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posted: 2/2/2013 4:00 AM

DVD previews: 'Flight,' 'Alex Cross'

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  • Denzel Washington portrays airline pilot Whip Whitaker in the drama "Flight."

      Denzel Washington portrays airline pilot Whip Whitaker in the drama "Flight."

 
The Washington Post

Coming Feb. 5

"Flight" (R, 138 minutes, Paramount): With nerve-wracking authenticity, director Robert Zemeckis puts viewers on board the routine 52-minute short hop that will have life-changing repercussions for ace pilot Whip Whitaker. Portrayed by DenzelWashington with his characteristic somber focus, Whip is introduced in the film's opening sequences waking up after a night of hard partying. Just another day at the office, until turbulence and a defective plane send Whip, his crew and his passengers on a spectacularly terrifying controlled dive from which the pilot will emerge a hero. Only a handful of people know that he's a sullied Sullenberger. The twist is that the arrogance and illusion of invulnerability that could keep him from saving his own life are the very qualities that help make him an excellent pilot. Zemeckis reins in the story's potential for moralizing and melodrama, instead delivering a refreshingly sophisticated, mature human drama. Contains drug and alcohol abuse, profanity, sexuality, nudity and an intense action sequence. Extras: behind-the-scenes and making-of featurettes; "Anatomy of a Plane Crash" featurette; cast Q&A highlights.

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"Alex Cross" (PG-13, 102 minutes, Lionsgate): Does Tyler Perry carry it off? Sort of. As novelist James Patterson's beloved detective/forensic psychologist Alex Cross, Perry has a tall order to fill. Not only must he banish all thoughts of Morgan Freeman, who portrayed the character in earlier films, but he also must shake his association with Madea, the over-the-top drag role for which Perry is best known. Over the course of "Alex Cross," which follows the detective's pursuit of a psychopathic assassin who has killed Cross' wife, our hero turns into a morally dubious avenging angel. "Alex Cross" is surprisingly violent. Contains brief crude language, gunplay, torture, violence, drug references and sex. Extras: commentary with director Rob Cohen, "The Psychologist and the Butcher: Adapting and Filming Alex Cross" featurette, deleted scenes.

"Here Comes the Boom" (PG, 105 minutes): Kevin James plays Scott Voss, a Boston biology teacher who comes to the aid of the school's gentle music instructor, Marty Streb (Henry Winkler), when the board tries to cut extracurricular activities -- band included. So the former wrestler looks into MMA, where the loser of a bout can bank$10,000. For the most part, "Boom" lazily follows Adam Sandler's proven recipe for box-office success. Safe, predictable director Frank Coraci does the bare minimum. Sandler holdovers Winkler and "Grown Ups" beauty Salma Hayek waltz through the motions while contributing next to nothing. Because of James, however, "Boom" isn't a total bust. The genial entertainer remains as likable as a slobbering puppy dog. But what's missing is the bizarre touch of eccentric humor Sandler often lets creep into his comedies. By comparison, "Boom" comes off as bland; it needed to land a knockout blow. Contains some rude humor, language and bouts of combat sports violence. Extras: deleted scenes, gag reel, "Here Comes the Cast" featurette. Also, on Blu-ray: five more featurettes, including "Learning How to Fight" and "Gino vs. Richie."

"Celeste and Jesse Forever" (R, 91 minutes, Sony): This romantic comedy aspires to be an ode to unresolved feelings, an equal parts wistful and antic exploration of messy, contradictory relationships. What it turns into is another film in which attractive, ambitious young women are punished for not accepting the man-children in their lives despite their torn-teddy-bear flaws. In this case, the woman being hung out to cry is Celeste (Rashida Jones), a bright market researcher whose relationship with Jesse (Andy Samberg) plays out in the course of the film's opening credits. They share the kind of cutesy-poo intimacy that irks their single friends. But, well ... it's complicated. The film's most promising story line involves a budding friendship between Celeste and one of her marketing clients. But that relationship, like the film itself, falters, as "Celeste and Jesse Forever" engages in Bridget Jones-like comedy of mortification, sending its heroine down a path of self-discovery that ultimately seems more cruel than revelatory. Contains drug use, profanity and sexual content. Extras: commentary with Jones and Samberg; commentary with co-writers Jones and Will McCormack and director Lee Toland Krieger; making-of featurette, deleted scenes; "On the Red Carpet: Premiere and Q&A."

Also: "A Late Quartet," "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel," "The Bouquet," "Paul Williams: Still Alive," "A Perfect Ending," "Little White Lies" (France), "My Worst Nightmare" (France), "Omnibus: Gene Kelly -- Dancing: A Man's Game" (1958, Golden Age of Television episode hosted by Alistair Cooke), "Tyler Perry's Madea Gets a Job," "So Undercover," "The Solomon Bunch" (Dove-approved family film), "The Coalition," "Deadfall," "The Battle of Narayama" (1958, Japan, Criterion Collection), "Back Then," "The Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collections: Musicals" (20-film set commemorating the studio's 90th anniversary), "The Whole Truth," "Celebrate With Clifford," "Baby Geniuses and the Mystery of the Crown Jewels," "Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth With Bill Moyers -- 25th Anniversary Edition" and "Spirit of the Church: A Celebration of Black Gospel Music (Vol. 1) ."

Television series: "Cougar Town: The Complete Third Season," "Southland: The Complete Second, Third and Fourth Seasons," "Animaniacs Volume 4" (1993-98), "House of Cards Trilogy" (1990, BBC), "Above Suspicion Set 2" and "Ben 10 Omniverse: A New Beginning -- Vol. 1."

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