DVD reviews: 'Bad Words,' 'The Raid 2,' and 'Jodorowsky's Dune'
“Bad Words” (2014, R, 89 min., $29.98) Jason Bateman makes a successful feature-length directorial debut with “Bad Words,” a dark comedy about a 40-year-old man who enters a national spelling bee because he wants to publicly humiliate the gentleman who runs it. Bateman also plays the lead role of Guy, a professional proofreader who takes advantage of loopholes in the spelling bee's rules to gain entrance. No one knows why Guy is going through with it, but he's promised his story to a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) who's traveling with him. Guy has a real talent for spelling, but he faces a tough road to the finals, what with the enraged parents, embarrassed spelling bee coordinators and a sudden friendship with one of the contestants (Rohand Chand). Written by Andrew Dodge, also making his debut as a screenwriter, “Bad Words” has a good share of uncomfortably funny moments, not to mention a lot of heart in a well-told story. Everything comes together in an original comedy that's definitely worth a look. Standard DVD and Blu-ray packages feature commentary with Bateman and a handful of deleted scenes. A making-of featurette that explores the production of the film is worth a look. 3 Stars.
“The Raid 2” (2014, R, 150 min., $30.99) In 2012, “The Raid: Redemption” knocked action movie fans off their feet. The hard-punching Indonesian picture gained plenty of praise for director Gareth Huw Evans. So when it was announced that “The Raid 2” was due out in 2014, there was plenty of excitement. Evans had more money to make “The Raid 2,” and what he delivered was the same kind of action as its predecessor, but with a more expansive plot. The feature has super cop Rama (Iko Uwais) going undercover to expose a crime syndicate that has police officers and politicians entangled. Rama does a prison stint to gain some street cred, and then starts working for the son of a mob boss. Rama gets inside and learns the business, and that's when things get dangerous. “The Raid 2” isn't as fast-paced as the original, but it allows for more character development. It's all good, as Evans' film plays out like an excellent crime saga with indelible action sequences. Choreography and fight featurettes are exclusive to Blu-ray sets, along with a special deleted scene. An interview and commentary with Evans are available on standard DVD and Blu-ray packages, along with a featurette on shooting a sequel. 3.5 Stars.
“Jodorowsky's Dune” (2013, PG-13, 90 min., $40.99) Alejandro Jodorowsky's big-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert's science-fiction classic “Dune” could have been one of the biggest films ever made. Unfortunately, the cult film director never really got the chance to follow through. Frank Pavich's brilliant documentary covers the doomed production of Jodorowsky's film. As a filmmaker behind offbeat midnight movie classics like “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain,” the director set a goal to make “Dune.” Acquiring a cast that included Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and David Carradine and production talent like H.R. Griger, Dan O'Bannon and Jean Giraud, Jodorowsky was all set to go. Then, there was really no interest from Hollywood in making the film. Pavich does a fantastic job of telling the story, mixing in interviews from all the key players and materials from the problematic project. This is certainly one of the better documentaries from the last few years. Special features are just OK, and include only deleted scenes in Blu-ray and standard DVD packages. However, there are a fair amount of deleted scenes, amounting to more than half an hour. 3.5 Stars.
“Nymphomaniac: Vols. I and II” (2013, NR, Vol. I: 117 min., Vol. II: 124 min., $26.98) Controversial director Lars Von Trier's latest drama tells the story of Joe, a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac. The two-part feature is not for everybody, based on its abundance of explicit scenes. The cast includes Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Uma Thurman and Shia LaBeouf.
“Stage Fright” (2014, R, 88 min., $26.98) Jerome Sable wrote and directed “Stage Fright,” described as a musical thriller. The backdrop is a performing arts camp, and it's being terrorized by a brutal killer who hates musicals. It follows a teen (Allie MacDonald) who has aspirations of performing on Broadway, but her first role's cut short by the killer.
“The Class of ‘92” (2013, NR, 99 min., $19.99) With the World Cup capturing just about everybody's attention, it's a perfect time to catch up on some soccer history. Benjamin and Gabe Turner's documentary follows the rise of six incredible soccer players, including David Beckham and Nicky Butt, and their time with the legendary Manchester United.
“Kid Cannabis” (2014, NR, 110 min., $24.98) Based on a true story, “Kid Cannabis” tells the tale of Nate Norman, an Idaho teen dropout who put together a million-dollar marijuana business with a few of his pals. Working with a deadly dope czar and a former government grower, the boys get in over their heads running drugs across the Canadian border.
“Watermark” (2013, PG, 92 min., $24.98) Jennifer Baichwal, Nick de Pencier and Edward Burtnynsky follow up their successful 2006 documentary “Manufactured Landscapes” with “Watermark,” a film that explores our relationship with water. The doc tackles stories from around the globe, using beautiful shots to detail our ties to this great resource.
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa .5” (2014, NR, 76 min., $15.99) Following in the footsteps of Johnny Knoxville's 2013 hit “Bad Grandpa,” this second helping includes a whole new collection of pranks, gags and stunts. Basically, all of the stuff cut from the original film is here, including hilarious performances from Spike Jonze and Catherine Keener.
“Ragamuffin” (2014, PG-13, 96 min., $19.99) Contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter Richard Mullins is the focus of this moving film written and directed by David Schultz. The picture details the upbringing of Mullins and his meteoric rise to stardom. Once on top, the singer walked away from all the fame to live on a Navajo reservation.
“Rigor Mortis” (2013, NR, 105 min., $24.98) A washed-up actor at the end of his rope moves into a darkly depressing apartment complex where he attempts to end it all. He's stopped by his uncle, but his dark thoughts have awakened some of the sinister spirits that reside in his new place of residence. Now, he has a whole new problem on his hands.
“Wings: Sky Force Heroes” (2014, PG, 84 min., $19.98) A sequel to the 2012 high-flying animated tale “Wings,” this next adventure has a cocky young hero named Ace finding a new adventure when a fire breaks out at the mines he's working in. Voice talent for “Wings: Sky Force Heroes” is provided by Josh Duhamel, Rob Schneider and Hilary Duff.
TV ON DVD
“Helix: The Complete First Season” (three discs, 13 episodes, $55.99)
“Walker, Texas Ranger: One Riot One Ranger” (1993, NR, 94 min., $14.99)