New on DVD: 'Elysium,' 'Lone Ranger,' 'Percy Jackson'

The Fresno BeeDecember 11, 2013 

Matt Damon, right, stars in "Elysium," a movie with great special effects but a weak story. COLUMBIA PICTURES

COLUMBIA PICTURES

Monsters, masked man and music fill the new DVD offerings on Tuesday.

"Elysium," Grade C: A man (Matt Damon) goes on a mission to save polarized worlds.

The prized possession in the futuristic sci-fi thriller is a medical bed that can cure anything from leukemia to a missing face. Too bad there wasn't a machine that writer/director Neill Blomkamp could have used to heal his script. It has more holes in it than 30 golf courses.

Damon does his best, but the script takes a trek where many science fiction writers have gone before. If the story had been even one-tenth as strong as the movie's sharp look, "Elysium" would have been a surprise hit. Sadly, it's not. What saves the film are the magnificent visual effects.

"The Lone Ranger," Grade C+: Armie Hammer plays the masked man. Johnny Depp co-stars.

The story is a standard Western tale, with the Lone Ranger and Tonto trying to catch the evil Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), who is in cahoots with some dastardly businessmen. Hammer is likable enough, both as attorney John Reid and as The Masked Man.

If you can accept this film is not your father's — or even grandfather's — "Lone Ranger," then this latest adventure for The Masked Man and his faithful sidekick has a few fun moments. If you're loyal to the brand, then you and your ke-mo sah-bee should ride off into the sunset.

"Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," Grade B-: Percy must find the Golden Fleece.

The film — just like the 2010 release "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief" — continues to fill in that action film void between little kids and savvy teens. It is a balanced blend of the kind of action that's found in "The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" series and a touch of the teen angst that has made the "Twilight" series so popular.

Director Thor Freudenthal shows the wisdom of Athena as he sets a quick tempo for this tale that takes the young heroes from battles in the woods to high seas adventures. A few of the special effects are weak. But the film moves at such a rapid pace, there's not much time to dwell on any visual miscues.

"One Direction: This Is Us," Grade B+: Morgan Spurlock documentary about the British boy band.

His film is a melodic blend of concert footage and behind-the-scenes moments that range from comical to touching. Spurlock doesn't just rely on the inherent popularity of the boy band. Instead, he strips away the hysteria to offer a glimpse of the guys to go with the energetic stage shows.

Spurlock doesn't shortchange the musical performances. He takes the viewer from front-row seats to a perspective so close to the group that it feels like the audience is the sixth member of the band.

Also out on DVD on Tuesday:

"Burn Notice: Season Seven:" Includes the series finale.

"Prisoners": Two families go to extremes to find their missing daughters.

"Justified: The Complete Fourth Season:" Series stars Timothy Olyphant.

"Chanda Pierce: Girl Talk:" Preacher's daughter shares funny stories.

"The Graduates:" Two-part special from filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz.

"Night Train To Lisbon:" A look at a man's quest for self-discovery.

"The Family:" A mob family is moved to France under the witness protection program.

"Shameless: The Complete Third Season:" Showtime series starring William H. Macy.

"Nature: Love in the Animal Kingdom:" Securing perfect mates in the animal world brings out the best in males.

"The Last Letter:" Newly married couple deals with wife's secretive past.

"Kick-Ass 2:" Hit Girl and Red Mist return. Chloe Moretz stars.

"Omnibus: Gene Kelly — Dancing: A Man's Game:" Release marks 55th anniversary of telecast.

"Ghost Team One:" Two friends try to impress a girl who believes her home is haunted.

"Shadow On The Mesa:" Bounty hunter sets out to avenge his mother's death.

"Contest:" Bullied student cautious of new friendship.

"The Secret Village:" Journalist looks into a small town's deadly secret.

"Four:" Steamy July Fourth night brings four people together.

"Mischief Night:" A woman must protect herself from a mysterious intruder.

"Littlest Pet Shop: Lights, Camera, Fashion!:" Blythe and her very best friends have fashion-filled fun.

"Crawlspace:" Landlord keeps a close eye on his female tenants.

"Force of Execution:" Steven Seagal stars.

"Greek Gods, Heroes and Monsters:" History Channel series explores Greek myths.

"Line of Duty:" Loyalties are tested.

 

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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