Vin Diesel shows Kermit and Fozzie his version of "Movin' Right Along."
Fast & Furious 6
The recent death of Paul Walker has cast an unavoidable pall over The Fast and the Furious franchise, giving this most recent installment -- which was one of this past summer's biggest hits and most enjoyably mindless blockbusters -- a mournful edge that it didn't have when it sped into theaters in May. Following the events of the series-best Fast Five, the sixth installment found our favorite gang of road warriors being recruited by The Rock to go head-to-head against a gang of auto-enthusiast terrorists in a mission that takes a personal turn when it appears that a fallen comrade (Michelle Rodriguez) has been lured over to the dark side. It's a nonsensical narrative that mainly serves as a way for director Justin Lin to lay the tracks for insane car stunts. In other words, it's just like every other F&F movie, although those aforementioned stunts are far superior to the ones populating the anemic third and fourth installments. On the other hand, the film lacks the irresistible heist movie structure of Fast Five and the European settings are blander than its predecessor's Brazilian backdrop. A closing credits stinger introducing Fast Seven's nemesis suggests the next installment was shaping up to be gangbusters… at least until real life put the brakes on a franchise that's as fantastical as The Hobbit.
Extras: A commentary track with outgoing director Lin (who was replaced by James Wan), deleted scenes and a slew of behind-the-scenes featurettes, including Vin Diesel's video diary.
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Despicable Me 2
No doubt about it: America is Minion crazy. Those goofy yellow creatures were the biggest stars of the summer next to Iron Man, powering the sequel to the 2010 animated hit to an eye-popping $367 million gross, far outclassing cartoon offerings from the mighty Pixar and Blue Sky Studios. Naturally, there are other characters in the movie, too -- starting with Steve Carell's ex-bad guy Gru, his new love interest (voiced by Kristen Wiig) and the three adorable tykes he's adopted -- but let's be honest, kids and their parents are only there to see the Minions.
Extras: Minion mini-movies (surprise, surprise -- they've got a feature on the way as well), deleted scenes and kid-friendly featurettes.
Man of Tai Chi
Indie movie round-up time! Robin Wright and Naomi Watts play mothers who get very close to each other's grown-up sons in the drama Adore, a film that introduces an unlikely premise and then proceeds to sell it in the least convincing way possible. Both actresses struggle heroically with the material, but the gauzy visuals and melodramatic plotting make this an artier version of a paperback romance novel. Thomas Vinterberg kick-started the Dogme movement with the brilliant black comedy The Celebration, but his newest film The Hunt isn't in the same league, despite a strong star turn by Mads Mikkelsen. The Danish actor plays a small-town kindergarten teacher whose professional and personal lives explode after a child (falsely) alleges that he molested her. What follows is a leaden drama made even heavier by an overabundance of obvious visual symbolism. Considerably lighter is the Keanu Reeves-directed martial arts lark, Man of Tai Chi, an unofficial remake of The Karate Kid Part III in which a tai chi apprentice (Reeve's Matrix stuntman Tiger Chen) has to choose between two masters: his good-hearted trainer and a money-hungry fight club organizer (Reeves) who could be a distant cousin of John Kreese. With fluid fight scenes and a silly, but spiritedly-told story, Man of Tai Chi suggests that Reeves could legitimately transition from action movie star to action movie director.
Extras: Adore is a bare-bones release, while The Hunt includes outtakes and deleted scenes, an alternate ending and a making-of featurette. Man of Tai Chi comes with a commentary track with Reeves and Chen, plus a behind-the-scenes mini-doc.
Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition
Big: 25th Anniversary Edition
Who doesn't love Mary Poppins… orBig for that matter? Both childhood favorites celebrate their Gold and Silver anniversaries respectively with new Blu-ray editions. After a torturous making-of process (that's covered in the upcoming Oscar hopeful, Saving Mr. Banks), Mary Poppins brought P.L. Travers' high-flying nanny to the big screen in the form of Julie Andrews. Though the author was never completely at peace with the kinder, gentler version of Mary that Walt Disney oversaw, audiences fell for the movie in a major way thanks to the terrific music, gentle sense of humor and lovely performances. (Just don't go confusing Dick Van Dyke's accent as "authentic.") It's a movie whose charms will still endure 100 years from now. Before you see Tom Hanks play ol' Walt in Mr. Banks, revisit one of his very best star turns in Big, an enjoyable coming-of-age fable about a young kid whose wish of getting "big" happens literally overnight. The actor's crack comic timing has rarely been better and Extras: Mary Poppins includes a karaoke sing-along, a making-of documentary, a video reunion with Andrews and Van Dyke and a conversation with composer Richard Sherman and Jason Schwartzman, who portrays him in Saving Mr. Banks. Big boasts an audio documentary, deleted scenes and five featurettes.
Also on DVD:
Dancers serve each other while Josh Holloway watches in the dance-off Battle of the Year. Learn all about Freda Kelly, the best pal of The Beatles in the admiring documentary Good Ol' Freda
. Unhung Hero tries to answer the age-old question that plagues guys everywhere: Does size matter? Enjoy one of the best Muppet movies (Caper) -- and tolerate one of the worst (Treasure Island) -- in the twin feature, The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet: Treasure Island.
Think you've got game? Prove it! Check out Games Without Pity, our new area featuring trivia, puzzle, card, strategy, action and word games -- all free to play and guaranteed to help pass the time until your next show starts.
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