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Fairy tale offers enough twists to keep things fresh

Fri., June 21, 2013

A young man faces giant problems while a young woman has some big problems of her own in this week’s new DVD releases.

• “Jack the Giant Slayer,” B: A young farmer (Nicholas Hoult) opens a gateway to a world of giants.

This is the latest film foray into giving classic fairy tales a modern look. It combines a likable hero with a fun story and flashy special effects to make the movie fee fi fo fun.

Director Bryan Singer ramps up the action, especially in the final battle where, despite the medieval nature of the weapons, the fight is as explosive as any modern-age donnybrook. He excels in the use of 3-D technology, giving a true sense of how big the giants are when they are looking down upon their smaller opponents.

Typical fairy-tale elements are given nice tweaks, such as having the princess be less of a damsel in distress and more of an equal to her heroic saviors. There is a slight comical touch to the king played by Ian McShane. But in the end, he’s less of the comic relief and just as much a hero.

The combination of the strong special effects and solid acting translates to “Jack the Giant Slayer” accomplishing one titanic feat – it’s huge fun to watch. One word of warning: The giants’ taste for human blood may scare young movie watchers.

• “Stoker,” C-plus: “Stoker” is a visual treat from the creative opening credits to the colorful splendor of nature that’s almost blinding. Director Park Chan-wook embraces texture, shapes and colors with such exuberance that each scene is a celebration of the visual. It’s almost brilliant enough to distract from a plot that has some very dark problems.

Mia Wasikowska turns in a creepy performance as India, a young woman who just turned 18 and has lived an emotionally confined life. That world gets even smaller and darker when her father dies in an automobile accident. The arrival of Charles Stoker (Matthew Goode), an uncle she never knew existed, could be the spark she needs to come out of her emotional cocoon.

The film’s big question is whether she will emerge as a beautiful butterfly or killer moth.

The script by Wentworth Miller, best known as the star of the Fox TV series “Prison Break,” delves deep into these questions: Are we predestined to be the people we become? Does our family or the environment shape the way we become? These deep questions can’t be perfectly answered in the 98-minute running time and that forces the film to make large leaps that leave points in its dust.

Also new on DVD “21 and Over”: A birthday celebration goes very bad.

“Rectify”: First season of the cable series about the release of a man who has been on death row for 19 years.

“American Mary”: Medical student gets involved with underground surgeries.

“Quartet”: Concert at a home for retired musicians is disrupted by the former wife of one of the residents.

“The Last Exorcism: Part II”: Nell (Ashley Bell) continues to be haunted by demons.

“Movie 43”: The dark comedy stars Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere and Julianne Moore.

“NOVA: Meteor Strike”: A 7,000-ton asteroid falls to the ground near the Ural Mountains in Russia.

“Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated Season 2 Part 2: Spooky Stampede”: Features 13 mystery-solving episodes.

“Understanding Art: Hidden Lives of Masterpieces”: Series documents the Louvre’s study days, in which works by major artists are examined.

“Springhill, Series 1”: A family’s life is thrown into turmoil by an unwelcome arrival.

“The Brass Teapot”: A couple find an antique that could be the answer to their financial woes.

“Workaholics: Season 3”: TelAmeriCorp’s chief slackers clock in for another shift.

“Nature: Great Zebra Exodus”: A look at the zebras that live on Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans.

“The Jungle Book: Adventures of Mowgli Complete Collection”: When young Mowgli finds himself alone in the heart of the jungle, he’s adopted by the Seeonee Wolf Pack.

“Call the Midwife: Season Two”: Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) is a young midwife in 1950s London assigned to the working class East End.

“The Wild West”: Miniseries that looks at the real stories behind three of the West’s most famous figures.

“The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse”: Horror fantasy that brings new life to the zombie genre.

“Drop Dead Diva: The Complete Fourth Season”: The three-disc set contains 13 episodes of the cable drama.

“Dino King 3-D”: Baby Tarbosaurus flees his homeland after his family is killed by a one-eyed T-Rex.

“Prank”: Three high school students, sick of living in fear of bullies, plan the ultimate payback.

“Justin Bieber: Always Believing”: A behind-the-scenes look at the singer’s life.

“Lifeforce”: The Tobe Hooper film is now available on Blu-ray.

“American Idiots”: Four friends head to Las Vegas to stop a wedding.

“Summoned”: A woman’s suspicious when a fellow juror dies.

“Slugterra: Slugs Unleashed”: Five episodes of the animated series.

“Web Therapy: The Complete Second Season”: Lisa Kudrow plays a therapist who holds her sessions through video chats.

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