By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
It’s April, so that means you’d be a fool to miss the wide range of theatrical films making their way to home video.
Sally Field delivered an Oscar-winning performance in the 1979 drama “Norma Rae,” playing a Southern mill worker who revolutionizes a small town and discovers a force of determination within herself she never knew she had.
Under the guidance of a New York unionizer (player by Ron Leibman), Norma Rae organizes her fellow factory workers in a fight for better conditions and living wages. Based on a true story and co-starring Beau Bridges, “Norma Rae” is a tale of everyday heroism. Directed by Martin Ritt, the script by Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch, earned an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay. The drama also won an Oscar for best song for David Shire and Norman Gimbel’s “It Goes Like It Goes,” and a best picture nod.
In celebration of the “Norma Rae’s” 35th anniversary, a special edition is now available on Blu-ray. Bonus materials include a featurette, “Hollywood Backstory: Norma Rae,” and the original theatrical trailer.
Keanu Reeves stars in the 3D epic action adventure “47 Ronin. The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD with UltraViolet.
Based on a classic Japanese legend, “47 Ronin” is a tale of inspiring courage with its origins in the early 18th century. After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and reclaim their honor. Helmed by Carl Rinsch, the historic epic tells the story of a small group of warriors—or ronin—on a quest to avenge the death of their master. Battling across a savage world of mythical beasts, shape-shifting witches and other terrors, the ronin must seek help from Kai (Reeves), an enslaved half-breed they once rejected in their fight for redemption.
Starring along side Reeves is Hiroyuki Sanada (“The Last Samurai”) as Oishi, the leader of the ronin, Tadanobu Asano (“The Wolverine,” “Thor: The Dark World”) as Lord Kira, the villain who will stop at nothing to destroy his enemies, and Academy Award-nominated actress Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel”) as the Witch, a siren who executes Kira’s deadly plan.
Extras exclusively on the 3D Blue-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack include a featurette called “Keanu & Kai,” in which the actor, director and others on the filmmaking team talk about the Reeves’ mastery of martial arts and immersion in the role. Another bonus feature is called “Steel Fury: The Fights of 47 Ronin,” which explores the research, choreography and rehearsal that went into creating the film’s intense action sequences, including Kai’s epic battle against the silver Samurai, and the Kirin hunt sequence. Another extra is “Myths, Magic & Monsters: The FX of 47 Ronin,” which reveals the technological magic it took to bring to life the creatures of ancient Japanese folklore, including The Kirin (a giant hybrid beast with the head of a dragon and the body of a deer), the Kitsune witch, the Oni troll and the demonic Tengu Monks.
Also included in the combo packs, the filmmakers discuss how the Japanese legend was brought to the big screen, from the script to the costumes, visual design and culture. This feature also is on the DVD edition as are deleted scenes.
Danny Trejo and Danny Glover team up in the sequel “Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses,” the action-packed follow up to the 2012 cult hit “Bad Ass.” Returning writer/director Craig Moss (“Breaking Wind,” “30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) brings the two unlikely heroes together again for another round of hard-hitting butt-kicking action.
Trejo plays Vietnam vet Frank, who runs an East L.A. community center where he trains young boxers to survive in and out of the ring. When his prize student falls in with the wrong crowed and turns up dead, Frank teams up with his pal Bernie (Glover) for help in seeking revenge. They take matters into their own fists and prove that justice never gets old. Loni Love (“Chelsea Lately”), Jonathan Lipnicki (“Jerry Maguire”) and Andrew Divoff (“Lost”) round out the cast. The Blu-ray and DVD includes “The Making of Bad Asses” featurette with Trejo and Glover taking viewers behind-the scenes to show how it’s never too late to become a bad ass.
Tom Sizemore (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Black Hawk Down”) stars in the fourth installment of the popular “Behind Enemy Lines” film franchise. In “SEAL Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines,” he plays the leader of an elite Navy SEALs team, whose mission is to lead his men on an unsanctioned operation into Africa’s Congo. Their covert mission is to find and destroy a secret mining operation and prevent the sale of weapons grade uranium to international terrorists. Directed by Roel Reine (“12 Rounds 2: Reloaded”) the “SEAL Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines” Blu-ray and DVD are loaded with extras, including three making-of featurettes, director’s commentary and more.
Coming to home video April 15, “The Nut Job” is a family-friendly comedy caper based on an award-winning animated short film called “Surly Squirrel,” and directed by the same filmmaker Peter Lepeniotis.
The film centers on Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), an outcast in the park community where he lives. With an impending food shortage, the industrious squirrel is forced to go to the nearby city to forage. Comedy actress Katherine Heigl is the voice of Andie, a smart and thoughtful squirrel, who follows Surly on his quest and tries to convince the outcast rodent to bring back food for the whole community. The duo and other park creatures wind up plotting a heist at a nut store, which turns out to be a front for a band of humans plotting a nearby bank heist.
Co-starring alongside Arnett and Heigl is Liam Neeson, Brendan Fraser, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Dunham and Gabriel Iglesias.
The film was animated in Korea and has a surprise guest performance, featuring a certain Korean pop star during the end credits.
The Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack include a Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD with UltraViolet, which allows viewers to watch movies anywhere on their favorite electronic devices. Bonus features include deleted scenes, storyboards of key scenes, an interview with Arnett and dance-off end credits. Additionally, animated shorts include in the original “Surly Squirrel” and “Nuts & Robbers,” which also are on the DVD version.