DVD reviews: 'The Last Stand,' 'Side Effects' and 'Parker'
By Garrett Conti
Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 8:49 p.m.
“The Last Stand” (2013, R, 107 min., $29.95). Arnold Schwarzenegger has turned up in a few bit parts since taking a break from acting to run California, but “The Last Stand” marks his return as a leading man. The movie legend teamed with accomplished South Korean director Jee-woon Kim for this action extravaganza that's laced with testosterone. Schwarzenegger plays the part of Ray Owens, the sheriff of a small Arizona border town. When a drug cartel kingpin busts out of jail around Vegas, Ray realizes — through an infusion of bad guys — the escapee is coming his way to get back into Mexico. The sheriff calls all hands, and guns, on deck to stop the most-wanted man from getting back to his cartel. “The Last Stand” doesn't do anything special in the action genre, and it's not even that great of a movie. It uses its resources well, though. Schwarzenegger is fantastic in his role, perhaps taking the baton from Clint Eastwood as a tough-as-nails senior citizen. Kim's creative eye for big action sequences also is employed, and “The Last Stand” packs lots of firepower. Viewers will finds lots to like with the special features, including featurettes that explore the work that went into the production and deleted scenes. 3 Stars.
“Side Effects” (2013, R, 106 min., $29.98). Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns make a good team, and they've gotten together for well-received titles like “The Informant!” and “Contagion.” “Side Effects,” a twisty thriller that has high entertainment value, is their latest project. Although the final act takes away some of the momentum of “Side Effects,” it still has a lot going for it. A strong cast — Rooney Mara, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones star — and a well-told story make for a fine psychological thriller with plenty of style. The film follows a young, married woman named Emily (Mara). As her husband (Channing Tatum) is released from prison, Emily falls apart, slipping into a strong bout of depression. After an incident at home, she begins seeing Dr. Banks (Law), a psychiatrist who puts her on an experimental drug for her depression. The drug causes horrific side effects for Emily, and the consequences are enough to bring down Dr. Banks and the strong reputation he's built. While special features on standard DVD and Blu-ray are the same, they're pretty lousy, including a few drug commercials made for the movie, and a boring behind-the-scenes featurette. 3 Stars.
“Ultimate Gangster Collection” (2013, NR, $49.98). Gangster film fans will be in heaven with two new Blu-ray collections from Warner Bros. Pictures. “Ultimate Gangsters Collection Classic” includes “The Public Enemy” (James Cagney and Jean Harlow, 1931, NR, 83 min.), “Little Caesar” (Edward G. Robinson and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., 1931, NR, 79 min.), “The Petrified Forest” (Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis, 1936, NR, 82 min.) and “White Heat” (James Cagney and Virginia Mayo, 1949, NR, 114 min.). “Ultimate Gangsters Collection Contemporary” features “Mean Streets” (Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro, 1973, R, 112 min.), “The Untouchables” (Kevin Costner and Sean Connery, 1987, R, 119 min.), “Goodfellas” (Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci, 1990, R, 146 min.), “Heat” (Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, 1995, R, 170 min.) and “The Departed” (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson, 2006, R, 151 min.). As far as collections go, these are two of the best ever. Along with the feature films, there are plenty of special features, and their specific for each title. “Ultimate Gangsters Collection Classic” also includes a riveting documentary titled “Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster.” The doc explores the rise of the gangster genre and its stars. 4 Stars.
“Parker” (2013, R, 118 min., $26.99). Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez take lead roles for this heist film from director Taylor Hackford that uses Palm Beach as its setting. Statham plays Parker, a thief who lives by a personal code of ethics. When his crew double crosses him, his intent is to track them down and make them pay.
“Stand Up Guys” (2012, R, 95 min., $27.98). Fisher Stevens directs this motion picture about three retired gangsters (Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin) reuniting for a final night of fun. However, one of them is holding a deadly secret, and he might just be running out of time to find an acceptable alternative. Julianna Margulies also stars.
