DVD reviews: 'Amour,' and 'Epic'
“Amour” (2012, PG-13, 127 min., $30.99). Not too many movies earned more praise last year than Austrian director Michael Haneke's 2012 classic “Amour.” The French-language film earned a Golden Globe and an Oscar, along with a boatload of nominations. With remarkable performances from Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour” is among the best dramas of 2012. Slowly moving with a quiet nature, “Amour” isn't for every viewer, but for those who enjoy Haneke's work, this is a deeply personal film that holds plenty of emotion. The storyline has an older couple — Anne (Riva) and Georges (Trintignant) — living out their days in an apartment in Paris. When Anne gets sick, it puts a large burden on Georges, who's forced to deal with the deterioration of his wife. Georges does his best to handle the situation, but the weight of it all has a crushing effect. It's a cliched statement, but “Amour” has the ability to stick with viewers, and that credit goes to Haneke, who introduces another memorable masterpiece featuring great showings from Riva and Trintignant. A making-of featurette and Haneke commentary can be enjoyed as extras on standard DVD and Blu-ray. 3.5 Stars.
“Epic” (2013, PG, 102 min., $29.98) In a world where Pixar exists, animation studios have to do something pretty special to get noticed. Sure, it's been done, but that's not the case with “Epic,” the latest animated adventure from Fox's Blue Sky Studios. With it's top-notch animation and action-packed adventure, “Epic” is family fun, but its plot holds too many loose ends to be truly memorable. Inspired by the William Joyce children's book “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs,” “Epic” brings viewers into the forest, where two tiny forces — one, good, looking to keep the environment green, and another, bad, trying to destroy everything green — are waging battle. Visiting her father, who lives in the forest, M.K. is accidentally shrunk and thrown into the middle of the war. The good guys are depending on her to stave off their enemy and keep the forest as green as ever. Christoph Waltz, Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson and Beyonce provide some of the voice work for “Epic.” Special features hold something for kids and adults, but there's quite a difference between the standard DVD and Blu-ray packages. For a lot more, pick up Blu-ray for a few extra bucks. 2 Stars.
“Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season” (2012, five discs, 12 episodes, $59.99). Shows like “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” or “Homeland” get most of the attention, but HBO's “Boardwalk Empire” is right there in the running as one of the best dramas on TV these days. Its third season further solidified Terence Winter's show as a must-see series, as it introduced a new crop of bad guys while wiping out a few familiar faces. No character is ever safe, and that makes “Boardwalk Empire” a fascinating venture. The third season finds major character Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) — one of the most powerful gangsters on the East Coast — battling a new threat out of New York City. Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) is a trigger-happy mobster looking to cut into the bootlegging business in Atlantic City, and he won't take no for an answer. With his personal problems and Rosetti, Nucky has plenty of work ahead of him. As usual, HBO delivers with its special features. This five-disc collection has some fascinating featurettes and plenty of interviews with Winter and one of the finest casts on television. Also look for commentaries on select episodes. 3.5 Stars.
“Killing Season” (2013, R, 91 min., $28.99). Two acting heavyweights — Robert De Niro and John Travolta — square off in this action-packed thriller from filmmaker Mark Steven Johnson. De Niro assumes the role of a reclusive veteran who realizes that Travolta's European tourist character is up to no good in the Appalachian Mountains.
“Rapture-Palooza” (2013, R, 85 min., $19.98). Craig Robinson, Anna Kendrick, Rob Corddry and Ana Gasteyer team up for a comedy about the apocalypse from Paul Middleditch. As the end leads into the rapture, few folks are left on Earth, including Lindsey (Kendrick) and her boyfriend, who find themselves living next door to the devil.
“Highland Park” (2013, NR, 94 min., $26.95). Andrew Meieran makes his directorial debut with the help of a Christopher Keyser script in a picture about a struggling group of teachers who put all of their hope in a lottery that could turn their fortunes around. A talented cast includes Parker Posey, Danny Glover and Billy Burke.
“No One Lives” (2012, R, 86 min., $26.98). The body count spikes in this bloody picture from Ryuhei Kitamura about a ruthless gang that kidnaps a young couple on the road. When the captive female is killed, the gang finds itself being hunted by the other captive, a seasoned killer determined to have his revenge. Luke Evans stars.
“Floating City” (2012, NR, 104 min., $24.98). Based on a true story, this film from Yim Ho tracks the great ascent of Bo Wah Chuen, a hard-working businessman on his way to the top in the Imperial East India Company of Hong Kong. Chuen came from basically nothing to become a respected executive with plenty of success.
“Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” (2012, NR, 102 min., $26.98). Shola Lynch's documentary details the struggle of Angela Davis and her cohorts in the rough-and-tumble 1960s. Davis was an African American activist, writer and scholar who became an iconic symbol of the political and social movement of a remarkable time.
“Wither” (2012, NR, 95 min., $29.95). Described as a Swedish tribute to filmmaker Sam Raimi's 1981 cult classic “Evil Dead,” “Wither,” directed by Sonny Laguna, focuses on a group of young people heading out to a country cabin for a nice weekend. When an evil creature is accidentally released the weekend turns into a nightmare.
“To the Wonder” (Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams, 2012, R, 112 min., $26.98)
TV ON DVD
“Being Human: Season Five” (Michael Socha and Damien Molony, two discs, six episodes, $34.98)
“Revenge: The Complete Second Season” (Madeleine Stowe and Emily VanCamp, five discs, 22 episodes, $45.99)
“The Good Wife: The Fourth Season” (Alan Cumming and Julianna Margulies, six discs, 22 episodes, $64.99)
“NCIS: Los Angeles: The Fourth Season” (Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J, six discs, 24 episodes, $64.99)
“NCIS: The Tenth Season” (Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly, six discs, 24 episodes, $64.99)
“Star Trek: Enterprise, The Complete Second Season” (Scott Bakula and John Billingsley, six discs, 26 episodes, $120.99)
“The Best of Pawn Stars: The Greatest Stories Ever Sold” (reality series, two discs, eight episodes, $14.98)
“The Best of American Pickers: Mike and Frank's Picks” (reality series, two discs, seven episodes, $14.98)
“The Best of Storage Wars: Life in the Locker” (reality series, two discs, 13 episodes, $14.98)