DVD previews: ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2,’ ‘Rush’ and more

The Washington Post

Published: January 27, 2014 09:11AM
Updated: January 25, 2014 01:01AM
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This image released by Universal Pictures shows Chris Hemsworth in a scene from "Rush." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Jaap Buitendijk)

Capsule reviews of the video releases, on DVD and Blu-ray, including special features, coming on Tuesday, Jan. 28:

“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” (PG, 95 minutes, Sony) • Instead of upping the ante, as so many sequels do, “Cloudy 2” merely gets the band back together — including perky weather girl Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), immature bully Brent (Andy Samberg) and Flint’s level-headed father (James Caan) — for a repetitive mission that calls to mind multiple beats from the first movie. Contains mild rude humor. Extras include commentary with directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn; Cody Simpson “La Da Dee” music video and its making-of; seven featurettes including “Anatomy of a Foodimal” on the inspiration behind the food-animal hybrids that take over Swallow Falls, looks at production design and the voice actors; a discussion of how the filmmakers used a mix of 3-D, 2-D, stop motion and live action; and “The Sasquash,” revealing the places in the film that the Sasquash is hiding. Also, on Blu-ray: deleted scenes and short films “Attack of the 50-Foot Gummi Bear,” “Steve’s First Bath,” “Super Manny” and “Earl Scouts.” Available in 3-D.

“Rush” (R, 123 minutes, Universal) • As much escapist fun as “Rush” is as an adrenaline-juiced car-race movie, it’s most interesting as a rare depiction of male vanity, how physical attractiveness informs self-worth and potency, and the role beauty — so often the sole purview of women on screen — plays in men’s relationships and personal insecurities. Director Ron Howard, cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and editor Daniel P. Hanley deserve credit for creating a crisp, well-told account that succeeds as a workaday biopic, glamorous period piece and portrayal of sports culture that seems quaintly scruffy seen from an era taken over by steroids, TV-ready narratives and endorsement deals. Contains sexual content, nudity, profanity, some disturbing images and brief drug use. Extras include “Ron Howard: A Director’s Approach” and, on Blu-ray only, a six-part making-of featurette that covers the screenplay with Peter Morgan, casting Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl in the lead roles, filming Formula 1 racing action, 1970s fashion and “Around the World in One Location”; and a three-part featurette: “Meeting James Hunt and Niki Lauda,” “F1 Racing and the F1 Car” and “The Rock and Roll Circus.”

“Last Vegas” (PG-13, 104 minutes, Sony) • This senior citizens version of “The Hangover” is led by a heavyweight ensemble cast including Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas. They demonstrate the easy chemistry and excitable energy of old friends reconvening after years apart, and they all genuinely seem to be having fun. Kline is especially memorable, and his comedic abilities have hardly diminished in the years since “A Fish Called Wanda.” Contains sexual content and language. Extras include commentary with director Jon Turteltaub and writer Dan Fogelman; a making-of with commentary from the main cast; “Four Legends” look at the ensemble and their insights on working with one another and a glimpse at the character arcs of the four main characters. Also, on Blu-ray: location and supporting cast featurettes and “The Redfoo Party.”

“The Fifth Estate” (R, 124 minutes, Disney) • At its best, this fact-based drama about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange works as a serious showcase for its capable star, Benedict Cumberbatch, who delivers an eerily on-point portrayal of the enigmatic central character. As a primer on the early days of WikiLeaks and its crusade for transparency and governmental and corporate accountability, “The Fifth Estate” provides useful reminders to audiences who may have come to equate the organization with Assange’s overweening ego and strange persona. But as a piece of filmed entertainment, “The Fifth Estate” shows why things like authorial point of view and visual sensibility are so essential in bringing such stories to life. Unlike “The Social Network,” this film doesn’t have much of either, and the weakness shows. Based on books by former Assange collaborators Daniel Domscheit-Berg, David Leigh and Luke Harding, “The Fifth Estate” focuses on Assange’s relationship with Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl), a German computer programmer who meets Assange at a hackers’ conference and quickly warms to his calls for “a whole new form of social justice” by way of using encryption to protect whistleblowers. Domscheit-Berg throws in with Assange, who has created WikiLeaks in the belief that “if you give a man a mask, he’ll tell you the truth.” And for a while, it works: In bracing sequences, the film shows Assange and Domscheit-Berg exposing powerful banks, corrupt regimes and fraudulent elections. Contains profanity and some violence. Extras include a visual effects short on how the submission platform was brought to life, a featurette on composer Carter Burwell as he records his score and the songs chosen for the soundtrack, and a look at techniques used to weave together on-screen graphics and the actors’ performances.

“Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa” (R, 93 minutes, Paramount) • Starring Johnny Knoxville, the chief perpetrator of many of the disgusting and/or painful stunts featured in the “Jackass” reality-TV series and its movie spinoffs, “Bad Grandpa” is a loose sequence of hidden-camera pranks centered on the outrageous antics of a fictional octogenarian. Some of them are quite funny, but only to the degree that you are amused by explosive diarrhea and the effects of age and gravity on certain parts of the male anatomy. Contains obscenity, crude sexual humor and nudity. Extras include behind-the-scenes vignettes, deleted scenes and an “Alternate Reactions from Real People” montage.

Also • “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” (PBS), “African-American Leaders: Past & Present” (five telefilms, Lionsgate), “Collision” (Lionsgate), “The Booker” (documentary, IndiePix), “The April Fools” (1969, Paramount), “The War Between Men and Women” (1972, Paramount), “Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?” (1971, Paramount), “A Perfect Man,” “Concussion,” “I Used to Be Darker,” “The Long Day Closes” (1992, The Criterion Collection), “Somali Pirate Takedown: The Real Story” (2009, TV documentary on the Somali pirate capture of the Maersk Alabama, Discovery), “Stonados,” “Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition DVD Collection” (box set with seven films based on the author’s popular novels, Warner), “The Agatha Christie Hour: Complete Collection” (four-disc set, Acorn Media) and “Agatha Christie’s The Queen of Crime Collection” (three-disc set, Acorn Media).

Television series • “Downton Abbey: Season Four” (PBS), “Treme: The Complete Fourth Season” (HBO), “Bonnie & Clyde” (miniseries originally broadcast simultaneously on History, Lifetime and A&E), “Vera, Set 3” (British mystery series starring Brenda Blethyn, Acorn Media) and “Steven Spielberg Presents: Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain The Complete Series” (1998-99, Kids’-WB).