Out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week: Sci-fi space station action, romance during the end of the world (comedy and drama variations), the classic Body Snatchers, plus the final seasons of Eureka and Sanctuary and the premiere run of Alphas.
Unlike some other movies coming out this season it's not huge, world-changing, deep, painfully earnest, or all that original, but Luc Besson's Lockout isn't trying to be any of those things. It wants to be a straightforward, tense, well-constructed sci-fi action movie, and in that endeavor it succeeds.
Formats: Blu-Ray and DVD, both Unrated.
The story: A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president's daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates.
Starring: Guy Pearce (Snow), Maggie Grace (Emilie Warnock), Vincent Regan (Alex), Joseph Gilgun (Hydell), Lennie James (Shaw), Peter Stormare (Langral), Jacky Ido (Hock), Tim Plester (Mace), Mark Tankersley (Barnes), Anne-Solenne Hatte (Kathryn), Peter Hudson (President Warnock), Nick Hardin (Hostage Negotiator), Dan Savier (Duke), Damijan Oklopdzic (Slick).
Directed by: James Mather and Stephen St. Leger.
Features: Breaking Into Lockout (1080p, 11:07); A Vision of the Future (1080p, 10:13); Previews; UV Digital Copy.
There was no point in waiting: with season 6 scrapped and the series canceled, Syfy slated the final-season DVD for the day after the series finale. As is often the case with Eureka, watching the episodes as a season rather than one-by-one brings out the longer story arcs as well (as the more cumbersome plot-mechanics).
Formats: 3-disc DVD.
The story: They can bend the laws of nature. They can push science to the absolute limit. But there's one force they can't change: their destiny. Return to the small town with big secrets as the geniuses of Eureka venture beyond everything they've ever known in the fifth and final season of one of TV's most beloved shows. From searching for the lost Astraeus crew to experiencing a disaster drill that proves all too real, it's anything but life as usual in the seemingly idyllic town. And as the final moments tick by, one question looms large for everyone: will Eureka be shut down for good?
Starring: Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Joe Morton, Erica Cerra, Niall Matter, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Tembi Locke, Chris Gauthier.
Produced by: Jaime Paglia.
Features: Holiday Episode: Do You See What I See?; Gag Reel; Deleted and Extended Scenes; Anatomy of an Episode: Jack of All Trades; Ode to Carl the Jeep; "This Song Is on the House"; A Fond Farewell; Just Another Day...: Commentary with Co-Creator/Executive Producer Jaime Paglia and Executive Producers Bruce Miller and Todd Sharp; And More.
It wears its remit--low-cost Heroes with a bit more police procedural--on its sleeve, but the emphasis on being about the characters' struggles rather than the weekly plots or the legend arc gives Alphas room to breathe and grow. It should start the growing thing any time now.
Formats: 3-disc DVD.
The story: Brought together to form one extraordinary team of “Alphas” – people whose unique brain anomalies imbue them with superhuman mental and physical abilities – five seemingly ordinary citizens must take the law into their own hands while working within the government to investigate a new brand of baffling crime.
Starring: David Strathairn, Malik Yoba, Ryan Cartwright, Laura Mennell, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Warren Christie, Azita Ghanizada, Lindsay Wagner, Summer Glau, Brent Spiner.
Produced by: Zak Penn.
Features: Pilot Extended Version; Deleted Scenes; Alphas at Comic-Con 2011; Alphas: Fan Q & A.
Sigh. Yet another cancelled Syfy series that's considerably better than what the network is still showing (see above). Season 4, though a bit of a jumble in terms of plot tangents, is risk-taking, top-flight sci-fi TV, and in some ways the best yet from a great and underrated series.
Formats: Blu-Ray and DVD, both 4 discs.
The story: Now that her allies have turned against her, the enigmatic Dr. Helen Magnus must make up her own rules in order to continue the Sanctuary team’s quest: to track down, study and protect the monstrous creatures that secretly live among us.