“Beautiful Creatures” (2013, PG-13, 124 min., $28.98). Two young lovers come together to uncover dark secrets about their respective families and their town in this supernatural romance story written and directed by Richard LaGravenese. The picture boasts a solid cast, including Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson.
“Of Two Minds” (2012, NR, 89 min., $29.95). Filmmakers Doug Blush and Lisa Klein — the award-winning team behind 2006's “Wordplay” — take a look inside at a problem that affects more than five million Americans. The documentarians follow a handful of folks living with bipolar disorder, and, in the process, put a human face on the struggle.
“Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters” (2012, NR, 78 min., $29.99). An intimate look at photographer Gregory Crewdson and his work is at the center of this colorful documentary from filmmaker Ben Shapiro. Known for his large-scale images on small-town America, this documentary explores Crewdson's process into finding his next photo.
“Open Road” (2013, NR, 86 min., $19.98). Andy Garcia and Juliette Lewis star in director Marcio Garcia's heartwarming coming-of-age picture about a free spirit who enjoys living life on her own. However, when Angie (Camilla Belle) makes a few friends, she reluctantly finds herself slipping out of the nomadic life.
“A Common Man” (2012, NR, PG-13, $22.98). Ben Kingsley is at the center of this thriller that takes a look at the roots of terrorism. Kingsley has the role of a guy who plants five powerful bombs in different locations around an international city. He will detonate these bombs, unless four of the most deadly terrorists in the world are released.
“Struck by Lightning” (2012, NR, 90 min., $26.95). Chris Colfer, of “Glee” fame, plays the central character in this feature that demonstrates that life is what happens while you're busy planning your future. A notable supporting cast includes Allison Janney, Rebel Wilson, Christina Hendricks and Dermot Mulroney.
“Ecstasy” (2011, NR, 99 min., $26.95). Based on Irvine Welsh's best-selling book — “Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance” — this picture from filmmaker Rob Heydon follows a young man named Lloyd (Adam Sinclair) whose world is turned upside down for the better when he meets a woman named Heather (Kristin Kreuk).
“Picture Day” (2013, R, 93 min., $22.99). A young woman named Claire (Tatiana Maslany), forced to repeat her senior year of high school, learns the difference between sex, intimacy and friendship in this coming-of-age feature from filmmaker Kate Melville. The return to high school hurts Claire's reputation, but she tries to bounce back.
“Tomorrow You're Gone” (2012, NR, 93 min., $27.97). David Jacobson directs this action-packed crime thriller about a man forced to make a hit for a criminal who saved his life in prison. When the hit goes bad, the man has to protect the lives of himself and the ones he cares about. Stephen Dorff, Michelle Monaghan and Willem Dafoe star.
“Nightfall” (2012, NR, 108 min., $24.98). Filmmaker Chow Hin Yeung Roy constructs this thriller about a jaded detective (Simon Yam) investigating a Hong Kong celebrity found dead in the ocean. As hee delves into the case, he discovers a history of crime that goes back 20 years. Nick Cheung also stars.
“Dark Circles” (2011, R, 86 min., $26.98). Alex and Penny move from the city to the country only to deal with the stress and sleep deprivation caused by their infant's constant crying. When they start seeing weird things around the house, it leaves them wondering if they're in haunted house or the lack of sleep is getting the best of them.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“Howl's Moving Castle” (animated feature, 2004, PG, 119 min., $39.99)
“My Neighbor Totoro” (animated feature, 1988, G, 86 min., $39.99)
TV ON DVD
“True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season” (Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, five discs, 12 episodes, $59.99)
“Perception: The Complete First Season” (Eric McCormack and Rachel Leigh Cook, two discs, 10 episodes, $29.99)
“Laverne & Shirley: The Sixth Season” (Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall, three discs, 22 episodes, $42.99)
“Saving Hope: The Complete First Season” (Erica Durance and Daniel Gillies, four discs, 13 episodes, $39.98)
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