DVD reviews: 'Veronica Mars' and 'The Art of the Steal'
“Veronica Mars” (2014, PG-13, 107 min., $28.98) A continuation of the TV show that ran between 2004 and 2007, “Veronica Mars” made it to the silver screen as a result of its fans. The film was paid for through the fundraising site Kickstarter, and it gave series creator Rob Thomas a chance to make his movie. Thomas wrote and directed, and most of the stars from the show, including Kristen Bell, jumped on board. Those who didn't watch the show will miss some of the inside jokes here, but the film does a good job of getting everybody up to speed on the character of Veronica Mars. Thomas' pic has Mars (Bell) returning to her hometown of Neptune, Calif., to help a former boyfriend who's been framed for the murder of his girlfriend. Mars has been away from town for awhile, but she slides back in, putting together the right pieces. The entertaining “Veronica Mars” is an above-average thriller for most of us, but it surely offers a bit more for those fans who enjoyed the series. Blu-ray sets offer a ton of extras, including plenty of interviews with the cast and crew, deleted scenes and a featurette that explores how the film was funded and put together. The featurette is the lone extra on standard DVDs. 3 Stars.
“The Art of the Steal” (2013, R, 90 min., $29.98) With a solid cast — Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon, Jay Baruchel and Terence Stamp — and a mildly entertaining plot, “The Art of the Steal” is one of the more fun films from 2013. No doubt the picture has its issues, whether it be a handful of plot holes or a series of cliches, but it's a good watch from Canadian filmmaker Jonathan Sobol. The cast works well together and Sobol graces this comedy caper with some serious style. The story follows a couple of brothers, Crunch (Russell) and Nicky (Dillon), who work as art thieves. When they get caught pulling a job in Poland, Nicky rolls over on Crunch, sending him to jail for almost six years. After his release, Crunch tries to get out of the biz, but a new heist with Nicky piques his interest. So, they bring together the old team to pull off a final score that will set them up for life. Crunch likes the heist idea, but he also has revenge on his mind when it comes to Nicky. Standard DVD and Blu-ray extras are pretty good, including commentary with Sobol and a making-of featurette that delves into the production of the film. Another featurette explores one of the more memorable parts of “The Art of the Steal.” 2.5 Stars.
“Blazing Saddles: 40th Anniversary Edition” (1974, R, 93 min., $24.98) When looking at Mel Brooks' career, there are numerous highlights. Whether it be “Young Frankenstein” or “The Producers,” he succeeded in making audiences laugh. Another one of his classics — “Blazing Saddles” — is 40 years old this year. Starring Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Slim Pickens, Alex Karros and Brooks, the satirical comedy does a fine job of making fun of Westerns. Brooks, who co-wrote the film with Richard Pryor, among others, takes shots at just about everybody here, and some of these controversial jokes wouldn't have played these days. The comedy follows an old West town that appoints a black man as its new sheriff. A corrupt politician makes the call because he wants to ruin the town. Unfortunately, for the politician, this sheriff isn't going down easily. The special features are good, and they include a new featurette with Brooks talking about the film and his other work. Also included are a 1975 TV pilot inspired by the movie, deleted scenes and a featurette that includes a cast reunion. 4 Stars.
“Riot in Cell Block 11” (1954, NR, 80 min., $24.95) Don Siegel directed this very interesting film about a group of inmates who rise up to take over parts of a prison. The inmates are fed up with the conditions in the prison, including overcrowding and poor living conditions. The pic was shot at Folsom State Prison with real inmates and guards as extras.
“Mr. Jones” (2013, PG-13, 90 min., $24.98) Looking for a little inspiration for their artwork, a couple (Jon Foster and Sarah Jones) moves out to a remote cabin in the woods. As Scott and Penny explore the wilderness, they find out there's a reclusive artist living nearby who doesn't want to be bothered. When they get too close, the nightmares begin.
“Still Mine” (2012, PG-13, 102 min., $22.98) Based on actual events, this drama, starring James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold, tells the story of an older man trying to build a better house for his wife, whose memory is failing. Met with resistance by a government inspector, the man must race to finish the place, as he faces a possible prison sentence.
“Survival Code” (2012, R, 88 min., $26.98) Hardcore action fans will get a kick out of this futuristic film that finds several countries fighting for control of the town of Borealis, the home of the last untapped oil, gas and mineral deposits on Earth. Vic, a former MMA fighter, controls the only way into the town, and he has a tough job in keeping out the wrong people.
“Hot Guys with Guns” (2013, NR, 105 min., $24.95) Doug Spearman wrote and directed this movie that dips between the action, comedy and thriller genres. The movie follows a young actor taking a class for aspiring private detectives to win a TV part. When he falls into a real investigation with his ex-boyfriend, though, he learns more than he ever expected.
“Making the Rules” (2013, R, 78 min., $26.98) Pop star Robin Thicke makes his feature-film debut in this drama about a hard-working chef (Jaime Pressly) who's forced to take the summer off. With not much passion happening in her marriage, she gets a second chance at true love when her ex-boyfriend comes back around. It all leads up to a tough decision.
“Separate But Equal” (1991, PG, 186 min., $16.99)
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“Revenge of the Nerds” (1984, R, 90 min., $14.99)
“Amistad” (1997, R, 156 min., $24.99)
“The Terminal” (2004, PG-13, 128 min., $24.99)
“Weekend at Bernie's” (1989, PG-13, 97 min., $19.99)
“Bachelor Party” (1984, R, 105 min., $14.99)
TV ON DVD
“Rookie Blue: The Complete Fourth Season” (four discs, 13 episodes, $39.98)
“The Andy Griffith Show: Season One” (four discs, 32 episodes, $130)
“I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season One” (six discs, 35 episodes, $130)
“The Honeymooners: Classic 39 Episodes” (five discs, 39 episodes, $130)
“China Beach: The Complete Season Three” (six discs, 22 episodes, $29.95)
“Little House on the Prairie: Season Two” (five discs, 22 episodes, $29.98)
“Laverne & Shirley: The Eighth and Final Season” (three discs, 22 episodes, $42.99)
“Adventure Time: The Suitor” (one disc, 16 episodes, $19.82)