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Published: Thursday, 5/3/2012

DVD REVIEWS

Carano dazzles in kick-butt 'Haywire' debut

BY RICH HELDENFELS
AKRON BEACON JOURNAL
Gina Carano is shown in a scene from 'Haywire.' Gina Carano is shown in a scene from 'Haywire.'
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

When Haywire hit theaters in January, the action-movie lover in me was drawn not only to its fight scenes but also to the refreshing way it did not feel the need to be big and loud.

As I said at the time, it's the sort of movie in which people run at a realistic pace, and for long stretches, and where the big action moments can involve fists and handguns. While something as huge as Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol has its considerable pleasures, Haywire proves that you can be fun on a smaller scale, especially with an interesting story and a charismatic star.

While it did not do much at the box office, you should give it a try on video (Lionsgate, $29.99 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray/digital copy combo). Written by Lem Dobbs and directed by Steven Soderbergh, it stars Gina Carano, a former mixed martial arts competitor, as Mallory Kane, an ex-Marine involved in dirty undercover jobs for a private company. She's an impressive, and convincing, center of a movie with a considerable supporting cast including Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender.

Extras include a look at Carano's training and at "the men of Haywire."

RELATED ARTICLE: Classic musical 'Camelot' makes Blu-ray debut

Madonna's latest recording, "MDNA," has been steadily falling down the Billboard rankings -- but at least managed to debut in the top slot before its slide. Her latest film-directing effort, with the ungainly title W./E., did not even have that momentary pleasure, showing in few theaters and getting reviews that were overwhelmingly negative, according to the Rotten Tomatoes Web site.

The film, also co-written by Madonna, follows the notorious romance of Wallis Warfield Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) and the man who became King Edward VIII (James D'Arcy) before giving up the throne to marry the divorced Simpson. Anchor Bay thinks there is an audience for the film, out on DVD ($29.98) and Blu-ray/digital combo ($39.99). Of course, that audience might consist of people who believe reviewers simply hate Madonna and those who love anything Madonna-branded; the video extra is a making-of piece "featuring Madonna," as the package somewhat plaintively declares.

Or it might appeal to compulsive buyers of anything tied to the British royals. If you want to see this story told well, look for the fine miniseries Edward & Mrs. Simpson, which is also on DVD.

Edward & Mrs. Simpson first aired in 1978, and another new video offering reaches back to the '80s and '90s. That's the A Woman of Substance Trilogy (Acorn, $39.99 DVD), a compilation of adaptations of Barbara Taylor Bradford's books: A Woman of Substance (1985), Hold the Dream (1986), and To Be the Best (1992). Hold the Dream is also noteworthy for being the last screen appearance by Deborah Kerr, who was also in A Woman of Substance.

The package also includes an hourlong interview with Bradford.

As for titles new to Blu-ray, Sony has brought Men in Black II to that format ($19.99) as well as reissuing the original Men in Black on Blu-ray for the same price. Both releases include digital downloads and discount-ticket offers for the upcoming Men in Black 3.

Down the road

The War, the World War II documentary series from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, will make its Blu-ray debut May 15, just ahead of repeat airings on PBS. A week before that, Warner Home Video will release the CNN series Cold War on DVD. Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The Seventh Year will be on DVD on June 26. Steve Martin's Father of the Bride and its sequel will be on Blu-ray on May 15.



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