DVDs of 2013
Admission (PG-13) Comic drama – Princeton admissions administrator Tina Fey suspects that a new applicant may be the son she gave up for adoption years before. With Paul Rudd.
After Earth (PG-13) SF – Will and Jaden Smith face immense obstacles in a far-future post-apocalyptic world. One of the summer’s first major flops. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Alex Cross (PG-13) Crime drama – Tyler Perry assumes the mantle of James Patterson’s best-selling character (from Morgan Freeman) as he faces off against serial killer Matthew Fox.
Anna Karenina (R) Drama – Keira Knightley stars in yet another turgid literary adaptation by director Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement).
Argo (R) Drama – CIA agent Ben Affleck, who also directed, leads a group American embassy workers out of Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis. One of the year’s best and a surprise favorite to take the Best Picture Oscar.
Behind the Candelabra (not rated) Biopic – Michael Douglas and Matt Damon portray the showman Liberace and his long-time lover Scott Thorson. Directed by Steven Soderbergh for HBO.
Blancanieves (PG-13) Fantasy – Maribel Verdu stars in a black-and-white silent version of Snow White. From Spain.
Breaking the Girls (R) Suspense – Madeline Zima cons fellow student Agnes Bruckner into committing mutually advantageous murders, a la Strangers on a Train with a Wild Things vibe. Enjoyable little noir.
Broken City (R) Drama – Ex-cop Mark Wahlberg does dirty work for powerful mayor Russell Crowe. With Catherine Zeta-Jones.
The Call (R) Drama – 911 operator Halle Berry fields a call from kidnapped teenager Abigail Breslin and discovers that the crime is connected to a murder in her past.
The Canyons (not rated) Drama – Would-be producer James Deen might make a film but suspects that his girlfriend Lindsay Lohan is having an affair with the leading man. Directed by Paul Schrader. Written by Bret Easton Ellis.
Chasing Mavericks (PG) Drama – Veteran surfer Gerard Butler teaches young Jonny Weston how to handle the incredibly huge waves off the Northern California coast. (Based on a true story.)
Cloud Atlas (R) SF – Three directors tell an epic story spanning several timelines. With Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant. Ambitious box office disappointment.
The Conjuring (R) Horror -- Paranormal investigators Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson assist a family at a remote farmhouse.
The Croods (PG) Animation – Prehistoric cave family has to find new digs. With the voices of Emma Stone, Nic Cage and Ryan Reynolds.
Deadfall (R) Suspense – After knocking over an Indian casino, Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde are stuck in the snowy Michigan (Canadian) wilderness. With Kate Mara, Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson. (Limited theatrical release)
Despicable Me 2 (PG) Animation – Gru (Steve Carrell), the Minions, and the three most adorable little girls ever animated are back for more. One of the most successful movies of the year.
Django Unchained (R) Western – Christophe Waltz and Quentin Tarantino won Oscars (Supporting Actor and Writing) for this ultra-violent tale set in the pre-Civil War South. As the title character, Jamie Foxx is a freed slave who becomes a bounty hunter and sets out to free his wife (Kerry Washington) from her owner Leonardo DiCaprio. With Samuel L. Jackson.
Don Jon (R) Comedy – Joseph Gordon-Levitt directs and stars as a personable young guy who prefers internet porn to real women, until he meets Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.
Elysium (R) SF – In 2154, Matt Damon escapes from the squalid surface of the earth to the space station where the wealthy live.
End of Watch (R) Crime drama – Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are uniformed LAPD cops who go up against a well-armed drug gang. Smart, funny, involving, believable.
Escape from Planet Earth (PG) Animation – Brendan Fraser gives voice to a blue alien who’s imprisoned in Area 51 and wants to go home. With Rob Corddry, Jessica Alba and William Shatner.
Evil Dead (R) Horror – Remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 original features an attractive young unknown cast, more expensive special effects, and yet another story of kids who go out to a cabin in the woods and are attacked by something very nasty.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (PG) Period action – In 1912, a French reporter (Louise Bourgoin) deals with mummies, and a pterodactyl to revive her sister from a coma. Directed by Luc Besson (Leon the Professional). (not released theatrically)
The Family (R) Comedy – Mobster Robert De Niro, his wife Michelle Pfeiffer and family are relocated to Normandy, France, by the Witness Protection Program, but they don’t change their ways.
