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That Time of The Week: New DVD & Blu-Ray Releases The Week of 9/1

Yes, I’m still behind, but catching up, I swear.  This installment includes several tv seasons, a Studio Ghibli release, some zombies, some magicians and a doctor who claims his wife was murdered by a one armed man.

Fire up that queue and prep that shopping cart.  It’s that time of the week.

Now You See Me

Summit Entertainment / Released 9/3/13

In this visually spectacular blend of astonishing illusions and exhilarating action from director Louis Leterrier, an elite FBI squad engages in a game of cat and mouse against “The Four Horsemen”, a super-team of the world’s greatest illusionists. “The Four Horsemen” pull off a series of daring heists against corrupt business leaders during their performances, showering the stolen profits on their audiences while staying one step ahead of the law.  Extras include commentary, deleted scenes and featurettes.

Last Word: An incredibly satisfying popcorn movie with a large ensemble (Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Mélanie Laurent, Isla Fisher Dave Franco, Common, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman), Now You See Me manages to do the sometimes impossible, portray magic on screen without making it feel like it’s accomplished with cinematic special effects.  Fast paced and extremely entertaining, the film feels like a mash-up of Ocean’s Eleven, Sneakers and The Usual Suspects.   Far better than I expected it to be, Now You See Me is terrifically entertaining.  And dare I say…magical?  Highly recommended.

The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fourth Season

Warner Home Video / Released 9/3/13

Senior year is finally here, and Elena should be having the time of her life. Instead, she faces her worst nightmare, struggling with the painful transformation from human to vampire. As Damon mentors Elena into a supernatural life, their repressed passions explode, causing Stefan to undertake a desperate quest to restore humanity to the girl he adores. But as Elena ruthlessly quenches her newfound thirst for blood, and her friends race to find a vampire cure based on clues inked onto Jeremy’s flesh, the world around them falls prey to a host of sinister forces. Mystic Falls takes on vampire hunters, a hybrid rebellion and more in all 23 pulse-pounding Season Four episodes.

Spartacus: War of the Damned – The Complete Third Season

Anchor Bay / Released 9/3/13

Gaius Claudius Glaber is dead. Many months have passed since his defeat, and the rebel army, led by Spartacus and his generals Crixus, Gannicus and Agron, continue to amass victories over Rome. With the rebel numbers swelling to thousands of freed slaves, Spartacus is more determined than ever to bring down the entire Roman Republic. Following Ashur’s death, Naevia and Crixus fight as one. Together, the rebels engage in one bloody skirmish after another and prepare for the inevitable: a full out war with Rome.  The Roman Senate turns to Marcus Crassus, a wealthy, strategic politician, for aid. He respects his opponent and refuses to make the same mistakes Glaber and his predecessors have. With a young and fiercely competitive Julius Caesar as an ally, Crassus is determined to crush Spartacus and his rebellion.  The epic conclusion of a legendary journey, Spartacus: War Of The Damned will unleash a battle unlike anything ever seen before.  Extras include featurettes, commentaries and extended episodes.

From Up on Poppy Hill 

Cinedigm / Released 9/3/3

From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and The Secret World of Arrietty, comes another animated triumph. Yokohama, 1963. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics. Against this backdrop of hope and change, a friendship begins to blossom between high school students Umi (Sarah Bolger) and Shun (Anton Yelchin). But a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart. From a screenplay by Academy Award® winner Hayao Miyazaki and featuring an all-star English voice cast including Gillian Anderson, Beau Bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Jeff Dunham, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard, Chris Noth, Emily Osment, Aubrey Plaza, Charlie Saxton, and Anton Yelchin.  Extras include Feature Length Storyboards, Celebrity Cast Recording Featurette, Interview With Goto Miyazaki, Music Video, Yokohama Featurette, Original Japanese Trailers and TV Spots, 16 Page Booklet Including A Letter By Goro Miyazaki and an Excerpt From The Original Project Proposal By Hayao Miyazaki, and Speech and Press Conference From Hayao Miyazaki.

