House” is equal parts intense, high-body-count adrenaline pumper and psychological drama as the kid contends with a pursuing hit squad, his possibly corrupt bosses and the disillusioning revelations of the cynical old pro. Well worth a look.
CASTLE IN THE SKY: BLU-RAY DEBUT
★ ★ ★ ★
Rated: PG for fantasy action violence and peril
Stars: James Van Der Beek, Lara Cody, Cloris Leachman
This early (1986) dazzler from Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki is one of his best: a pure adventure that should prove equally entertaining for children and adults. An unsuspecting princess and an orphan trying to clear his father’s name team up with an incompetent gang of air pirates to defend a floating city in the clouds from an evil government takeover. As usual, Miyazaki’s visual imagination is breathtaking, with the films assortment of unlikely flying contraptions a particular bonus. This Blu-ray reissue features Disney’s dubbed 1989 American release, an introduction by Pixar’s John Lassater, original storyboards and a seven-part feature on Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli.
LANCELOT LINK: SECRET CHIMP
★ ★ 1/2
Rated: No MPAA rating
Stars: Bernie Kopell, Dayton Allen, Joan Gerber
This Saturday morning kid-TV series from 1970 has cult status and it’s a weird-enough cultural time-capsule to pass muster as a curiosity, but the yuks wear thin quickly—and there’s something vaguely disturbing about the way the primate actors are being put through their paces. Silliness is the order of the day as A.P.E. agents Link and Mata Hairi (no kidding) foil the nefarious schemes of the bad guys of C.H.U.M.P., primarily by donning cunning disguises and throwing pies. The psychedelic musical interludes by the Evolution Revolution are pretty groovy, though. Extras include a picture slideshow of the real-life Lancelot, courtesy of Life magazine.
ACT OF VALOR
Active-duty navy SEALS were cast in this action-adventure about an operation to rescue a kidnapped CIA agent and foil a terrorist attack. Rated R for strong violence including some torture and for language.
BABAR: THE CLASSIC SERIES — COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
This double-disc set features all 13 episodes of the 1989 first season of the animated TV series about the classic French children’s book character.
Steven Spielberg produced this 2011 TNT sci-fi series about the aftermath of an alien invasion. The three-disc set features all 10 episodes of season one. Extras include commentary, character profiles and a collectible trading card.
THE GRAPES OF WRATH: BLU-RAY DEBUT
John Ford’s 1940 classic adaptation of John Steinbeck’s great American novel, about a family of poor farmers (featuring Henry Fonda) forced off their land, make its Blu-ray debut.
HONDO: BLU-RAY DEBUT
Screenwriter John Farrow (father of Mia Farrow, wife of Maureen O’Sullivan) directed this adaptation of Louis L’Amour’s western classic about an army dispatch rider (John Wayne) who protects a woman and her son who had been living captive with Apaches. Extras include an introduction and commentary by Leonard Maltin and a photo gallery.
JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
A teenager (Josh Hutcherson) teams up with his mother’s boyfriend (Dwayne Johnson) to search for his grandfather (Michael Caine) on the island where he disappeared. Brad Peyton (“Cats and Dogs 2”) directed this sequel to the 2008 hit “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Rated PG for some adventure action and brief mild language.
MACHINE GUN PREACHER
The story of a former drug-dealing biker tough-guy (Gerard Butler), who found God and dedicated his life to protecting Sudanese orphans. Marc Forster (“Finding Neverland,” “Monster’s Ball”) directed the action drama, which just begs to be paired with “Hobo with a Shotgun.” Rated R for violent content including disturbing images, language, some drug use and a scene of sexuality
THE STING: 100TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
George Roy Hill’s classic 1973 crime caper about a couple of con men (Paul Newman, Robert Redford) exacting revenge on a murderous gangster makes its Blu-ray debut as part of this special release. Extras include a 48-page booklet and sketches by Oscar-winning costumer Edith Head.
THE THREE STOOGES ULTIMATE COLLECTION
This deluxe 20-disc Sony Home Video box set include all190 short films by the slapstick-comedy team (in all its configurations) plus 11 hours of movies, shorts and never-before-released material. The collection includes 28 never-released-to-DVD short films featuring Shemp Howard, Joe Besser and Joe Derita, plus the DVD debuts of the Stooges features “Have Rocket, Will Travel” and “Rockin’ in the Rockies.”
TITANIC AT 100: MYSTERY SOLVED
This A&E documentary is a record of the most thorough and exhaustive study of the wrecked ocean liner and the causes of its sinking, an underwater exploration that maps every detail of the entire site—nearly half previously unexplored.
AVAILABLE NEXT WEEK
It’s a good week to go Criterion, with the cinephile label releasing restored editions of Charlie Chaplin’s 1925 classic “The Gold Rush,” Hal Ashby’s 1971 cult fave “Harold and Maude” and Danny “Slumdog Millionaire” Boyle’s 1994 Hitchcock-esque debut “Shallow Grave.”