New to View: ‘House of Cards’ still stands strong

By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on Tuesday, July 7:

House of Cards: Volume Three
Details: 2015, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This four-disc set contains all 13 episodes of this acclaimed political drama starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
The Underwoods have fulfilled their dream, moving into the White House. Together, they begin to defend their legacy, even while bickering among themselves.
And while living in the White House is what both desired, Claire Underwood’s ambition drives her to want to be more than the first lady.
Technical aspects: 2.00:1 anamorphic widescreen picture; English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
Don’t miss: An overview of the third season and well as a featurette that looks at the surprising Chapter 39 of the series comprise the major supplemental offerings.

Merchants of Doubt (Blu-ray + DVD)
Details: 2015, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, language
The lowdown: A powerful and satirical documentary that looks at how major corporations hire “experts” to rail against issues detrimental to a merchants of doubt-hansenspecific industry’s well being.
Whether it be tobacco arguing that cigarettes do not cause lung cancer or the big oil companies claiming that climate change is a myth and not man-made, the movie details how these giants spend millions to obscure, deflect and delay government action and legislation that will prove harmful to their interests.
Despite the serious subject matter, the movie succeeds because it takes a satirical and comic tone.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 1.78:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio descriptive track; English SDH, English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai and Turkish subtitles; DVD: 1.78.1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby Digital and audio descriptive track; English SDH, English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai and Turkish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include deleted scenes, a commentary track and a question-and-answer session at the Toronto International Film Festival with the movie’s director.

The Killers: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1946, 1964, The Criterion Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A Blu-ray that features two adaptations of Ernest Hemingway’s short tale.
The first, from 1946, stars Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner, and helped define the film noir genre; the second, directed by Don Siegel and starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson and John Cassavetes, was originally made for television, but was so violent it was released theatrically. Both are harsh and brutal crime dramas.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English LPCM; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: A 1956 student film adaptation of the story, a 2002 interview with author Stuart M. Kaminsky about both films, a 2002 reading of the short story by actor Stacy Keach, a 1949 radio adaptation of the 1946 film, a 2002 interview with actor Clu Gulager, who was in the 1964 film, an excerpt from director Don Siegel’s autobiography and a booklet with essays about the films comprise the extras.

’71 (DVD + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2015, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: R, graphic violence, disturbing images, language
The lowdown: Jack O’Connell (“Unbroken”) stars as a British soldier accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot in Belfast in 1971.
He cannot tell who is his friend or who is out to kill him as he tries to survive the night and find his way back to his unit.
The film is a thriller elevated by O’Connell’s stellar performance.
Technical aspects: 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby Digital; English and Spanish subtitles.

5 Flights Up (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2014, Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, language, nudity
The lowdown: Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman star as a longtime married couple who, after 40 years in the same Brooklyn apartment, decide it’s time to sell it and cash in on their much sought-after property.
They enlist the help of their real-estate agent niece. But after an eventful weekend in which they are inundated by offers as well as a series of crazy events that test their love and commitment, the couple discovers a new lease on life.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

Kill Me Three Times (Blu-ray)
Details: 2015, Magnolia Home Entertainment
Rated: R, graphic and bloody violence, language, nudity, sexual situations
The lowdown: Simon Pegg stars as a skilled assassin in this comedy thriller who discovers that he is not the only one out to kill his target — a beautiful temptress in a small surfing town.
Pegg’s Charlie soon finds himself at the center of three stories of murder, mayhem, revenge and blackmail in this pulpy and clever feature.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette, commentary, deleted scene, a question-and-answer session and storyboards comprise the bonus offerings.

Slow West (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2013, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: R, violence, language
The lowdown: Michael Fassbinder stars in this Western about a 16-year-old boy who is traveling across 19th-century frontier America in search of the woman he loves.
He is accompanied by Silas (Fassbinder), mysterious stranger, who protects him from the dangers of the frontier.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.66:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH, English and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette and deleted scenes comprise the major bonus offerings.

The Dovekeepers (Blu-ray)
Release date: June 30
Details: 2015, CBS DVD-Paramount Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A two-disc set featuring the miniseries set in 70 A.D. when three women join the fight against a Roman army at the city of Masada.
The women, from divergent backgrounds, are united as dovekeepers in this story of honor, courage, love and faith. The series stars Cote de Pablo, Rachel Brosnahan and Kathryn Prescott.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 16:9 picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: A behind-the-scenes look at the cast, the filming and the production design of the miniseries comprises the major bonus offering.

The Brokenwood Mysteries, Series 1 (Blu-ray)
Details: 2014, Acorn Media-RLJ Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A two-disc set offering four feature-length mysteries from this popular New Zealand crime series.
The series focuses on Detective Inspector Mike Shepherd (Neill Rea) and his partner, Detective Constable Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland), as they solve grisly killings in a small New Zealand town.
The Shepherd character is as interesting as the cases; he is an experienced officer with a 1971 car, a collection of country music cassettes and several ex-wives. His partner, who is much younger, is the latest woman in his life.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 16:9 widescreen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include interviews with cast members and the series’ head writer.

