DVD reviews: 'Ted,' The Bourne Legacy' and 'Ice Age: Continental Drift'
“Ted” (2012, R, 106 min., $29.98). “Family Guy” creator and upcoming Oscars host Seth MacFarlane delivers his feature-length directorial debut with “Ted,” one of the surprise hits of 2012. The comedy rolled past $500 million at the box office, standing as Universal's highest-grossing film of the year. “Ted” has some funny moments, as MacFarlane, who also helped with the script, uses his sense of humor to make personal conversations between characters great. When viewers step back and look at the whole picture, though, they'll see an unoriginal comedy that holds an all-too familiar storyline. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and Joel McHale, “Ted” follows a guy named John (Wahlberg), who lives with his teddy bear (voiced by MacFarlane). Following a wish when he was a boy, John's teddy bear came to life and the two have been best friends ever since. Unfortunately, the hard-drinking teddy has held his best friend back. John doesn't see it that way, but his girlfriend Lori (Kunis) is trying to persuade him. It leads to a rift between the three main characters, but a tough situation for Ted will bring them back together again. Some great special features are available for viewing after the film. A making-of featurette is fun, as is “Teddy Bear Scuffle” (exclusive to Blu-ray), an examination of one of the funnier parts of “Ted.” Commentary with MacFarlane and Wahlberg also is cool. 2 Stars.
“The Bourne Legacy” (2012, PG-13, 135 min., $29.98). Bringing the Bourne franchise back into theaters — without Matt Damon — was a head-scratching decision, but, somehow, the screenwriter and director Tony Gilroy makes it work. Replacing Damon with Jeremy Renner and bringing in Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton certainly helped. Though, it is Gilroy's screenplay — a nicely paced tale of espionage — that keeps it in the same quality neighborhood as the previous three films. “The Bourne Legacy” also offers plenty of ties to its predecessors, and feels like a sequel. That's not a bad thing. Gilroy's feature picks up with Jason Bourne on the loose, and the government trying to cut all ties with the program in which he was trained. So, they begin killing off all connections, including doctors that worked with the operatives. Somehow, Aaron Cross — on a training assignment in Alaska — escapes an attempt on his life, and goes looking for Marta Shearing (Weisz), a doctor he's worked with in the past. Aaron thinks Marta can help him with a chemical dependency established through his work as an operative. At the same time, the government is tracking them, so it can put a lid on Cross' program. Blu-ray packages carry some good extras. Unfortunately, they are not available on standard DVD. A handful of featurettes explore action sequences, characters and settings. Deleted scenes and commentary are also here. 3 Stars.
“Ice Age: Continental Drift” (2012, PG, 88 min., $29.98). More of the same is the best way to describe “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” the fourth film in this animated franchise from Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox. That's not a bad thing either, as previous “Ice Age” pics have been perfectly acceptable adventures geared toward families. But the storyline here is certainly predictable and there isn't much development going on with these characters. It's almost like a sitcom that's just gotten a bit too comfortable. The film puts familiar characters Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid (John Leguizamo) on an oceanic adventure after their continent busts apart. As they make an attempt to get back to their families, the boys keep drifting out to sea. That is until they are captured by a band of pirates lead by a vicious primate named Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage). Manny, Diego and Sid escape, but in the process, they sink Gutt and his crew. Gutt won't be beaten so easily, though, and he looks for revenge. Special features are aplenty for Blu-ray packages, but there isn't much on standard DVDs. There are some good featurettes available, and a couple of interactive extras to get the kids involved. 2.5 Stars
“Why Stop Now” (2012, R, 85 min., $24.98). A top-notch cast — Melissa Leo, Jesse Eisenberg and Tracy Morgan — stars in this dramedy about a piano prodigy on his way to the biggest audition of his life. His trip's sidetracked, though, when he has to stop along the way to take his mother to a drug rehab center for treatment.
“V/H/S” (2012, R, 116 min., $26.98). One of the scarier horror flicks of the year, “V/H/S” is a collaboration between some of the genre's best directors. When a group of thugs breaks into a house, they discover a large collection of VHS tapes. Each video is more disturbing and terrifying than the last.
“Doomsday Book” (2012, NR, 115 min., $24.98). Kim Ji-Woon and Yim Pil-Sung teamed up to direct this harrowing picture that includes three stories — “Brave New World,” “Heavenly Creature” and “Happy Birthday” — with a focus on technology. Included is a story about a religion-practicing robot on the run from his manufacturer.
“The Whale” (2011, G, 85 min., $29.95). Actors Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds are executive producers for this heart-warming documentary about a young killer whale named Luna who lost contact with his family on the coast of British Columbia. Luna turns up by himself in the Nootka Sound.
“Kill ‘Em All” (2012, NR, 86 min., $24.98). Filmmaker Raimund Huber dips back into the action genre with this feature film about a holding cell named the Killing Chamber. The high-tech bunker holds captured assassins from around the world who are forced to kill to stay alive. In order to escape, prisoners face long and deadly odds.
“Osombie” (2012, NR, 94 min., $19.98). The United States doesn't have to just worry about living insurgents anymore. In “Osombie,” Osama Bin Laden is back from the dead, and he's leading an army of flesh-eating insurgents. That's the plot for this imaginative B movie from the minds of screenwriter Kurt Hale and director John Lyde.
“41” (2012, NR, 98 min., $19.98). Fans of George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, will want to pick up this intimate documentary from Jeffrey Roth that made its debut on HBO. Filmed over a 17-month period, “41” explores Bush's high and lows in politics, and time spent with his beloved family.
“Money and Medicine” (2012, NR, 85 min., $29.99). The health care industry is at the center of this informative documentary from filmmaker Roger Weisberg. The picture explores the dangers the United States faces from soaring health care costs and the dangers that patients are facing from over-diagnosis and over-treatment.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“Bill Cunningham New York” (documentary, 2011, NR, 84 min., $34.99)
“Manufactured Landscapes” (documentary, 2007, NR, 90 min., $34.99)
TV ON DVD
“Girls: The Complete First Season” (Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke, two discs, 10 episodes, $39.98)
“Futurama: Volume Seven” (voices from Billy West and Katey Sagal, two discs, 13 episodes, $29.98)
“The Simpsons: Season 15” (voices from Hank Azaria and Nancy Cartwright, four discs, 22 episodes, $49.98)
“Gunsmoke: The Seventh Season, Volume 1” (James Arness and Amanda Blake, five discs, 17 episodes, $39.99)
“The Legend of Neil: The Complete Series” (Tony Janning and Felicia Day, two discs, 26 episodes, $19.95)
“Power Rangers, Super Samurai: The Complete Season” (three discs, 20 episodes, $29.98)
“Mankind” (History series, three discs, 12 hours, $34.95)