New releases on DVD, Blu-ray
Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games."
Updated: August 27, 2012 1:33PM
NEW THIS WEEK
“The Hunger Games” ★★★
Rated: PG-13 for intense, violent, thematic material and disturbing images—all involving teens
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
The much-anticipated movie version of “The Hunger Games” does little more than faithfully replicate the mega-bestselling novel, yet, this proficient and generally satisfying adaptation gets the job done reasonably well. Primarily because of the perfect casting of Lawrence as the bow-hunting heroine of a dystopian-future televised competition in which only one of 24 teenaged participants can survive. As likely to satisfy fans as it is to sweep along newcomers with its exploitational, teen-slaughtering craziness. Extras include the eight-part documentary “The World is Watching,” a conversation between director Gary Ross and screenwriter Elvis Mitchell and “Propaganda Film” in its entirety.
“A Man Apart” — Blu-Ray Debut ★★ 1/2
Rated: R for strong graphic violence, language, drug content and sexuality
Stars: Vin Diesel, Larenz Tate
The best thing that can be said about “A Man Apart”: It’s better than it had to be. Director F. Gary Gray (a Highland Park native) and Diesel apparently invested some creative energy in this formulaic story about a rogue cop out for revenge. What’s more, they managed to do it without messing up the movie for fans who simply want to see Diesel do his macho stuff. When undercover DEA agent Sean Vetter (Diesel, continuing to establish himself as a tough guy who can emote) loses his wife when a drug lord called — what else? — El Diablo attacks his home, he does what a man’s gotta do to get some payback. Familiar stuff. Yet, Gray’s fresh approach to action and emotion does deliver a stylish vehicle to be (ahem) fueled by Diesel. Extras include deleted scenes.
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK
Rated: PG-13 for some violent images and brief strong language
Stars: Jack Black, Matthew McCaughey, Shirley MacLaine
A small town goes into shock when a well-liked mortician (Jack Black) is charged with murdering the wealthy widow (Shirley MacLaine) he had befriended and whose affairs he managed. Richard Linklater (“Before Sunset”) wrote and directed the dark comedy. Rated PG-13 for some violent images and brief strong language.
A three-year-old chimp separated from his troop is adopted by a full-grown male in this Disney Nature documentary. Former sitcom star Tim Allen narrates. Rated G.
“The Dictator: Banned And Unrated”
The benevolently oppressive ruler of the nation of Waadeya (Sacha Baron Cohen) travels to America to address the United Nations about his nuclear weapons policy. Larry Charles (“Borat,” “Bruno”) directed the satirical comedy. Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language and some violent images. Extras include deleted and extended scenes and a Larry King interview.
The son of a slain NYPD officer (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) joins the force only to unearth the truth about his father’s death. Robert DeNiro is featured. Jesse Terrero (“Gun”) directed the crime drama. Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, drug use, violence and pervasive language.
Roger Corman’s 1969 cult classic features actual members of the Hell’s Angels in a battle between two rival biker gangs. Bruce D. Clark (“Galaxy of Terror”) directed the exploitation thriller Rated R.
An Iranian couple is faced with a difficult decision: To leave the country for the sake of their child or to stay behind to care for a deteriorating parent with Alzheimer’s. An Oscar and Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language film.
“The Raid: Redemption” ★★★1/2
Rated: R for strong, bloody violence, throughout, and for language
Stars: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Ray Sahetapy
Insane, hyper-kinetic, brutal and bloody, “The Raid: Redemption” trumps every other action film in recent memory for pure, non-stop, main-line cinematic mayhem. Writer/director Gareth Evans somehow manages to up the adrenaline ante floor-by-floor as a new recruit fights his way up a 15-story Jakarta apartment building after his invading SWAT team has been wiped out, to capture a drug-lord — his only means of escape. The fact that it also has a little bit of plot thrown in can be seen as a bonus or a bore, depending on your predilection.
“The Royal Tenenbaums” Blu-Ray Debut ★★★1/2
Rated: R for some language, sexuality/nudity and drug content
Stars: Gene Hackman, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson
Probably the most amusing painful-family-drama you’ll ever see. Former child prodigies — are you wincing yet? — Stiller, Paltrow (less recognizable here than in a fat suit in “Shallow Hal”) and Luke Wilson grudgingly reunite in their family home after years of disappointment and failure when their outrageous scoundrel of a dad (Gene Hackman in a wonderful role) announces he’s going to die at long last. The quirky, deadpan humor isn’t for everyone but this is still an impressive follow-up to writer/director Wes Anderson’s cult hit “Rushmore.” Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Danny Glover also are featured. Extras include commentary by Anderson behind-the-scenes footage, outtakes and deleted scenes and a making-of featurette by veteran documentarian Albert Maysles.
AVAILABLE NEXT WEEK:
Prohibition-era gangsters walk the walk and talk the talk in “Boardwalk Empire” while “The Walking Dead” just basically shuffle along — both shows represented by second-season collections. And Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones makes the most of mice in “The Chuck Jones Collection: Mouse Chronicles.”