'Angels and Demons' leads list of latest Blu-ray releases

by Doug Nye

McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)

24 November 2009


The mystery thriller “Angels & Demons” (Sony, 2009, $39.95) tops this week’s list of new titles on Blu-ray.

Tom Hanks is Professor Robert Langdon who seems to know more about the history of the Vatican than do the people who live there. Hanks also played Langdon in the movie “The Da Vinci Code,” based on the Dan Brown novel of the same name that succeeded “Angels and Demons.”

The pope has died and a new one is about to be selected but it appears someone is trying to stop it. Four cardinals are kidnapped with the promise that they will be murdered one by one on the hour beginning at 8 p.m. The kicker is that once they are gone a hidden bomb is set to blow Vatican City to bits at midnight.

It’s up to Hanks and the police to try to save the cardinals and uncover the bomb. There’s a big problem. They don’t know where the cardinals are hidden. Langdon, by using clues from old documents, deduces it’s the work of a group called the Illuminati, which was persecuted by the church 400 years ago. Langdon also uses the clues to guess where the cardinals are hidden.

Although the film runs 138 minutes, it moves at breakneck speed as Langdon races all over Rome in an effort to get to each Cardinal before he is killed. He gets assistance from Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zuer) who worked on the anti-matter bomb before it was stolen. Also turning in good performances are Ewan McGregor as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna and Stellan Skarsgard as Commander Richter.

The Blu-ray contains more than 90 minutes of extras as well as extended version of the movie running 146 minutes. Recommended.

Other Blu-ray releases:

“Funny People” (Universal, 2009, $39.98) Director Judd Apatow focuses on the lives of stand-up comedians. This film, however, is more of a drama that generates some laughs. Adam Sandler plays lonely comic George Simmons whose only friend seems to be his agent. After discovering he has a rare blood disease, George attempts to reach out to others. He meets young comedian Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) and takes him under his wing. Sandler shows he can do other things besides be silly. Recommended.

“Four Christmases” (New Line, 2008, $35.99) Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon star as a couple whose married life is not exactly all bliss. It’s Christmas season and they’re planning to get away from it all but fate stops them from making the trip. That means they’ll have to spend the holidays with relatives. Because both of their parents are divorced, that also means they’ll have to visit four different households. The cast also includes Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight, Mary Steenburgen, Dwight Yoakam and Tim McGraw.

“Shorts,” (Warner Brothers, 2009, $35.99) Eleven-year-old Toe Thompson (Jimmy Bennett) lives in the town of Black Falls where things aren’t what you would call jumping. One day, Toe discovers a magic rock that can make wishes come true. Soon, others — both kids and adults — learn of the rock and try to figure out to get it from Toe. Jon Cryer and William H. Macy also are in the cast.

“The Sopranos: The Complete First Season” (HBO, 1999, $69.99) Here’s the multi-award winning series starring James Gandolfini as mob boss Tony Soprano who attempts to balance his “normal” family life with his “business.” Edie Falco plays Carmelo Soprano. The set includes 13 episodes on five discs. Recommended.

“Santa Buddies” (Walt Disney, 2009, $39.99) The talking dogs are back. Puppy Paws, the son of Santa Paws, is ready to ditch life at the North Pole and set out for some adventure. He decides to visit Budderball because he’s on Santa’s naughty list. Puppy figures that’s just the dog who can show him how to have a good time.

Also available:

“Air America” (Lionsgate, 1990, $19.99) Mel Gibson, Robert Downey Jr.; “Angel Heart” (Lionsgate, 1997, $19.99) Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro; “Blood: The Last Vampire” (Manga, 2001, $29.97) Animated; “Cujo: 25th Anniversay Edition” (Lionsgate, 1983, $19.99) Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro; “Frailty” (Lionsgate, 2002, $19.99) Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey; “The Monster Squad: 20th Anniversary Edition”(Lionsgate, 1987, $19.99) Andre Gower; “The Way of the Gun” (Lionsgate, 2000, $19.99) Ryan Phillipe, Benicio Del Toro.

//Mixed media

NYFF 2017: 'Mudbound'

// Notes from the Road

"Dee Rees’ churning and melodramatic epic follows two families in 1940s Mississippi, one black and one white, and the wars they fight abroad and at home.

READ the article