Family matters are key to this week’s top DVD releases.
• “People Like Us,” Grade: B-plus: Chris Pine plays a man who must deal with a relative he didn’t know existed.
The film is an emotional roller coaster that stays on track through a tangle of huge highs and dramatic lows because of standout performances from Pine and Elizabeth Banks. Had either actor’s work wobbled in the least, the ride would have come to a crashing halt. But their nearly flawless work is moving and powerful.
This is by far the best work Banks has done, and it establishes her credentials for tough dramatic roles. It takes an accomplished actor to show toughness and weakness without making the character seem wishy-washy. Banks does this with power.
• “Dark Shadows,” Grade C-plus: A vampire (Johnny Depp) wakes up to the weird world of the 1970s.
Tim Burton’s big-screen adaptation of the 1960s TV daytime drama has a vampire, witch and werewolf, but the film feels more like a Jekyll and Hyde production. Burton’s created an odd structure. It’s the patch of silliness in the middle that takes such a sharp turn that it makes the movie feel like two different stories sharing the same cinematic body.
The film’s not a total loss. The huge Gothic sets are amazing and Michelle Pfeiffer turns in a solid performance as the matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. Depp’s found another quirky character to embrace. And, the film features some great music from the ’70s, including “Nights in White Satin.”
• “Magic City: The Complete First Season,” Grade A-minus: Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars in this hot and steamy cable drama set in a lavish Miami hotel during the late ’50s.
Series creator Mitch Glazer folded his beautiful memories of growing up in Florida into the darker side of Miami life to create the series. His character lives, loves and lusts in a world that is the playground for the rich and famous, that deals with the political turmoil going on in Cuba and is adjusting to social change.
It’s a winner from look to performances.
Also new on DVD this week:
“Hart of Dixie: The Complete First Season”: Rachel Bilson plays a doctor who ends up in a small community.
“90210: The Fourth Season”: Lives and loves of those who live in the famous ZIP code continue.
“General Education”: Coming-of-age comedy about a senior forced to attend summer school.
“New Girl: The Complete First Season”: Zooey Deschanel plays a strange young woman who shares an apartment with three equally odd men.
“Transformers Rescue Bots: Roll to the Rescue”: Includes five episodes, bonus content and coloring sheets.
“How I Met Your Mother: Season Seven”: CBS comedy starring Neil Patrick Harris.
“Nikita: The Complete Second Season”: Maggie Q stars.
“Breast Cancer: The Path of Wellness & Healing”: Look at diagnosis and treatment options.
“Cinderella”: The animated classic is being released on Blu-ray.
“Funkytown”: Patrick Huard stars in this look back to 1976.
“The Lady”: The story of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi.
“The Hole”: Director Joe Dante explores fears and secrets buried deep within the human mind.
“Iron Sky”: Nazis build secret fortress on the dark side of the moon.
“The Six Million Dollar Man: Season Two”: Lee Majors stars.
“Orangutan Diaries”: Team of veterinarians rescue orangutans.
“Kingdom: Season One”: Stephen Fry stars.
“VR Troopers: Season One, Volume One”: Includes 26 episodes.
“Note to Self”: A look at one young man’s coming into adulthood.
“Happy Endings: The Complete Second Season”: Elisha Cuthbert stars in the buddy comedy.
“Tom & Jerry: Robin Hood & His Merry Mouse”: Animated cat, mouse battle in this new feature film.
“Bonanza: The Official Fourth Season”: Dan Blocker stars.
“Flying Swords of Dragon Gate”: Stars action icon Jet Li.
“Whittle - The Jet Pioneer”: Chronicles Sir Frank Whittle’s efforts to invent the turbojet engine.
“Vexed, Series 1”: Two mismatched detectives bicker through London’s toughest cases.
“Thomas & Sarah”: Follow-up to “Upstairs, Downstairs” was never broadcast in the U.S.
“Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Royal Rescue”: Includes a double-length, never-before-aired episode.
“Drinking Made Easy: Season Two”: Zane Lamprey visits 23 cities in search of the most unique beers, wines and cocktails.
“ThunderCats: Season 1 Book 3”: Includes 10 episodes from first season.