DVD reviews: 'The Wolverine,' 'Mortal Instruments: City of Bones' and 'Drinking Buddies'
“The Wolverine” (2013, PG-13, 126 min., $29.98). By a long shot, Wolverine is the most popular of the X-Men. The character — played by Hugh Jackman — now has two individual showcases to go with the handful of pictures that featured all of the Marvel mutants. This latest adventure carries some incredibly exciting action sequences, but it's just OK as a feature film. It's a plot that does all it can to paint Wolverine as a miserable guy who just wants to be left alone. Well, that is until a friend comes calling from Japan. Wolverine hits the road to Tokyo to pay his respects to a fellow he saved in World War II. As Wolverine delves into this world, he realizes something's not right, and soon finds out he wasn't called on for a simple goodbye. The mutant is called into action to protect his old pal's granddaughter, but soon realizes it's all a trap to extract the amazing healing powers he possesses. Remarkably better than the Wolverine film that came out in 2009, director James Mangold's new vision of the character fails to give viewers a real idea of what makes this mutant tick, and it creates some plot holes. The film also suffers from a horrid final act that sees an overload of unnecessary special effects. Three packages — 3D, Blu-ray and standard DVD — are due out, with 3D and Blu-ray packing in the extras. A few slick featurettes, commentary and an alternate ending are available. 2.5 Stars.
“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” (2013, PG-13, 130 min., $30.99). Since the insane success of the Harry Potter franchise, filmmakers having been looking everywhere for books that have a fantasy edge to them. The latest is the “Mortal Instruments” series from Cassandra Clare. Throw in vampires, werewolves, demons shadowhunters — half-angel warriors — and you have “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.” In this first chunk of the series, Clare (Lily Collins), a normal teen with the ability to see things others can't, finds out she's a descendant in a long line of shadowhunters. When her mom is taken, she stumbles upon a secret world that exists right in New York City. As Clare begins to learn about her special powers, she's tossed into a war between the shadowhunters and demons for a special chalice that holds magic powers. Between finding her mother and protecting the chalice, Clare has her work cut out for her. Director Harald Zwart's picture is nothing special, and it's built upon the same fantasy cliches and teen angst that moviegoers have become accustomed to with this genre. While the film is lousy, the Blu-ray and standard DVD packages hold some nice extras. A couple of making-of featurettes are available on standard DVD and Blu-ray, along with deleted scenes and a music video. A handful of additional featurettes are exclusive to Blu-ray packages. 1.5 Stars.
“Drinking Buddies” (2013, R, 90 min., $26.98). Another addition to the mumblecore genre, “Drinking Buddies” is filmmaker Joe Swanberg's latest picture. Starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston, the comedy drama follows a pair of relationships in Chicago. Luke (Johnson) and Kate (Wilde) have gotten to know each other by working together at a brewery. The co-workers definitely have chemistry, but they're both in relationships. Luke lives with Jill (Kendrick), and Kate is dating Chris (Livingston). When Luke and Kate spend time together the sexual tension is thick, but they have to be faithful to their significant others. That changes when Chris dumps Kate, and she is free to do whatever she wants. It could have an impact on what Luke and Jill have going on. Swanberg's film is a decent one, and it holds a lot of truth in its display of relationships and the conversations that exist in and around them. That's where this film is at its best. The casting is another strong point, as the four leads know their tendencies incredibly well, and are able to employ those in the natural dialogue that's standard in the mumblecore genre. A few good special features are available to be enjoyed after the film. A making-of featurette includes interviews with the cast and crew and commentary with the director is also worth checking out. Deleted scenes are included. 3 Stars.
“Nashville” (1975, R, 159 min., $39.95). Filmmaker Robert Altman's masterpiece “Nashville,” one of the finest movies from the 1970s, is added to the Criterion Collection just in time for the holidays. The legendary film follows a variety of people, as they look toward a political convention in Nashville.
“All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” (2006, R, 90 min., $24.98). Jonathan Levine made his feature-length directorial debut with this independent horror film that stars Amber Heard. The controversial picture follows a handful of high schoolers at a party in a secluded Texas ranch. Soon enough, the party takes a disturbing turn.
“Smash & Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers” (2013, NR, 89 min., $19.95). The Balkan crime organization known as the Pink Panthers, which has done jobs in Paris, London, Tokyo and Geneva, is the focus of this suspenseful documentary from Havana Marking.
“Inch'Allah” (2012, R, 102 min., $24.98). A young Canadian doctor working with the Red Crescent finds herself in the crossfire of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this feature film from award-winning director Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette.
“Casting Me” (2011, NR, 97 min., $19.95). This comedy follows a casting director in South Africa who dreams of making his own feature film. To combat his personal problems, he decides to go through with making a movie about his job, love life and the situations that can happen behind the scenes at a casting agency.
“Things Never Said” (2012, R, 111 min., $19.98). Shanola Hampton, Elimu Nelson and Omari Hardwick play lead roles in this drama about a struggling poet who's dealing with personal problems stemming from a miscarriage and an angry husband. She begins to come around when she finds inspiration from another man.
“Pain & Gain” (2013, R, 129 min., $37.99). Michael Bay's outrageous comedy drama starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Anthony Mackie and Tony Shalhoub was out on video in August, but this rereleased special edition packs in all of the special features that weren't issued with the initial package.
“Let's Get Lost” (1988, NR, 121 min., $29.95). Bruce Weber, best known for his ad campaigns for Calvin Klein, directed this intimate documentary on the last days of jazz legend Chet Baker. Released in 1988 and on DVD for the first time, “Let's Get Lost” was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary.
“The Perfect Wedding” (2012, NR, 82 min., $24.95). Two young men — Paul (Eric Aragon) and Gavin (Jason T. Gaffney) — fall in love at the wedding of Paul's sister. As they grow ever closer, they have to hide their feelings for each other because Gavin is posing as the boyfriend of Paul's ex.
“Wings of a Warrior: The Jimmy Doolittle Story” (2013, NR, 83 min., $14.98). This documentary from Gardner Doolittle tells the tale of his cousin Jimmy Doolittle, one of the most decorated airmen in U.S. military history. The high-flying story is told through archival footage and details of his remarkable missions.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (Will Ferrell and Steve Carrell, 2004, PG-13, 94 min., $24.99)
“The Jack Ryan Collection” (includes “The Hunt for Red October,” “Patriot Games,” “Clear and Present Danger” and “The Sum of All Fears,” $49.99)
“The Rutles: Anthology” (Eric Idle and Neil Innes, 1978, NR, 130 min., $24.95)
“Matilda” (Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman, 1996, PG, 102 min., $19.99)
TV ON DVD
“Lilyhammer: The First Season” (two discs, eight episodes, $19.95)
“Hot in Cleveland: Season Four” (three discs, 23 episodes, $29.99)
“Duck Dynasty: Seasons 1-3 Collector's Set” (six discs, 41 episodes, $49.98)
“Angry Birds Toons: Season One — Volume One” (one disc, 26 episodes, $19.99)
“Zatch Bell: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2” (12 discs, 100 episodes, $99.95)