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OnVideo's Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases

Tuesday, October 29 -- Monday, November 4

All DVD Releases

  • Monsters University

    photo for Monsters University Ever since the release of "Toy Story" (1995), the folks over at Pixar have striven to equal (or surpass) the breathtaking excitement of that ground-breaking film. Although they've rarely fallen on their faces, it's been pretty hard to match the humor, kindness, warmth, love and sense of adventure of the three "Toy Storys." They've never really had a flop, but some of their outings have failed to stir the imagination and have fallen somewhere between the redundancy of "Cars 2" and the creativity of "Finding Nemo." "Monsters University" lands somewhere in the lower portion of that continuum, a weak prequel to 2001's "Monsters, Inc." Where that film came up with the brilliant story of Monsters, Inc., a company that sends "Scarers" into bedrooms to generate their city's power by frightening children, "Monsters University" breaks no new ground but instead comes off as a bland animated buddy film created to cash in on and take advantage of Disney's merchandising juggernaut. (That being said, of course, I have to note that even a lackluster Pixar outing is still more entertaining than 90 percent of what passes for family product on the big -- and little -- screen). The story here revolves around college-bound monster Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal), who's dreamed of becoming a Scarer since a little kid. Knowing that the best Scarers come from Monsters University, he enrolls in the school, but his plans go awry when he meets natural-born scarer James P. Sullivan, "Sulley" (voice of John Goodman). The two begin to compete with each other, and their outrageous shenanigans get them kicked out of the university's elite Scare Program. It's then that they realize they'll have to work together, along with an odd bunch of misfit monsters, if they ever hope to make things right. Extras: DVD: Commentary; "The Blue Umbrella," an animated short film from Pixar Animation Studios about two umbrellas who fall in love during a rain storm. Blu-ray sets add: "Campus Life" look at a day in the life of the "Monsters University" crew through their own eyes; "Story School" documentary examines the challenges of creating a prequel as well as themes that run through the story; "Scare Games" featurette on the Pixar Scare Games competitions; "Welcome to MU" look at the Monsters University campus and its development; "Music Appreciation" documentary on Randy Newman's scores; "Scare Tactics" behind-the-scenes with the animators; "Color and Light" featurette; "Paths to Pixar - MU Edition" crew featurette; "Furry Monsters: A Technical Retrospective" explores the difficulties in creating characters that are 20 years younger with tools that are 10 years more advanced; deleted scenes; promo picks; college campaign; theatrical campaign; set flythroughs; art gallery; more. Vitals: Director: Dan Scanlon. Stars: Voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Julia Sweeney, John Krasinski, Aubrey Plaza, Bonnie Hunt, Frank Oz, Steve Buscemi, Charlie Day. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: G, 103 min., Animated, Box office gross: $258.565 million, Disney. 3 stars


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  • R.I.P.D.

    photo for R.I.P.D. I really wanted to like "R.I.P.D." It had gotten such bad buzz before it opened, and then such a lukewarm reception by the critics, that I wanted to give the film the benefit of the doubt and be generous with what -- in concept -- sounded like a great idea: A police force made up of dead cowboys and deceased cops whose mission was to return to the "other side" monstrous spirits still roaming the Earth (the screenplay was based on the Dark Horse graphic novel). Unfortunately, however, the whole affair came off as a re-purposed "Men in Black," right down to the use of secret entrances to the agents' headquarters, the pairing of a grizzled veteran (Jeff Bridges as a long-dead old West gunslinger) and a newbie (Ryan Reynolds as a recently dead cop), and outlandish bodies for the evil spirits once their human facades are stripped off. The plot: Reynolds, on the verge of becoming a dirty cop, is killed in the line of duty and in order to redeem himself, he's forced to join the Rest in Peace Department and, with veteran dead sheriff Roy Pulsifer (Bridges), has to track down criminals trying to escape final judgment. They soon uncover a plot to open a tunnel between Earth and the afterlife that would begin sending angry souls the wrong way, an action that could end life as we know it. Despite sporadic spectacular special effects, the film drags, especially in lengthy "talky" scenes between Bridges -- here making a mockery of his "True Grit" persona -- and Reynolds. And the one original bit -- both men have avatars that represent them when they're seen by the living, a Chinese man for Reynolds, a sexy woman for Bridges -- falls flat because of stilted acting and pacing. Extras: Deleted and alternate scenes, gag reel, "Transferring R.I.P.D. The Making of." Blu-ray adds alternate openings, "R.I.P.D Motion Comics: Bringing the Avatars to Life," "Nick's New Avatars," "Filming the Other Side," "Walking Among Us: Deados & Avatars," "Anatomy of a Shootout." Vitals: Director: Robert Schwentke. Stars: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 96 min., Supernatural Action Comedy, Box office gross: $32.731 million, Universal. 2 stars


