An unrealized film, working-class Brits who became soccer stars and America’s obsession with celebrity are the subjects of documentaries that lead new movies on Blu-ray and DVD this week.
“Jodorowsky’s Dune” (Sony Classics/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, PG-13, deleted scenes). Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky made a concerted effort in 1975 to mount a production of Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel “Dune,” and this heady, often funny, inside-Hollywood documentary chronicles his failure to do so (though he came close).
This is primarily for film buffs, along with sci-fi fans and the book’s loyal following (we can all agree that the critically drubbed, money-losing version of “Dune” from David Lynch in 1984 is best left forgotten). Jodorowsky, whose 1970s exercises in surrealism, “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain,” were midnight-movie staples for a time, is a wonderful storyteller. Now in his 80s, he uses his ’70s “Dune” storyboards to illustrate what it would have looked like. And others that were involved with the project are also interviewed. Also included are archival interviews with those who have passed on.
There’s little question that the innovative designs and ideas resulting from Jodorwsky’s vision influenced many sci-fi films that followed, from “Star Wars” to “Alien,” and with talent attached ranging from H.R. Giger to Orson Welles to Mick Jagger to Pink Floyd, it’s a wonderful what-if posit.
“The Class of ’92” (Universal/DVD/Digital, 2014, not rated, featurette). Solid documentary look at six English working-class boys who came together to play soccer with Manchester United. The film reunites the six — David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt — while chronicling their rise as footballers, intercut with a look at England’s social changes at the time. (Exclusively at Walmart for the first few weeks.)
“$ellebrity” (Cinedigm/DVD, 2013, not rated, featurette). This documentary probes our fascination with celebrity culture with humor and horror, mostly going after the paparazzi, though no one is off the hook. Celebrities interviewed include Jennifer Aniston, Elton John, Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek.
“Watermark” (eOne/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, PG, deleted scenes, featurettes, picture gallery). From the makers of “Manufactured Landscapes,” this environmentally conscious documentary tells diverse stories about how vital water is to human life, using beautifully photographed backdrops from around the world.
“How It All Began” (Truemind/DVD, 2014). A biographical/documentary look at Mantak Chia, a Taoist master who left his native Thailand in the 1970s to bring Tao healing to the United States, beginning in New York’s Chinatown.
“Like Father, Like Son” (Sundance/MPI/DVD, 2014, not rated, in Japanese with English subtitles, trailer). Japanese melodrama about what happens when two families are informed that their newborns were unwittingly switched at birth six years earlier. The focus is on a workaholic businessman who must decide whether he’s willing to give up the boy he and his wife have raised for six years in exchange for the boy that is actually their bloodline child, the ultimate nature vs. nurture dilemma.
“Wings: Sky Force Heroes” (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, PG, featurette, trailers). You may recall (or perhaps not) that an animated yarn about anthropomorphic airplanes was released on DVD to coincide with Disney’s “Planes” in theaters last year. And now that a sequel to “Planes” is about to hit theaters, here comes a sequel to “Wings,” this one subtitled “Sky Force Heroes.” Voice actors include Hilary Duff, Tom Skerritt, Jesse McCartney and Rob Schneider.
“Bad Words” (Universal/Focus/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014; R for sex, language and nudity; deleted/extended scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). Jason Bateman made his directing debut with this raunchy comedy in which he stars as a 40-year-old middle school dropout who discovers a loophole in the rules and hijacks a national spelling bee.
“Sabotage” (Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014; R for violence, language, sex, nudity, drugs; deleted scenes/alternate endings, featurette). There’s not a single character to like, much less root for, among the dirty-cop DEA task force members being targeted by an unknown killer. Wretched, blood-soaked action thriller plays more like a very gory slasher movie with a stupid twist ending. A surprising choice for Arnold Schwarzenneger, along with Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Terrence Howard and Mireille Enos.
“The Raid 2” (Sony/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014; R for violence, sex, nudity, language; in Indonesian with English subtitles, deleted scene, audio commentary, featurettes). Sequel to the ultra-violent “The Raid” with the same star, Iko Uwais, this time going undercover for an anti-corruption task force, which is difficult to do when everyone on both sides of the law seems to be corrupt. Some amazing fight sequences, but even gorier and more profane than the first outing, and this time with sex and nudity thrown in.
“The Pretty One” (Sony/DVD, 2014, R for language and sex, featurette). Offbeat romantic comedy about identical twins who are in a car accident, and when one dies the other steals her identity. Most of the film is about her coming to terms with her own personality while trying to pass as her sister. Zoe Kazan, Jake Johnson and Ron Livingston star.
“Dead Drop” (Lionsgate/DVD, 2014, R for violence and language, trailer). A CIA operative survives a 3,000-feet fall from a plane over the ocean, but his memory is impaired as he returns to his undercover life in a Mexican drug cartel and looks for answers. Luke Goss stars.
“Kid Cannabis” (Well Go/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, not rated). True story of an Idaho teen building a multimillion-dollar marijuana ring running drugs across the Canadian border. Ron Perlman is the drug czar he works for and John C. MicGinley plays their supplier.
“Rigor Mortis” (Well Go/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, not rated, in Cantonese with English subtitles, trailer). Horror yarn has a washed-up, depressed Hong Kong actor moving into a towering apartment building where he discovers his fellow tenants are all monsters, from ghosts to vampires to zombies, etc.
“Jacka-- Presents Bad Grandpa.5: Unrated” (Paramount/Blu-ray/Digital/On Demand, 2014, not rated, deleted scenes, outtakes, featurettes). This is a 40-minutes-longer version of the ultra-raunchy “Bad Grandpa” from Johnny Knoxville with never-before-seen pranks.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org