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posted: 7/13/2013 5:40 AM

DVD previews: '42,' 'Bullet to the Head'

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  • Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford, right) integrates the Brooklyn Dodgers by hiring Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) in "42."

    Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford, right) integrates the Brooklyn Dodgers by hiring Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) in "42."


Here's a look at DVDs coming out Tuesday, July 16:

"42" (PG-13, 127 minutes, Warner): Brian Helgeland has succeeded in "42," a soaring portrayal of Jackie Robinson's entry into Major League Baseball in 1947. Anchored by a quietly compelling lead performance by Chadwick Boseman, "42" begins in 1945, when Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) decides to integrate the team. Rickey settles on Robinson, a gifted athlete from California with an impressive record in the Negro leagues. The film is suffused with the casual racism of the era and captures Robinson as a character whose meaning and power is primarily existential. It was his very being around which the vortex swirled -- a vortex of defiance, pride, pathological racism and, finally, awe. Filmed with the gauzy, nostalgic light of an American summer and insistently underlined by Mark Isham's overwrought, Copland-esque orchestral score, "42" is unapologetically corny, but it never succumbs to offensive condescension. By the time PeeWee Reese (Lucas Black) famously puts his arm around Robinson during a game in Cincinnati, "42" has taken on undeniable momentum as a quintessential story of American aspiration. Thanks to transitional figures like Robinson, we've always been the home of the brave. To be the land of the free, the film suggests, we all need to step up to the plate. Contains thematic elements, including racial epithets and profanity. DVD extras: "Stepping into History" featurette. Also, on Blu-ray: "Full-Contact Baseball" and "The Legacy of the Number 42."

"Bullet to the Head" (R, 92 minutes, Warner): Directed by action veteran Walter Hill, this nasty, pulpy adaptation of the graphic novel plays it straight when it should wink and careens into chaotic, unimaginative mayhem when it should go long on style. Sylvester Stallone's Jimmy "Bobo" Bonomo is a snarly, sneering vigilante, who in this case is working as a New Orleans hit man when his partner unexpectedly gets knifed in a bar. Soon, a Washington detective named Kwon (Sung Kang) arrives on the scene, investigating the murder of his partner. Elements like story and dialogue are only pesky details to be dispensed with in between the real deliverables: fistfights, knife fights, gunfights, ax fights and one explosive showdown at the catfish corral that whet the filmmakers' insatiable appetite for figuring out new ways for people to brutalize one another. "Bullet to the Head" exposes that bravado for the pose that it is, and it's not a good look. Contains strong violence, bloody images, profanity, some nudity and brief drug use. Extras: "Bullet to the Head: Mayhem Inc." featurette.

Also: "Evil Dead," "Letters From Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson" (documentary from Major League Baseball Productions), "An Affair of the Heart" (documentary on Grammy-winning songwriter and actor Rick Springfield), "Joanna Lumley's Nile" (cheeky travelogue from half of the iconic duo from "Absolutely Fabulous," Athena), "Bidder 70," "Bert Stern: Original Mad Man," "Bill Moyers: On the Hudson -- America's First River" (2002, PBS documentary, Athena), "Erased," "Lord of the Flies" (1963, The Criterion Collection), "White Frog," "American Courtesans," "Arthur Stands Up to Bullying" (PBS), "The Definitive Guide to the Mob" (History Channel), "The Good Life," "Tom and Jerry: No Mice Allowed!" and "The Life After Death Project 1 and 2" (Syfy Channel).

Television Series: "Doctor Who -- The Doctors Revisited: One-Four" (1963-1981, 50th anniversary of the enduring science fiction show; BBC Home Entertainment), "Combat!: The Complete Fourth Season," "Matlock: The Ninth & Final Season" (1994-95), "Damages: The Final Season," "Endeavour Series 1" (PBS), "George Lopez: The Complete Third Season," "Misfits: Season Three" (BBC), "Orphan Black: Season One" (BBC), "Hell on Wheels: The Complete Second Season," "America's Test Kitchen: Season 13" (PBS), "Dinosaur Train: Nature Trackers" (PBS), "Caillou: Big Kid Caillou" (PBS), "Power Rangers Samurai: The Ultimate Duel -- Volume 5," "The Smurfs: Smurfs to the Rescue!," "Super Why!: Hansel & Gretel: A Healthy Adventure" (PBS), "Alphas: Season Two" and "Femme Fatales: The Complete Second Season."

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