New Releases: ‘Side Effects,’ ‘Beautiful Creatures’ and more

Side Effects

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns don’t really try to reinvent the psychological thriller with their film. Structurally, it’s a conventionally twisty mystery, with Jude Law playing a psychiatrist who goes into investigative mode when one of his patients (Rooney Mara) commits a heinous crime. But Soderbergh and Burns do strike an appealingly low-key tone here, not even tipping their hands that the movie is a genre piece until the second half. They’re more interested in the culture of pills and palliatives that Law inhabits, and how it’s convinced everyone — doctors and patients and loved ones alike — that the right combination of medicine and therapies can fix anything. It’s a pointed film but no less entertaining for the dose of social commentary. The DVD and Blu-ray tack on a tongue-in-cheek three-minute featurette, and several fake pharmaceutical commercials.

Beautiful Creatures

Warner Bros., $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

FULL COVERAGE: Summer sneaks

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s young-adult fantasy bestseller is about a small-town South Carolina teen who has a crush on the new girl in school, who turns out to be a practicing magician with an evil side. Writer-director Richard LaGravenese adapts the book — the first of Garcia and Stohl’s “Caster Chronicles” — with Alice Englert as the young witch and Alden Ehrenreich as the boy who’s more connected to her history than he initially realizes. LaGravenese is an old pro who knows how to put a movie together, but he can’t keep “Beautiful Creatures” from feeling soft and slow. Like “Twilight,” this comes across as gothic horror romance with training wheels. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes and featurettes.


The Last Stand

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

Two behind-the-scenes story lines distinguish this action movie. To some, the big news here is the return of ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing a small-town sheriff who finds himself in crisis mode when a fugitive drug lord and his gang roll in. But cineastes will be more interested in “The Last Stand “as the Hollywood directing debut of Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon, whose movies “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” and “I Saw The Devil” have been among the most stylish and exciting in world cinema over the past half-decade. As a Schwarzenegger movie, “The Last Stand” is pretty refreshing: a neo-western with a healthy dollop of wit. But it’s a lesser film for Kim, with too many stock stand-offs and too much toning down of his signature flash. The DVD and Blu-ray come with a trio of behind-the-scenes featurettes.


Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

Donald Westlake’s antihero has appeared in a series of pulp novels and also in multiple movies — but always under such other names as Walker in 1967’s “Point Blank” and Porter in 1999’s “Payback.” Now Jason Statham plays Parker as Parker in “Parker,” an adaptation of the book “Flashfire,” in which Parker works in Palm Beach. Jennifer Lopez plays a down-on-her-luck real-estate agent who gets drawn into the action and humanizes the antihero by commenting on his typically chilly demeanor. Director Taylor Hackford and screenwriter John J. McLaughlin capture some of what makes the Parker books special, but there’s a precision to Westlake’s prose that gets lost when the action-movie clichés ramp up. Hackford provides a commentary track to the DVD and Blu-ray, which also include featurettes.


The ABCs of Death

Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Medium Cool

Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray. $39.95

Stand Up Guys

Lionsgate, $27.98; Blu-ray, $39.99


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