    Blu-ray Debuts

  • La Notte (1961)

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All DVD Releases

Agatha Christie's Poirot, Series 9 (2003) David Suchet stars as Agatha Christie's mustachioed mystery-solver in these four feature-length episodes: "Five Little Pigs," "Sad Cypress," "Death on the Nile" and "The Hollow." Newly remastered and restored to their original U.K. broadcast order. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc. (Acorn Media).

American Experience: War of the Worlds (2013) PBS documentary examines the infamous radio broadcast on its 75th anniversary. On October 30, 1938, just after 8 p.m. on the East Coast, the millions of Americans tuned to CBS Radio were treated to an unusual dramatization of H.G. Wells's classic "The War of the Worlds," performed by 23-year-old wunderkind Orson Welles and his "Mercury Theater on the Air." Although most listeners understood that the program was a radio drama, thousands of others -- perhaps a million or more -- were plunged into panic, convinced that America was under a deadly Martian attack. With the CBS radio broadcast serving as its narrative spine, the film examines the elements that came together to create one of the biggest mass hysteria events in U.S. history: our longtime fascination with life on Mars; the emergence of radio as a powerful, pervasive medium; the shocking Hindenburg explosion of 1937, the first disaster to broadcast live; a nation anxious about the imminent outbreak of war in Europe; and the brilliant enfant terrible Orson Welles. Formats: DVD, $24.99. (PBS Distribution).

Antigone 34 (2012) Set in Montpelier in the south of France, this TV series is a stylish, fast-paced police-thriller that examines the dark underbelly that lies beneath one of Europe's most beautiful cities, featuring Victor, a disbarred doctor, and Helene, a non-conformist psycho-criminologist. Three-disc set with six episodes, $39.95. Formats: DVD. (MHz Networks Home Entertainment).

photo for The Beauty of the Devil The Beauty of the Devil (1950) Dir.: Rene Clair; Michel Simon, Gerard Philipe. Master filmmaker Rene Clair's retelling of the Faust legend, newly remastered. An aging professor of alchemy makes a bargain with the Devil that will give him youth, fame and riches in exchange for his soul. Clair creates an allegorical fantasy that is both whimsical and tragicomic in this rarely seen masterpiece. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc. Extras: 2010 documentary featurette about the film, trailers. (Cohen Film Collection).

Bounty Killer (2013) Matthew Marsden, Christian Pitre, Barak Hardley, Eve, Gary Busey, Beverly D'Angelo, Alexa Vega. In a near-future in which corporate greed led to a fierce global battle that laid waste to the world, a new breed of killers -- who compete for body count, fame and a fat stack of cash -- hunt down white collar criminals and exterminate self-serving CEOs. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc. (Arc Entertainment).

Byzantium photo for (2013) Dir.: Neil Jordan; Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan. Vampire Clara and her daughter Eleanor have been sating their need for blood for 200 years. Sensitive Eleanor relies on the elderly to survive, but Clara is far less compassionate, working as a prostitute and bringing a violent end to those who would take advantage of women. When the trail of bloodless corpses left in their wake forces them to flee to a coastal town in England, Clara turns a rundown hotel into a brothel and Eleanor tells her story to a young man she befriends, jeopardizing their existence. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc. (IFC Films).