Fast and Furious 6 (PG-13) Action – Dwayne Johnson, the late Paul Walker, Vin Diesel and the rest return one more time for artfully choreographed automotive mayhem.
Flight (R) Drama – Alcoholic pilot Denzel Washington manages to land a damaged airliner but still must deal with his many demons. Complex, involving and serious. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. (Another Oscar nomination for Denzel.)
42 (PG-13) Drama – Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) decides to bring the first black player, Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) up to the majors. He faces many difficulties.
Frankenstein’s Army (R) Horror – At the end of WWII, a Soviet recon patrol runs into the famous doctor’s grandson who is reanimating Nazi soldiers. Grusome, funny, wildly inventive with old-fashioned (non CGI) effects.
Frankenweenie (PG) Animation – Tim Burton’s short film is expanded into a feature about a boy who resurrects his dog.
Freaky Deaky (R) Crime comedy – Adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel finds Detroit cop Billy Burke investigating bomber Christian Slater. (DVD premiere)
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (PG-13) Action – The sequel finds Dwayne Johnson and company once again facing Cobra and a Presidential impersonator in the White House.
Gangster Squad (R) Crime drama – In 1949 LA, gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is thwarted by rogue cops Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Michael Pena and Anthony Mackie. With Emma Stone.
A Good Day to Die Hard (R) Action – John McClane (Bruce Willis) runs into another problematic situation in Moscow where his son Jack (Jai Courtney) is an agent.
The Great Gatsby (PG-13) Drama – Baz Luhrmann’s visually adventurous adaptation of Fitzgerald’s famous Jazz Age novel stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. Something of a surprise box office hit.
Grown Ups 2 (PG-13) Sequel -- Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Salma Hayek and the rest are back for more hilarity.
Guilt Trip (PG-13) Road comedy – Seth Rogen is conned into a cross-country trip with his overbearing mother Barbra Streisand.
The Hangover Part III (R) Comedy – For their final outing, the Wolfpack become involved in a kidnapping and rescue.
A Haunted House (R) Horror comedy – Paranormal Activity and other “found footage” horrors get the comic send-up they so richly deserve. With Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins and Cedric the Entertainer.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (R) Fantasy action – All grown up, the famous siblings (Jeremy Renner & Gemma Arterton) go up against evil Famke Janssen.
The Heat (R and un-rated) Comedy – Strait-laced FBI agent Sandra Bullock partners with free-wheeling Boston cop Melissa McCarthy in a distaff buddy flick. One of the summer’s big hits. Directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids).
Here Comes the Boom (PG) Comedy – High school teacher Kevin James tries to save his school’s music program by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter where the loser of a bout can bring home $10K. With Salma Hayek and Henry Winkler.
Hitchcock (PG-13) Drama – The director (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife (Helen Mirren) run into problems while making Psycho. With Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (PG-13) Fantasy – Overblown, overlong and hugely popular “prequel” to The Lord of the Rings introduced Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen).
The Host (PG-13) SF – Alien parasites take over human minds until Saorise Ronan is able to resist them. From a series of novels by Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).
Hotel Transylvania (PG) Animation – Adam Sandler provides the voice of Dracula who has turned his castle into a resort for monsters.
House at the End of the Street (PG-13) Horror – Divorcee Elisabeth Shue and her daughter Jennifer Lawrence move next door to an attractive young psycho killer.
Hyde Park on Hudson (R) Period drama – In 1939, FDR (Bill Murray) conducts an affair with his neighbor Laura Linney on the eve of a visit by the King and Queen of England.
Identity Thief (R) Comedy – Con Artist Melissa McCarthy and straight-arrow Jason Bateman take a road trip from Miami to Denver.
The Impossible (PG-13) Fact-based drama – Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and their three sons are on vacation in Thailand when a tidal wave strikes their resort. Extraordinarily realistic, making full use of computer effects.
The Imposter (R) Suspense – Fact-based thriller follows a teenager who disappears in San Antonio and reappears three years later in rural Spain.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (PG-13) Comedy – Egotistical Vegas magician Steve Carrell and his partner Steve Buscemi are challenged by Jim Carrey, the new kid in town.
