DVD reviews: 'Magic Mike' and 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'
“Magic Mike” (2012, R, 110 min., $29.98). Looking back at the collection of films from 2012, “Magic Mike” stands as the greatest surprise. No one would have put much stock in a movie about male strippers with Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum, but the film did big business at the box office, had some Oscar buzz and garnered plenty of positive criticism. There's good reason. Director Steven Soderbergh's latest picture gives viewers an incredibly detailed look at the world of a male stripper through a well-written screenplay and surprising showings from Tatum and McConaughey. The film follows a stripper named Mike (Tatum), who has plans on exiting the business some day. Mike has other business interests, but stripping brings in the most. As he continues with the job, he meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a youngster with no direction. Mike brings Adam into the strip club and introduces him to Dallas (McConaughey), his control freak of a boss. Adam immediately takes to the business, and starts working. The life choice doesn't play well with Brooke (Cody Horn), Adam's sister, and it also puts the youngster into some bad company. With trouble on the horizon, Mike tries to keep Adam straight, but there's little he can do. Special features are pretty weak here, housing only a short featurette on becoming a male stripper and some extended dance scenes. 2.5 Stars.
“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” (2012, R, 101 min., $29.98). Seeking a movie for the Mayan-predicted end of the world? You can do a lot worse than “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” an entertaining picture that blends romance, drama and comedy with fine performances from Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. While the picture has some problems with tone, they're easy to overlook in this flick that stands as the directorial debut of Lorene Scafaria, who cinefiles might remember as the writer of the under seen “Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist” from 2008. With an asteroid charging toward Earth, certain death — for everybody on the planet — has been guaranteed. Dodge (Carell) and Penny (Knightley) are pushed together, as rioters take over the building they live in. They hit the road, looking for a sweetheart Dodge has never gotten over. Closing in on that old girlfriend, the unthinkable happens between Penny and Dodge, as they start to fall for each other, and solidify a friend for the end of the world. Extras across Blu-ray and standard DVD platforms are the same, and they're pretty good. Two good featurettes shed light on the movie's production and thoughts from the cast about the impending end of the world. Outtakes also are included, along with commentary from Scafaria and some additional members of the cast and crew. 3 Stars.
“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (2012, R, 105 min., $29.98). Point the finger of blame toward Seth Grahame-Smith for this lousy action picture from visual filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov. Grahame-Smith's the writer who created these crazy mashups, penning the 2010 novel of the same name and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” from 2009. His screenplay is the guiding stake to the heart for a picture that's got some exhilarating action sequences, but little else. Despite a ridiculous premise, the film tries to keep a straight face throughout. That just doesn't jive with revelations such as the leaders of the Confederacy taking their orders from vampires. The film brings the viewer into Lincoln's life as a young boy, and he's exposed to bloodsuckers right away. Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) plans revenge against the vamps that took his mother's life, but he finds them hard to kill. This brings Lincoln under the guidance of a bitter vampire (Dominic Cooper), who trains the future politico to destroy vampires. As Lincoln continues to hunt vampires, he also moves up the political ladder, taking him right into the Civil War, which has a whole new meaning here. Fans should pick up the Blu-ray set over standard DVD because of the extras. An extensive making-of featurette looks at production, and Grahame-Smith commentary is good. 1.5 Stars.
“The Invisible War” (2012, NR, 97 min., $29.95). A probable candidate to land an Academy Award nomination in the feature-length documentary field, this important picture from talented filmmaker Kirby Dick takes a look at the emotional story of rape victims in the military, and the systemic cover-up of those sex crimes. The picture follows a few of these victims, and their hard-fought battle for justice.
“The Ambassador” (2011, NR, 93 min., $27.97). Danish journalist Mads Brugger employs what he calls performative journalism for this tense documentary that has Brugger playing out the part of a wealthy businessman looking to acquire credentials that will allow him a piece of the lucrative blood diamond trade in Africa. Brugger does an excellent job of exposing the greed that allows rich foreigners to dive right in.
“Secret of the Wings” (2012, G, 92 min., $29.99). This animated picture from Disney features the voices of Anjelica Huston, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symone and Timothy Dalton. It tells the tale of Tinker Bell taking a forbidden trip into the mysterious Winter Woods. On her amazing journey, she discovers a magical secret that will change her life.
“Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines” (2012, R, 91 min., $22.98). Yes, this is the fifth film from this horror franchise that has killed off so many unsuspecting partygoers, or victims of wrong turns. This latest picture takes fans back a ways to provide a back-story for a pack of hungry hillbilly cannibals.
“247F” (2011, R, 90 min., $24.98). Scout Taylor-Compton, Travis Van Winkle and Christina Ulloa are in lead roles for this thriller about three friends heading off to a lakeside cabin for a carefree weekend. The fun quickly turns to danger when the friends become trapped inside a hot sauna.
“Rites of Passage” (2012, R, 102 min., $26.98). An impressive cast — Stephen Dorff, Wes Bentley, Christian Slater and Kate Maberly — gathers for a thriller about a college student and a group of his friends getting together for an ancient ceremony at an abandoned ranch that turns out to be a frightening experience.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
• “Blade Runner: 30th Anniversary” (Harrison Ford and Sean Young, 1982, R, 117 min., $34.99)
TV ON DVD
• “Happy Endings: The Complete Second Season” (Eliza Coupe and Elisha Cuthbert, three discs, 21 episodes, $45.99)
• “Ghost Hunters: Season 7, Part 2” (reality series, four discs, 13 episodes, $24.98)
• “Drinking Made Easy: Season Two” (reality series, four discs, 24 episodes, $29.98)