Coming Home for Christmas (2013) George Canyon, Amy Jo Johnson, Britt McKillip, Carly McKillip. When an estranged family agrees to come back together to their old family home for a Christmas reunion there's one big problem -- there's someone else living there now. Formats: DVD. (Nasser Entertainment).

Cook's Country, Season 6 (2013) Two-disc set with 13 episodes of the series that features the best regional home cooking in the country and relies on the same practical, no-nonsense food approach that has made Cook's Country magazine so successful. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc, $29.99. (PBS Distribution).

Damages: The Complete Series Fifteen-Disc set of all five season. Formats: DVD. (Sony).

photo for Family Tree: The Complete First Season (2013) Two-disc set with eight episodes of the HBO Series that centers on 30-year-old Tom Chadwick (Chris O'Dowd) who, after losing his job and his girlfriend, begins exploring his family heritage after inheriting a mysterious box from a great aunt he never met. Unsure of his identity, he uncovers a world of unusual stories and characters as well as a growing sense of who he and his real family are. Writer-director Christopher Guest's first television series. The documentary-style comedy series also features a roster of Guest regulars, including Ed Begley, Jr., Fred Willard, Jim Piddock, Michael McKean and Bob Balaban. Formats: DVD, $29.98. Extras: "Keith's Favorite 1970's Sitcoms": Clips from episodes of some of Keith's (Michael McKean) favorite TV shows ("There Goes the Neighbourhood," "Move Along, Please!") that appear within the world of the series; 13 never-before-seen bonus scenes that give a glimpse into Mr. Pfister's childhood, a deeper look at the pantomime race horse, and more; audio tracks for "The Plantagenets Love Theme," "I'm Alone But That's OK" and other original music written for the series by Guest and others. (HBO).

Free Samples (2012) Jess Weixler, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Ritter, Halley Feiffer, Tippi Hedren. A Stanford law-school dropout retreats to Los Angeles and helps run her best friend's ice cream truck, fending off locals and oddball friends alike as she doles out free soft serve and, on the day of her boyfriends's birthday, finds herself being courted by a young man whom she barely remembers from the night before. Formats: DVD. (Anchor Bay).

The Johan Falk Trilogy Three feature films about touch Swedish cop Johan Falk, whose fictional exploits are based on true stories of criminals, victims, law enforcement operatives and private security companies. Formats: Three-disc DVD, $39.95. (MHz Networks Home Entertainment).

La Notte (1961) This psychologically acute, visually striking modernist work was director Michelangelo Antonioni's follow-up to the epochal "L'avventura." Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau star as a novelist and his frustrated wife who, over the course of one night, confront their alienation from each other and the achingly empty bourgeois Milan circles in which they travel. Antonioni's muse Monica Vitti smolders as an industrialist's tempting daughter. Moodily sensual cinematography and subtly expressive performances make "La notte" an indelible illustration of romantic and social deterioration. New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc. Extras: New interview with film critic Adriano Apra and film historian Carlo Di Carlo, new interview with professor Giuliana Bruno on the role of architecture in "La notte," trailer, booklet featuring an essay by critic Richard Brody and a 1961 article by director Michelangelo Antonioni. (The Criterion Collection).

Line of Duty, Series 1 (2012) Two-disc set with five episodes of the British police drama series about a London police officer who is transferred to the anti-corruption unit after he refuses to participate in a bureaucratic cover-up following a botched counterterrorism raid. Formats: DVD, $39.99. Extras: Interviews with the writer, directors, and cast; behind-the-scenes footage. (Acorn Media).

Little Brother, Big Trouble -- A Christmas Adventure (2012) Animated feature about a young reindeer who must find his missing little brother in order to save Christmas. Formats: DVD, VOD, Digital. Extras: Three behind-the-scenes featurettes; sneak peek at "Miniscule," four award-winning short films. (Lionsgate).

photo for Margarita (2012) Nicola Correia Damude, Christine Horne, Patrick McKenna, Claire Lautier, Maya Ritter. Behind the facade of a beautiful urban home, a combination of complacency and bad investments has left power couple Ben and Gail disconnected, resentful and just about broke. When the cash-strapped yuppies fire their teen-aged daughter's lesbian Mexican nanny, Margarita, they set off a chain of events that lead to her deportation. Formats: DVD, Digital. (Wolfe Video).

