THIS WEEK’S THEATRICAL RELEASES:
“Lone Survivor”: At the peak of the War in Afghanistan, four Navy SEALs were sent on the top-secret Operation Red Wings, a covert mission to neutralize a high-level al-Qaeda operative deep in the mountains of that country. Halfway through the mission the SEALs were discovered by the Taliban and attacked; lacking any air or ground support, the men had to fight their way to safety against overwhelming odds. In the hands of director Peter Berg their story is a straight- ahead tale of heroism as well as an ode to our fighting men; it’s a gorgeously choreographed, non-stop fire-fight between the good guys and the bad guys with the good guys not necessarily getting the upper hand. Whatever your thoughts on our military presence in the mid-East, this is top-notch filmmaking that keeps you entertained from beginning to end. Stars the always-likable Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Ali Suliman, Alexander Ludwig, Yousuf Azami, Sammy Sheik. Extras include several fascinating (and heart-wrenching) featurettes on the real-life heroes of Operation Red Wings as well as a couple behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of the film. From Universal.
“In the Blood”: Mixed Martial Arts star Gina Carano makes up for her lack of acting chops with a great, honest, strong screen presence; who cares if she knows “method-acting” as long as she can kick butt. In the hands of a fine director, that’s exactly what she can do — take over the screen and single-handedly fight off a small army, as she did in Steven Soderbergh’s excellent “Haywire.” Unfortunately for her this time around, she’s at the mercy of weak direction (by John Stockwell)and a lumbering script that piles implausibility upon implausibility. Carano plays Ava, a trained fighter with a dark past whose new husband vanishes during their Caribbean honeymoon. Everyone thinks she did him in for his money, but we know better, and Ava sets out to discover what happened to him — and to take down the men she thinks are responsible for his abduction, one by one. It’s all pretty slow and silly — but, as we said, Carano is a pleasure to watch. Co-stars Cam Gigandet, Danny Trejo, Stephen Lang, Luis Guzman, Amaury Nolasco and Treat Williams. The only extra is an equally weak behind-the-scenes featurette. From Anchor Bay/Fox.
Also due this week: “RoboCop,” a weak-kneed remake of the 1987 Paul Verhoeven classic about a critically injured cop who, thanks to advanced medical science, comes back to life as an invincible part-man, part-robot police officer, starring Joel Kinnaman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Abbie Cornish, Gary Oldman, Jay Baruchel, Jackie Earle Haley, Miguel Ferrer and Jennifer Ehle, from MGM/Fox; and “Son of God,” a portrait of Jesus Christ, from Fox.
THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS:
“Alexander: The Ultimate Cut” (2004) : This 10th anniversary edition of Oliver Stone’s epic includes a never-before-seen cut of the film: Because the film’s original 2004 theatrical release required a running time of less than three hours, within strictly defined codes for violence and sexuality, the director felt he was unable to achieve a vision that stretched beyond the boundaries of an ordinary film. Stone now feels that by adhering to the outline of his original script, he is finally able to bring this improved Ultimate Cut, 31 minutes longer, to home viewing audiences. The Theatrical Cut (2004) was two hours and 55 minutes. The Ultimate Cut (2014) is three hours and 26 minutes with an intermission. It is eight minutes shorter than the Final Cut (2007) version and different in structure. According to Stone, “I’ve tried throughout this process to achieve what I believe is the appropriate balance between the inner and outer journeys undertaken by this extraordinary man. Free from earlier constraints, I’ve continued to pursue this great story, and I think I have at last achieved a film that tells a story as it has never been told.” Two-disc set contains the 2004 theatrical cut and the new Ultimate Cut. Stars Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins, Jared Leto, Rosario Dawson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Christopher Plummer. Extras include the new documentary “The Real Alexander and the World He Made,” Ultimate Cut commentary by Stone, Theatrical Version commentary by Stone and Robin Lane Fox, “Resurrecting Alexander,” Perfect Is The Enemy of Good,” “The Death of Alexander,” “Vangelis Scores Alexander,” “Fight Against Time: Oliver Stone’s Alexander” by Sean Stone, trailers. From Warner.
“The Nutty Professor 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” (1963) starring Jerry Lewis, Stella Stevens, Del Moore, Howard Morris, Kathleen Freeman. Jerry Lewis directed, stared in, and co-wrote (with Bill Richmond) this parody of the classic “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” tale that was selected for the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004. The four-disc set includes film Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film along with DVDs of two other well-known Lewis comedies, “Cinderfella” and “The Errand Boy.” The set was created with personal input from Lewis, who helped compile entertaining extra content. Highlights include a new featurette, “Jerry Lewis: No Apologies,” an intimate look at “The King of Comedy”; a 48-page book of the film’s original story boards; a 44-page book of excerpts from Lewis’ cutting script with personal notes; a recreated “Being a Person” book, made up of drawings and quotes inspired/written by Lewis and drawn by his personal illustrator. (250 copies of this book were originally made and distributed to members of the cast and crew of “The Nutty Professor” after Lewis heard of general conflicts among them); a “Directors Letter” specially written by Lewis to present the new collection; and a CD collection, “Phoney Phone Calls, 1959-1972,” with private prank calls secretly recorded by Lewis during those years (years before the Jerky Boys were harassing unwitting shop clerks, housewives and businessmen, Lewis perfected the art, as these recordings show. Released in 2001 on the Sin-Drome label). $54.99 from Warner.
The cult classic “Ravenous” (1999), directed by Antonia Bird and starring Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, Jeremy Davies, Jeffrey Jones, John Spencer, Stephen Spinella, Neal McDonough and David Arquette, makes its Blu-ray debut this week. It’s a recipe for nonstop action and excitement when the inhabitants of an isolated military outpost in the 19th century in the Sierra Nevada mountains go up against a marauding band of cannibals in a deadly struggle for survival. Extras include commentary with director Antonia Bird and composer Damon Albarn, commentary with screenwriter Ted Griffin and actor Jeffrey Jones, commentary with actor Robert Carlyle, deleted scenes, new interview with actor Jeffrey Jones, theatrical trailer, TV spot, two still galleries: costume design and production design. From Scream factory/Shout! Factory.
Also on Blu-ray this week: “The Man With No Name Trilogy Blu-ray” in a three-disc set with “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More,” a newly remastered “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” and five hours of bonus feature; $39.99 from Fox.