Person of Interest: Season Two

Warner Home Video / Released 9/3/13

Victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up, we’ll find you. The Machine identifies another gripping season’s worth of potential crimes that must be stopped by billionaire tech genius Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) and ex-CIA operative John Reese (Jim Caviezel). Adversaries from Reese’s undercover past and Finch’s government work threaten the team’s crime-fighting mission and anonymity. Meanwhile, NYPD Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and Fusco (Kevin Chapman) face down FBI probes and the dangerous tentacles of the police conspiracy known as “HR.”  Extras include featurettes, gag reel and season finale episode commentary.

The Office: Season Nine

Universal / Released 9/3/13

The Dunder Mifflin crew bid farewell to their own little corner of Scranton in the hilarious ninth – and final – season of the groundbreaking, Primetime Emmy Award-winning hit series, The Office. Andy is back as regional manager, but finds his true calling is in showbiz. Will this finally put Dwight in charge? Jim lands the job of his dreams in Philadelphia, which means big changes for Pam and Darryl. Back at the office, Erin struggles with matters of the heart, Nellie meddles in everyone’s affairs, and Angela discovers that her dream marriage isn’t quite what it seems. And then, the documentary that has been following these quirky co-workers for nine seasons finally airs, and nothing will ever be the same. Extras include Behind The Scenes Panel Discussion, Never Before Seen Audition Tapes, Over 2 Hours Of Deleted Scenes, Finale Table Read, Blooper Reel and Cast Farewells.

Last Word: Despite feeling strongly that the series should have ended with the departure of Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott, The Office managed to stay on the air for two additional seasons.  This one, started off weak and got worse, introducing some of the people behind the cameras as well as watching the series slowly head toward several unhappy endings for characters that we’ve grown to love.  Much respect for original showrunner Greg Daniels who oversaw the final season in turning the entire thing around to several tear inducing final episodes and a strong and memorable finale that ranks among one of the best in television history.  If you’re a fan you obviously want this in your collection, if you’re a more casual viewer, check out the last several episodes for some top notch writing and performances.  It’s hard not to appreciate it.  That’s what she said.

The Lords of Salem

Anchor Bay / Released 9/3/13

From the singular mind of horror maestro Rob Zombie comes a chilling plunge into a nightmare world where evil runs in the blood. The Lords of Salem tells the tale of Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a radio station DJ living in Salem, Massachusetts, who receives a strange wooden box containing a record, a “gift from the Lords.” Heidi listens, and the bizarre sounds within the grooves immediately trigger flashbacks of the town’s violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the “Lords of Salem” returning for revenge on modern-day Salem? Bruce Davison and a coven of genre legends co-star in this stunning witchcraft shocker.  Extras include audio commentary.

The Iceman

Millennium / Released 9/3/13

Loving husband. Devoted father. Ruthless killer.  Inspired by actual events, The Iceman follows notorious contract killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) from his early days in the mob until his arrest in 1986 for the murder of more than 100 men. Appearing to be living the American dream as a devoted husband and father, in reality Kuklinski was a ruthless killer-for-hire.  Extras include making of and behind the scenes featurettes.

Last Word:  Loosely based on the documentary The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer, The Iceman is a reimagining of the life and “career” of Richard Kuklinski.  Michael Shannon is captivating, and the rest of the cast which includes Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, Stephen Dorff, James Franco and Robert Davi are all good, but the film plays more as a series of vignettes rather than a sharp narrative.  None of the characters are particularly sympathetic or endearing and the film overall misses as the sloppy narrative is more apathetic than engaging. 

The League: Season Four

20th Century Fox / Released 9/3/13

America’s favorite pastime – talking smack to your buddies and making their lives miserable – is elevated to hilarious new heights in the uproarious Season Four of The League. This season kicks off with the arrival of Kevin and Jenny’s baby…and the race to the Shiva Bowl is on! As Taco tangles with Chicago Bears great Jim McMahon and Andre’s tailgating plans go horribly awry, the rest of the guys contend with dirty trades, circumcision debates, breast-a-lyzers and blackmail. Extras include featurettes, extended episodes, deleted scenes and a gag reel.

Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete First Season

Starz/Anchor Bay / Released 9/3/13

Genius cannot be contained.  In a world where thought and faith are controlled, one man fights to set knowledge free. Leonardo Da Vinci is tortured by a gift of superhuman genius. He finds himself in a conflict between truth and lies, religion and reason, past and future. His quest for knowledge nearly becomes his undoing, but Da Vinci’s genius prevails and he emerges as an unstoppable force that lifts an entire era out of darkness and propels it into light. His story becomes a mirror into our own world, calling us all to join his fight to Free the Future.  Extras include featurettes, deleted scenes and commentaries.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie 

Shout! Factory / Released 9/3/13

After six seasons of sublime, nerdy fun on television, the cult comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 took to the big screen in 1996 for its deliriously funny take down of the 1955 alien invasion epic This Island Earth.  Evil scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester explains the premise at the start: in his quest for world domination, he devises a scheme to subject the human race to the worst movies ever made. He tests his plan on Mike Nelson, the sole human aboard an Earth-orbiting space station known as the Satellite of Love. But our hero and his two robot sidekicks turn a lemon into a much funnier lemon by showering This Island Earth with wisecracks, ridicule and general silliness. The human race may never be rid of cheesy movies, but when the critics are this nutty, who cares?  Extras include featurettes and trailer.

Last Word: Despite being a “Mike” project (Where art thou Joel?), MST3K: The Movie breaks from tradition by showing an actual good (albeit dated film), This Island Earth.  The jokes come full force and serves as a solid introduction to the MST3K experience. And TV’s Frank.  Highest recommendation.

Revolution: The Complete First Season

Warner Home Video / Released 9/3/13

Imagine a world where all technology – computers, planes, cars, phones, even lights – has mysteriously blacked out. What’s left is a post-apocalyptic landscape inhabited by ruthless paramilitary groups, heroic freedom fighters and families struggling to survive in this epic adventure thriller from Supernatural‘s Eric Kripke and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions. When young Danny Matheson is kidnapped by Militia leaders, his older sister Charlie, armed with a deadly crossbow and fierce determination, is desperate to find their estranged Uncle Miles for help. Now Charlie, Miles and a rogue band of rebels face danger at every turn as they attempt to reunite family, overthrow the Militia and ultimately return power to the people.  Extras include gag reel, deleted scenes, webisodes, featurettes, and 2013 PaleyFest.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Complete Season Eight 

20th Century Fox / Released 9/3/13

America’s favorite back-stabbing bar owners are at it again in the outrageously over-the-top Season Eight of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia! Join the gang at Paddy’s Pub for more disagreements, divisiveness, debauchery and depravity as Charlie and Dee find love among Philadelphia’s high society, and Dennis crashes his ex-wife’s wedding. Frank loses his memory – and his mind – in a hopeless search for lost treasure, and insanity ensues when the whole gang winds up in therapy.  Extras include Lady House: The Lost Premiere, Frank Reynolds’ How To Be A Warthog, Fat Mac: In Memoriam, Commentary On Select Episodes, Deleted Scenes and Gag Reel.

Last Word: The most consistently funny show on television knocks yet another season out of the park. With such inspired guest stars as Guillermo del Toro and Sean Combs, Sunny is one of the rawest, meanest, most disturbing series in the history of television.  Every character is morally bankrupt without a shred of decency.  Amen.  Highly recommended.

The Fugitive (20th Anniversary Edition)

Warner Home Video / Released 9/3/13

The chase is on… and as exhilarating as ever! For Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), a wrongfully convicted fugitive, the trial leads toward the one-armed man he believes murdered his wife. For U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard (Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones), the hunt will end with the capture of escaped prisoner Kimble. Filled with tension, twists and an unforgettable train wreck, this critically acclaimed thriller remains one of the greatest cat-and-mouse pursuits of all time.  Extras include documentaries, introduction, commentary, featurette, trailer and tv pilot of the 2000 series.

