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This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Jupiter Ascending, Focus, Spongebob


This Week: Sending some love to Jupiter Ascending, Spongebob resurfaces, and sad goodbyes to Justified and Parks & Recreation.

► There is so much weird, wonderful stuff going on in JUPITER ASCENDING, you’ll hardly mind it’s closer in spirit to ‘Flash Gordon’ than any of the numerous sci-fi classics The Wachowskis channel here, including their own ‘The Matrix.’ Mila Kunis plays a miserable cleaning woman saved from alien thugs by intergalactic soldier Channing Tatum, who gets around with a nifty pair of rocket boots. It seems Kunis is of royal blood and is the rightful heir to Earth. But she has family who plan to carry out the planet’s destiny – we’re all to be harvested for a ‘youth serum’ to keep the galaxy’s elite young. The story’s a bit of a cornball mess, though everyone – especially Eddie Redmayne as the worst of the three heirs – has fun camping it up. Watch for Terry Gilliam in a scene that winks at ‘Brazil.’ Like the Wachowskis’ previous flick, ‘Cloud Atlas,’ this was hammered at the box office. But its goofy charm and cult ambitions might give it a strong afterlife.

► For the caper flick FOCUS, Will Smith plays a master con man who falls for a novice crook (Margot Robbie), then breaks it off when things get serious. Three years later, while he’s in the midst of a huge scheme involving race cars, she resurfaces and threatens to mess up his elaborate plan. A fun enough comeback for Smith, who shows some of his ‘90s spark again. Bonus blu-ray stuff includes the ‘Masters of Misdirection’ featurette, alternate opening and deleted scenes.

► There’s no point to a grown-ass adult trying to describe the plot of a Spongebob Squarepants movie, so we’ll sum it up thusly: THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER comes 11 years after the yellow freak’s first movie, has Antonio Banderas as a pirate named Burger Beard, and unfortunately doesn’t have a David Hasselhoff cameo to give it that surreal extra kick. Fans were well served, though, pushing box office past the original (it’s still in this year’s Top 10).

► There isn’t a discussion of ‘best TV series ever’ that doesn’t include THE WIRE. For its blu-ray debut, the show has been remastered in high-def for the first time and - to the annoyance of many fans – episodes have been expanded from a 4:3 ratio to 16:9 (even show creator David Simon had some problems with this). Technical nit-picking aside, you will lose yourself in this classic the moment it starts. On the surface, it’s about Baltimore drug dealers and the cops trying to nail them. But it’s really about a hundred other things, all played out in shades of unforgiving grey. Season 4, in particular, is one of the most brilliant things ever seen on television and a perfect snapshot of modern-day United States. You’ll be drained, and blown away storytelling this incredible went virtually ignored when it was still on the air. Essential no matter what format you prefer. All extras form previous DVD releases are included, along with a new cast and crew Q & A.

► It started as a knock-off of ‘The Office’ hardly anyone watched, and ended as one of the best sitcoms of the past 20 years…which hardly anyone watched. But unlike ‘The Office,’ PARKS AND RECREATION went out on a glorious high note with an emotional and wholly satisfying 13-episode final season set three years after Season 6. In this strange new world, Leslie and Ron are enemies, Tom is finally a successful mogul, and Ben wins Man of the Year for putting Pawnee back on the map. The final episode jumps further ahead to show everyone’s fate (unlike ‘Six feet Under,’ you won’t be bawling), with a pitch perfect last glimpse of Leslie. A superb send-off which almost feels like the end of an era – network comedy is getting pretty desolate.

► And speaking of goodbyes, a moment, please, for JUSTIFIED. Through six seasons and 78 episodes, it never hit a lull and had some of the sharpest dialogue on TV. It ends as it should: One final throwdown between U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and his crafty nemesis Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). The finale is especially satisfying – give Goggins a damn Emmy already.

► The modern Disney sports movie has a simple formula: 1. Find an obscure but inspiring true story, 2. Crank up the sentiment while fudging a few facts, 3. Cast Kevin Costner. For McFARLAND USA, he’s an ex-football coach who builds a cross-country team from the troubled Latino kids at his high school. The template for these movies is pretty rigid – if you like one, you’ll like them all. Blu-ray includes Costner meeting with the real-life coach and runners of that 1987 team.

► Season 4 of the Steven Spielberg-produced FALLING SKIES finds the 2nd Mass returning home after an apparent big victory over the alien hordes, only to face a new weapon which splinters them. It ends with a trip into space to try and take out the aliens’ power core, setting up events for the upcoming fifth and final season, starting June 28.

Also out this week:







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