DVD reviews: 'Cloud Atlas' and 'Texas Chainsaw'
“Cloud Atlas” (2012, R, 172 min., $28.98). One of the most anticipated movies of the 2012 slate, “Cloud Atlas” didn't quite perform up to expectations. The picture is hard to grasp, with a confusing collection of interwoven storylines that produce lots of characters. Those who read David Mitchell's 2004 novel, from which “Cloud Atlas” was adapted, will definitely have an easier time with the film from the directing team of Lana and Any Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. The pic has some positives, too. The cinematography is amazing, and it plays very nicely with the movie's music. Also, the cast, including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent and Jim Sturgess, comes through in what could have not been an easy job. “Cloud Atlas” sets out to describe how a person's actions affect the lives of others in the past, present and future. To do this, the film charts the lives of several different people over centuries. “Cloud Atlas” goes back to the days of slavery in the United States, and it even heads far into the future. Those picking up the Blu-ray package will find much more in the way of extras. A single featurette can be found on standard DVDs, but seven are available on Blu-ray. Also, this is one of those movies that was made to be seen in HD. 2.5 Stars.
“Texas Chainsaw” (2013, R, 92 min., $29.95). “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was a hit upon its release in 1974, scaring the heck out of viewers and leading the way for a bold, new brand of horror. Since then, filmmakers have tried to find that same success with sequels and remakes. “Texas Chainsaw,” the newest addition to the herd, might have come the closest. Unfortunately, that's not saying much. Give director John Luessenhop and his team of screenwriters credit for adding a chapter to this bloody franchise that feels original and advances this gory story. Previous attempts were lousy, so “Texas Chainsaw” had a low bar to jump over. The film's plot jumps into the end of the original story, as a posse gathers around the Texas house of horrors that holds maniacal killer Leatherface and his family. The posse burns the house down, killing almost everyone inside. Two people escape, and one of them is a baby girl who's raised by a member of the posse. Several years later, a grown-up Heather (Alexandra Daddario) finds the truth, which takes her back to Texas. It will be a reunion she'll never forget. Standard DVD and Blu-ray packages are loaded with extras, including some cool featurettes that explore the movie franchise and the making of “Texas Chainsaw.” Commentary with cast members of the 1974 movie also is worth checking out. 2.5 Stars.
“A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” (2012, R, 86 min., $19.98). Roman Coppola, son to Francis Ford, makes his feature-length debut as a director with this quirky dramedy about a successful graphic designer whose life falls apart after his girlfriend dumps him. Cast includes Charlie Sheen, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman.
“Frankie Go Boom” (2012, NR, 89 min., $19.98). Sibling rivalry is the focus of filmmaker Jordan Roberts' comedy about a guy (Chris O'Dowd) who goes too far in posting an embarrassing video of his awkward brother (Charlie Hunnam). It's a move that could cause lots of problems. Ron Perlman, Lizzy Caplan and Chris Noth also star.
“Liz & Dick” (2012, NR, 90 min., $19.98). Lloyd Kramer's picture made its debut in 2012 as an original cable movie on Lifetime. The picture drew plenty of interest for its casting of tabloid punching bag Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor. Kramer's film looks at Taylor's up-and-down relationship with Richard Burton (Grant Bowler).
“Back to 1942” (2012, NR, 145 min., $24.98). Tim Robbins and Adrian Brody headline the cast in director Xiaogang Feng's important picture about the Henan Province disaster, where three million people died from starvation. Drought, windstorms, war with Japan and government corruption played parts in this dark part of Chinese history.
“Face 2 Face” (2013, NR, 100 min., $24.95). Filmmaker Katherine Brooks turns the camera on herself in this interesting documentary. When she puts up a Facebook post to visit the first 50 people who respond, she gets a large response.
“Escape” (2012, NR, 80 min., $19.98). Fans of “The Hunger Games” should get a kick out of this thriller about a young woman battling for survival. The year's 1363, and Signe is traveling to a better place with her family, after surviving a plague that's ravaged the population. On the journey, they come across a ruthless pack of killers.
“Barrymore” (2011, NR, 83 min., $29.98). Christopher Plummer gives one of the strongest performances of his career in the screen version of the William Luce play of the same name. Prior to the film, Plummer won a Tony for playing the part of screen legend John Barrymore, an actor trying to make a comeback in “Barrymore.”
“Bunohan: Return to Murder” (2011, NR, 98 min., $14.99). Three estranged brothers are at the center of this thriller set in a border town in Malaysia. The town's name is Bunohan, and the brothers, all with different reasons for being in the same place, get lost in a web of violence, betrayal and murder.
“Marley Africa Road Trip” (2013, NR, 299 min., $20.99). Ziggy, Rohan and Robbie Marley hit the road in Africa to raise awareness for a concert they're planning in this documentary from filmmaker David Alexanian. The three sons of the legendary Bob Marley make plenty of connections in exploring the territory their father loved so much.
“Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story” (2013, NR, 90 min., $20.99). Directed by Andy Mikita, this sports film, which made its debut on the Hallmark Channel, focuses on Gordie Howe and his return to hockey in the 1970s. One of the greatest players ever, Howe came out of retirement to play with his sons, and had plenty of success.
“The Henry Fonda Film Collection” (2013, NR, $49.98). Featuring “The Grapes of Wrath,” “The Ox-Bow Incident,” “Daisy Kenyon” and seven other feature films.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“One Hour Photo” (Robin Williams and Connie Nielsen, 2002, R, 96 min., $19.99)
“The Verdict” (Paul Newman and Charlotte Rampling, 1982, R, 129 min., $19.99)
“The Great Escape” (Steve McQueen and James Garner, 1963, NR, 172 min., $19.99)
“Viva Zapata!” (Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn, 1952, NR, 113 min., $19.99)
“Brubaker” (Robert Redford and Yaphet Kotto, 1980, R, 132 min., $19.99)
TV ON DVD
“Dexter: The Seventh Season” (three discs, 12 episodes, $54.99)
“Dance Academy: Season 1, Volumes 1 & 2” and “Dance Academy: Season 2, Volumes 1 & 2” (each season two discs, 13 episodes, $19.95)