Survivor (Blu-ray)
Details: 2015, Alchemy
Rated: PG-13, violence, action sequences, language
The lowdown: Milla Jovovich plays a foreign service officer framed for a terrorist bombing. To survive, she must keep clear of an assassin, played by Pierce Brosnan, out to silence her.
She also must root out the real perpetrators and thwart their bigger and deadlier plan.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette and deleted scenes comprise the major bonus offerings.

Robot Jox (Blu-ray)
Details: 1990, Scream-Shout! Factory
Rated: PG
The lowdown: Stuart Gordon wrote the story for and directed this futuristic science fiction adventure about a world in which war has been outlawed.
Disputes between nations are settled in a winner-take-all fights between two ultimate killing machines, controlled by human pilots.
When tragedy strikes during a crucial battle because of espionage, a veteran robowarrior must decide whether to walk away or seek revenge against a rival pilot.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: New and archival interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and two commentaries are among the major bonus featurettes.

Tooken
Details: 2015, Cinedigm
Rated: R, crude sexual content, nudity, language, violence, drug use
The lowdown: The “Taken” franchise is royally spoofed in this comedy about an ex-CIA agent who is working as a mall security guard who keeps finding things taken from him, including his wife, his dog and his daughter’s virtue.
With the help of his elderly mother, also a former agency operative, he battles his nemesis to free his family as well as a pound of dogs threatened with annihilation.
The cast includes Lee Tergesen of “Oz” fame, Reno Wilson and Margaret Cho, with cameos by Donnie Wahlberg, Jenny McCarthy, Ethan Suplee and Lukas Haas.
Technical aspects: Widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH and closed-captioned subtitles.
Don’t miss: A behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes and a Cribs spoof with Wilson comprise the major supplemental offerings.

The Pact 2 (Blu-ray)
Details: 2013, IFC Films-MPI Media Group
Rated: Not rated, graphic violence, disturbing images
The lowdown: This sequel finds a copycat of the Judas Killer on the loose while, at the same time, June Abbott (Camilla Luddington) is having horrible nightmares after her encounter weeks earlier with the original killer.
She is shocked to learn her nightmares mirror the new murders, so she sets out on an investigation of her own to learn the truth about what is happening.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette is the major supplemental presentation.

For the Emperor (Blu-ray)
Details: 2014, Well Go USA Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A Korean crime thriller about a former baseball player who goes to work for a loan shark and quickly rises through the ranks.
But when the woman for whom he has taken an interest, disappears, he finds himself in a deadly duel of wits with his mentor.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 16×9 widescreen picture; Korean 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio stereo surround; English subtitles.

Absolution (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2014, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: R, graphic and bloody violence, language, drug use
The lowdown: Steven Seagal stars in this action thriller as a contract killer for the government who decides to protect a girl on the run from a mob boss with political ties.
Vinnie Jones plays the ruthless boss who wants the girl dead. As usual in Seagal films, the action is explosive.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.78:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH, English and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: The featured extras include a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, interviews with cast members and a commentary track.

Alien Outpost (Blu-ray)
Details: 2015, IFC Midnight-Scream Factory
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A science fiction thriller that centers on a military operating base established after the forces of Earth defeated an alien invaders known as the Heavies.
A documentary crew is sent to record life at Outpost 37, which is under the heaviest bombardment from Heavies left behind after their defeat.
When a soldier disappears, a raid is launched deep into enemy territory, where a horrifying discovery is made.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus materials include cast and filmmaker interviews, deleted scenes and a commentary track.

The Road Within (Blu-ray)
Details: 2014, Well Go USA Entertainment
Rated: R, sexual content, nudity, language, drug use
The lowdown: A young man with Tourette’s Syndrome is coming to terms with the death of his mother as well as living in a behavioral facility.
With the help of two friends and a stolen car, however, the three begin a memorable road trip that will help shape and change their lives forever. The movie features strong performances by Robert Sheehan, Dev Patel and Zoe Kravitz, with support from Robert Patrick and Kyra Sedgwick.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 16:9 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master audio stereo surround; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Deleted scenes, a music video and cast and filmmaker interviews comprise the major bonus features.

Other Blu-rays and DVDs being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Dark Summer (Blu-ray) (Scream Factory-IFC Midnight)
The Encore of Tony Duran (Cinedigm)
Fight of the Living Dead (Cinedigm-Flatiron Film Co.)
Mutant Planet: Season 2 (Cinedigm)
No Way Jose (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Touched by an Angel: Amazing Grace (CBS DVD-Paramount Home Entertainment)
Teen Beach 2 (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, June 26)
Graceland: The Complete Season 2 (Fox Home Entertainment, June 23)
All American Bully (Wild Eye Releasing, June 23)
FOR KIDS
Monster High: Scaris: City of Frights (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Nickelodeon Bunch of Play Dates (Nickelodeon-Paramount Home Entertainment)
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Season 2 (Cinedigm-Flatiron Film Co.)

Coming next week: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. He reviews movies, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com. You also can follow Bloom on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. Movie reviews by Bloom also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

  • ReelBob

    Share your opinions on these new releases on Blu-ray and DVD at ReelBob.