COUCH THEATER — DVD PREVIEWS

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Rochelle Ballantyne in “Brooklyn Castle”

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PICKS OF THE WEEK
A Good Day to Die Hard” (R) — In the fifth film in the “Die Hard” series, nothing good happens. Sure, there are explosions, car stunts and combat, but it all meshes into a soothing rhythm that lulls you to sleep. All the whooshing and blamming and dry chuckles amount to nothing but the churning of a washing machine — background noise for an afternoon nap. By the second act, you’ll be in a peaceful slumberland far away from stale plots, flat jokes and thoughtless screenwriting.

John McClane (Bruce Willis) hears that his son (Jai Courtney) is being sent to Russian prison and decides to look into the situation. You could have a better time by wandering into a garage sale and looking through stacks of VHS tapes to find the blandest, most slapdash ’80s action flick in the box.

“Warm Bodies” (PG-13) — This supernatural romantic comedy for young adults dares to make zombies loveable. After flesh-eating undead take over most of the world, love is still in the air. Enter R (Nicholas Hoult), a handsome youth-turned-zombie whose inner-monologue guides us through the movie. Turns out that being a zombie is a lot like floating through normal life. When R encounters a still-living girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer), his heart starts to beat again, and he’s able to suppress his urge to eat her brains.

So maybe it’s not the love story of a generation, but it’s a lot better than expected. With surprising wit and style, “Warm Bodies” rises above the predicted level of Twilight-but-with-zombies. Check it out if you have a strong stomach and you want to see something cute.

“Identity Thief” (R) — Diana (Melissa McCarthy) has a love of shopping, especially when she’s using somebody else’s name to run up the bills. Sandy (Jason Bateman) is the victim of Diana’s scheme, so it’s his credit she’s ruining. When Diana skips her court date, it’s Sandy’s name on the arrest warrant. So Sandy flies from his home in Denver to fetch Diana and sort things out — thinking she looks harmless enough. What follows is a mismatched-duo comedy with a few giggles here and there. Most of the humor is meant to be shock-laughs, but it’s not surprising enough to be shocking in most cases.

“Brooklyn Castle” (PG) — This documentary focuses on five chess champions who attend I.S. 138 in Brooklyn, N.Y., a school where almost 70 percent of students live below the poverty line. Where some schools have impeccable athletics programs with stunning records, this school develops students into talented competitive chess players. The film stunned audiences at festivals with its caring and up-close look at the lives of the teens — none of whom see chess as just a game.

TV RELEASES
“Breaking Bad — The Fifth Season”
“Falling Skies: The Complete Second Season”
“Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Third Season”
“Adventure Time: The Complete Second Season”
“Vexed: Series 2”

© 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.

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