Chris Hicks: 'Frankenweenie,' ‘Looper’ out on DVD and Blu-ray

Published: Thursday, Jan. 10 2013 6:55 p.m. MST

A scene from "Frankenweenie."


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A surprisingly clever sci-fi thriller about time travel leads these movies that have arrived on DVD and Blu-ray this week.

“Looper” (Sony, 2012, PG-13, $30.99, digital copy, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, trailers). To be honest, time-travel is my least favorite sci-fi motif, “Back to the Future” and many “Star Trek” episodes notwithstanding. Despite my reservations, however, I found this one quite engaging and cleverly plotted.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a hitman or “looper” working for the mob, whose job it is to kill people sent to him from the future. But when he confronts his latest victim, his own future self, things, as they say, get complicated. But it’s witty enough to get away with it. Emily Blunt co-stars.

Gordon-Levitt’s face has been digitally altered to resemble Bruce Willis, but it doesn’t really work and is a distracting mistake. Yet the film is good enough to overcome this loopy obstacle. (Also on Blu-ray, $35.99)

“Samsara” (MPI/Blu-ray, 2012, PG-13, $34.98, featurettes, trailers). If you are familiar with the now two-decades-old “Baraka,” you may already have a sense of what this gorgeous, contemplative, wordless documentary by the same filmmakers means to evoke with its string of stunning visuals set to ethereal music (owing something to the “Koyaanisqatsi” films). Here the theme is reflected in the title, which in Sanskrit means something akin to “the wheel of life,” with an emphasis on provocative images linking humanity and nature. Filmed in 25 countries over the course of five years. (Also on DVD, $27.98)

“Game Change” (HBO/Blu-ray, 2012, not rated, two discs, $24.99, DVD and digital copies, featurettes, trailer). Julianne Moore is great as Sarah Palin in this dramatized look at her being tapped as the vice presidential candidate to run with John McCain (Ed Harris) in 2008. Woody Harrelson co-stars in the HBO film, which won five Emmys, including one for Moore. (Also on DVD, $19.97)

“Lapland Odyssey” (Artsploitation, 2012, not rated, $24.99, in Finnish with English subtitles, short film: “Burungo,” trailers; eight-page booklet). In northern Finland a slacker thrown out by his girlfriend recruits two idiot buddies to help him appease her by going out on a freezing winter’s night to find a cable box, which brings them into confrontations with a wide array of quirky characters. Off the wall and off-kilter but should appeal to adventurous movie fans with an affinity for dry, quirky humor.

“Frankenweenie” (Disney/Blu-ray 3D, 2012, PG, b/w, four discs, $49.99; Blu-ray, DVD and digital copies; cartoon short: “Captain Sparky vs. the Flying Saucers,” Feaurettes, music video). Tim Burton’s animated expansion of his 1984 live-action short film never quite comes to life as young Victor revives his dead dog, a la “Frankenstein.” Some amusing and warm moments but too much is surprisingly inert.

“Dredd” (Lionsgate, 2012; R for violence, language, sex; $29.95, digital copy, featurettes, motion comic, trailers). Based on the comic book, this extremely violent, remorseless remake of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film features Karl Urban as the title futuristic cop who is also judge and executioner. (Also on Blu-ray, $39.99)

“The Assassins” (Well Go/Blu-ray, 2012, not rated, $29.98, in Mandarin with English subtitles and English-dubbed versions, featurette, trailer). Chow Yun-Fat stars in this look at an aging power broker accused of plotting to overthrow the emperor, and who is the target of a long-developing plot involving the offspring of his dead enemies. (Also on DVD, $24.98)

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