DVDs In Brief: August 15, 2012 
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DVDs In Brief: August 15, 2012 

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DVD round-up

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DVD round-up

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With all the potential of being the next Twilight phenomenon, pressure was on for the screen version of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) to deliver safely on the franchise—and director Gary Ross does that to a fault. Ross’ adaptation plays less like a movie than an illustrated abridgment, hitting all the major plot points without giving any of them a distinctive feel. Only “The Reaping,” a ceremony that sends two random young people to fight to the death in a dystopian bread-and-circuses spectacle, has much weight to it… 

Community fans rejoiced when their favorite low-rated cult comedy was renewed for an improbable fourth season, but their spirits were quickly dashed by the news that Dan Harmon, the show’s hands-on creator, would be replaced as showrunner. So it seems likely that Community: The Complete Third Season (Sony) will be the last “pure” season of the show, or at least the last one that reflects Harmon’s demented vision. Highlights include the alternate timelines of “Remedial Chaos Theory,” the brilliant Law & Order send-up of “Basic Lupine Urology,” and the 8-bit majesty of “Digital Estate Planning.” 

The Raid: Redemption (Sony) introduces audiences to “pencak silat,” the traditional Indonesian art of kicking all kinds of ass. Director Gareth Evans establishes the thinnest of thin dramatic premises—following a rookie officer who joins a raid against a building controlled by ganglord—and lets the punching and kicking commence. The emphasis here is on speed, with blisteringly fast fights that pause only for the audience’s applause… 

Given that Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s original Paradise Lost benefitted greatly from the real-life twist of witnessing a miscarriage of justice play out before their cameras, it’s entirely fitting that Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Docurama) should also be interrupted by a twist of fate—the sudden and unusual release of the West Memphis Three after 18 years and 78 days in prison.  It’s a poignant conclusion to a documentary series that helped fuel a larger movement to set them free… 

A reactionary actioner from the middle of the Reagan ’80s, Death Wish III (MGM), the sublimely insane second sequel to the 1974 vigilante hit, may be the ultimate you-kids-get-off-my-lawn movie, pitting Charles Bronson’s almost superhuman avenger against a band of troublemaking whippersnappers. The New York of Death Wish 3 is like a real-world The Warriors crossed with a paranoid right-wing small-towner’s vision of big-city menace: a gang-infected war zone, lorded over by the cast of Breakin’. It’s crazy, it’s violent, it’s altogether stupefying.

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