A true drama and a re-imagination of a beloved fantasy lead these new movies on DVD and Blu-ray this week.
“Snitch” (Summit/Blu-ray, 2013, PG-13, $39.99, Blu-ray and digital versions, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurette, trailer). Dwayne Johnson stretches his acting muscles in this true story (albeit with more action than the truth likely employed) as the owner of a construction company whose son is framed on a drug rap that could put him away for 10 years.
So Johnson makes a deal with the U.S. attorney (Susan Sarandon) to gather evidence so she can put away a dangerous dealer (Benjamin Bratt) in exchange for his son’s freedom, but in doing so he puts his own life and his family at risk.
This plays like a fairly typical action thriller, and as such it’s entertaining and involving. But it also has something to say about our judicial system and inequities that have evolved from the war on drugs. (Also on DVD, $29.95)
“Oz the Great and Powerful” (Disney/Blu-ray, 2013, PG, two discs, $44.99; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; featurettes, bloopers). Big on digital eye candy but hindered by typical 21st-century darkness, along with a couple of casting blunders — especially James Franco as the title character, who starts out sleazy and is never convincing when he supposedly sees the light. There are aspects to enjoy but not enough to sustain a sense of wonder. (Also on DVD, $29.99)
“No Pryor Restraint: Life in Concert” (Shout!, 1966-92, concert movies rated R for language, two DVDs, seven CDs, $87.98). Richard Pryor, who died eight years ago after struggles with multiple sclerosis, was a very funny (albeit R-rated) stand-up comedian, whose monologues were often personal and always biting, with racism and the drug abuse that nearly killed him taking center stage. Pryor made a few good movies, too, though none of his comedies were able to really capture the breadth of his talent. For that you have to go back to his onstage material, captured very well in the three vulgar, profane concert films included here: “Live in Concert” (1979), “Live On the Sunset Strip” (1982) and “Here and Now” (1983). This set also includes seven audio CDs of his comedy albums, as well as previously unreleased material.
“Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story” (Warner, 2013, not rated, included in the “Clint Eastwood: 40 Films DVD Collection,” $179.98, and the “Clint Eastwood: 20 Films Blu-ray Collection,” $129.95). Schickel’s new hourlong documentary (his third on Eastwood) specifically hones in on the star’s behind-the-camera career, which began in earnest with the success of his first film as director, “Play Misty For Me.” Fun for fans with other filmmakers (Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese) singing his praises, as well as actors (Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, etc.).
“Betty & Coretta” (Lionsgate, 2013, not rated, $19.98). This Lifetime cable movie is highly fictionalized in the story of the widows of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, as the women became close friends over the three decades that followed their husbands’ assassinations. Helped by excellent performances from singer Mary J. Blige and Angela Bassett as the respective title characters.
“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” (Paramount/Blu-ray, 2013; R for violence, sex, nudity, language; two discs, $39.99; Blu-ray unrated, DVD R-rated and digital versions; featurettes). If “Oz the Great and Powerful” is dark, this take on the familiar Hansel and Gretel fairy tale is jet black as the characters morph from victimized children to adults who get revenge by becoming witch killers for hire. Gore galore. (Also on 3D Blu-ray, $54.99, and DVD, $29.99)
“Ring of Fire” (Gaiam/Vivendi, 2013, bit rated, $19.97, featurette, trailers). Michael Vartan and Terry O’Quinn star in this end-of-the-world thriller about fracking in the Northwest causing an “extinction-level event,” as their oil rig causes a volcanic eruption, which in turn begins a “ring of fire” that encircles the planet and could destroy all life. Two-part, three-hour miniseries was shown on the Reelz cable channel. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.95)
“Fred Won’t Move Out” (Virgil, 2012, not rated, $24.99). No-budget comedy drama focuses on Fred (Elliott Gould) and Susan (Judith Roberts), who have lived in their home more than 50 years. But now Susan has Alzheimer’s, so their two adult children are moving Susan into an assisted-living facility — and they want Fred to go with her. As you may have guessed from the title, he’s reluctant.
“Gibsonburg” (Monarch, 2013, not rated, $24.95). Sincere, well-meaning but amateurish retelling of a high school baseball team that won a state championship despite its losing record, with soap opera subplots involving various characters.Comment on this story
“Absolute Deception” (Sony, 2013, R for violence, $22.99). Australia’s Gold Coast provides a nice visual backdrop for this low-rent thriller that has Cuba Gooding Jr. as an FBI agent investigating the murder of a businessman who led a double life, with the unexpected twists and turns that are now actually quite expected in these kinds of movies.
“Knife Fight” (IFC, 2013; R for language, sex, nudity; $24.98, trailer). Rob Lowe stars in this political satire as a spin doctor who grows weary of supporting candidates he would otherwise campaign against. Top supporting cast includes Julie Bowen, Saffron Burrows, Eric McCormack and Carrie-Anne Moss.