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posted: 8/17/2013 6:00 AM

DVD previews: 'Epic'

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  • Mub the slug (Aziz Ansar) lets his feelings be known to MK (Amanda Seyfried) in the animated "Epic," now on DVD.

      Mub the slug (Aziz Ansar) lets his feelings be known to MK (Amanda Seyfried) in the animated "Epic," now on DVD.

 
The Washington Post

Here is a look at DVDs coming out Tuesday, Aug. 20:

"Epic" (PG, 110 minutes, Fox): This CGI adventure, loosely based on children's author and illustrator William Joyce's eco-themed "The Leaf Men," might be guilty of overselling itself, just a bit. Joyce's 2001 story of the secret, teeming life of a garden had a charm similar to the author's earlier "George Shrinks," in that both books derived much of their enchantment from imagining what the world looks like if you're only an inch tall. Yet this film retains enough of the magic of the original to make it enormously visually appealing, even if the story itself is almost unrecognizably bloated. As in the book, the Leafmen are a race of bug-size soldiers who maintain the order and balance of the natural world. Riding saddled hummingbirds, they keep the forces of decay and rot -- embodied by creatures known as the Boggans -- at bay. But when Mandrake (voice of Christoph Waltz), the evil leader of the Boggans, attacks the Leafmen's queen (Beyoncé Knowles) and steals the magical flower bud containing the soul of her replacement, the Leafmen must fight to get it back before its power is perverted into poisoning all life. Contains cartoon violence, peril and death. Extras: Featurettes "Rot Rocks" and "Bugs of Camouflage," "Storybook Builder" mobile device application for an interactive experience and sharing. Also, on Blu-ray: "Birds, Bugs and Slugs: Forest Explorer" and "The Epic Life at Two Inches Tall" featurettes and "Mysteries of Moonhaven Revealed" with the filmmakers, artists and animators at Blue Sky studio. 3-D version also available.

"Amour" (PG-13, 127 minutes, in French with English subtitles, Sony): Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva play Georges and Anne, retired music teachers who lead a life of understated refinement in Paris. As "Amour" opens, Georges and Anne attend a piano recital, ending the evening in their well-appointed apartment. They're a "nation of two," as a poet once described marriage, secure in the companionable rhythms they've composed over decades of shared intimacy and tastes. Soon thereafter, things begin to fall apart, as a series of small slips launches the couple on an agonizing downward slide. Although their daughter (played by Isabelle Huppert) occasionally visits, it's clear that the couple have built their own tender, civilized bulwark that serves not only as a source of strength against the outside world, but also one of loneliness and, eventually, quiet desperation. One of the most painful things about "Amour" isn't just watching vibrancy give way to diapers, feedings and wordless moanings. It's how, for all their culture and cosmopolitanism, Georges and Anne have so few social resources to draw on, in the form of family or friends. Contains thematic material, including a disturbing act, and brief profanity. Extras: making-of featurette and Q&A with director Michael Haneke.

"Scary MoVie V" (PG-13, 85 minutes, Dimension Films/Anchor Bay Entertainment): This lazy, boring, vile and tragically unfunny attempt at a horror-film spoof is the kind of movie that leaves viewers wondering, "How on earth did this movie get made?" It's a series of snippets in which characters borrow from other movies, including "Mama," "Inception," "Black Swan" and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." "Scary MoVie V" doesn't put any kind of twist on these, so much as present them in some brainless context. A knock-knock joke told by a 6-year-old would be funnier than this endless stream of flatulence jokes and gratuitous vomiting. Contains crude language, brief nudity, sexual situations, allusions to drug use and gory, if obviously fake, violence. Extras: extended and deleted scenes.

"Hitting the Cycle" (unrated, 103 minutes, Monarch Home Entertainment): Drawing on his experience as a minor-league baseball player, J. Richey Nash wrote, directed and stars in this you-can't-go-home-again drama about a major-league slugger who tasted early success but is derailed by a knee injury and his inner demons. Events draw him home, and to a reckoning with his estranged, dying father (Bruce Dern). The film, which won awards at independent film festivals last year, is insider's look at the backstage of The Show and a timely exploration of how a four-hit wonder deals with an unfulfilled dream.

Also: "Shadow Dancer," "Rapture-Palooza," "Highland Park," "The Life of Muhammad" (PBS), "No Place on Earth," "The Dragon Pearl" (2011), "Free Angela and All Political Prisoners," "The Big City" (1963, The Criterion Collection), "Charulata" (1964, The Criterion Collection), "Post Tenebras Lux" (Mexico-France-Germany-Netherlands), "Evidence," "Spooks, Hoods & JFK: The Shocking Truth," "Stag," "Vampire," "Floating City" (Hong Kong), "Starzinger: The Movie Collection" (1978, Japan, animated films known "Spaceketeers" in the U.S.), "Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright" (animated) and British filmmaker Simon Rumley trilogy of "Strong Language" (2000), "The Truth Game" (2001) and "Club Le Monde" (2002).

Television Series: "Mike & Molly: The Complete Third Season," "Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season" (five-disc set, HBO), "Parenthood: Season 4," "Being Human: Season 5" (BBC), "The Best of American Pickers: Mike and Frank's Picks," "The Best of Pawn Stars: The Greatest Stories Ever Sold," "The Best of Storage Wars: Life in the Locker," and "Chuggington: Chug Patrol -- Ready to Rescue" (Disney Channel).

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