'Noah' on digital, 'Under the Skin' and Emmy-ignored 'Orphan Black'

by Rich Heldenfels

Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)

14 July 2014


“Noah,” the biblical epic directed by Darren Aronofsky, will be available as a high-definition digital download Tuesday (Paramount, $19.99). The DVD ($29.99) and Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo ($39.99) will be available on July 29.

Russell Crowe stars as the man who made the ark; mainstream reviews were mostly positive, although there was a lot of grumbling about Aronofsky embroideries, such as giant rock creatures.

But there were also people of faith who questioned Aronofsky’s interpretation. The National Religious Broadcasters lobbied Paramount “to help audiences better understand that the feature film is a dramatization of the major scriptural themes and not a line-by-line retelling of the Bible story.” As a result, the movie and its promotional materials added a disclaimer saying the movie was “inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”

All clear? The telling still seemed to work for many moviegoers, as the film took in a little over $100 million in the U.S. and more than twice that overseas.

Scarlett Johansson, soon to be back on the big screen in Luc Besson’s thriller “Lucy,” will be on disc Tuesday in “Under the Skin” (Lionsgate, $19.98 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray/digital combo). Johansson plays an alien who in human form makes men her prey. (Well, it is the human form of Scarlett Johansson).

She also embarks on what some writers consider a journey of self-discovery. A very artistic one, from director Jonathan Glazer (“Sexy Beast”) — so much so that even some favorably inclined reviews wondered about it. Richard Roeper called it “one of the most polarizing movies in recent years” and wondered whether it was a joke or a masterpiece. Either way, it looks great. And Roeper ended up giving it an A-plus, his highest ranking.

The extra is a making-of piece.

When the Emmy nominations came out last week, there were the usual howls over the voters’ errors in judgment. And the loudest howls may well have been over the lack of a nomination for Tatiana Maslany, who has dazzled critics with her work on the BBC America series “Orphan Black.” Maslany has played not one character but many, all clones with distinctly different personalities and agendas.

One tweet about the snub apologized on behalf of all of America, saying “we’re just … not that bright.” Another claimed that, because of her diverse roles, Maslany deserved four nominations for drama acting and another for comedy acting. And one TV critic joked that she was not overlooked because she was actually playing the nominated Woody Harrelson in “True Detective.”

To understand the outrage, you can see the first season of “Orphan Black,” already on DVD and Blu-ray (and digital), or wait for Tuesday for the second-season DVD (BBC Video, 10 episodes, $29.98) or Blu-ray ($34.98). (The second season is already available digitally, including through iTunes and Amazon Instant). Besides Maslany’s performance, which is pretty amazing, the set includes several making-of pieces, among them one about a major scene in the second-season finale. And once you’re hooked on this, be aware that a third season is in the works for 2015.

Also coming from TV to disc on Tuesday: Debbie Macomber’s “Cedar Cove: Season One” (Cinedigm, 13 episodes, $24.95 standard DVD); the second season begins on Hallmark Channel on Saturday. And “Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season” (Entertainment One, 10 episodes, $39.98 DVD, $49.98 Blu-ray) sets the stage for the fourth season beginning Aug. 2 on AMC.

Down video road: “Now and Again,” the superb 1999-2000 drama series from Glenn Gordon Caron, comes to DVD on Aug. 26. That same date brings the Adam Sandler comedy “Blended” to DVD and Blu-ray. “Sleepy Hollow: Season One” will be on DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 16; a second season begins Sept. 22 on Fox. Disney titles making their Blu-ray debut on Aug. 12 include “Tarzan,” “Bedknobs & Broomsticks” and “Hercules.”

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