DVD reviews: 'The Amazing Spider-Man' and 'Entourage: The Complete Series'
“The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012, PG-13, 136 min., $30.99). “The Amazing Spider-Man” was met with doubt when it arrived in theaters. After all, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man franchise had just met its end in 2007, and what was the need for another reboot. It's a legitimate response from moviegoers, but they'd be wise to catch this terrific pic on video. Filmmaker Marc Webb delivers an exciting take on Spider-Man that's boosted by incredible visuals, tight storytelling and a talented young cast that includes Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Webb's flick is fun, and it has a spot right there with Raimi's three features. “The Amazing Spider-Man” takes a different approach than the origin story found in Raimi's first movie. While the structure is the same, Webb and his screenwriters (James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves) tie Peter Parker's (Garfield) story into the disappearance of his parents. As Peter comes of age in high school, he discovers some info about his father and his relationship with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). It's during Peter's first attempt to meet the doc that a spider that will give him superhuman powers bites him. However, Dr. Connors has some secrets of his own, and could end up as Spider-Man's first villain. As with most of these comic adaptations, there are tons of extras. Fans of the film would be wise to pick up one of the two combo packs, with Blu-ray and DVD editions of the film. Also available is a 90-minute documentary that explores production, stunt rehearsals, deleted scenes and more. 3 Stars.
“Entourage: The Complete Series” (18 discs, 96 episodes, $249.99). Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), Eric (Kevin Connolly), Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) formed a formidable crew for eight seasons on HBO, as they navigated the day-to-day life of a Hollywood actor, his inner circle and his pushy agent. Loosely based on the experiences of Mark Wahlberg, one of the executive producers of the show, “Entourage” was an incredibly popular series. Although the series didn't finish as strong as it started, “Entourage” deserves credit for its touch of reality. It could have focused on the babes and booze of Vincent Chase, but also tackled the many difficulties a young actor might experience. It also deserves some praise for developing its core characters. With its run ending in 2011 on HBO, the entire series is available for purchase just in time for the holidays. The eight seasons are inside an 18-disc package that includes 96 episodes. The episodes are the reason to buy, but the collection of special features also is impressive. Among the notable featurettes are “The Celebrity Factor,” a series of interviews with the cast and crew about becoming stars, and “The Mark Wahlberg Sessions,” with Wahlberg interviewing cast and crew. Plenty of audio commentaries, additional interviews and a few more featurettes also are on board. 2.5 Stars.
“High Ground” (2012, NR, 97 min., $19.99). Get ready for a tough climb with this remarkable documentary that features a group of Middle East combat veterans focused on scaling Mount Lobuche, a rough mountain in the Himalayas. The climb is embarked upon to try to heal the mental and physical ravages of war.
“Even the Rain” (2010, NR, 103 min., $27.97). Director Iciar Bollain works off of Paul Laverty's screenplay for this intense drama about a film crew — shooting a revisionist film about Christopher Columbus — that finds itself in the midst of a riot regarding the water supply in Bolivia. Gael Garcia Bernal and Luis Tosar star.
“With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story” (2011, NR, 80 min., $24.98). The comic book legend responsible for characters such as Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk is profiled in this good-looking documentary. Folks like Kevin Smith, Samuel L. Jackson and Patrick Stewart all weigh in on the revered Stan Lee.
“A Man's Story” (2010, NR, 98 min., $19.99). There have been a number of documentaries on giants of the fashion world over the last few years. “A Man's Story” is an in-depth portrait of British designer Ozwald Boateng and his rise to the top of the ranks.
“Fire with Fire” (2012, R, 97 min., $19.98). An impressive cast — Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Josh Duhamel and Vincent D'Onofrio — somehow finds its way into this straight-to-video DVD about a man who witnesses a brutal murder and is forced to testify against a ruthless crime lord.
“Kiss Me” (2011, NR, 105 min., $24.95). Ruth Vega Fernandez and Liv Mjones take lead roles in this passionate Swedish love story about a woman named Mia who falls in love with another woman. The sudden connection puts Mia's engagement to her boyfriend in jeopardy, but it also opens her up to a whole new life.
“Maximum Conviction” (2012, R, 98 min., $26.98). Action superstars Steve Seagal and Steve Austin kick plenty of butt in this picture about former black ops operatives who are hired to decommission an old prison. While there, they have to oversee the arrival of two mysterious female prisoners.
“Supernatural Activity” (2012, NR, 93 min., $19.98). It was bound to happen. With all of the success found-footage films have been experiencing at the theater, there was going to be a spoof, eventually. This picture from Derek Lee Nixon hits on all of those features, including the “Paranormal Activity” franchise and “The Blair Witch Project.”
“Outlaw Brothers” (1990, NR, 96 min., $14.93). From the Dragon Dynasty Collection comes a story that follows the exploits of two car thieves and the policewoman right on their trail. Directed by Frankie Chan, “Outlaw Brothers” houses some fantastic fight scenes and more action than anyone would ever need.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“Sunset Boulevard” (Gloria Swanson and William Holden, 1950, NR, 110 min., $26.99)
“The Muppet Christmas Carol: 20th Anniversary” (voices from Frank Oz and Steve Whitmire, 1992, G, 89 min., $26.50)
“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (Steve Martin and John Candy, 1987, R, 92 min., $19.99)
Combo pack: “Prep & Landing” (voices from Dave Foley and Derek Richardson, 2009, G, 22 min.) with “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” (voices from Sarah Chalke and Rob Riggle, 2011, G, 24 min., $20)
TV ON DVD
“Copper: Season One” (Tom Weston-Jones and Kevin Ryan, three discs, 11 episodes, $49.98)
“Regular Show” (Voices from J.G. Quintel and William Salyers, one disc, 16 episodes, $19.82)
“Wolf Lake: The Complete Series” (Lou Diamond Phillips and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, three discs, nine episodes, $39.98)
“Louie Anderson: Big Baby Boomer” (standup comedy from Las Vegas, NR, 44 min., $14.98)
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