short circuits

New and noteworthy experiences among home video, games, gadgets and the Web.


It's about time

In "Looper," which arrives Monday on home video, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a laconic young man living in Kansas City in 2042, where as the film opens he is in a wheat field consulting his pocket watch. Another man suddenly appears and -- blam! -- Joe blows him away.

He explains in a voice-over that his victim has come from the 2070s, when the mob uses time-traveling assassins like Joe -- called loopers -- to dispose of bodies that technically don't exist. It's a living, and a pretty good one, until the mob boss decides to "close the loop" and sends the older version of the hitman back to be killed. That's precisely what happens to Joe, who when he confronts his older self-- played in the film by Bruce Willis -- doesn't quite carry out the orders as planned.

The ethics of saving the future by changing the past might be a time-worn theoretical question. But "Looper" brings it to life with startling inventiveness and visual pizazz, whether in a grimly imaginative scene of the effects of a character's torture showing up on his future older body, or some dazzlingly clever staging during a climactic sequence at a farmhouse.

The DVD (Sony, $31) includes commentary by director Rian Johnson, Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt, featurettes and five deleted scenes. The Blu-ray ($36) adds another featurette and 17 more deleted scenes.


Colin Covert's take: This brainy, brutal science-fiction noir delivers a tense, twisty story with an unexpected emotional wallop.


Not worth the fight

"PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale" ($60 for PS3, rated Teen) arrives as Sony's entree into the realm of "take popular characters from a beloved franchise and have them fight it out in a playful manner." Fun and spectacle come in bunches (or punches, if you prefer), but it fails to deliver a consistent experience.

The controls are difficult to learn. Once you master how one character (Sackboy, for instance) plays, you run into a problem, because the other characters (like Nathan Drake or Kratos) don't play similarly. You spend too much time learning each character's intricacies.

The level design for the fights impresses on multiple levels, and the wealth of playable characters should interest fight game fans. Just beware the sometimes-unforgiving game-play limitations that can hinder an otherwise good time.



Hands-free talking

The Jabra Supreme UC ($150, is one of a long line of consistent, well-performing Bluetooth hands-free devices from the company.

It's built with active noise cancellation for your caller, eliminating the distracting background ambient noise. A flip-boom makes the hands-free headset stand out, because you can position the built-in microphone and talk directly into it so others hear you crystal clear.

Other features include "voice control" and "voice guidance" for hands-free operation and the ability to connect two Bluetooth devices simultaneously.