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Focus on family helps keep ‘Heaven’ grounded

Fri., July 25, 2014

Greg Kinnear, left, and Kelly Reilly in “Heaven Is For Real.”
Greg Kinnear, left, and Kelly Reilly in “Heaven Is For Real.”

A wide selection of new DVDs hit stores this week.

• “Heaven Is for Real,” B-minus: A 4-year-old boy says he has visited heaven. Greg Kinnear stars.

Director Randall Wallace shows that the strength of a movie comes from a focus on family. Even when “Heaven Is For Real” slips into theological mode, Wallace quickly pulls the attention back to how the family members deal with all that is being thrown at them.

The film is not without flaws. The biggest mistake in the script by Wallace and Chris Parker is the decision to actually show on film what the youngster says he saw in heaven.

• “Dom Hemingway,” B-plus: Director Richard Shepard has gone down such a dark, twisted and quirky path with his “Dom Hemingway,” the film comes across as the Brit’s answer to “Pulp Fiction.”

Jude Law turns in the most compelling and disturbing performance of his career as the central figure in this tale of lust, larceny and lunacy. From the moment his character appears on screen in a venom-filled monologue, there’s no question Law has crawled inside the creepy skin of this character and given it terrifying life.

• “Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms’ Club,” B: Five women from different backgrounds bond over maternal issues. Tyler Perry directs.

He trades the over-the-top antics of Madea for a sometimes serious – and often funny – look at what it means to be a single mom as seen through the perspective of a variety of women. Although Perry does offer a couple of Madea moments through the character played by Cocoa Brown, the film generally is an interesting look at a group of MILKs (Moms I’d Like to Know).

• “Cesar Chavez,” B: A look at the efforts to organize farmworkers to get better wages.

The film is an inspirational tale of the fight for human rights and a tender story of a father struggling to stay connected with his family. But it also shows signs of having a tight budget and an inexperienced director. This is a story that’s long been needed to be told, and under Diego Luna’s guidance, the film, generally, is a solid tribute to Cesar Chavez.

• “Transcendence,” D: The mind of the greatest expert on artificial intelligence is downloaded into a computer. Johnny Depp stars.

It’s sad that a movie about artificial intelligence isn’t smarter. With a plot that looks like a prequel to the apocalyptic world of the NBC series “Revolution” and a love story that gives new meaning to “computer dating,” this cautionary tale ends up being a few bytes short of a download.

Also new on DVD:

“The Suspect”: Gong Yoo plays a top Special Forces agent.

“Sabotage”: Members of the DEA are killed after they rob a drug cartel safe house.

“Antboy”: Youngster gets super-ant abilities.

“All Cheerleaders Die”: Dead cheerleaders return to school with unusual new appetites.

“The Magic School Bus: Takes a Dive”: Look at the ocean exploration of “The Magic School Bus” gang.

“Ginger Snaps”: Terrifying force takes hold of a girl’s sister.

“The Garfield Show: Best Friends Forever”: Cartoon Network series based on the cat comic strip.

“Detour”: Taking on another man’s identity creates deadly problems.

“The Human Race”: Eighty strangers are forced to participate in a brutal race to the death.

“Justin and the Knights of Valour”: Young man’s knightly dreams lead to adventure.

“Shogun”: Mini-series based on the bestselling novel from James Clavell.

“Dalziel & Pascie: Season Ten”: Mismatched partners continue to solve crimes.

“Aerial America: Southwest Collection”: Showcases beauty of a region and its equally captivating history.

“The Angriest Man in Brooklyn”: Robin Williams plays a man with never-ending problems.

“Wahlburgers: The Complete First Season”: Look at lives of one of Boston’s most famous families.

“Made in America”: Celebration of the unifying power of music and pursuit of the American dream.

“Sesame Street: Learning Rocks”: Lovable monsters help kids learn how to solve problems using music.

“Appleseed Alpha”: Latest installment in the sci-fi adventure franchise based on the comic books by Shirow Masamune.

“Shark Battlefield”: An underwater look at sharks.

“Mumfie’s Quest: The Movie”: Little elephant ventures far from home.

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