A classic story tops this week's new DVD releases:
"The Great Gatsby," Grade C: Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the latest version of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel that cast a harsh light on the 1920s, showing that no matter how opulent the facade what lies behind is a decaying dream.
The same can be said of Baz Luhrmann's big-screen adaptation. The director gets so obsessed with visual fancy that he fails to reach the heart of the story.
Because the adaptation of Fitzgerald's work by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce concentrates on the love story, it loses the social commentary that makes the book such a classic. Instead of seeing the dark side of the life that Gatsby has to live to feel on the same economic level as his true love, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), it is treated as an annoying means to an end.
"Pain & Gain," Grade D-: The film is based on the true story of Miami bodybuilders who committed a long list of crimes, including torture and murder, in the mid-1990s. Director Michael Bay and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are proud of how they took this true story and turned it into a dark comedy.
At least they can see the humor.
Had it been a fictional story, it would have been a lot easier to accept the absurdity of the crimes and actions. It would have been easier to laugh at how the trio's first victim, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), could not be killed despite being in a crashed car, set on fire and then run over by a van. The reality of their actions keep creeping back, making this dark humor play like a soulless recounting of a tragedy.
Also new on DVD Tuesday:
"At Any Price": A son rejects the family business to race cars. Dennis Quaid stars.
"Tales of the City: 20th Anniversary Collection": Peabody Award-winning mini-series starring Olympia Dukakis, Laura Linney, Billy Campbell, Thomas Gibson.
"Online": A man discovers changing a person's life with the click of a button can have consequences.
"Elementary The First Season": CBS detective series starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.
"Seattle Superstorm": Strange object crashes and creates a massive storm.
"Stranded": Crew of a U.S. military moon base is cut off from Earth. Christian Slater stars.
"Q The Winged Serpent": Michael Moriarty film now available on Blu-ray.
"Sapphire and Steel: The Complete Series": Includes 34 episodes of the British sci-fi series starring Joanna Lumley and David McCallum.
"Billy the Kid": The future criminal and a bounty hunter work together to get revenge. Cody McCarver stars.
"Monsuno: Combat Chaos": Five episodes of the Nicktoons animated series.
"The Idolmaker": Taylor Hackford film about a music promoter driven by his desire to discover the next big act.
"Among Friends": A murder mystery night goes bad when someone decides to use the evening for revenge.
"Damian Lewis Double Feature": Damian Lewis stars in "Friends and Crocodiles" and "Much Ado About Nothing."
"Sons of Anarchy Season Five": Cable series starring Ron Perlman.
"NYC Underground": Friends end up on the run after making a deal with a gangster.
"Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection": The police drama starring Helen Mirren is now on Blu-ray.
"Missions That Changed The War: German's Last Ace": Gary Sinise narrates the documentary that explores the downfall of Nazi Germany.
"A Company Man": A hitman tries to escape his bloody past.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.