DVD reviews: 'Brave,' 'Savages' and 'The Watch'
“Brave” (2012, PG, 100 min., $29.99). The folks at Pixar rarely make a bad film, and “Brave” is another winner. Mixing in action, comedy and drama, this fun film tells the tale of Merida, a young princess who enjoys shooting her bow in the woods around her Scottish home. Unfortunately, her mother wants Merida to be more like a princess and marry one of the men she's selected. When Merida runs away, she finds a potion from a witch that's supposed to change her mother's mind. Well, the potion works for the princess, but it has a horrible effect on her mother. As Merida works to reverse the potion, she finds an understanding for her mother's thinking, and it brings them so much closer. The first Pixar film to have a female lead, “Brave” is family friendly, of course, and, like all of the animated pictures from the Disney company, it can be enjoyed across all ages. Likeable characters, a terrific script, a talented cast (Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson provide voices) and jaw-dropping animation combine to make the colorful “Brave” one of the best pictures of 2012. Like other Pixar titles, the special features available in the specific DVD packages are fantastic. At the top are five- and three-disc sets that hold Blu-ray and standard DVDs. The five-disc package also has a 3D cut. The extras on both sets explore production, characters and just about every inch of “Brave.” A little extra money, but both are well worth it. A one-disc standard DVD is also for sale. 3.5 Stars.
“Savages” (2012, R, 131 min., $29.98). Oliver Stone's reputation isn't as strong as it used to be, and his latest — “Savages” — won't get him back to the top either. The heavily stylized drama has a good-looking cast and over-the-top characters in a storyline that limps to the finish. At 131 minutes, “Savages” drags to a halt at the halfway point, and never finds its pace. The film focuses on two friends, Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson), who have found great success as marijuana growers in California. Pals from all the way back to high school, Chon and Ben share everything, even their girlfriend O (Blake Lively). Everything's going good until a Mexican drug cartel tries to force its way into the business. Run by the ruthless Elena (Salma Hayek) and her enforcer Lado (Benicio del Toro), the cartel tries to cut a deal with Chon and Ben. The boys initially resist, and the cartel goes after O, kidnapping her until Chon and Ben come around to Elena's deal. The kidnapping angers the guys, and they put together all their resources — including their relationship with a crooked DEA agent (John Travolta) — to make a run at the cartel. Special features are merely average, and there's more available for Blu-ray buyers. Commentary is on both outlets, but a decent five-part documentary on the making of the film can only be found on Blu-ray. Deleted scenes are exclusive to Blu-ray. 2 Stars.
“The Watch” (2012, R, 102 min., $29.98). Lost potential is the largest disappointment around filmmaker Akiva Schaffer's comedy “The Watch.” With its strong cast — Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill star — and accomplished writing team — Jared Stern, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg — and an interesting storyline, this science-fiction comedy looked like a knockout. Unfortunately, that's not the case. “The Watch” rests too much on toilet humor as it makes its way through a plot that rarely takes advantage of the strength of its cast. When an employee of Evan's (Stiller) Costco is brutally murdered, he decides to put together a neighborhood watch program for his small town. A bored construction worker (Vaughn), a loose cannon (Hill) and a new British neighbor (Richard Ayoade) join up. Evan seems genuinely interested in keeping the streets safe, but the others are just using the opportunity to get out of the house and drink some beer. The carelessness of the other members eventually leads to a rift with Evan, but the guys join up again when they discover an alien force has made its home in their town. Then, the neighborhood watch swings into action. Even though there are a few extras exclusive to Blu-ray, standard DVDs don't fall far behind. There are plenty of deleted scenes, a gag reel and few decent featurettes in both packages. 1.5 Stars.
“Dark Horse” (2011, NR, 86 min., $24.99). Talented filmmaker Todd Solondz pulls together an all-star cast — Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow, Selma Blair and Justin Bartha — for this dark comedy about a lonely loser, with a weak grasp on reality, who suddenly falls in love with a woman he met at a wedding.
“Your Sister's Sister” (2012, R, 90 min., $24.98). Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemarie DeWitt star in one of the more charming independent features of the year. Lynn Shelton wrote and directed this dramedy about a man in mourning, a concerned female friend and her lonely sister coming together at a secluded lakeside cabin.
“We Can't Go Home Again” (1973, NR, 90 min., $34.99). Legendary director Nicholas Ray, the maker of “Rebel Without a Cause,” put together this experimental work with his college students in upstate New York. The film has Ray playing himself, as he takes a look at everyday life and the events that might unfold.
“Painted Skin: The Resurrection” (2012, NR, 131 min., $24.98). Filmmaker Wuershan paints a vivid picture in this action-packed feature based on Chinese mythology. A sequel to the 2008 hit “Painted Skin,” the flick follows an evil demon named Xiaowei and a masked princess named Jing, both exploring the world to find something they cherish.
“The Pact” (2012, R, 89 min., $24.98). Nicholas McCarthy wrote and directed this horror film about a young woman who returns home after the death of her abusive mother. In her first night staying at her old house, the woman realizes that there is some sinister presence also existing in the home that's tied to her mother.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“Friends: The Complete Series” (Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry, 21 discs, 236 episodes, $279.98)
“Lawrence of Arabia” (Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, 1962, PG, 219 min., $26.99)
“Patton” (George C. Scott and Karl Malden, 1970, PG, 172 min., $29.99)
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding: 10th Anniversary Special Edition” (Nia Vardalos and John Corbett, 2002, PG, 94 min., $19.98)
TV ON DVD
“Duck Dynasty: Season One” (reality series, three discs, 15 episodes, $19.95)
“Aim High: The Complete First Season” (Jackson Rathbone and Aimee Teegarden, one disc, six episodes, $14.97)
“Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 2” (12 short animated films, 2012, NR, 65 min., $29.99)
“Company” (Stephen Sondheim musical stage comedy, 2011, NR, 145 min., $24.98)
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