DVD reviews: 'Django Unchained' and 'The Haunting in Connecticut 2'
“Django Unchained” (2012, R, 166 min., $29.98). Quentin Tarantino's latest has all of the characteristics of a Tarantino film. It's violent, carries a razor-sharp dialogue, goes a little bit long and has some great performances. The flick isn't the director's best, but it's still better that 85 percent of the stuff out there. The picture follows a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who's sprung by a German bounty hunter who goes by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz needs Django to track down a bounty, and the former slave agrees to help if his new partner will do something for him. Django wants to track down his wife (Kerry Washington), who's being held by ruthless plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Calvin won't be eager to give the slave up, though. “Django Unchained” has a lot going for it, and has two Oscars to show for it, but Tarantino has set the bar high. This one doesn't get there. This time out, Tarantino doesn't delve deep into the history of the time he's covering, and focuses on his characters to get the job done. They're interesting characters, but this one feels a bit shallow. Consumers who want the most out of “Django Unchained” should pick up the loaded Blu-ray package. It has a few more extras than the standard DVD copy of the film. The best of the extras is a cool featurette about the film and its comparison to Spaghetti Westerns of the past. 3 Stars.
“The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia” (2012, R, 100 min., $19.98). Few similarities exist between “The Haunting in Connecticut 2,” and the original film, which was released in 2009. Basically, they both revolve around ghosts or evil spirits delivering frights and they're based on true stories. That's where these two pictures break. Oh yeah, both films are lousy. This second helping, from director Tom Elkins, possesses the same scares viewers have come to expect from these movies, and it brings nothing new to the genre. The picture follows a family of three moving into a rural house in Georgia. As soon as they arrive, Lisa (Abigail Spencer) and her daughter, Heidi (Emily Alyn Lind), are seeing things around the house. Soon, Lisa's sister Joyce (Katee Sackhoff) shows up, and she sees things, too. As the family settles in, the spirits that possess the house rise up. It will take Lisa, Heidi and Joyce, and the paranormal abilities they possess, as well as settling some old history with the house, to send the evil away from the house for good. Special features are decent for this package, and they're available on standard DVD and Blu-ray. The best of the bunch is a featurette that introduces the family that inspired the film. Deleted scenes, commentary and a blooper reel also are available. 1.5 Stars
“Save the Date” (2012, NR, 97 min., $24.98). Alison Brie and Lizzy Caplan have lead roles in a romantic comedy written and directed by Michael Mohan. The film follows an independent woman named Sarah (Caplan) who begins to confront the problems she's faced in past relationships with the opposite sex.
“A Whisper to a Roar” (2012, NR, 95 min., $19.99). Ben Moses, the man behind the award-winning 1987 film “Good Morning, Vietnam,” wrote and directed this powerful documentary that explores the emergence of democracy in five countries that have suffered for years under dictatorships.
“Not Suitable for Children” (2012, R, 97 min., $24,98). “True Blood” star Ryan Kwanten stars as Jonah, a young party animal enjoying the single life with little responsibility until he finds out he has a severe medical condition.
“Future Weather” (2012, NR, 85 min., $19.99). Jenny Deller makes her screenwriting and directorial debut with this powerful drama about a young girl named Lauduree (Perla Haney-Jardine) with a deep interest in global warming. When her mother leaves, she is forced under the care of her grandmother (Amy Madigan), and it's a major change.
“At the Gate of the Ghost” (2011, R, 107 min., $26.98). Out of Thailand comes this adaptation of the powerful 1950 Japanese film “Rashomon.” The motion picture follows a young monk longing to speak with his father for advice after experiencing three separate stories about a horrible crime.
“One Day on Earth” (2012, NR, 104 min., $29.95). Written and directed by Kyle Ruddick, this vibrant documentary is a combination of video contributions from thousands of cinematographers from around the world. The participants captured the footage on the day of Oct. 10, 2010.
“Pedal-Driven: A Bikeumentary” (2011, NR, 65 min., $29.95). This documentary from Jamie Howell explores both sides of the conflict between mountain bikers and federal land managers.
“Escapee” (2011, R, 98 min., $22.98). Dominic Purcell and Christine Evangelista star in Campion Murphy's thriller about a young student who crosses paths with a psychotic serial killer during an observational trip to a high security prison for the criminally insane. When the killer becomes obsessed with the student, he breaks out of prison and finds her.
“The Cary Grant Film Collection” (2013, six discs, $39.98). Includes “Born to be Mad,” “I Was a Male War Bride,” “People will Talk,” “Monkey Business,” “An Affair to Remember” and Kiss Them for Me.”
TV ON DVD
“Counting Cars: Season 1” (reality series, two discs, 12 episodes, $24.98)