DVD reviews: 'Wreck-It Ralph,' 'Red Dawn' and 'Playing for Keeps'
“Wreck-It Ralph” (2012, PG, 108 min., $29.99). The men and women at Pixar aren't the only ones doing good animation work at Disney. “Wreck-It Ralph,” a standout picture from a great year for animated movies, comes from Walt Disney Animated Studios, and it shows there's some competition in house. Boosted by fun characters, strong animation and a well-told story, “Wreck-It Ralph” is an adventure that folks of all ages will enjoy. The film follows the travails of Wreck-It Ralph, a bad guy inside a video game. Ralph is sick of being the bad guy, and he wants be respected. He decides to go rogue, and try to become a good guy in another game. That only screws up the environment of the arcade in which his game sits. He'll need some help to get things back to normal. John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch are some of the celebs lending their voices to one of the most fun films of 2012. Like most Disney releases, “Wreck-It Ralph” has lots of extras. The best of the bunch is “Paperman,” which won an Academy Award earlier this year for Best Animated Short. Also available, but exclusive to Blu-ray, is Disney Intermission, a gamer segment that pops up every time viewers pause the film. An informative making-of featurette and a handful of deleted scenes are also worth diving into. 3.5 Stars.
“Red Dawn” (2012, PG-13, 93 min., $28.98). For all of the criticism it's received, the remake of the 1984 cult classic “Red Dawn” isn't all that bad. Like the original it was modeled after, it has a young, talented cast — Josh Peck, Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson and Adrianne Palicki star — and some decent action sequences. Remember, the original “Red Dawn” isn't “Citizen Kane.” The one element missing from director Dan Bradley's remake is the unbridled fun. Yes, it does take itself a bit too seriously, and that's a problem. Considering all the knocks “Red Dawn” has taken, though, it could be much worse. Bradley's remake has the Washington town of Spokane being attacked and taken over by a collection of troops from Russia and North Korea. As the town is taken over, a small group of young adults are forced into the woods. They decide to put up a fight and drive the opposing forces out. What's even worse about this film — on standard DVD and Blu-ray — is that it doesn't have any real special features. A group of problems in production and an icy reception might be to thank for a lack of extras. The film was one of those that suffered during MGM's financial problems. 1.5 Stars.
“Playing for Keeps” (2012, PG-13, 105 min., $30.99). Movie fans will know exactly what they are getting from “Playing for Keeps,” a romantic drama starring Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Dennis Quaid and Judy Greer. The pic follows retired soccer star George (Butler) who has moved to Virginia to spend more time with his young son and ex-wife Stacie (Biel). George also is looking for a new career, and it's been a struggle. Taking over his son's soccer team and networking with a few of the parents might just help George get to where he needs to be. It could hurt him, as well. “Playing for Keeps” is just about average in every way imaginable. Sure, the cast is impressive, but these players have little to work with in a screenplay from Robbie Fox that offers most of the cliches viewers have come to expect in these types of films. Along those lines, “Playing for Keeps” is incredibly predictable. Fans of the film will find some good stuff in a collection of extras available on Blu-ray and standard DVD. Along with a handful of deleted scenes, a featurettes on the making of the picture and putting together the cast are available. Both featurettes offer interviews with the cast and crew. 1.5 Stars.
“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2” (2012, PG-13, 115 min., $30.98). The last film in the wildly popular series adapted from Stephen Meyers' series of novels. Starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner, the film wraps up a franchise phenomenon that, like some of its characters, will live on forever.
“The Intouchables” (2011, R, 112 min., $30.99). A Golden Globe nominee for best foreign language film, “The Intouchables” sheds a spotlight on the relationship that's formed between a wealthy French quadriplegic and the disadvantaged young man who is assigned to care for him. Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy are in leading roles.
“The Bay” (2012, R, 85 min., $27.98). Academy Award-winning director Barry Levinson tackles a new genre with “The Bay,” which gets filed under found footage. The picture — told through video cameras, phones and new technology — explores a parasitic outbreak that leveled a small town in Maryland, claiming more than 700 lives.
“The Collaborator” (2011, NR, 87 min., $19.98). Martin Donovan wrote, directed and stars in “The Collaborator,” a dark comedy about a man (Donovan) who is home visiting his mother when he's held hostage at gunpoint by a troubled neighbor (David Morse) during a drunken reunion. Olivia Williams and Katherine Helmond are in support.
“Lay the Favorite” (2012, R, 94 min., $24.98). A stellar cast — Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rebecca Hall and Joshua Jackson star — takes its place in “Lay the Favorite,” a film about sports gambling that brings together a professional odds maker (Willis) and a former stripper (Hall) who has a knack for numbers.
“Interview with a Hitman” (2012, NR, 96 min., $19.98). Perry Bhandal makes his debut as a writer and director for this film about a murderer for hire from Romania. Viktor (Luke Goss) is one of the best hit men around, but his mettle is tested when his bosses betray him and he's forced into a power struggle in the London underworld.
“Gun Hill Road” (2011, R, 86 min., $19.99). Esai Morales holds the part of Enrique in a film festival favorite about a man released from prison, only to find the changes in his family well beyond his understanding. His wife is struggling with an emotional affair and his son is exploring a sexual transformation that breaks up Enrique.
"The Loneliest Planet” (2011, NR, 113 min., $24.98). Gael García Bernal and Hani Furstenberg star in Julia Loktev's film about a couple backpacking in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. When they run into some trouble in their travels, their relationship undergoes a serious test.
“The Seven Year Hitch” (2012, NR, 120 min., $14.93). Filmmaker Bradford May's heartwarming love story about best friends Jennifer (Natalie Hall) and Kevin (Darin Brooks) falling for each other made its debut on the Hallmark Movie Channel. George Wendt, Griffin Cleveland and Frances Fisher are in supporting roles.
“Muay Thai Warrior” (2010, NR, 102 min., $24.98). Also known as “The Samurai of Ayothaya,” director Nopporn Watin's martial arts film follows a samurai left for dead by vicious Japanese forces. Nursed back to health, the warrior finds his opportunity for revenge against those forces that might have wished they finished him off for good.
“Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie” (2010, R, 76 min., $19.98). Gamers will be able to get behind this animated science-fiction film that serves as the movie interpretation of the successful Warhammer 40,000 Universe. Terence Stamp, John Hurt and Sean Pertwee lend their voices to the motion picture.
“Grave Encounters 2” (2012, NR, 95 min., $26.95). Richard Harmon stars in a sequel to the 2011 film about ghost hunters locking themselves inside a psychiatric hospital. This film has an obsessed film student checking into the hospital with some friends, setting out to conduct their own paranormal investigation.
“Eaters” (2011, NR, 95 min., $19.98). If you haven't had your fill of zombies yet, “Eaters,” a picture out of Italy from filmmakers Luca Boni and Marco Ristori, is available. The film has three men — a scientist and two zombie hunters — trying to find out how the epidemic spread, and if it can be stopped.
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