“The Lego Movie,” the year’s biggest hit (so far — the “Captain America” sequel is catching up), is on DVD and Blu-ray, and if you have a 3-D television, it’s available that way, too.
“The Lego Movie” (Warner/Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray 2D/DVD/Digital, 2014, PG, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, outtakes). Perhaps the most difficult movies to review on DVD are those that have received so much attention and achieved such enormous box-office success that there’s nothing new to add.
This animated feature about small pieces of plastic that take the form of humans — and iconic superheroes — is hilarious and stirring, with unstoppable energy and so many gags (both verbal and visual) flying by at such a fast clip that it’s impossible to take it all in during the initial viewing. And it also has a well-plotted story worth telling.
“The Lego Movie” also does something that very few live-action pictures do anymore: It delights every age. There was a time when movies weren’t dumbed down for families or made offensive for adults. They were just movies with broad appeal. This one reminds us that it’s still possible to please a wide range of people without alienating a genre’s core target audience.
“Ernest & Celestine” (GKIDS/Cinedigm/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, PG, English dubbed — by Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy and others — or original French language with English subtitles, featurettes). Another delightful animated feature that will appeal to both adults and children is this French/Belgian tale of anthropomorphic mice, who have an underground industrial environment, and bears, who live above ground and terrorize the mice. When Celestine, a mouse, and Ernest, a bear, become friends, their respective communities take umbrage. Gorgeous watercolor animation and engaging characters with a sweet, gentle story about tolerance and friendship. Based on a series of Belgian children’s books.
“No Clue” (eOne/DVD, 2014, not rated, audio commentary, featurette). Canadian comic Brent Butt earned a small but appreciative U.S. audience with his hilarious sitcom “Corner Gas” (which I highly recommend). Now he’s written, co-produced and stars in this film noir spoof that borrows its primary plot from the 1947 Bob Hope movie “My Favorite Brunette.” Butt plays a novelty-advertising salesman whose office is on the same floor as a private eye. Amy Smart walks in looking for a detective. Smitten, Butt takes the case. The film is uneven but does have some laughs and gets better as it goes along. Butt’s low-key style and self-deprecating comic rhythms are offbeat but ingratiating. (Though unrated, the film could be PG.)
“Joe” (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014; R for violence, language, sex; deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). Angry ex-con Nicolas Cage is going straight, working at a job and trying to stay under the radar when he encounters a 15-year-old homeless boy (Tye Sheridan, of “Mud”) with an abusive father. This reluctantly awakens something in Cage, who is fully aware that it’s going to lead down a bad road. Harsh and rough, but Cage gives a terrific performance in one of his better films of late.
“A Fighting Man” (Sony/DVD/Digital, 2014, R for violence and language). B-movie action star Dominic Purcell (best known for the TV series “Prison Break”) is a washed-up boxer with a chance at one last big purse, but it means fighting a younger man with a troubled past. Purcell’s family and friends try to talk him out of it. You know the rest. Kicked up a notch by the supporting cast: James Caan, Louis Gossett Jr., Michael Ironside, Famke Janssen.
“The Attorney” (Well Go/DVD, 2014, not rated, in Korean with English subtitles). A young hotshot attorney in Korea is making big money but cares little about the law or his clients until he gets a wake-up call in the form of a student falsely accused of a crime who is then beaten and tortured in jail. The attorney defends the youngster and, in the process, changes the course of his life. A huge box-office hit in Korea and loosely based on a true story.
“Alpha Alert” (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, R for language and violence, featurette). Claustrophobic melodrama cloaked in sci-fi trappings (think “The Twilight Zone”) has three war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — a female captain and two male enlisted men — trapped together in an elevator when an apparent nuclear attack brings Washington, D.C., to its knees.
“Meth Head” (Random/Cinedigm/DVD, 2014, not rated). Seeking escape from his mundane worker-bee life, Kyle Peoples (Lukas Haas) goes to a party and is introduced to crystal meth, which leads to a downward spiral from which there is no escape. Harrowing update of “Days of Wine and Roses” scenario with 21st-century drug addiction replacing alcohol.Comment on this story
“Almost Human” (IFC/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, not rated, audio commentaries, featurettes, trailers/TV spots, photo gallery; short film: “Toxin”). Two years after a man disappears from his home in rural Maine, he returns as a murderous monster, thanks to an alien parasite that has taken over his body. Gory slasher flick with a sci-fi bent.
“Haunt” (IFC/DVD, 2014, R for violence and drugs, audio commentary, featurettes, trailer). A family moves into a new home only to discover it’s haunted. The teenage son and a troubled neighbor girl try to unravel the secret behind a murdered family whose ghosts begin to manifest themselves.