Last Word: It’s amazing to revisit the 1993 re-imagining of the sixties television series and think that the plot concerning a medical supply company murdering someone to let a drug go to market is more plausible and relevant than when it was first released.  Andrew Davis’ taut direction, use of practical effects and fantastic cast which included not only Ford and Jones, but also Sela Ward, Julianne Moore, Joe Pantoliano,  Andreas Katsulas, Jeroen Krabbé, Daniel Roebuck, L. Scott Caldwell and Tom Wood, elevated this pulp thriller into an Academy Award winning film.  Highly recommended. 

Sinbad: Season One

BBC Home Entertainment / Released 9/3/13

Elliot Knight stars as Sinbad, an impetuous young man on a quest for redemption, condemned to keep searching for a way to lift the curse that chains him to the seas, until he can find the goodness in himself.  The 8th century Arabia is a melting pot of cultures, faiths and creatures, full of life and dynamism but also threatening and volatile. Before their journey is over, Sinbad and his crew of outcasts will not only have to brave their own demons, but some of the most dangerous enemies imaginable. Extras include featurettes.

Cockneys Vs. Zombies 

Shout! Factory / Released 9/3/13

When some down-on-their-luck old-timers are at risk of losing their home to developers, a group of young, inept criminals decide to take matters into their own hands. The only thing standing in their way? A zombie outbreak in London! Now, it’s up to a bunch of east-enders to fight their way out of the zombie-infested city, led by an unlikely gang of amateur bank robbers and foul-mouthed, plucky pensioners.  Starring Michelle Ryan, Honor Blackman, Harry Treadaway, Richard Briers, and Alan Ford.  Extras include commentaries, and a featurette.

Last Word: Like Shaun of the Dead, this Brit-Zom-Com not only delivers, but is truly a reason to celebrate.  It’s more funny than scary, and more amusing than hysterical, but Cockneys Vs. Zombies is a witty genre entry that is, in fact, entertaining.  It’s a strong film that deserves the horror cult audence that it’s obviously reaching for.  The dialogue is a bit rough at times with the heavy Cockney accents, but fortunately Shout! Factory has included some much needed subtitles.  Recommended.

Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie

Magnolia Home Entertainment / Released 9/3/13

Before entire networks were built on populist personalities; before reality morphed into a TV genre; the masses fixated on a single, sociopathic star: controversial talk-show host Morton Downey, Jr.  In the late ’80s, Downey tore apart the traditional talk format by turning debate of current issues into a gladiator pit. His blow-smoke-in-your-face style drew a rabid cult following, but also the title “Father of Trash Television.” Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie dissects the mind and motivation of television’s most notorious agitator.  Extras include trailer, commentary, memorable moments, behind the animation and An Evening With Kellie Everts.

Regular Show – Fright Pack

Cartoon Network / Released 9/3/13

It’s another collection of Cartoon Network’s Emmy-nominated hit animated comedy series Regular Show featuring Rigby and Mordecai, a raccoon and a six-foot tall blue jay, who work as groundskeepers and try to break up the monotony of their dull job while pretty much avoiding any actual work.  The Fright Pack DVD includes the highly popular Terror Tales of the Park II 2-Part Halloween special and 14 hilarious episodes from all 4 seasons including Dead at Eight, Jinx, Grave Sights, In the House, Ello Gov’nor, Death Metal Crash Pit, Creepy Doll, Death Bear, Skunked, See You There, Meat Your Maker, The Best VHS in the World, Dizzy, and Last Meal.  Recommended.

Slightly Single in LA 

Well Go USA / Released 9/3/13

Moving to L.A. – it seemed like a good idea at the time. Dale (Lacey Chabert) can’t seem to make things click at work, with her friends, and definitely not with men.  In a city where hype, hookups, and heartbreak are as common as reality shows, it’s hard to find something real. Now she’s caught in the middle of a love triangle with her best friend (Jenna Dewan) and a guy from her past (Kip Pardue) – a great guy. Maybe the best guy ever. Sometimes, a girl’s just got to take a leap of faith. And with a little luck, maybe Dale’s L.A. dreams can come true.  Extras include featurette and trailer.

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