By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, what better way to celebrate the occasion than by firing up the DVD or Blu-ray player, cuddling up with your sweetheart and watching some new feature film releases on home video. We’re not just talking meet-cute rom-coms, but serious action, adventure, comedy and heartbreaking drama.
“Big Sur.” This drama, which came out in limited release theatrically last year, is based on the 1962 novel by American literary icon Jack Kerouac. In an attempt to escape the public eye and recover from his alcoholism, the famous Beat author escapes to an isolated, mist-shrouded cabin in the primitive landscape of the Big Sur woods of coastal California. Instead of finding the peace he desires, he is foiled by his own inner demons and sets off on a visceral collision course of paranoia, sex, delirium tremens, misery and madness. Written and directed by Michael Polish (“Twin Falls Idaho,” “Northfork”), this drama stars Jean-Marc Barr as the emotionally troubled and alcohol-fueled writer Josh Lucas as his friend and poet Neal Cassady and Kate Bosworth as Cassady’s mistress Billie. This 81-minute drama is now out on DVD.
“Vikingdom.” Based on Viking mythology, a forgotten King Eirick (Dominic Purcell of “Prison Break” fame) battles from hell and beyond to retrieve a mystical artifact, Odin’s Horn, before Thor (played by Aussie Conan Stevens) and his army can unleash its powers to conquer the world. This historical fantasy film is available on DVD and Digital Download. Bonus features on the DVD include a 25-minute making-of featurette and interviews, a music video by MOJO of their single “Dark Clouds” and more.
“Romeo & Juliet.” William Shakespeare’s epic and searing love story has been rebooted for a whole new generation by Academy Award winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes (who also is the creator/writer of the PBS phenomenon “Downton Abbey”). Directed by Carlo Carlei, the film stars Douglas Booth and Academy Award nominated Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) as star-crossed lovers who fall for each other in spite of their feuding families. Notably shot in its original setting in Verona, Italy, this legendary tale remains timeless and transcendent. Special features on the DVD and Blu-ray include interviews with the cast and crew, creating the look, the filmmakers’ vision and hair and makeup.
“Baggage Claim.” Paula Patton leads all-star cast as a flight attendant who is tired of being single. She is determined to find Mr. Right before her engaged younger sister’s wedding in 30 days. With some help from her crew friends, she manages to bump into all of her old boyfriends, with zany consequences. Written and directed by David E. Talbert (“First Sunday”) and based on his novel, this comedy includes Taye Diggs, Derek Luke, Djimon Hounsou and Trey Songz. The Blu-ray includes a behind-the-scenes feature with writer/director Talbert, promotional featurettes with Fly Girls, Wing Men, the story, interviews with the cast and an audio commentary with Talbert. The DVD includes the same bonus features except for the behind-the-scenes material.
“Free Birds.” This animated adventure is about two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks that travel back in time in order to keep their species off the Thanksgiving menu. It features an all-star voice cast, including Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler. The Blu-ray exclusive features include “Birds Flipping History,” “Animating Free Birds: The Main Course,” “Winging It: Animators in Action and more.
“Rocky: Heavyweight Collection.” Go the distance with this collection of all six “Rocky” films on six DVDs, including the first film with a stunning new master. Sylvester Stallone stars in one of the greatest boxing sagas of all time. Witness every epic, action-packed fight and unforgettable moment as Rocky strives for greatness through sheer determination against impossible odds. This collection contains over three hours of bonus features including the featurette “8mm Home Movies of Rocky,” narrated by director John Avildsen and production manager Lloyd Kaufman, “In the Ring: Three-part making-of documentary,” video commentary with Stallone and much more.
“The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box.” This action/adventure about a teenager’s journey into a fantastical realm of steam-powered wonders and sinister magic, stars Michael Sheen, Lena Headey and Sam Neill. The special feature is a making-of feature. On Blu-ray and DVD.
“The Americans: The Complete First Season.” Secrets can be deadly in this suspenseful thriller about undercover Russian spies in 1980s Washington. Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) seem to be a typical suburban couple, but they’re actually lethal KGB agents plotting to bring down America. As the Cold War escalates, Philip and Elizabeth must take extreme measures to continue their mission and keep their true identities hidden. But when an FBI agent moves in across the street, they become ensnared in a pulse-pounding game of cat and mouse. Blu-ray and DVD extras include a commentary on “The Colonel” with Joseph Weisberg, Joel Fields and Noah Emmerich, a feature on “Perfecting the Art of Espionage,” deleted scenes, a gag reel and more.