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A taste of macho enlivens dull week

Fri., Nov. 23, 2012, midnight

The pickings are a little slim this week, but there are a couple of strong releases for those who like macho movies hitting stores.

• “The Expendables 2” Grade B: Sylvester Stallone leads an all-star action team into battle again.

What passes for a plot has Barney (Stallone) and his muscle-bound merry men forced into a suicide mission to stop a crazy mercenary, Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), from stealing truckloads of nuclear material. You really don’t need to know any more.

The film has one rule: Go astronomically big or go home. That’s why this explosive sequel is an overblown, testosterone-driven assault on the senses loaded with aging action stars who make up a senior citizen brigade. This is absurd filmmaking at its finest because the action often goes above and beyond the most violent military role-playing video games.

It’s not a spoof, but it gets dangerously close.

• “Tarantino XX” Grade B-plus: The box set includes eight films by director Quentin Tarantino to celebrates two decades of movie making: “Reservoir Dogs” (1992); “True Romance” (1993); “Pulp Fiction” (1994); “Jackie Brown” (1997); “Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003),” “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” (2004); “Death Proof” (2007); and “Inglourious Basterds” (2009).

The set would be worth owning just for “Reservoir Dogs,” an outstanding crime drama that became a major influence on filmmakers who embraced the genre.

Toss in “Pulp Fiction” and the “Kill Bill” movies and this collection shows Tarantino’s passion for big action, spinning cameras, snappy dialogue and intriguing characters. Tarantino’s work can be hit and miss, but these are generally all hits.

Also new on DVD this week:

“2012 World Series Champion Season in Review: San Francisco Giants”: Highlights of the World Series winning season.

“Transformers Prime: Season Two”: It’s a new beginning for the Autobots. The DVD set includes 26 episodes of the animated cable TV series.

“Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups”: The North Pole has a new litter of playful pups who want to help at the holidays.

“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Complete Series”: All of the adventures of the original Power Rangers are in one set.

“Bringing Up Bobby”: Milla Jovovich stars in this story of a con artist and her 10-year-old son living in Oklahoma.

“Diff’rent Strokes: The Complete Fourth Season”: Arnold and Willis are back for more misadventures.

“Christmas with Danny Kaye”: Two episodes of the variety show starring Danny Kaye.

“The Dust Bowl”: Four-hour documentary by Ken Burns that looks at how human blindness to the balance of nature destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains throughout the 1930s.

“Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True / Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time”: Two made-for-video adventures starring Cinderella and her friends.

“Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day”: Led Zeppelin reunites for a tribute concert for Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun.

“Frank Sinatra: The Golden Years”: Musical special starring Frank Sinatra.


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