Leading theatrical films on DVD and Blu-ray this week is an old-fashioned monster movie that could fit comfortably into the Godzilla franchise.
“Pacific Rim” (Warner/Blu-ray, 2013, three discs, PG-13, $35.99; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). The trailers may lead you to expect something along the lines of “Transformers,” but this monster flick is actually more like “Godzilla,” or perhaps “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla,” since robots figure prominently.
The story has monstrous sea creatures rising out of the ocean in a seeming effort to destroy humanity, so massive robots have been developed, controlled by a pair of pilots that are sort of mind-melded. Forget the human soap-opera plotting of the characters and let yourself enjoy the wild battles between sea creatures and human-operated ’bots.
Yes, it’s ridiculous, but, despite the huge special effects-driven budget, it’s an enjoyable throwback to monster movies of old. And movie buffs will recognize riffs on, or homages to, “Men in Black,” “Independence Day,” James Bond and many others. Silly but fun. (Also on 3D Blu-ray, $44.95, and DVD, $28.98)
“The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear” (Icarus, 2013, not rated, $29.98, featurette). A filmmaker in the former Soviet republic of Georgia puts out a casting call for 15- to 25-year-olds, then films their auditions while asking probing questions. I always wonder with documentaries like this how much is spontaneous and how much is contrived, but taken at face value, this is generally a rather sad but affecting look at mostly young people in a war-torn country who have dreams and hopes despite low expectations for their futures.
“A Hijacking” (Magnolia, 2013, R for language, $26.98, in English and Danish with English subtitles, featurettes, trailer). This fictional Danish film about a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean hijacked by Somali pirates becomes a claustrophobic hostage crisis but unfolds as a thoughtful psychological drama. And it succeeds without a huge Hollywood budget or Tom Hanks. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.98)
“Exploding Sun” (Gaiam/Vivendi, 2013, not rated, $19.97, featurette). This entry in the “Doomsday Series” of straight-to-DVD films is a variation on “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact.” A civilian space shuttle collides with the sun, improbably causing disastrous weather on Earth. So an astronaut (David James Elliott, of TV’s “JAG”) is commissioned to save the day. Julia Ormond co-stars. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.95)
“Prayers for Bobby” (Lifetime/Lionsgate, 2009, not rated, $14.98, featurettes). Lifetime cable-TV movie is a true story, based on the book Leroy F. Aarons and starring Sigourney Weaver as a religious suburban homemaker who struggles to come to terms with her son’s teenage homosexuality, then, following a tragedy, becomes a gay-rights advocate. Very well done, with Weaver giving an exceptional performance.
"Cinco de Mayo La Batalla” (Lionsgate, 2013, R for violence and language, $19.98, in Spanish with English subtitles). Re-creation of the Battle of Puebla when the French army invaded Mexico to set up a monarchy but was unexpectedly pushed back by a poorly armed and outnumbered troop.
“Drug War” (Well Go/Blu-ray, 2013; R for violence, drugs, language; $29.98, in Chinese with English subtitles, trailer). Effectively one long chase, this action crime drama, punctuated by bursts of disturbing violence, follows a drug manufacturer who has flipped on his bosses, but no one is to be trusted as the action revs up and never slows down. (Also on DVD, $24.98)
“Ingenious” (Lionsgate, 2008, R for language and sex, $26.98, featurette). Jeremy Renner made this slow comedy-drama just before hitting it big with “The Hurt Locker,” which has since put him on the fast track (“The Avengers,” “The Town”). The plot casts Renner and Dallas Roberts as underachievers trying to invent something, anything, to make themselves rich.
“Dracula: The Dark Prince” (Lionsgate, 2013; R for sex, nudity, violence; $9.96, audio commentary, featurettes). Jon Voight plays vampire killer Van Helsing in this umpteenth variation on Bram Stoker’s character. The story has Dracula kidnapping a woman he believes to be the reincarnation of his dead wife. (Available exclusively at Walmart.)Comment on this story
“Maniac” (IFC/Blu-ray, 2013, not rated, $29.98, deleted sense, audio commentary, featurette, poster gallery). Former child actor Elijah Wood stars in this grisly horror thriller, a remake of a sick 1980 picture that didn’t need an update. Wood is a quiet, withdrawn serial killer collecting the scalps of his female victims. Ugh. (Also on DVD, $24.98)
“Abducted” (eOne, 2013, not rated, $19.98, featurette). Four couples are taken by masked kidnappers and subjected to bizarre medical experiments and torture in a dark cell.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com