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New on DVD & Blu-Ray: Blended, The Walking Dead, and More

by | August 26, 2014 | Comments

The only big release in the movie department this week is Adam Sandler’s latest rom-com, but we’ve also got a number of solid indie films to choose from. Then, on television, we’ve got AMC’s hit zombie apocalypse series, FX’s gritty biker gang drama, and a notable collection of Twilight Zone episodes from the 1980s. Read on for details:



Blended

15%

For a few years now, Adam Sandler’s been accused of passing off his fancy vacations with famous friends as feature films; unfortunately, his latest starring vehicle, Blended, does little to change that perception. In his third movie with Drew Barrymore, Sandler plays widower Jim, who stumbles through a disastrous blind date with divorcee Lauren (Barrymore). Through a series of happy coincidences — culminating in a shared South African safari vacation between their two families — Jim and Lauren cross paths and, despite their wildly different personalities, eventually hit it off. Critics were far from kind to Blended, lamenting its predictable blend of slapstick humor and sentimental schmaltz — neither of which fully hits home — and its willingness to indulge in offensive stereotypes. If you pick up the Blu-ray, you can expect the requisite gag reel, deleted scenes, and a few featurettes.



The Normal Heart

94%

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards air tonight, and one of the heavy hitters in the TV Movie category is HBO’s The Normal Heart, a depiction of the early 1980s AIDS crisis directed by Ryan Muphy and based on the play by Larry Kramer. Told from the perspective of openly gay writer Ned Weeks — portrayed by Mark Ruffalo in an Emmy-nominated performance — the film follows the efforts of Weeks and fellow activists to raise awareness of the disease and secure services for those afflicted. Certified Fresh at 94 percent, The Normal Heart earned high praise from critics both for its star-studded cast’s powerful acting and its thoughtful, sensitive treatment of the subject. Accordingly, it earned a whopping nine Emmy nominations across almost every category, including Outstanding Television Movie and four of the six spots in the Outstanding Supporting Actor field.



The Walking Dead – Season Four

As long as we’re talking about television, we might as well mention one of the biggest hits in recent memory, Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the eponymous comic book series The Walking Dead. Landing on DVD and Blu-ray this week is season four, which picks up with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his band of post-zombie apocalypse survivors as they attempt to maintain some semblance of a quiet lifestyle within the confines of an abandoned prison. It wouldn’t be The Walking Dead without some drama, though, so Grimes and Co. find themselves facing new threats from both within and without. Season four is Certified Fresh at 89 percent on the Tomatometer, and it delivers the same bloody action and character development we’ve come to expect from the series, so fans who have yet to catch up can probably rest assured they won’t be disappointed. The season box set comes with a full disc’s worth of bonuses, including two short featurettes per episode, deleted scenes, a number of making-of shorts, and an inside look at the show’s special effects.



Sons of Anarchy – Season Six

It’s been almost nine months since season six of FX’s Sons of Anarchy aired its last episode, but it’s finally coming to the home video market this week. The series has lost some of its luster since debuting strong back in 2008, especially as other high profile projects have dominated the pop culture landscape, but it continues to earn solid reviews; though this last season sits at 78 percent on the Tomatometer, that’s actually the lowest score its earned so far. In other words, Jax (Charlie Hunnam), Clay (Ron Perlman), Gemma (a Golden Globe-sinning Katey Sagal), and the rest of the SAMCRO gang are mostly as watchable as ever, even with multiple subplots to juggle. Special features include a couple of episode-specific commentary tracks, deleted scenes, a gag reel, a few episodes of the Anarchy Afterword program, and a brief look at the season’s body count, among other things.

Also available this week:

  • Belle (83 percent), starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Tom Wilkinson in a Certified Fresh period drama about Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay.
  • Richard Ayoade’s The Double (82 percent), starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in a comedy about a timid man whose life is slowly dominated by another man who looks exactly like him.
  • Polish import Aftermath (79 percent), a thriller about two brothers who reunite and face family demons from their past.
  • Clark Gregg’s Trust Me (52 percent), starring Gregg and Sam Rockwell in a dramedy about an agent for child actors who attempts to rein in a talented but unruly new client.
  • The Love Punch (27 percent), starring Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson in a comedy about warring exes who work together in order to steal a valuable diamond from the man who defrauded them out of their nest egg.
  • Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (17 percent), an animated film based on the 1939 classic that finds Dorothy returning to the magical land of Oz to vanquish a new threat, with voice work from Lea Michele and Kelsey Grammer.
  • Season two of CBS’s modern interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, Elementary (100 percent) is available on DVD.
  • The third season of ABC’s mystery drama Revenge (83 percent) is also available on DVD.
  • The fourth season of SyFy’s supernatural drama Haven is out on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • A new set of all three seasons of the 1985 revival of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone is available on DVD. Bonuses include a photo gallery, a special interview with Wes Craven, and commentary tracks.
  • And lastly, two selections from the Criterion Collection: a new DVD/Blu-ray combo pack of Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz (87 percent), and a new Blu-ray edition of Shohei Imamura’s 1979 crime thriller Vengeance is Mine (100 percent).

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