DVD reviews: '42,' 'Evil Dead' and 'Bullet to the Head'
“42” (2013, PG-13, 128 min., $28.98). That popular saying “you've seen one, you've seen them all” is a good fit for sports movies. Most are overly sentimental and stretch the truth a bit to fit the perfect storyline. While “42” is an honest look at the life of legendary trailblazer Jackie Robinson, it does bother a bit too much with the fluff. Brian Helgeland, who wrote and directed, simply employs a handful of Robinson experiences, good and bad, in delivering a formulaically safe storyline viewers have experienced before. Notable performances from Chadwick Boseman (Robinson), Harrison Ford (Branch Rickey) and Christopher Meloni (Leo Durocher) are wasted on a film that doesn't hold the gritty and consequential storyline necessary to capture a remarkable man like Robinson. It's not all bad, though. “42” — which captures Robinson's first few years after crossing the color line in Major League Baseball — does hold some fantastic baseball sequences and the performances are top-notch. Special features are good for Blu-ray buyers. A collection of decent making-of featurettes are available. There's only one making-of featurette for standard DVD consumers. 2 Stars.
“Bullet to the Head” (2013, R, 92 min., $35.99). A lot has changed with the action genre over the years, but Sylvester Stallone isn't buying it. His latest picture, “Bullet to the Head,” is a delightful throwback to the 1980s, when Sly took on all the bad guys, playing roles like Marion Cobretti, Frank Leone and John Rambo. In “Bullet to the Head,” Stallone plays James Bonomo, a career criminal working as a hit man in New Orleans. James and his partner Blanchard (Jon Seda) pull a job for an unknown customer. After the hit, the guys are attacked in a bar, and Blanchard is killed. Looking for vengeance, James teams up with a cop (Sung Kang) affiliated with a case that ties back to Blanchard's murder. Together, they come across a web of crime with several violent levels. Directed by veteran filmmaker Walter Hill, “Bullet to the Head” won't be running in any Oscar races, but it's an entertainingly fun movie for those looking for some old-fashioned action fun. A making-of featurette that takes viewers through Stallone's training for “Bullet to the Head” is the extent of the special features. It's a pretty good one, though. 2 Stars.
“Evil Dead” (2013, R, 91 min., $30.99). Few remakes possess the ability to surpass the satisfaction that the original brings its fans. That's true with “Evil Dead,” a remake of the cult classic of the same name from 1981 that still resonates as one of the best horror movies of all time. Although, this second helping of “Evil Dead,” written and directed by Fede Alvarez, is pretty good. The film follows the same storyline as the original, but does take some different turns. The plot puts five friends together at a cabin in the woods trying to help a friend beat a drug addiction. When one of them unleashes a demon from a scary-looking book found in the basement, it's every camper for himself. Alvarez's take on “Evil Dead” succeeds because it gives viewers a really good mix of frights and gory moments. Few horror directors possess the ability to provide this type of balance, but Alvarez succeeds, delivering a good picture. Although Blu-ray discs carry some exclusive comment, the standard DVD packages are also loaded. Viewers are given some good-looking featurettes that explore every angle of “Evil Dead,” 2.5 Stars.
“Erased” (2012, R, 100 min., $22.98). Aaron Eckhart, Liana Liberato and Olga Kurylenko headline filmmaker Philipp Stolzi's thriller about a former operative of the CIA and his daughter mysteriously targeted for termination. Ben (Eckhart) and his daughter (Liberato) will have to escape the pursuit of a hard-charging agent (Kurylenko) to survive.
“Solomon Kane” (2009, R, 104 min., $22.98). It took writer/director Michael J. Bassett's “Solomon Kane” about four years to make it to video, but now it's here. Starring James Purefoy and Pete Postlethwaite, the picture follows a 16th century English captain waging war on all continents. That is until he comes across a mysterious African castle.
“White Frog” (2012, NR, 93 min., $24.95). This coming-of-age drama focuses on a young kid named Nick, who's life changes dramatically when his older brother Chaz — their parents' favorite — is killed in a tragic car accident. In an attempt to understand his brother's life, Nick reaches out to Chaz's friends, and, in the process, finds a big secret.
“London: The Modern Babylon” (2012, NR, 125 min., $29.95). Filmmaker Julian Temple's time-traveling documentary explores the cultural forces that shaped the city of London. Temple goes back to the start of the 20th century to tell a story that wraps up in 2012, as London preps for the Olympic games.
“The Fruit Hunters” (2012, NR, 95 min., $29.95). Yung Chang, the director of the award-winning documentary “Up the Yangtze,” put together this interesting picture about the fruits we eat and how intertwined we are with them.
“Wild Bill” (2011, NR, 98 min., $29.95) This coming-of-age story has a dad returning home to his family after eight years in prison. Once Bill (Charlie Creed-Miles) gets home, he finds his young sons fending for themselves after being abandoned by their mother. Now, he has to decide what kind of father he wants to be.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (Director's Cut)” (Julie Benz and Sean Patrick Flanery, 2009, R, 118 min., $30.95)
TV ON DVD
“Damages: The Final Season” (Glenn Close and Ryan Phillippe, three discs, 10 episodes, $45.99)
“Hell on Wheels: The Complete Second Season” (Anson Mount and Colm Meaney, three discs, 10 episodes, $39.98)
“Matlock: The Ninth and Final Season” (Andy Griffith and Brynne Thayer, five discs, 15 episodes, $54.99)
“Femme Fatales: The Complete Second Season” (Tanit Phoenix and Vivica A. Fox, three discs, 12 episodes, $29.98)
“Letters from Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson” (2013, NR, 49 min., $9.98)
“The Definitive Guide to the Mob” (2013, NR, 90 min., $14.98)
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