This Week in Home Video: Star Trek Into Darkness, Sharknado, Homeland, and The Mad Canadian
This Week in Home Video previews all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and on-demand titles hitting the street this week, plus lost gems, crazed Cancon, outrageous cult titles and the best places to rent or buy movies in Toronto.
Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount)
Kirk and Spock battle a rogue sleeper agent attempting to expose a Federation conspiracy to trigger all-out war with the Klingons, before uncovering his true identity and preventing his blood lust for revenge.
The boring parts of Star Trek are jettisoned in favour of cool action spectacle, narrative momentum is break neck and the enterprise's whole modus operandi is retooled from Kennedy optimism and exploration to Bush doctrine era warmongering. Does it matter? The hard-core Trekkies think so, but director JJ Abrams cheekily used this as a sly audition for the Star Wars franchise, which is kind of like using Betty to get Veronica.
This year's kid A Benedict Cumberbatch takes maximum ownership of the screen anytime he pops up, stealing the movie wholesale from Chris Pine's deep blue eyes and Abram's almost psychotic use of len's flare. Let's hope he returns in later installments with the rebooted Klingons, who after being made toothless comedy objects on the TV show revert to their bad ass reputation.
Extras include a look at the Klingon Home World, a lot of self-congratulation about bringing back a villain as popular as Khan, and some cool special effects behind the scenes boffinry. Also available in a 3-D edition, and multiple variations with added features depending where you buy your copy.
From Up on Poppy Hill (Cinedigm)
Studio Ghibli's own Walt Disney Hayao Miyazaki scripted this slice of cheery nostalgia and let his son Goro direct. True to the spirit of earlier Miyazaki classics such as Howls Moving Castle and Spirited Away, this is soulful animation that restlessly tugs heartstrings. In Yokohama, 1963 Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics. While young lovers struggle to understand what happened and what lies ahead.
Sharknado (The Asylum)
A social media success, week long joke that was so "funny" that just reading the title was akin to actually watching it (which apparently nobody did). For those late to the party, here's the DVD. Chances are it will serve as a lazy gift from people who fancy themselves funny, or raiders of the $4 Walmart bin. For everyone else, just look at the title again and save yourself the pain.
Homeland - Season 2 (20th Century Fox)
Emmy award winning essential serial TV successfully picks up where series 1 ended finding CIA Agent Carrie Mathison (Clair Danes) and Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) adjusting to their new lives, but not for long as the gargantuan threat of terrorism brings them back into the fold. Extras include "The Border", a prequel to Season 3; A super8 film diary by Damian Lewis, a look at the location filming in Israel, and "The Choice" - The making of the season finale.
Star Trek - Origins (Paramount)
Fans wishing to wash the rancid taste of Jar Jar Abrams' bastardization of the Trek cannon will delight in this collection of 5 classic Star Trek episodes re-mastered on Bluray. Best of all is "The Cage", Trek's infamous pilot episode without a James Kirk in sight, instead featuring Captain Pike and scary large brained aliens. The set also includes the legit second pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Khan's origin story "Space Seed" (featuring the Mexican Shatner Ricardo Montalban), the first Klingon episode "Errand of Mercy", and fan favourite "The Trouble with Tribbles". Classic stuff, and that's your lot.
Vampire Diaries - Season 4 (Warner Bros.)
Tepid fangirls might tell you otherwise, but season 4 really sullied what started out as a great series. Senior year gave BUFFY enough ammunition for probably its best season, but with, VD its all long faces and over wrought drama - time to put the stake in and down the holy water.
Snake Eyes (Paramount)
There once was a time when Nicholas Cage was a measured, restrained actor, and his boggle eyed turns were rarified. This underrated Brian DePalma thriller is one of those, ("A shady police detective finds himself in the middle of a murder conspiracy at an important boxing match in an Atlantic City casino ") from the mystical late-1990s when a cult movie could get big studio financing. Opening with a tracking shot to rival that of Touch of Evil, Snake Eyes is a root beer float for the eyes.
Marathon Man (Paramount)
Dustin Hoffman solidifies his Seventies cred in this terrifying spy thriller best remembered for its toothy torture scene. Fantastic scenes of New York City in the 70s when it was grimy, scary and full of intrigue look even better in this new re-mastered edition.
The Fly (20th Century Fox)
Early science gone awry horror film (later remade by our boy David Cronenberg) still packs a mighty wallop primarily thanks to star Vincent Price whose dulcet tones bring an extra element of creepiness to the proceedings. Not as gruesome as the Jeff Goldblum remake, but the final shot will stay with you. Perfect pre-Halloween fun. Extras include a commentary with actor David Hedison and film historia David Del Valle, a biography on Price, a vintage Fox Movietone news reel, and a closer look at the legacy of the Fly.
NFB CLASSICS - THE DEVIL AT YOUR HEELS
The National Film Board of Canada, purveyors of the finest in Canadiana visuals, have thankfully embraced the digital realm and made great use of unlimited bandwidth afforded by YouTube. With over 300 titles on their channel (most of them gold standard classics), it's tough to select what to watch but one stands out like legendary man it documents.
The Devil at Your Heels chronicles "The Mad Canadian" Ken Carter, a daredevil who managed to freak out even Evel Knievel with his fearless and reckless abandon in the pursuit of stunting, and his Ahab like obsession to jump the St. Lawrence in a shitbox rocket-powered Lincoln Continental.
As with most docs, the less you know going in, the better.
Still from Star Trek Into Darkness
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