Home movies

The Island

Let’s say you find out your entire existence, all your memories and your intelligence was programmed by an evil corporation. Now forget you’re George W. Bush and get your mind back on The Island, a big, loud, long action-thriller about citizens of a protected underground city taught to fear the plagued-infested world outside. A lottery picks lucky citizens to move to The Island, a germ-free paradise. When Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) learns that his girlfriend Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) has won the lottery, his suspicions lead him to a startling reality. Amalgamation of Logan’s Run and Coma includes stunt and visual effects featurette and commentary with director Michael Bay. (DreamWorks Home Entertainment)

Four Brothers

Director John Singleton is to be commended for making an old-school, straight up action-drama about adopted brothers who return to their old Detroit neighborhood for the funeral of their mother. This remake of John Wayne’s The Sons of Katie Elder stars Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund, and features nail-biting suspense and gripping action. After learning their mother’s death was an execution, the brothers vow to uncover the truth no matter what cost. It reminded me of the great films of the ’70s which relied on strong characters and motivation rather than flashy editing to tell a story. DVD offers wealth of extras, including a respective commentary by Singleton, deleted scenes, and a handful of featurettes. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Saint Ralph

The timing is perfect for this inspirational and emotional satisfying tale of a 14 -year-old boy encouraged to join his Catholic School’s track team. What starts off as an attempt by the headmaster (Campbell Scott) to help young Ralph (Adam Butcher) keep his mind on studies and off girls turns into a crusade when Ralph learns he needs a miracle to help his comatose mother. Ralph sets his sights on winning the Boston Marathon, which will require a miracle all his own. You’ll laugh and cry. Director’s commentary and featurette are included. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Into The Blue

Two couples in search of treasure surface with bigger problems in this pseudo-remake of The Deep. Paul Walker stars as Jared, a treasure hunter in the Bahamas looking for a big score to impress shark wrangler girlfriend Samantha (Jessica Alba). The arrival of a hurricane and Jared’s lifelong friend, Bryce (Scott Caan), with his new girlfriend, Amanda (Ashley Scott), make conditions perfect for treasure diving. The storm also uncovers the wreckage of a plane loaded with cocaine, pitting the couples against the local drug lord. Beautiful scenery, beautiful people and a fair amount of suspense make this deep sea adventure worth the dive. DVD enhances the experience with 10 deleted scenes, director audio commentary, screen tests and behind-the-scenes featurette. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

The Great Raid

Heroic World War II drama follows the 6th Ranger Battalion and their mission to rescue 500 American prisoners of war being held 30 miles behind enemy lines. Director John Dahl, noted for his tricky dramatic film noir, tackles this true, larger-than-life action with assurance. Benjamin Bratt is excellent as the Lieutenant Colonel assigned to lead the impossible rescue mission, an attempt to save the men from certain death. You don’t need to be a fan of war films to appreciate the sweeping human drama and intense scenes of conflict which exposed one of the most ruthless and bloodiest events of the Pacific Theater. Two-disc DVD explores the rescue, both real life and theatrical, with numerous featurettes, documentaries, commentaries, historical recollections, deleted and gag scenes. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

Home movies

Cinderella Man

One of the best films of 2005, Ron Howard’s biography of Depression-era boxing champion Jim Braddock scores a knock out. Russell Crowe is stupendous as Braddock, whose fight for respect inside and outside the ring makes for deep, emotional drama. Renée Zellweger goes the distance as his devoted wife, while Howard and company make it easy for us to believe we’ve been magically transported back in time. DVD includes a front row seat to deleted scenes with commentary, original fight footage, historical featurettes and a look at casting the film. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Fantastic Four

Genuinely enjoyable, larger-than-life Marvel comic about four astronaut-scientists who are exposed to a radiation belt and become super heroes with unique super powers. Ioan Gruffudd becomes Mr. Fantastic, more stretchable than lax slacks; Jessica Alba becomes the Invisible Woman, Chris Evans becomes the Flame, and Michael Chiklis becomes The Thing. After their evil benefactor (Julian McMahon) becomes endowed with super powers, the stag is set for one final epic battle. Unexpected emotional baggage make this cartoon more human. DVD adds to the fun with a cast audio commentary, production diary, deleted scenes, special effects featurettes and more. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Valiant

Like Chicken Run, this computer-animated comedy stars fine-feathered friends in a parody of WWII films. Ewan McGregor lends his voice to carrier pigeon Valiant, too small for service in Great Britain’s Royal Air Force homing pigeon brigade. Undeterred, Valiant finally makes the cut, only to become embroiled in a plan being hatched by evil Nazi falcons. Interesting blend of British humor and agreeable animation make this import fly. DVD feathers its nest with bloopers and games. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

Rebound

Family comedy stars Martin Lawrence as a short-fused college basketball coach who gets suspended for unsportsmanlike behavior. Unable to coach college ball, Roy McCormick (Lawrence) is forced to resurrect his career by leading a team of junior-high losers into the championships. Pretty much what you would expect: Gruff coach, trail-mix kids, sassy administration. Fortunately, the ingredients make for engaging comedy. DVD includes commentary and storyboard gallery. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Fall-down funny tale of a 40-year-old virgin named Andy (Steve Carell) navigating his first sexual encounter. What sounds like a one-joke premise is actually the launching pad for a number of hilarious moments and some sweet, heartfelt humor. Carell is endearing as a man willing but unable to give it up, while Catherine Keener shines as the young grandmother who catches his eye. Unrated edition contains 17 additional minutes of gut-busting humor, the sort of rude, offensive stuff that makes you laugh so hard you pee. DVD includes commentary tracks, gag reels, extended scenes, uncensored footage and more. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Pretty Persuasion

Wicked little morality tale about a devious 15-year-old private school student who conspires with her friends to accuse their drama teacher of sexual harassment. Evan Rachel Wood is downright evil as Kimberly Joyce, who orchestrates the accusation in order to get even with the teacher (Ron Livingston) who makes her life hell. With the aid of two friends, Kimberly creates a media firestorm, hoping the attention will advance her acting career. Dark, delicious and devastating. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

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