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‘42’ deftly recounts a piece of history

Fri., July 19, 2013

This week’s new DVD releases include a bit of baseball and film history.

“42,” A-minus: There’s a natural beauty and romanticism about baseball that transitions to the silver screen as perfectly as a well-turned double play. If you add in a powerful story that resonates through history as sharply as the crack of the bat on a warm spring day, then what you have is this new DVD release.

Director and writer Brian Helgeland recounts how Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 when he was offered a contract by owner Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) to play with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Helgeland shows a deep respect for the game and for what Robinson accomplished by telling this story through the human drama.

Boseman hits a home run showing Robinson as a leader on and off the field. It’s one thing to cast an actor who can show emotions. Sports movies live or die on how well the actor can handle the physicality of the role. Boseman looks comfortable on the field. There’s a naturalness to his portrayal of Robinson that goes beyond playing a role to the point of embodying the spirit of Robinson.

“Evil Dead,” B-minus: The remake of the classic 1981 horror film “The Evil Dead” is proof that more isn’t always better. When it comes to the blood and guts that saturate both movies, there’s a line between scarily gory and just plain disgusting, and the new “Dead” crosses the line on multiple occasions.

Director Fede Alvarez hits the majority of the terror beats of the original movie, from the creepy-looking cabin to rivers of blood. Because he had a larger budget, Alvarez cranks up the special effects. But the results are not as much fun.

Despite its filmmaking demons, “Evil Dead” has its moments. It’s just that an overdependence on the gore is distracting.

Also new on DVD this week:

“Hell on Wheels: The Complete Second Season”: Cable series that follows a former soldier (Anson Mount) involved with the building of the transcontinental railroad.

“Damages: The Final Season”: Law drama starring Glenn Close.

“Arthur Stands Up To Bullying”: Four episodes starring the world’s most famous aardvark.

“White Frog”: Director Quentin Lee’s tale of the power of family, friendship and love.

“Erased”: An ex-CIA operative (Aaron Eckhart) and estranged daughter (Liana Liberato) become targets for termination.

“Bill Moyers: On the Hudson – America’s First River”: Moyers discusses the river’s 315-mile course from its source in the Adirondacks to its outlet at New York harbor.

“The Smurfs: Smurfs to the Rescue!”: Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Dreamy and others star in six adventures.

“Dinosaur Train: Nature Trackers”: Series teaches young explorers about stargazing, snakes, wildlife diversity and nature’s life cycle.

“George Lopez: The Complete Third Season”: Network comedy starring the comedian.

“Bullet to the Head”: Sylvester Stallone stars in the action film directed by Walter Hill.

“Tom and Jerry: No Mice Allowed!”: Includes 30 cartoons featuring the animated duo.

“Doctor Who – The Doctors Revisited”: A look at the first four men who played the iconic character.

“Joanna Lumley’s Nile”: The actress travels by fishing boat, ferry, cruise ship, plane, train and car down the world’s longest river.

“Misfits: Season Three”: BBC series about five outsiders who get super powers after being struck by lightning.

“Super Why! Hansel & Gretel: A Healthy Adventure”: The reading superheroes go on two adventures.

“Caillou: Big Kid Caillou”: Caillou teaches kids about being themselves, flexibility, friendship and kindness.

“Letters From Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson”: Documentary chronicles Robinson’s thoughts and ambitions both as an athlete and symbol of the civil rights movement.

“The Definitive Guide to the Mob”: History Channel special that looks into the world of the country’s most dangerous men.

“Power Rangers Samurai: The Ultimate Duel Volume 5”: The Red Ranger finally faces off with Deker for the ultimate duel.

“Eve of Destruction”: The fight for survival continues in the second disaster film in the five-part doomsday cable series.

“Combat!”: Network series starring Vic Morrow and Rick Jason.

“God Don’t Make the Laws”: An accident and a deal with the devil leave a small town frozen in time.

“LeapFrog: The Complete Scout & Friends Collection”: Series designed to help children learn.

“Hecho en Mexico”: Documentary featuring 50 of Mexico’s most influential artists, musicians and personalities.

“Regular Show: The Complete First & Second Seasons”: Contains all 40 episodes.

“Matlock: The Ninth and Final Season”: The country lawyer (Andy Griffith) faces his last cases.

“The Bookdock Saints II: All Saints Day”: The director’s cut includes 27 minutes of extended footage.


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