Starring: Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne, Christopher Heyerdahl, Ryan Robbins, Agam Darshi.
Directed by: Martin Wood.
Features: Commentaries by Cast and Crew: Uprising: Amanda Tapping, Martin Wood; Chimera: Martin Wood, Ian Tracy, Lee Wilson; The Depths: Martin Wood, Amanda Tapping, Gillian Horvath; Sanctuary For None, Part 1: Damian Kindler, Ryan Robbins, Robin Dunne; Sanctuary For None, Part 2: Damian Kindler, Ryan Robbins, Robin Dunne; Amanda Cam; 'Tempus' – Behind the Scenes; Robin Dunne Directs 'Homecoming'; 'Fugue' – Making a Musical; Gag Reel; Deleted Scenes; Sanctuary for Kids.
Rather less of a romantic comedy the Steve Carell version, this look at two people facing the end of New York (and the world) is told in a verite style that benefits from Ferrara's documentary experience--and Willem Dafoe's incredible face.
Formats: Blu-Ray and DVD.
The story: In a large apartment high above the city lives our couple. They’re in love. She’s a painter, he’s a successful actor. Just a normal afternoon - except that this isn’t a normal afternoon, for them or anyone else. Because tomorrow, at 4:44 am, give or take a few seconds, the world will come to an end far more rapidly than even the worst doomsayer could have imagined. The final meltdown will come not without warnings, but with no means of escape. There will be no survivors. As always, there are those who, as their last cigarette is being lit and the blindfold tightened, will still hope against hope for some kind of reprieve. For a miracle. Not our two lovers. They - like the majority of the Earth’s population - have accepted their fate: the world is going to end.
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Paz de la Huerta, Natasha Lyonne, Shanyn Leigh, Paul Hipp, Selena Mars.
Directed by: Abel Ferrara.
Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) wrote, directed, and produced this smart take on that classic comedic situation: how to make headway with a girl you like while there's an alien invasion going on and the girl's boyfriend is about to find out about you.
The story: The sudden appearance of an enormous flying saucer over the Spanish capital of Madrid causes a plethora of problems for four people cooped up in a small urban apartment in this dark comedy-drama from director Nacho Vigalondo. The sunlight shining through the windows but the streets eerily silent, Julio and Julia are attempting to navigate the awkward aftermath of a drunken one-night stand when they notice a massive U.F.O. hovering ominously over the city.
Starring: Julian Villagran, Michelle Jenner, Raul Cimas, Carlos Areces.
Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo.
Features: Making-Of Featurette; Director''s Short Films; International Poster Gallery.
Beautiful, startling, and essential. Though it's been excellently restored for home video, there are no commentaries or features accompanying the film--but don't let that stop you.
Formats: Blu-Ray and DVD.
The story: A couple discover that plant-life pods from space are replacing ordinary citizens.
Starring: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Carolyn Jones, Larry Cates, King Donovan, Jean Willes, Ralph Dumke, Virginia Christine.
Directed by: Don Siegel.
Most cheap disaster movies are not worth watching even for the camp value or the painful come-downs of its has-been cast, but this one is a step up, relative to what you normally see with made-for-Syfy junk.
Formats: Blu-Ray and DVD.
The story: It begins with massive earthquakes. The Black Sea disappearing into the earth. Vast chasms spreading into populated areas. And the worst is still to come! Will the alignment of our solar system with the galactic equator lead to a globally cataclysmic disaster, or just a whole lot of creepy visions, shocking chaos and awesome destruction?
Starring: Alan Dale, Jewel Staite, A.J. Buckley, Gordon Tootoosis, Matthew Kevin Anderson, Rick Ravanello, Bruce Ramsay, Hiro Kanagawa.
Directed by: Jason Bourque.
Features: 'Doomsday Prophecy': The Stories Are True (1080p, 21:33).