Insidious Chapter 2 (PG-13) Horror – Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell bring back the Lamberts (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) for more spooky things going bump in the night.
The Internship (PG-13 & unrated) Comedy -- out-of-work salesmen Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson attempt to jump start their careers as interns at Google.
The Intouchables (R) Comic drama – Lower-class guy Omar Sy comes to be a friend to quadriplegic rich guy Francois Cluzet. Art house hit from France.
Iron Man 3 (PG-13) SF Action – Once again, Robert Downey Jr. is “a man in a can,” trying to make sense of the events that took place in The Avengers (Norse gods? Who knew?) while dealing with mysterious terrorist Ben Kingsley. Strong opening and intricate plot eventually give way to overblown special effects.
Jack Reacher (PG-13) Drama – Tom Cruise is Lee Child’s tough-as-nails ex-MP hero who investigates a series of sniper murders.
Jack the Giant Slayer (PG-13) Fantasy – Jack (Nicholas Hoult) lets giants back onto the earth and they try to take over. With Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Eleanor Tomlinson.
Jobs (PG-13) Biopic – Ashton Kutcher plays Apple founder Steve Jobs. He is less irritating than Jesse Eisenberg was as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network.
Kick-Ass 2 (R) Comedy – Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Jim Carrey are back as heroes without superpowers.
Killing Them Softly (R) Action – After three bozos knock over a Mob poker game, hitman Brad Pitt is dispatched to take care of them.
Knuckleball (not rated) Documentary – Baseball’s strangest pitch is explored through the 2011 seasons of pitchers R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield. Much more interesting than it sounds in synopsis, even for non-baseball fans.
The Last Stand (R) Action – Small town sheriff Arnold Schwarzenegger deals with an escaped drug kingpin. With Johnny Knoxville and Forest Whitaker.
Les Miserables (PG-13) Musical – Anne Hathaway won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the adaptation of the massive stage hit. With Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.
Life of Pi (PG-13) Magical drama – Director Ang Lee won an Oscar for his adaptation of the hit novel about a young man who is stranded with a Bengal tiger on a lifeboat.
The Lifeguard (R) Comedy – Lake Bell drops her career in New York and returns to her old summer job as a suburban lifeguard.
Lincoln (PG-13) Biopic – Daniel Day-Lewis won his third Academy Award for his portrayal of the president near the end of the war. Directed by Steven Spielberg.
The Lone Ranger (PG-13) Action comedy – Johnny Depp, with a bird on his head, is Tonto. Armie Hammer handles the silver bullets. One of the summer’s biggest flops.
Lovelace (R) Biopic – Amanda Seyfried plays the controversial star of Deep Throat. The first half is a Boogie Nights view of the film’s production; the second takes a grim dark turn.
Mama (PG-13) Horror – Two little girls disappear in the woods and reappear four years later. When they go to live with their uncle and his girlfriend (Jessica Chastain), something nasty accompanies them.
Man of Steel (PG-13) SF Action -- Henry Cavill stars in Zack Snyder's reboot of the franchise. With Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, and Kevin Costner.
Maniac (not rated) Horror – Elijah Wood stars in a remake of the 1980 Joe Spinnell/William Lustig examination of a killer’s twisted, damaged psyche. Like Norman Bates, he's a nice-looking mama's boy with a dark side.
The Master (R) Drama – Veteran Joaquin Phoenix has trouble adjusting to America in the 1950s until he meets the wealthy and charismatic Philip Seymour Hoffman. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.
Monsters University (G) Animation -- Prequel to Monsters Inc. finds Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) meeting as college freshmen.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bone (PG-13) Fantasy action – New York teenager Lily Collins discovers that she must fight supernatural critters that threaten the city. Based on a popular series of young adult novels.
Mud (PG-13) Drama – Two boys agree to help a mysterious man (Matthew McConaughey) they find on an island in the Mississippi. With Reese Witherspoon and Ray McKinnon. Directed by Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter). One of the year's best.
Now You See Me (PG-13) Drama – Illusionist Jesse Eisenberg leads three other magicians (Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco) in a series of razzle-dazzle performance heists. With Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine.
Oblivion (PG-13) SF – Tom Cruise discovers an alien spacecraft on a post-Apocalyptic earth. With Morgan Freeman.
