DVD reviews: 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,' 'No' and 'The Call'
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” (2013, PG-13, 100 min., $28.98) Magicians aren't as popular as they used to be, but that did not stop filmmaker Don Scardino from taking a chance on a flick focused on illusionists. A cast that includes Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde and Alan Arkin is the best part of an inconsistent movie that doesn't have an identity. A comedy at heart, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” shuffles between the very different dark and family comedy genres, and it never finds a consistent tone. Sure, there are a couple of laughs, but the film is largely a disappointment. The pic finds Burt Wonderstone (Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Buscemi) enjoying much acclaim as magic partners with their own Vegas show. The partnership is cruising for trouble because of the emergence of a crazy street magician named Steve Gray (Carrey) and the huge ego of Wonderstone, who refuses to update his old-fashioned act. When the partners split, and they're booted from their casino show, Wonderstone goes through some humbling times. He takes a few steps back and realizes what he missed about magic. With some new parts in his act, Wonderstone has what it takes to return to the top. A gag reel is the lone extra for standard DVD buyers, but there's more on Blu-ray. Featurettes involving Carrey's character and David Copperfield are here, along with lots of deleted scenes. 2 Stars.
“No” (2012, R, 118 min., $30.99) Revolution is at the heart of “No,” an entertaining picture that's based on an unpublished play from Chilean writer Antonio Skarmeta. The film explores the 1988 plebiscite that removed Gen. Augusto Pinochet from Chilean rule. Voters selecting Yes backed Pinochet, while those picking No wanted the dictator removed. At the heart of the No campaign is a smart advertising wiz named Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal) Despite threats and harassment, Saavedra delivers a superior campaign that gives his side hope in times of great uncertainty in Chile. With Bernal's performance, the viewer experiences a riveting piece of work that puts the viewer right inside a revolutionary campaign. It's no wonder “No” was nominated for an Academy Award last year for best foreign language film, and it's picked up several additional awards. While “No” is usually described as a look at the campaign engineered by Saavedra, it's also a character study that finds the film's major character dealing with family issues and a job that seems impossible. Bernal really carries a lot of weight in his role. Special features are limited, only carrying commentary with Bernal and director Pablo Larrain and a Q&A. 3 Stars.
“The Call” (2013, R, 94 min., $30.99) Boasting one of the worst movie names in quite a while, “The Call,” which has Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin in lead roles, isn't as bad as it sounds. The thriller from talented filmmaker Brad Anderson is quite good until it goes off the rails in the final act. The plot turn that sends “The Call” sinking is easily foreseeable, but it's one of those decisions viewers hope the filmmaker doesn't make. No such luck. Berry has the part of a 911 operator who excels at her job. One night, though, she loses a victim. The situation haunts her, and she decides to become an instructor at her call center. Things are going fine until she's forced back into action in a kidnapping that's eerily similar to the one that sent her to the sidelines. This time, though, she's not giving up without a fight. Blu-ray buyers will be happy with the special features available. A making-of extra is teamed with two additional presentations that explore some of the film's settings and stunts. Deleted scenes and a poor alternate ending are exclusive to Blu-ray, as well. Standard DVD consumers only get commentary and the making-of featurette. 2 Stars.
“Pusher” (2012, R, 89 min., $24.98) Visionary filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn's “Pusher” trilogy serves as the inspiration for this picture from director Luis Prieto. The gritty movie follows a drug dealer (Richard Coyle) who finds himself in some trouble after a drug deal gone bad.
“Upside Down” (2012, PG-13, 100 min., $22.98) Kirsten Dunst, Jim Sturgess and Timothy Spall lead the cast in a film from Juan Solanas about two young lovers forced apart because of the opposing planets they live on. When Adam's (Sturgess) feelings for Eden (Dunst) are rekindled, he decides to go after her again, despite their unique situation.
“Phantom” (2013, R, 97 min., $22.98) A top-notch cast, including Ed Harris, David Duchovny and William Fichtner, for this picture about a Russian submarine during the Cold War. With a washed-up captain at the helm, a nuclear-armed sub is selected to take on a secretive mission that will test all aboard.
“As Luck Would Have It” (2011, NR, 98 min., $24.98) Jose Mota and Salma Hayek play lead characters in this dark comedy about an unemployed man struggling to find his next opportunity. At the end of his rope, Roberto (Mota) is involved in a freak accident, and it propels him into a situation that might save him.
“The Rambler” (2013, R, 97 min., $22.98) A popular pic on the film festival circuit, “The Rambler” — starring Dermot Mulroney, Lindsay Pulsipher and Natasha Lyonne — follows a stranger (Mulroney) recently released from prison who decides to make a cross-country trek, where work and his family are waiting. Staying out of trouble will be tough, though.
“Nova: Australia's First 4 Billion Years” (2013, NR, 240 min., $29.99) Scientist Dr. Richard Smith leads viewers on an extensive journey through time to look at the land of Australia, one of earth's oldest land masses. The documentary — broken into four different parts — focuses specifically on the land down under during its prehistoric times.
“Supporting Characters” (2012, NR, 87 min., $26.95) A small team of film editors (Alex Karpovsky and Tarik Lowe) have their work cut out for them when they're hired to salvage a botched movie by a director who's gone missing. What starts out as a simple project soon descends into craziness, as the film editors struggle to finish the work.
“Hansel & Gretal Get Baked” (2013, NR, 87 min., $26.95) Not to be confused with “Hansel & Gretal: Witch Hunters,” this trippy film has a brother and sister (Molly Quinn and Michael Welch) heading out to find a new marijuana strain called Black Forest. What they come across is an evil, old lady who takes advantage of her stoned customers.
“Crawlspace” (2012, NR, 87 min., $24.98) Justin Dix, who is usually tied to special effects in the film industry, makes his directorial debut with “Crawlspace,” a picture set around a U.S. military base located deep in the Australian desert. When the base comes under heavy attack, a team of soldiers is sent in to pick up the unusual pieces.
“The Brass Teapot” (2012, R, 101 min., $26.98) Based on a comic book of the same name, this romantic comedy, starring Juno Temple, Alexis Bledel and Michael Arangano, is about a married couple struggling to get by until they come across a brass teapot at a roadside antique shop. The teapot might have the ability to change their fortunes forever.
“23:59” (2013, R, 78 min., $26.98) During a march at an island military training camp, an army recruit is found dead at 11:59 p.m. The soldiers looking for answers soon realize that the island is haunted, and it holds a terrifying dark secret.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“North Face” (Benno Furmann and Florian Lukas, 2010, NR, 98 min., $24.95)
TV ON DVD
“CSI: NY, The Ninth Season” (Gary Sinise and Sela Ward, five discs, 17 episodes, $64.99)
“Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: The Complete Second Season” (Jason Mewes and Alex House, two discs, 13 episodes, $19.98)