New on DVD: 'Flight,' 'Alex Cross' and 'Celeste and Jesse Forever'
“Flight” (2012, R, 138 min., $30.99). Whether he's playing Malcolm X, Rubin Carter or a crazed cop, Denzel Washington always delivers. He raises the bar again with “Flight,” embracing the role of an alcoholic pilot who pulls off a miracle, landing a crippled plane with few casualties. Initially called a hero, Whip (Washington) tries to stay out of the limelight. The veteran pilot knows there's an investigation coming, and he'll be made into a drunk and possibly face prison time. As the investigation unfolds, Whip tries to cut off the drinking and go straight. Unfortunately, he can't stop. His lawyer (Don Cheadle) and union rep (Bruce Greenwood) try to keep him sober until the investigation is over, but it's impossible to stop an alcoholic who doesn't want to stop drinking. Washington, nominated for an Oscar for his role, is just about perfect here, working off a screenplay from John Gatins. The script also picked up a nod from the Oscars. “Flight” marks the successful return of filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, who hadn't done a live-action film since 2000. The pic offers a riveting and emotional character study that's highlighted by top-notch performances. Fans of the film will want to stick with Blu-ray. The standard DVD package has no extras. On Blu-ray, viewers can enjoy some good featurettes, including one that breaks down the film's incredible plane crash sequence. 3.5 Stars
“Alex Cross” (2012, PG-13, 101 min., $29.95). Even though he's known for dressing up as a larger-than-life grandma named Madea, Tyler Perry playing an action hero isn't the hardest pill to swallow with “Alex Cross.” Then, there's Matthew Fox, an actor who usually plays good guys. Seeing him as a maniacal assassin isn't tough either. Perry and Fox do their best here, but they are unfortunate players in a film that's one of the worst of 2012. Much of the credit, or shame, should go to the makers of this mess. It's a film that works off a poor screenplay heavy on clichés, loose ends and predictable twists and turns. Based on a character developed by author James Patterson, the pic follows a Detroit detective named Alex Cross (Perry). Alex and his partner Tommy (Edward Burns) find themselves investigating the torture and death of a powerful businesswoman. The investigation brings them closer to the killer, and they counter his next move. This only angers the murderer, known by the name Picasso (Fox). Picasso turns his attention toward Alex and Tommy, and it becomes a hard-knuckled fight in the streets of Detroit. A decent collection of special features can be found on Blu-ray and standard DVD. First and foremost is a making-of featurette that explores bringing Patterson's writings to the silver screen. A few deleted scenes and commentary are also available. 1.5 Stars.
“Celeste and Jesse Forever” (2012, R, 92 min., $30.99). Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg take a tiny step out of their comedy comfort zone for “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” a romantic drama with some funny undertones. Jones plays Celeste, a hard-working gal who puts the majority of her focus on her career. Jesse is played by Andy, and his character's a laid-back fellow who's not in any hurry to move up the corporate ladder. Together, they're going through a separation. Initially, Celeste and Jesse stay great friends through the end of their marriage, but eventually one of them decides to move on. Andy is first to go, and he ends up getting a one-night stand pregnant. It's a shocking development for Celeste, and even more so when Jesse decides to stay with Veronica (Rebecca Dayan). Too late to get Jesse back, Celeste realizes what she lost in her former husband, and it hits her hard. Jesse is having his own problems, too, and director Lee Toland Krieger's film takes the viewer through these issues. Jones and Samberg are surprisingly good here, showing some dramatic range. They're perfect fits for a screenplay, penned by Jones and Will McCormack, that tells an emotional break-up story that doesn't take itself too seriously. “Celeste and Jesse Forever” is a pleasant surprise. A making-of featurette is the best of the special features. Also included is commentary and deleted scenes. 3 Stars
“Here Comes the Boom” (2012, PG-105 min., $30.99). Kevin James takes on all opponents in this family comedy about a teacher who becomes an MMA fighter in order to save his school's music program. If James' character of Scott Voss can raise enough money in the Octagon, his school can move back onto the right path.
“Side By Side” (2012, NR, 99 min., $26.95). Movie fans would be wise to check out this informative documentary from Chris Kenneally that explores the development of cinema and the impact of digital filmmaking. Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh and David Fincher are some of the directors that weigh in.
“Paranormal Activity 4” (2012, R, 87 min., $30.99). Most viewers know how this story goes, as this is the fourth installment of one of the more successful horror franchises ever. This latest bit of found footage has the disappeared Katie returning to the surface with her nephew Hunter five years after dropping off the face of the Earth.
“Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” (2012, PG-13, 86 min., $24.98). Fashionistas everywhere can learn a few things from this stylish documentary about Diana Vreeland. The icon was a queen in the world of fashion and publishing, holding top jobs at Harper's Bazaar and Vogue over the course of her long and influential career.
“Little White Lies” (2010, NR, 154 min., $24.98). French Academy Award winners Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin have roles in filmmaker Guillaume Canet's latest picture about a group of friends embarking on their annual summer getaway. This year is different, as growing tension seems to be an overriding factor for the group.
“Yelling to the Sky” (2010, NR, 95 min., $24.98). An excellent cast, including Zoe Kravitz, Tim Blake Nelson, Jason Clarke and Gabourey Sidibe, fills out this powerful survival drama from director Victoria Mahoney about a teen girl of mixed race who finds it incredibly hard to fit in anywhere in a tough New York City neighborhood.
“Somewhere Between” (2013, NR, 88 min., $29.95). Talented filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton is responsible for this interesting documentary about Chinese adoptees in contemporary America. Specifically, the picture reveals the stories of four teens and their journey into finding out who they really are and where they come from.
“A Perfect Ending” (2012, NR, 103 min., $24.98). John Slattery, Zach Gilford, Gabrielle Union and Jena Malone star in this drama about a young man who takes his girlfriend up to his family's weekend house for a romantic getaway. Things take a turn for the worse when the man's estranged father shows up with his young girlfriend.
“Nobody Walks” (2012, R, 82 min., $26.98). Breakout TV star Lena Dunham co-wrote this drama about a Hollywood sound designer who agrees to help a young and beautiful female filmmaker put together her experimental art film. The young woman comes to stay with the designer, and it causes problems. John Krasinski stars.
“Nature Calls” (2012, R, 79 min., $26.98). Patton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville play key roles in this adventure about a man looking to honor his father's Scouting legacy. So, Randy (Oswalt) takes a group of spoiled kids into the wild and returns with a hardened group of Scouts in a slapstick comedy based in the outdoors.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“Peter Pan: Diamond Edition” (animated film, 1953, G, 77 min., $44.99)
TV ON DVD
“Gunsmoke: The Seventh Season, Volume 2” (James Arness and Amanda Blake, five discs, 17 episodes, $39.99)
“Animaniacs: Volume 4” (animated series, three discs, 24 episodes, $29.99)
“Ben 10 Omniverse: A New Beginning” (animated series, two discs, 10 episodes, $19.97)