Olympus Has Fallen (R) Action – Disgraced guard Gerard Butler must save the president’s son while battling evil North Korean terrorists. With Morgan Freeman. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day).
On the Road (R) Drama – Adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s famous novel stars Kristen Steward, Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund.
Oz: The Great and Powerful (PG) Fantasy – Prequel to The Wizard finds carnival magician James Franco carried aloft in his balloon to the Land of… where he meets three witches—Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz.
Pacific Rim (PG-13) SF action – Guillermo del Toro’s homage to gigantic Japanese monsters was something of a summer box office disappointment. Starring Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba.
Monsters called Kaiju versus giant robots called Jaegers. Dedicated to monster makers Ray Harryhausen and Ishiro Honda
Pain & Gain (R) Crime comedy – Personal trainers Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie decide to advance their careers with a bit of kidnapping and murder. Directed by Michael Bay. Based on a true story and brutally funny.
Paranormal Activity 4 (R and un-rated) – The dirt-cheap surveillance video horror has reached an astonishing fourth entry.
Parental Guidance (PG) Comedy – Overprotective parents Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott leave their kids with freewheeling grandparents Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.
Parker (R) Action – Jason Statham is Donald Westlake’s tough professional thief. He plans a heist in Palm Beach with Jennifer Lopez. Directed by Taylor Hackford.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (PG) Fantasy action – Second adaptation of the popular series of young adult books about a kid who is descended from Greek Gods, or something to that effect.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (PG-13) Drama – High school freshman Logan Leman falls for senior Emma Watson and joins her clique. Terrific coming-of-age story from director Stephen Chbosky, based on his novel.
The Place Beyond the Pines (R) Drama – Motorcycle stuntman Ryan Gosling moonlights as a bank robber setting in play two more stories. With Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes.
Planes (PG) Animation – An airplane (voiced by Dane Cook) that is afraid of heights dreams of being an air racer.
The Possession (PG-13) Horror – Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick confront a spirit from an antique box bought at a yard sale that takes over their daughter. Based on you-know-what.
Prisoners (R) Suspense – After a Thanksgiving dinner, two children are kidnapped. One father (Hugh Jackman) and a cop (Jake Gyllenhaal) try to find them.
Promised Land (R) Drama – Corporate pitchman Matt Damon experiences a transformation while trying to persuade rural Pennsylvania residents to sell the fracking rights to the natural gas under their land. With Frances McDormand and Hal Holbrook. Succumbs to its own propaganda.
The Purge (R) Suspense/SF – In the future, on one night no crime is punished. Ethan Hawke thinks his family is safe in their heavily protected house.
Quartet (PG-13) Drama – Retired singers Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins are reunited with their former partner Maggie Smith, bringing old conflicts to light. Directorial debut for Dustin Hoffman.
Red Dawn (PG-13) Action – Remake finds teens in Washington state facing off against North Korean invaders. With Chris Hemsworth and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Red 2 (PG-13) Action – Retired agents Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren are back in breezy business. With Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Acceptable sequel.
R.I.P.D. (PG-13) Action comedy -- Deceased sheriff Jeff Bridges shows the ropes to newbie Ryan Reynolds as an officer in the Rest In Peace Department saving the earth from supernatural bad guys. Men In Black redux.
Rise of the Guardians (PG) Animation – The Tooth Fairy, Santa, Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny are recast as superheroes who battle the villain Pitch. Voices provided by Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman and Isla Fisher.
Room 237 (not rated) Documentary – Conspiracy-minded film theorists attempt to reveal the several “hidden” meanings of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film The Shining.
Safe Haven (PG-13) Sappy romance – Yet another adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel about pretty troubled people in North Carolina.
The Sessions (R) Drama – Adult polio victim John Hawkes decides to lose his virginity. Sex therapist Helen Hunt agrees to help. Priest William H. Macy assists.
Seven Psychopaths (R) Action comedy – Writer Colin Farrell becomes involved after his pals Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell kidnap crazy gangster Woody Harrellson’s beloved dog.
Sharknado (not rated) SF comedy – The Syfy channel’s ridiculously titled and extremely popular movie-of-the-week stars Tara Reid.
