DVD reviews: 'Olympus has Fallen,' 'What Maisie Knew' and 'The Company you Keep'
“Olympus has Fallen” (2013, R, 119 min., $30.99). It turns out the Republicans aren't landing the biggest shots on the White House this summer. Actually, it's Hollywood. The president's home has been destroyed twice in action flicks, with “Olympus has Fallen” landing before “White House Down.” Starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman in lead roles, “Olympus has Fallen” has garnered more praise, and that's because it's an old-fashioned action flick with plenty of machismo. Directed by Pittsburgh native Antoine Fuqua, “Olympus has Fallen” owes its entertainment value to cranked-up action sequences and lots of fun dialogue. Fuqua's film won't win Oscars at the end of the year, but it's fun to watch. Butler is in the main role of a disgraced Secret Service agent who finds himself trapped in the White House after a terrorist takeover. The rest of the storyline is easy enough to predict. Blu-ray is the best option for buyers, as a single blooper reel is the extent of the extras on standard DVD. Blu-ray buyers can sink their teeth into five making-of featurettes that document every aspect of this high-powered motion picture. 2 Stars.
“The Company You Keep” (2012, R, 121 min., $30.99). Still working hard in his 70s, Robert Redford does double duty as director and star for “The Company you Keep,” a thriller that moves slowly under steady direction. It's based on a 2003 novel of the same name from Neil Gordon. Redford plays Nick Sloan, a militant from the 1960s who's wanted for robbing a bank and killing a security guard. Since the crime, Sloan has changed his identity and lived a quiet life in New York as a lawyer. When an arrest of one of his accomplices leads the FBI to him, Nick goes on the run in an attempt to clear his name one last time. Redford's latest has no real sense of urgency and there are some holes, but those are the only complaints. A talented cast — Shia LaBeouf, Terrence Howard, Chris Cooper and Susan Sarandon — does some good work in an entertaining pic that also has Pittsburgh's own Jackie Evancho making an impressive big-screen debut. Two good making-of featurettes lead the way for extras, and they can be found in Blu-ray and standard DVD packages. 2.5 Stars.
“What Maisie Knew” (2012, R, 98 min., $28.99). Legendary author Henry James' 1897 novel of the same name is set in modern-day New York City for this emotional drama from filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel. Starring Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgard, Steve Coogan and Onata Aprile — an impressive 8-year-old actress with a bright future — the picture has a married couple (Coogan and Moore) going through a divorce and trying to establish custody of their child Maisie (Aprile). Unfortunately, both parents are more interested in their careers, and Maisie gets pushed off to their new significant others, Lincoln (Skarsgard) and Margo (Joanna Vanderham). Maisie begins bonding with Lincoln and Margo, and the three of them begin hanging out together. The relationships form a foundation for Maisie, leaving her parents out of the mix. Undoubtedly one of the strongest pictures of 2013, “What Maisie Knew” is a movie that will rumble around a viewer's head for days. It's a remarkable drama that should get some attention when the award talk kicks off. Extras are deleted scenes and commentary, and they're available on standard DVD and Blu-ray. 3.5 Stars.
“Emperor” (2012, PG-13, 105 min., $19.98). Tommy Lee Jones delivers a standout performance in the role of Gen. Douglas McArthur in this film from director Peter Webber about the tough decision on Japanese Emperor Hirohito's fate at the end of World War II. Matthew Fox stars as Gen. Bonner Fellers.
“The Big Wedding” (2013, R, 89 min., $19.98). A remarkable cast — Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace and Robin Williams — is available for this comedic romp that finds a dysfunctional family trying to play nice for a weekend wedding that's heading toward disaster.
“Reality” (2012, R, 116 min., $32.99). Filmmaker Matteo Garrone, the director behind the 2008 mafia masterpiece “Gomorrah,” takes on reality shows in this picture about an Italian family man who becomes obsessed landing on the show “Big Brother.” As a result, Luciano heads into a world of paranoia that will be hard to get out.
“Hatchet III” (2013, R, 81 min., $27.98). Swamp dweller Victor Crowley returns for the final leg of this horror trilogy that continues to up its body count. This time, a team of mercenaries is hired to go into the Louisiana bayou and dispose of the murderous Crowley. The hulking murderer won't be easy to put down for good, though.
“My Amityville Horror” (2012, NR, 88 min., $24.98). Fans of the groundbreaking 1979 horror film “The Amityville Horror” will find plenty in this interesting documentary from director Eric Walter. Daniel Lutz, an eyewitness to the chilly haunting that motivated the making of the motion picture, opens up, for the first time, to tell the real story.
“Dog Pound” (2010, NR, 88 min., $26.95). A big winner on the festival circuit, this powerful drama from director Kim Chapiron follows a handful of juveniles as they move through the ups and downs of the justice system. Eventually, the teens end up in a correctional center in Montana where the daily struggle sometimes involves violence.
“Antiviral” (2012, NR, 108 min., $24.98). Brandon Cronenberg, the son of renowned director David Cronenberg, makes his directorial debut with this futuristic tale about a clinic that harvests live viruses from sick celebrities to sell to obsessed fans. When one of the employees injects himself with a new exotic disease, the trouble starts.
“The Guillotines” (2012, R, 112 min., $24.98). The existence of the Guillotines, a secret assassination squad developed during the Manchurian-ruled Qing Dynasty, is the focus of this action-packed picture from Andrew Lau. The Guillotines were used to eliminate emperor opposition, but that changed as new rulers adopted different ideas.
“Cat. 8” (2013, NR, 176 min., $19.97). Matthew Modine stars in this weather-centered miniseries that originally aired on television. Armageddon is unleashed on Earth after a government experiment to harvest energy from the sun backfires.
“The World Before Her” (Documentary, 2012, NR, 90 min., $29.95)
“Absence” (Eric Matheny and Ryan Smale, 2013, NR, 90 min., $24.95)
“An Awkward Sexual Adventure” (Emily Hampshire and Jonas Chernick, 2012, NR, 98 min., $26.95)
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“The Damned” (Marcel Dalio and Henri Vidal, 1947, NR, 105 min., $24.98)
TV ON DVD
“Girls: The Complete Second Season” (Lena Dunham and Allison Williams, two discs, 10 episodes, $39.98)
“Enlightened: The Complete Second Season” (Laura Dern and Luke Wilson, two discs, eight episodes, $39.98)
“The Thick of It: Seasons 1-4” (Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison, seven discs, 21 episodes, $79.98)
“Revenge: The Complete Second Season” (Emily VanCamp and Madeleine Stowe, five discs, 22 episodes, $45.99)
“The Mindy Project: Season One” (Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina, three discs, 24 episodes, $29.98)
“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” (Ginnifer Goodwin and Jennifer Morrison, five discs, 22 episodes, $45.99)
“The Captains Close Up” (Documentary series, one disc, five episodes, $19.98)
“The Amazing World of Gumball ‘The Party' DVD” (Animated series, one disc, 12 episodes, $14.97)
“Perry Mason: The Ninth and Final Season, Volume Two” (Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale, four discs, 15 episodes, $46.99)
“Family Ties: The Seventh and Final Season” (Michale J. Fox and Justine Bateman, four discs, 24 episodes, $46.99)
“Top Gear USA: The Complete Season 3” (reality series, four discs, 16 episodes, $24.98)