Monsters University (2013) Voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Julia Sweeney, John Krasinski, Aubrey Plaza, Bonnie Hunt, Frank Oz, Steve Buscemi, Charlie Day. Formats: 4-Disc Blu-ray 3-D Superset (3D + 2BD + DVD + Digital Copy), 3-disc Blu-ray 2-D Superset (2BD + DVD + Digital Copy), 3-Disc Blu-ray 2-D Combo Pack (2 BD + DVD), DVD. Extras: DVD: Commentary, "The Blue Umbrella," an animated short film from Pixar Animation Studios about two umbrellas who fall in love during a rain storm. Blu-ray sets add: "Campus Life" look at a day in the life of the "Monsters University" crew through their own eyes; "Story School" documentary examines the challenges of creating a prequel as well as themes that run through the story; "Scare Games" featurette on the Pixar Scare Games competitions; "Welcome to MU" look at the Monsters University campus and its development; "Music Appreciation" documentary on Randy Newman's scores; "Scare Tactics" behind-the-scenes with the animators; "Color and Light" featurette; "Paths to Pixar - MU Edition" crew featurette; "Furry Monsters: A Technical Retrospective" explores the difficulties in creating characters that are 20 years younger with tools that are 10 years more advanced; deleted scenes; promo picks; college campaign; theatrical campaign; set flythroughs; art gallery; more. (Disney).

R.I.P.D. (2013) Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, 3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray/DVD Combo, VOD, Digital, UltraViolet (cloud). Extras: Deleted and alternate scenes, gag reel, "Transferring R.I.P.D. -- The Making of." Blu-ray adds alternate openings, "R.I.P.D Motion Comics: Bringing the Avatars to Life," "Nick's New Avatars," "Filming the Other Side," "Walking Among Us: Deados & Avatars," "Anatomy of a Shootout." (Universal).

Running Mates (2011) Thomas Michael, Paolo Mancini, DJ Qualls, Graham Greene, Henry Winkler, Jane McLean. Successful businessman Archie Skidmarks Fenton returns to his hometown to run for mayor and winds up facing his mullet-wearing childhood buddy Reg, the local tow-truck driver. Formats: DVD. (Monarch Home Entertainment).

Saving Santa (2013) Animated family film with the voices of Martin Freeman, Noel Clark, Tim Conway, Tim Curry, Ashley Tisdale, Joan Collins. A lowly stable elf finds that he is the only one who can stop an eccentric billionaire scoundrel's invasion of the North Pole by using the secret of Santa's sleigh, a TimeGlobe, to travel back in time to Save Santa -- twice. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo. (Anchor Bay).

Spiral: Series 2 (2008) Four-disc set with eight episodes of the hard-hitting Parisian cop procedural/thriller. Formats: DVD, $49.95. (MHz Networks Home Entertainment).

photo for The Secret World of Santa Claus (1997) Curious what Santa Claus, his nine flying reindeer and the Elves do the other 364 days of the year? In these non-stop adventures, Santa and his team search for the perfect presents for boys and girls around the globe. Each two-disc set contains a dozen episodes of the animated series. In "The Secret World of Santa Claus: Elves in Toyland," after sleighing around the world, they journey into a place full of magic where they discover the evil Gruzzlebeard has cast a spell on all the toys, making them come to life. With Christmas rapidly approaching, Santa and the Elves must undo this evil spell before it's too late. In "The Secret World of Santa Claus: A Present for Santa," the children from a nearby village meet with the Elves and work together to make Santa a gift -- he's the only person on the planet who never receives presents on Christmas. Formats: DVD, $14.95 each. (Cinedigm).

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