Side Effects (R) Suspense – Psychiatrist Jude Law prescribes an experimental anxiety drug to Rooney Mara. Complications ensue. With Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Silver Linings Playbook (R) Romantic comedy – Recently released from a mental facility, Bradley Cooper still hasn’t gotten over his divorce when he meets free-spirited widow Jennifer Lawrence, who took home the Best Actress Oscar. One of the year’s best.
Sinister (R) Horror – Writer Ethan Hawke discovers videos of families being massacred, thus calling the supernatural evil upon himself and his family.
Skyfall (PG-13) Action – James Bond (Daniel Craig) goes up against Javier Bardem, an ex-agent who attacks M (Judi Dench). Directed by Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition) as an affectionate and exciting tribute to the entire series.
Star Trek Into Darkness (PG-13) Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto return as Kirk and Spock. Benedict Cumberbatch is their evil nemesis. The source of much controversy over the plot and various extras available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Taken 2 (PG-13 and un-rated) Action – Retired agent Liam Neeson is forced back into action when his family is kidnapped in Istanbul by the father of the guys he took out in the first film.
Texas Chainsaw3D (R) Horror – Third sequel to the 2003 remake of the 1974 original. No-name cast.
This Is 40 (R) Comedy – Semi-sequel to Knocked Up finds Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann dealing with their children and careers.
This Is the End (R) Comedy – Playing thinly fictionalized versions of themselves, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, James Frankel and pals face the approaching apocalypse.
To Rome With Love (R) Comedy – Woody Allen tells intersecting love stories set in the Eternal City. With Alec Bladwin, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg and Penelope Cruz.
Turbo (PG) Animation -- Ryan Reynolds gives voice to the world's fastest snail who dreams of racing in the Indianapolis 500.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2 (PG-13) Fantasy – The hit series finally comes to an end. With Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Winner of many many Razzies.
2 Guns (R) DEA agent Denzel Washington and Naval Intelligence officer Mark Wahlberg are reluctant partners in an undercover operation against a Mexican drug cartel. Think Peckinpah.
Two Men in Manhattan (not rated, 1959) Lost film noir from French director Jean-Pierre Melville revolves around a reporter and a photographer searching for a missing UN diplomat in jazzy ‘50s New York. Not much to the story but the black and white images of New York at night are wonderful.
Tyler Perry’s Temptation (PG-13) Drama – The prolific one-man movie factory turns his attention to an ambitious professional woman who is wooed by a billionaire. With Kim Kardashian.
The Way Way Back (R) Comic drama -- 14-year-old Liam James has to deal with his Mom's obnoxious boyfriend Steve Carrell during a summer at the beach. One of the summer's prime sleepers. With Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell.
Welcome to the Punch (R) Action – Cop James McAvoy attempts to capture bank robber Mark Strong who bested him years before. Stylish British take on the shoot-‘em-up.
We’re the Millers (R and un-rated) Comedy – Pot dealer Jason Sudekis, stripper Jennifer Anniston, and bad girl Emma Stone pretend to be a middle class family in an RV to smuggle drugs.
White House Down (PG-13) Action -- Capitol cop Channing Tatum must save his daughter and President Jamie Foxx from terrorists. Virtually identical to but not as much fun as Olympus Has Fallen.
Wish You Were Here (R) Crime drama – Four Australian friends vacation on a Cambodian beach; three come back. Well meaning but slowly paced.
The Wolverine (PG-13 and unrated) SF Action – Hugh Jackson takes his blades to Japan and fights yakuza, ninja and mechanical samurai. Very nicely done.
World War Z (PG-13) Horror – Public health doctor Brad Pitt must save the world and his family when the zombie apocalypse threatens all humanity. Yes, it’s the Gone With the Wind of zombie flicks.
The World’s End (R) Comedy – Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (from Shawn of the Dead) attempt an epic pub crawl as the apocalypse approaches.
Wreck-It Ralph (PG) Animation – Video-game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) wants to break free of his role and become a beloved hero. With Jane Lynch and Sarah Silverman. From Disney.
Zero Dark Thirty (R) Drama – Jessica Chastain leads a group of CIA analysts who spend years tracking down Osama bin Laden. Realistic, suspenseful but somehow uninvolving. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow.