Rental Central

Tom Doty Times Columnist

June 26, 2014

A variety of genres offered up top flight entertainment in four different styles for renters this week.

“300: Rise of an Empire” — This followup cannot match the success of the first flick, but is still an excellent example of an action epic. The battle of Thermopylae was lost in first film but the valiant efforts of the 300 who died that day inspire Sparta and Athens to team up. The Persian navy is coming on strong and it will take the might of both cities to halt their progress — if they can work together. Bloody action ensues, with a lot of mature situations, too, so keep the kids away.

“Masters of Sex: Season 1” — Showtime is becoming the new HBO for pay TV shows, and this effort sealed the deal following on the heels of “Homeland.” Michael Sheen stars as Dr. Masters, who is desperate to do research on sex but must do it within the strict guidelines of an unenlightened academic hospital. His efforts finally start yielding results when he starts working with his new secretary, Virginia Johnson. Great stuff that mixes drama with humor, as we see this pair navigate an uptight campus while developing a shared passion. Beau Bridges and Allison Janney have great moments as the school’s Dean and his sexually frustrated spouse.

“Winter’s Tale” — Fantasy and romance mix in this gothic story set in New York City’s chic Upper West Side. Collin Farrell stars as a burglar who breaks into a home and is surprised to meet a young lady who isn’t afraid of him. Turns out she is dying and fears little now, but maybe this thief can help her out instead of helping himself to the family fortune. This one is so good that saying more would only spoil the treasures that await you if you are looking for a good story and a healthy dose of romance.

“Wolf Creek 2” — Greg Mclean finally gets around to delivering a sequel to his 2005 horror yarn that kickstarted the return of terror films to Australian Cinema. John Jarrat returns as the mad outback trapper who preys on tourists for their valuables as well as nutritional value. This time, the mad cannibal from Down Under gets to go all “Mad Max” on tourists with an excellent car chase followed by the usual hack-and-slash nonsense. Good if you are already a fan, but stay away if you hated “Hostel” or “Crocodile Dundee.”