This week's new DVD releases include the Blu-ray releases of a film classic and sci-fi TV series, and a dark tale starring Ryan Gosling.
"To Kill a Mockingbird," Grade A: To mark the 50th anniversary of this amazing movie, a commemorative limited edition collector's series Blu-ray combo pack is being released.
The digitally remastered and fully restored version offers clearer images, but this film, based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, is already powerful because of the writing and performances. This is one of the finest works by Gregory Peck in a career filled with memorable performances.
"Drive," Grade C-: The first half of this film from director Nicolas Winding Refn should be called "Coast."
Gosling is a Hollywood stuntman by day and getaway driver by night. When the loner connects with his neighbor (Carey Mulligan), he gets a clue to a past that's turned him into a sociopathic driver. The tedium of the film might have worked if Gosling's character had any life, but Refn's direction is methodical to the point of being pretentious.
"Drive" is one of those movies that wraps itself in the art of cinema by cherry-picking the best from genres such as film noir, Sam Peckinpah violence and '70s social rejection. It might have worked in the hands of a better movie mechanic, but Refn's vehicle stalls out.
"Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Next Level," Grade B+: Episodes of the '80s-'90s sci-fi TV series are being released in the enhanced Blu-ray format. The initial release includes "Encounter at Farpoint," "Sins of the Father" and "The Inner Light."
This upgrade creates images so sharp that the product is far superior to the original.
Also new on DVD Jan. 31
- "The Big Year": Three avid bird-watchers (Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin) compete to spot the rarest birds in North America.
- "Chalet Girl": A champion skateboarder discovers snowboarding.
- "Thunder Soul": Jamie Foxx narrates this documentary about a high school band that becomes a funk phenomenon.
- "Bollywood Beats": A young man's life changes when he starts a dance class.
- "Hey Dude: Season 2": Christine Taylor stars in this cable series about life on a dude ranch.
- "In Time": In a future where people stop aging at 25 but are engineered to live only one more year, they try to buy time.
- "Frontline: A Perfect Terrorist": A look at David Coleman Headley's rise from heroin dealer to master plotter of the 2008 attack on Mumbai.
- "The Other F Word": Documentary looks at what happens when punk rockers become fathers.
- "The Thing": At an Antarctica research site, an alien craft is discovered.
- "Dream House": A man (Daniel Craig) and his family relocate to a quaint New England town; they soon learn that a mother and her two children were murdered in the same residence.
- "Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series 1": Ten full-length mysteries starring David Suchet as the Belgian detective.
- "Nova: 3-D Spies of WWII, Destroying Hitler's Top Secret Rockets": A 3-D look at air photos shot over German territory by specially converted, high-flying Spitfires.
- "Outrage: Way Of The Yakuza": Several yakuza clans vie for the favor of their head family in the Japanese underworld.
- "Monsignor": An American priest (Christopher Reeve) makes illegal deals to fill the Vatican coffers.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at email@example.com
or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.