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The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, directed by Luc Besson (PG, 107 minutes)

Adapted from a 1970s-era French comic book, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, released in 2010, follows an intrepid pre-World War I novelist (Louise Bourgoin) on a mission to retrieve a sarcophagus in Egypt and haul it back to Western Europe, a task complicated by the efforts of her nemesis, an archaeologist named Dieuleveult (Mathieu Amalric) as well as various suitors, law enforcement officials, a pterodactyl and more.

Bourgoin has great spirit and a bright, flashy style that suits the genre, and Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Quantum of Solace) is always watchable. Still, even with big-budget French filmmaker Luc Besson at the helm (The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita), it’s clear that Americans tend to do a better job on this sort of cartoony fantasy than anybody else. But then, why wouldn’t we?

The two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes the film on Blu-ray and DVD as well as a digital co-py, a making-of featurette, a music featurette and deleted scenes. Subtitled.

Vanishing Waves (unrated, 124 minutes) Lithuanian director Kristina Bouzyte’s second feature, Vanishing Waves (her first was 2008’s The Collectress), is a bold mix of melodrama and hallucinatory imagery. It tells the story of Lukas (Marius Jampolskis), a researcher who volunteers for a sensory deprivation experiment that seeks to communicate with comatose Aurora (Jurga Jutaite).

The experiment brings the two together in mutually altered forms of consciousness. Soon, their psychic meetings turn into a sexually charged relationship set against the backdrop of surreal dream scapes created by the interplay of their minds.

The film is available in standard definition as a double-DVD through regular retail outlets.

Now You See Me (PG-13, 115 minutes) A complicated mystery, directed by Louis Leterrier, in which an FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists known as The Four Horsemen who use their talents to rob corrupt business big shots during their performances and reward their audiences with the money they steal.

Even with a strong cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson and Isla Fisher, critics are of the opinion that the film is mostly razzle-dazzle with little substance.

Sharknado (not rated, 90 minutes) For those who missed the Twitter fuss about this Syfy made-for-TV movie earlier this summer, here it is on Blu-ray: A giant tornado picks up a school of sharks from the ocean and drops them on flooded Los Angeles. According to the New York Daily News: “It’s absurd. It’s ridiculous. If you’re a fan of low-budget horror movies and you miss it, you will regret it for the rest of your life.” A sequel, set in New York, is in the works. With John Heard; directed by Anthony C. Ferrante.

The Great Gatsby (PG-13, 143 minutes) Instead of presenting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale to viewers, Australian director Baz Luhrmann assaults with relentless images of decadence and heavy-handed symbolism. The end result is that the film leaves viewers with the sort of hangover that comes from overindulging in bathtub gin. Since so much of the beauty of the novel comes from Fitzgerald’s elegant narrative, eye-gouging 3-D is a poor substitute.

Gatsby follows would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York in the spring of the wide-open jazz decadence of 1922. He lands next door to mysterious, party-giving millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and across the bay from his cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her unfaithful blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), who draw Nick into the not-always-pretty world of the super rich. With Isla Fisher.

MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 09/06/2013

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