DVD reviews: 'Man of Steel' and 'Blackfish'
“Man of Steel” (2013, PG-13, 143 min., $28.98). Christopher Nolan, the director who rose to prominence with his Batman-centered “Dark Knight Trilogy,” is turning around another superhero. Nolan stood as a producer on the latest Superman flick, and his presence can be felt in this dark origins story about Clark Kent. “Man of Steel” drags on a bit too long and has a few plot holes, but, for the most part, it's an entertaining ride — packed with excellent action sequences and good performances from Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner. The story kicks off on the collapsing Krypton — Superman's home planet — before going to Earth. In Kansas, the Kryptonian who becomes Clark Kent finds his home, and is raised by a family attempting to keep his powers under the radar. When Earth is threatened, though, Clark is forced into action. Remarkable cinematography, memorable action scenes and a loaded collection of special features make the Blu-ray set a great pick up. Standard DVD packages have a few featurettes, but Blu-ray and 3D combo packs hold much more in the way of making-of featurettes and interviews with the cast and crew. 3 Stars.
“Blackfish” (2013, PG-13, 83 min., $26.98). Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite's film, which made its debut on CNN earlier this year, is a well-done work that takes a hard look at the problems that arise with keeping orcas, or killer whales, in captivity. In “Blackfish,” a killer whale named Tilikum, which killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010, is the focus. The male started his life off the coast of Iceland before being trapped and moved into captivity. It was the beginning of a tragically abusive journey, which has seen Tilikum involved in the deaths of two other people prior to being moved to SeaWorld, that Cowperthwaite uses to prove her well-researched point about keeping these mammals in captivity. This is a powerful documentary, and it could help bring about some change. Special features are worth a look, as Cowperthwaite expands on the documentary by including additional interviews, commentary and a couple of interesting featurettes. 3.5 Stars.
“JFK 50 Year Commemorative Ultimate Collector's Edition” (1991, R, 189 min., $59.99). Director Oliver Stone is certainly a figure who draws controversy, and one of his most controversial films — 1991's “JFK” — is being re-released by Warner Bros. in a comprehensive collector's edition. The package coincides with the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas. Upon its release, Stone's film — nominated for eight Academy Awards — drew a ton of attention for conspiracy theories it touched on in its 188-minute runtime. It's also quite a good movie with a star-studded cast, including Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon and Laurie Metcalf. There are lots of bonus features in the collector's edition, includes three powerful documentaries that explore John F. Kennedy and his assassination. Consumers also will find a new multimedia essays that uncover additional information around the assassination, as well as commentary from Stone, deleted scenes and a feature film that covers Kennedy's days in World War II. The director's cut of “JFK,” looking exquisite on Blu-ray, is the best part of this package, though. 3.5 Stars.
“Turbo” (2013, PG, 96 min., $29.98). The latest from Dreamworks' animation studio is about a snail who has dreams of winning the Indy 500. When that snail accidentally acquires super speed, his dream is within reach. He'll need help from his friends to get him there, though. Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Maya Rudolph provide voices.
“Prince Avalanche” (2013, R, 94 min., $26.98). Director David Gordon Green wrote and directed this fun film about two guys (Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch) spending the summer of 1988 repainting the traffic lines on a desolate country highway. The guys pass time bickering, joking and reflecting on their pasts.
“IP Man: The Final Fight” (2013, PG-13, 100 min., $24.98). There's been a series of action-packed films revolving around IP Man over the last few years, and filmmaker Herman Yau's picture is a good addition. This adventure has IP Man being called into action to an underground world that has him defending himself against the Triads.
“The Attack” (2012, R, 102 min., $24.98). An engrossing picture, “The Attack” tells the tale of a Palestinian surgeon whose life takes a dark turn when his wife dies in a suicide bombing that she was involved in. The surgeon, totally blindsided by the news, goes out to find the terrorists who recruited his wife.
“Ambushed” (2013, R, 96 min., $24.98). The testosterone flows heavily in “Ambushed,” a picture about the dirty Los Angeles underbelly. Directed by Giorgio Serafini, it targets the drug dealers and cops — some clean and some dirty — who don't mind getting violent to achieve their goals. Vinnie Jones, Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture star.
“The Capture of Grizzly Adams” (1982, NR, 93 min., $14.99). “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” was a show that ran for a couple seasons in the late 1970s. The series was wrapped up with “The Capture of Grizzly Adams,” which ran as a made-for-TV movie. Starring Dan Haggerty and Chuck Connors, the film was based on a true story.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“The Message” (Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas, 1977, PG, 177 min., $19.99)
“The Lion of the Desert” (Rod Steiger and Oliver Reed, 1981, PG, 173 min., $19.99)
TV ON DVD
“Dexter: The Complete Series Collection” (33 discs, 96 episodes, $352.99)
“Dexter: The Complete Final Season” (four discs, 12 episodes, $57.99)
“The Best of Dance Moms: The Championship Dances” (two discs, six episodes, $14.98)