Filed under: Movies & TVIt's a light but worthwhile week for New DVD Releases. It's all BBC to begin things: first, the brilliant BBC series Human Planet, capturing the amazing capacities for humans to adapt and survive in dozens of environments around the globe; then, the BBC updating of the beloved television series Upstairs Downstairs, which chronicles the lives of 1930s aristocrats and their servants in an England perched on the edge of war. Then, two duds: the latest installment in the Sniper franchise finds Billy Zane reprising his role from the 1993 film; and Cuba Gooding Jr. and Christian Slater team up to save a young girl in the low budget thriller Sacrifice. Come back again next Tuesday for another round of New DVD Releases!
BBC and directors Mark Flowers and Nicolas Brown present a magnificent eight-part miniseries exploring humankind's often astonishing fight for survival in some of the most inhospitable and challenging environments the Earth has to offer. Human Planet: The Complete Series (Starting at $26.99: Up to 32% in Savings) visits 8 different exotic and dangerous locations around the globe--Oceans, the Arctic, deserts, jungles, grasslands, mountains, rivers, and finally, the most exotic of all, cities. Narrated by John Hurt, the amazing series views humans in their struggles against nature, mostly forgoing commentary about human exploitation of animals or resources and instead focusing on the practical needs of many people around the world. For example, the hunt of sperm whales by Indonesian villagers poses as much peril to the fishers in their rickety boats as it does the massive whales, whom the villagers depends upon for sustenance. In other episodes, a teenage shepherd outruns bull elephants to a watering hole in Mali, children cross treacherous ice in the Himalayas just to go to school, Laotian fisherman precariously balance on self-strung wires over the rushing Mekong River, and three men battle 15 lions for food. Lest we forget, cities represent some fascinating challenges for survival too, from thieving macaque monkeys in Jaipur, to the perils of fast food in New York City. Some of the technical wizardry to capture the film--shown in beautiful 1080 16/9 HD--is nearly as impressive as the plights of the subjects. Younger children may be shocked by the realistic gore of hunting, but all other ages should consider this epic series a must-watch, to truly understand the sublime ability of humans to thrive on this beautiful but sometimes deadly planet. Get it Now on Aol Shopping.
Love The King's Speech? Enter deeper into the world of 1930s England with the BBC revival of the beloved 1970s that broke ground in contrasting the lifestyles of the rich with those of the servants that kept their households afloat. Upstairs Downstairs (Starting at $24.91: Up to 29% in Savings) is a three-part mini-series that serves as a sequel to the long-running television serial. It's 1936 England, shortly after the death of George V. As newly-crowned King Edward courts scandal with an American divorcee, and fascism rises in Germany along with firebrand upstart Adolf Hitler, newlywed nobles Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard) and Lady Agnes (Keely Hawes) are looking to move into the modern age in their lavish home at 165 Easton Place. They become embroiled in domestic drama, however, with the arrival of Hallam's eccentric and intrusive mother Maud (Eileen Atkins) and her pet monkey, as well as Agnes' sister Lady Persephone (Claire Foy), who is dabbling with both fascism and a German official named Ribbentrop (Edward Baker-Duly). Agnes privately struggles with trying to bear Hallam a child, while Hallam's morals are tested by his political duties. Meanwhile, ex-housekeeper Rose Buck (Jean Marsh) is put in charge of the household, proving her mettle as she hold things together with the help of butler Pritchard (Adrian Scarborough), head chef Thackeray (Anne Reid), maid Ivy (Ellie Kendrick), and footman Johnny (Nico Mirallego). Amanjit (Art Malik), Maud's secretary, goes both upstairs and downstairs, viewing the equal challenges but very different worlds of the masters and their servants. Get it Now on Aol Shopping.
And now for something just a little different. I bet you were wondering where the Sniper franchise was gonna next, right? I know I wasn't. Well, the 1993 film starring Tom Berenger as sniper Thomas Beckett spawned a couple of sequels, and rumors are that John Cena will star in a reboot of the franchise next summer. While you wait in breathless anticipation, catch up on the original's other main character in Sniper: Reloaded (Starting at $18.99: Up to 24% in Savings). Beckett's son Brandon (Chad Michael Collins), a Marine Sergeant, is working with the UN in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Beckett and his unit are dispatched to a farm owned by a European that lies directly in the path of enemy rebel forces. Upon arrival, they are immediately ambushed by a deadly sniper, who seriously wounds Beckett and kills every other member of his team. Realizing that he's been set up, and that the assassin will stop at nothing to finish the job, Beckett seeks out his father's former partner and protege Richard Miller (Billy Zane, reprising his role from the original), who is now a respected sniper trainer in his own right. Beckett must learn the ways of the sniper--passed down from his father-- in order to track down and kill the mysterious assassin. Along the way, he uncovers details of a dark conspiracy that will make his job even more deadly. Get it Now on Aol Shopping.
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Christian Slater might be available for your next student film, judging by their participation in this mess. Sacrifice (Starting at $12.99: Up to 55% in Savings) finds undercover cop John Hebron (Gooding Jr.) haunted by the death of his wife and child at the hands of a criminal. He seeks help and forgiveness from a cussing, hard-drinking but helpful priest named Father Porter (Slater), who is having his own problems after thieves make away with a precious relic from the church. But the lives of both men are changed forever when a defector from a deadly heroin ring named Mike (Devon Bostwick) leaves his little sister in their care. Now Hebron must forgive himself and move into action to protect her, as a vicious killer named Arment (Kim Coates) is out for blood. Get it Now on Aol Shopping.