New on DVD: ‘Winter’s Tale,’ ‘300: Rise of an Empire’

New DVD releases offer looks at love, life and death.

”Winter’s Tale” Grade A: A man and woman discover a love that can last the ages. Colin Farrell stars.

Countless movies have tried — and failed — to portray the beauty and wonder of love. So when a movie like “Winter’s Tale” comes along that has such sweetness and grandeur, it becomes a treasure to share. It’s simply one of the most endearing and touching romances to grace the silver screen in years.

The heart of “Winter’s Tale” is the magnificent story Mark Helprin penned in the original 1983 novel that is lovingly brought to the screen through Akiva Goldsman’s screenplay. This is a story about love that shows it can be as vast as the stars in the sky and as intimate as a twinkle of starlight.

“Winter’s Tale” combines a superb cast with an even more impressive story to make a film that is easy to love.

”300: Rise of an Empire” Grade D-plus: When “300” was released in 2007, the story of the ferocious Battle of Thermopylae was a visual masterpiece created with bold cinematic brushstrokes, fearless visual design and strong depiction of violence by director Zack Snyder. The depiction of the graphic novel by Frank Miller, the man behind the stylish “Sin City,” was original, fresh and memorable. The sequel is none of those things.

Directed by Noam Murro, the film is a cheap copy that no longer has an edge. It comes across as nothing more than a trite and cliched effort. Even the tidal waves of blood that accompany each vicious sword cut no longer look artistic and feel more like overkill.

”Some Velvet Morning” Grade B-minus: Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve star in what is little more than a two-person play. This kind of limited cast and sets only works if the actors are worth watching. That’s the case here.

Also new on DVD:

“Star Trek: The Next Generation”: Includes 26 episodes remastered into high-definition.

“NYPD Blue: Season Six”: Rick Schroder joins the cast of the TV police drama.

“Mama’s Family: The Complete Fourth Season”: Vicki Lawrence stars in the TV comedy.

“Masters of Sex: The First Season”: Showtime series about the work of Masters and Johnson.

“I Spy: The Complete Series”: Contains all 82 episodes of the series starring Bill Cosby and Robert Culp.

“Two Lives”: Woman’s life will be ruined if the secrets she has been keeping are revealed.

“Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me”: Documentary tribute to the veteran performer.

“$ellebrity”: Look at America’s intense fascination with celebrity culture.

“Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Magical Sleepover”: Gang gets involved in a soccer match.

“American Masters: Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun”: Dance documentary on the principal dancer with the New York City Ballet.

“Star Trek: The Next Generation – Chain of Command”: Two-part episode where the Cardassians torture Picard.

“Blood Ties”: Brothers take very different paths. Clive Owen stars.

“Unforgettable: The Second Season”: CBS crime drama starring Poppy Montgomery.

“Enemy”: Glum professor takes on two lives.

“Jack Taylor, Set 2”: Series based on the crime fiction by Ken Bruen.

“The Boondocks: The Complete Series”: Includes 55 uncensored episodes in 11-disc set.

“Comedy Bang! Bang!: The Complete Second Season”: Includes all 20 episodes.

&Copy;2014 The Fresno Bee

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