Gravity

February 19, 2014

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, Feb. 25

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

GRAVITY

2014; $29.98; PG-13

This two-man disaster movie works on every level. First off, the special effects are simply unbelievable, taking place in and around orbiting space platforms: You’ll swear they must have been filmed on location — even better in 3-D! Second, the writing is sparse, simple and brilliant; and third, the only faces you see are two of the world’s most likeable stars, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. They are astronauts, caught outside their space station when it gets hit by debris, sending everything spinning and collapsing with no means of escape. If this movie doesn’t make you crap your pants, then you should see a doctor. Perfect — a must-own.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD

2013; $27.98; PG-13

Chris Hemsworth clearly loves schlepping around Thor’s hammer in this, his third time at bat. This time he’s preparing for a periodic cosmic alignment that allows all manner of mischief to take place across the universe. And the evil trolls — or “Dark Elves,” if you prefer — are ready to return it all to the blessed darkness in which they dwell, damning all other living creatures to die under their thrall. Easily more accessible and likeable than the original “Thor,” with a fun cast including Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston (lost in troll makeup), Kat Dennings and Tom Riddleson as Thor’s evil brother Loki. Oh, and the last four seconds of the film will make you gasp.

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ABOVE SUSPICION: SET 3

2011; $27.98-$29.98; UR

Crime novelist extraordinaire Lynda La Plante, whose works have launched some of TV’s greatest cop shows, is at the top of her game in this Limey series about Detective Anna Travis, played by Kelly Reilly (Watson’s bride from “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”). Based on the novel “Silent Scream,” she must solve the murder of a young actress while dragging around her new partner — and disgruntled former boss — Ciarán Hinds (“Game of Thrones”). Simply the very best detective show on the telly; don’t miss it.

ICE SOLDIERS

2014; $27.98; R

A completely unredeemable sci-fi actioner about long-forgotten genetically-diddled-with cold-blooded experimental Soviet soldiers frozen under Arctic ice. Oh, no! They’re out! And it’s up to Dominic “Prison Break” Purcell, Michael “ER” Ironside and Adam “Revolution” Beach to save us. Directed by Canadian TV stalwart Sturla Gunnarsson, who was obviously having fun with the genre. Good-looking Camille Sullivan, however, as the only woman in the cast save some Russian strippers, really needs to talk to her agent.

JAMESY BOY

2014; $16.98; UR

Young Spencer Lofranco, who made a name for himself by upstaging Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga in the romcom “At Middleton,” repeats his performance in this true tale of violence and redemption. He plays James Burns, a very bad Denver gang-banger who winds up in federal prison while still a teen. There he meets hardened baddie Roc (Michael Trotter). Somehow, the wizened con gets through to the kid that he can still turn his life around. Lots of big names in the cast, but Trotter holds his own nicely. Check it out.

L.A. LAW: SEASON ONE

1986; $19.98; UR

One of the biggest hits of the ’80s, this TV legal drama created by Steven Bochco (“Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blue”) ruled nighttime airways for eight seasons and spawned a dozen spin-offs and imitators. Corbin Bernsen and Jill Eikenberry star as attorneys for the law firm of McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak, along with Richard Dysart, Harry Hamlin, Susan Dey and, of course, Jimmy Smits. Previous DVD releases retailed for $69.95/season, making this the first in a less-insulting reprice release. The perfect place to start your complete-series collection, with all 23 episodes and great bonus goodies.

MAMA’S FAMILY: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON

2014; $14.98-$29.98; UR

We were not big fans of this “Carol Burnett Show” spin-off when it first appeared on 1983, but we’ve changed our minds in re-watching them on DVD. The fun cast, including Ken Berry, Betty White and (on occasion) Carol Burnett, deliver performances that most comics today can only dream of. The third season finds Aunt Fran (Rue McClanahan) dead, with the family standing to receive a $35K inheritance — but only if the irascible, cantankerous Mama (Vicky Lawrence) can control her temper for two very long weeks. Pure TV gold.

NEBRASKA

2013; $24.98; R

Some critics have hailed this as “an American masterpiece.” We won’t go that far, but it is a compelling, hilarious and heartbreaking tale of ordinary people being ordinary. A drunken Bruce Dern and his estranged son, Will Forte, go on a road trip to collect the riches he believes he has won, stopping along the way to visit old friends/enemies/relatives, announce their good fortune ... and maybe rub some noses in it. The dialogue is perfect, the tone sublime and the scenery is an actor all unto itself. Hmmm, maybe this is a masterpiece.

THE SHADOW

1994; $26.98; PG-13

A much anticipated Blu-ray Collector’s Edition of this colorful Alec Baldwin action-crime comicbooker. The Shadow, essentially the prototype for Batman, was born in a series of 1930s pulp novels, spreading to other media until it became a hit radio serial voiced by Orson Welles. Now in 1930s NYC, Baldwin fights his most deadly menace, the atomic-armed last descendant of Genghis Kahn, played by John Lone. Lots of fun with a cast that includes Penelope Ann Miller, Peter Boyle, Ian McKellen, Tim Curry and the late, great Jonathan Winters. Recommended.

TWICE BORN

2012; $22.98; R

Penélope Cruz and Emile “Lone Survivor” Hirsch star in this tear-jerking, heartstring-plucking, artsy flashback Euro tale of war and children and estrogen. She’s a professor who takes her son (the director’s son, Pietro Castellitto) to the ruins of Sarajevo, where she met and lost his father — or at least the man he thought was his father. A complex and ridiculously romantic drama chock-a-block with war, rape, friendship and really lousy vacation choices.

A more complete listing and free vids at videotapeworm.com.