OnVideo: DECEMBER's Top Movies
AS ABOVE, SO BELOWRun-of-the-mill horror-thriller about explorers in the catacombs of Paris who -- naturally -- uncover a horrible supernatural force. Extras: "Inside As Above/So Below" featurette.
CALVARYBrendan Gleeson delivers a tour-de-force performance in this darkly comic tale of murder and morality from acclaimed writer-director John Michael McDonagh ("The Guard"). Father James (Gleeson) is a good priest who feels sinister forces closing in after being threatened by a mysterious parishioner. As he continues to comfort the troubled members of his windswept, small-town community, including his own fragile daughter (Kelly Reilly), Father James begins to wonder if he will have the courage to face his own personal Calvary. Chris O'Dowd turns in a sensational performance as a suspicious townsman with ulterior motives. Not to be missed. Blu-ray extras: Behind-the-scenes featurette, "The Role of a Good Priest," "A Matter of Faith," "A Father & His Daughter."
Director: John Michael McDonagh. Stars: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, Isaach De Bankole, M. Emmet Walsh. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min., Drama, Box office gross: $3.541 million, Fox. Available: 12/09.
CANTINFLASWeak biopic of Mexico's greatest and most beloved comic film star Mario "Cantinflas" Moreno. Nicknamed "The Charlie Chaplin of Mexico," Cantinflas tried his hand at a number of odd jobs including boxing and bullfighting, finally stumbling to success in small-town bars and theaters. His improvisational quirks and fearlessness send him to the global stage. Extras: "Cantinflas: From Mexico to the Big Screen" featurette.
Director: Sebastian del Amo. Stars: Oscar Jaenada, Michael Imperioli, Ilse Salas, Barbara Mori, Ana Layevska, Adal Ramones. 2014 -- Mexico, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 102 min., Bio-Drama, Box office gross: $6.261 million, Pantelion/Lionsgate. Available: 12/02.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APESWell-received reboot sequel in which all that remains of humankind -- which has been devastated by a deadly virus -- meets up with the highly intelligent community of apes living near San Francisco. Extras: "Andy Serkis: Rediscovering Caesar," four galleries. Blu-ray adds Deleted scenes, "Journey to Dawn," "Humans and Apes: The Cast of Dawn," "The World of Dawn," "The Ape Community," "Move Like an Ape: An Artists Artist's Medium," "Weta and Dawn," "The Fight for a New Dawn," commentary by director Matt Reeves.
Director: Matt Reeves. Stars: Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 130 min., Sci-Fi Action, Box office gross: $207.604 million, Fox. Available: 12/02.
DOLPHIN TALE 2Charles Martin Smith, who directed "Dolphin Tale," wrote and directed the sequel that was inspired by another true story about the world’s most extraordinary dolphin Winter. The inspiring true story of Winter isn't over. Several years after receiving a prosthetic tail, Winter loses her surrogate mother, leaving her alone, grieving and unwilling to engage with anyone, even her best human friend, Sawyer. Worse, she may have to be moved from her home at the aquarium due to regulations requiring dolphins to be paired. When Dr. Clay Haskett and his dedicated team can’t find her a companion, it looks like they may lose their beloved Winter ... until an unexpected turn of events brings them hope. Extras: "Dolphin Tale 2: True Story." Blu-ray adds Dolphin Tale 2: Underwater Magic," "Look Who's Running the Show," "Bethany Hamilton Meets Winter," "Dolphin Tale 2: The Mission," Cozi Zuehlsdorff: "Brave Souls," Gavin DeGraw: "You Got Me," blooper reel.
Director: Charles Martin Smith. Stars: Harry Connick Jr., Nathan Gamble, Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Austin Stowell, Austin Highsmith, Morgan Freeman, Bethany Hamilton. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 107 min., Drama, Box office gross: $33.618 million, Warner. Available: 12/09.
THE EQUALIZERAfter retiring from the world of government intelligence, Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) believes he has put his past behind him and is determined to dedicate himself to a new, quiet life as a working class man at a Home Mart store in Boston. Instead, he forms a friendship with Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a young and desperate girl under the control of Russian pimps, and decides to use his expert and resourceful combat skills to help shake her loose from their powerful grasp. Little does he know that these are no ordinary gangsters -- they're connected to the international Russian mafia with ties to the U.S. government and the Boston police. Soon the Russians come after him with everything they've got. But little do the Russians know that in McCall they've met their match. Extras: "Home Mart: Taking Care of Business One Bolt at a Time" featurette on the film’s climactic Home Mart sequence; "Children of the Night" in which Moretz discusses her character and the research she did to play the young, exploited girl. Blu-ray adds a photo gallery; four behind-the-scenes featurettes: "Inside The Equalizer" that explores the creative process of re-imagining and bringing Robert McCall to life; "Denzel Washington: A Different Kind of Superhero" behind-the-scenes look at how Washington trained for his physically demanding role; "Equalizer Vision: Antoine Fuqua," a firsthand look at the movie-making process from the director; "One Man Army: Training and Fighting" discussion with Washington, Martin Csokas and stunt coordinator Keith Woulard on the process of building a one-man army; "Vengeance Mode" feature that offers an inside look during the major action sequences as Washington and director Antoine Fuqua break down the deadliest moves in the scene and reveal how their collaboration helped reinvent action choreography.
Director: Antoine Fuqua. Stars: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Martin Csokas, David Harbour, Haley Bennett, Bill Pullma, Melissa Leo. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 131 min., Action Drama, Box office gross: $34.137 million, Sony. Available: 12/30.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXYSurprise smash hit of the summer has an unlikely new Marvel team shooting for laughs and defending the universe from itself: Peter Quill, a brash, immoral human space adventurer; Rocket, a gun-toting genetically modified raccoon; Groot, a tree-like humanoid; the deadly assassin Gamora; and the revenge-driven Drax. The absorbing space opera -- harking back to the days of early TV and movie serials, of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers -- kicks off when Quill steals a coveted orb and becomes the object of a relentless intergalactic bounty hunt. To evade his enemies, he forges an uneasy truce with the other misfits to form The Guardians of the Galaxy. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb, he must rally his ragtag band for a desperate battle that will decide the fate of the universe. Extras: Deleted scene, preview of Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Blu-ray adds making-of featurettes, gag reel, commentary.
Director: James Gunn. Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 122 min., Sci-Fi Action, Box office gross: $320.068 million, Disney. Available: 12/09.
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEYA by-the-book feel-good movie from master of the melodrama Lasse Hallstrom ("Chocolat"). Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a young culinary genius who moves with his family to a quaint village in the south of France and opens an Indian restaurant, the Maison Mumbai, right across the street from Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin starred, classical French restaurant run by the chilly Madame Mallory (an always delightful Helen Mirren). Naturally she won't stand for a "crass" Indian restaurant only a hundred feet from her own restaurant, and she begins a war with her new rivals that escalates beyond control ... until Hassan's passion for French haute cuisine and for Mme. Mallory's enchanting sous chef wins the day. Extras: "The Recipe, The Ingredients, The Journey." Blu-ray adds "The Hundred-Foot Journey With (producers) Steven Spielberg & Oprah Winfrey," "On Set With Oprah Winfrey," "Coconut Chicken" featurette teaches viewers how to make coconut chicken in this demonstration of a beautiful, Indian inspired dish with Chef Anil Sharma.
Director: Lasse Hallstrom. Stars: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, Farzana Dua Elahe. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 122 min., Drama, Box office gross: $11.123 million, DreamWorks. Available: 12/02.
MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHTA master magician (Colin Firth) tries to expose a psychic medium (Emma Stone) as a fake. Set in the 1920s on the opulent Riviera in the south of France. Chinese conjuror Wei Ling Soo is the most celebrated magician of his age, but few know that he is the stage persona of Stanley Crawford (Firth), a grouchy and arrogant Englishman with a sky-high opinion of himself and an aversion to phony spiritualists' claims that they can perform real magic. Persuaded by his life-long friend, Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney), Stanley goes on a mission to the Cote d'Azur mansion of the Catledge family: mother Grace (Jacki Weaver), son Brice (Hamish Linklater), and daughter Caroline (Erica Leerhsen). He presents himself as a businessman named Stanley Taplinger in order to debunk the alluring young clairvoyant Sophie Baker (Stone) who is staying there with her mother (Marcia Gay Harden). Sophie arrived at the Catledge villa at the invitation of Grace, who is convinced that Sophie can help her contact her late husband, and once there, attracted the attention of Brice, who has fallen for her head over heels. From his very first meeting with Sophie, Stanley dismisses her as an insignificant pip-squeak who he can unmask in no time, scoffing at the family's gullibility. To his great surprise and discomfort, however, Sophie accomplishes numerous feats of mind-reading and other supernatural deeds that defy all rational explanation, leaving him dumbfounded. Before long, Stanley confesses to his beloved Aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins) that he has begun to wonder whether Sophie/s powers could actually be real. Is this proof of a world beyond the laws of physics or has he fallen under the sway of a more earthly chemistry? Extras: "Behind the Magic" production featurette, "On the Red Carpet: Los Angeles Film Premiere."
Director: Woody Allen. Stars: Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Jacki Weaver, Eileen Atkins, Erica Leerhsen, Simon McBurney, Jeremy Shamos, Catherine McCormack. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $10.323 million, Sony. Available: 12/16.
THE MAZE RUNNERSurvival thriller based on the best-selling novel by James Dashner, Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes up trapped in a massive, ever-changing maze with a group of boys who have no memory of the outside world. Facing dangerous obstacles at every turn -- especially the deadly Grievers that roam the concrete corridors at night -- Thomas and the others must race to piece together clues in order to discover their true purpose ... and find a way out before it's too late. Blu-ray extras: 24-Page prequel comic book, deleted scenes, "Navigating The Maze: The Making of The Maze Runner" five part documentary, "The Chuck Diaries," gag reel, visual effects reels, director Wes Ball's short film "Ruin" in 2D and 3D with commentary by Ball, commentary by Ball and screenwriter T.S. Nowlin, galleries.
Director: Wes Ball. Stars: Dylan O'Brien, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $57.955 million, Fox. Available: 12/16.
PRIDEInspired by an extraordinary true story. It's the summer of 1984 and much of blue-collar Great Britain is on strike. r one tiny Welsh village, the strike brings unexpected visitors -- a group of London-based gay and lesbian activists who decide to raise money to support the strikers' families and want to make their donation in person. The two groups, seemingly from worlds apart, discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all. Extras: Deleted and extended scenes, "Pride: The True Story" featurette.
Director: Matthew Warchus. Stars: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Paddy Considine, Dominic West, Andrew Scott, George MacKay, Joseph Gilgun, Ben Schnetzer. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $1.373 million, Sony. Available: 12/23.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLESThe city needs heroes. Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: fearless leader Leonardo, brilliant and brainy Donatello, rough and rebellious Raphael and wild and crazy Michelangelo. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) to save the city and unravel Shredder's diabolical plan in this reimagining of the adventures of the legendary heroes in a half shell. Blu-ray extras: "Digital Reality" featurette, "In Your Face! The Turtles in 3D," "It Ain't Easy Being Green," "Evolutionary Mash-Up," "Turtle Rock," extended ending, "Shell Shocked" music video, "Making of Shell Shocked."
Director: Jonathan Liebesman. Stars: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Whoopi Goldberg, Abby Elliott, Johnny Knoxville (voice), Tony Shalhoub (voice), Alan Ritchson. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 101 min., Action, Box office gross: $187.182 million, Paramount. Available: 12/16.
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOUWhen their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can providedriving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves. Extras: "The Gospel According to Rabbi Boner." Blu-ray adds deleted and extended scenes, "The Narrative Voice: A Discussion With Shawn Levy and screenwriter Jonathan Tropper," "The Narrative Voice: A Commentary With Shawn Levy and Jonathan Tropper," "Points of Departure."
Director: Shawn Levy. Stars: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Timothy Olyphant. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 103 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $22.441 million, Warner. Available: 12/16.
THE TRIP TO ITALYDirector Michael Winterbottom's largely improvised 2010 film "The Trip" took actor-comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon - or semifictionalized versions thereof - on a restaurant tour around northern England. In this witty and incisive followup, Winterbottom reunites the pair for a new culinary road trip, where they retrace the steps of the Romantic poets' grand tour of Italy. During their drives and between bites of fine cuisine, the pals indulge in some sparkling banter and face off against each other with celebrity impersonations. Re-whetting our palates from the earlier film, the characters enjoy mouthwatering meals in gorgeous settings from Liguria to Capri while riffing on subjects as varied as Batman's vocal register, the artistic merits of Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" and, of course, the virtue of sequels. Winterbottom trains his camera to capture the idyllic Italian landscape and the gastronomic treasures being prepared and consumed while keeping the film centered on the crackling chemistry between the two leads.
TUSKA podcaster (Justin Long) looking for a juicy story is plunged into an unpredictable, unsettling and absurd nightmare after he travels to the backwoods of Canada to meet an eccentric recluse (Michael Parks) with a lifetime of adventures -- and a disturbing fondness for walruses. To wit, he literally turns the podcaster into a walrus by conducting a series of gruesome operations on him. Extras: Deleted scenes, commentary with writer-director Kevin Smith, "20 Years to Tusk" featurette, "The Making of Tusk" featurettes, SModcast #259: "The Walrus and the Carpenter" (the original podcast that inspired the film).
Director: Kevin Smith. Stars: Michael Parks, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez, Johnny Depp. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Horror Comedy, Box office gross: $1.427 million, Lionsgate. Available: 12/30.
WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALLInspired by a true story, the sports drama tells the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport. When the streak is broken, and tragedy strikes the team, Coach Lad must teach his players -- and the entire town -- that it's not about how you fall, but how you get back up. Extras: Commentary with director Thomas Carter, "Undefeated: Making When the Game Stands Tall" behind-the-scenes featurette. Blu-ray adds select scene commentary with director Thomas Carter and coach Bob Ladouceur, deleted & extended scenes, "Gridiron Action" football sequences featurette, "The Heart and Soul of a Program" look at the man behind the De La Salle Football Program.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.
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December 1, 2014