Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘G.I. Joe’ sequel’s tighter focus improves on first installment

Dwayne Johnson in a scene from “G.l. Joe: Retaliation.”
Rick Bentley McClatchy-Tribune

New DVD releases range from a sequel heavy on action to a touching tale of two women in love.

• “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” B-minus: After most of the Joes are assassinated, the remaining members of the team retaliate. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have tightened the story – an improvement over the first film that felt like an extended commercial to sell action figures. The writers reduced the number of Joes, created an outlandish – but clear-cut – evil plot for the group to foil and capitalized on the dry humor of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Roadblock) and the scene-stealing ways of Adrianne Palicki (Lady Jaye). The result is a campy film – but not so campy to detract from the white-knuckle action.

With a role in this film, “Red Dawn,” and a very brief stint as TV’s new Wonder Woman, Palicki’s becoming the queen of combat. It doesn’t hurt that she looks just as confident dressed in army fatigues as a red evening gown.

• “Cloudburst,” B-plus: Olympia Dukakis turns in a magnificent performance as the tough-talking Stella in this film adaptation of Thom Fitzgerald’s stage production. It’s the moving and funny story of two mature women, partners for 31 years, who head to Canada to get married.

Dukakis gets the standout role as the strong – but never silent – protector of the pair. In less experienced hands, the role might have become a cartoon character. But Dukakis knows exactly when to put on the hard-nosed persona and when to back off to show emotional cracks. Brenda Fricker’s low-key performance might have been overshadowed had not the veteran actor brought such strength and dignity to the role. Her performance is a snug fit with the work done by Dukakis.

“Cloudburst” is a wonderful story about love, devotion and life that should be seen with your own special someone.

Also new on DVD this week

“Fernando Di Leo: The Italian Crime Collection Vol. 2”: The three-DVD set includes “Shoot First, Die Later,” which has never been available on DVD.

“Filly Brown”: Jenni Rivera’s final on-screen performance is this musical drama.

“The Bronte Sisters”: The 1979 film about the English literary giants stars Isabelle Huppert.

“Peggy Sue Got Married”: The ‘80s romantic comedy is now available on Blu-ray.

“Black Rock”: A weekend getaway to a remote island turns into a fight for survival.

“Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Fourth Season”: The Blu-ray release of the sci-fi series is available.

“Rushlights”: Two teenage lovers travel to a small southern town to falsely claim a dead friend’s inheritance.

“Midsomer Murders”: Five seasons of the British series about a small town’s crimes have been released.

“The Demented”: In a plague-infected world, one second is all it takes to be changed.

“Being Human: Season 5”: This is the final season of the UK version of the story about three strange housemates.

“The Angry Beavers: The Complete Series”: Beaver brothers leave their childhood home to begin living the life of wild and crazy bachelors.

“Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox”: The world’s turned upside down when the Flash wakes up devoid of his super speed powers.

“Touched by an Angel: The Eighth Season”: An earthbound angel (Roma Downey) continues her helpful ways.

“Meet the Small Potatoes”: Features the animated singing quartet of spuds.

“Banshee: The Complete First Season”: An ex-con assumes the identity of the sheriff of a small town.

“Blaze You Out”: A young woman must face a town’s dangerous drug underworld.

“The Fog”: John Carpenter’s 1980 film is now on Blu-ray.

“Assault on Wall Street”: A man looks for revenge after he loses his job.

“Flying Lessons”: A woman faces major changes when she returns home. Maggie Grace stars.

“Teen Beach Movie”: Musical about two teens who find themselves in the middle of a battle between two beach factions.