New Blu's On the Block Blu-ray and DVD Releases for Dec 21, 2010
The Tuesday before Christmas means the last chance for studios to drop to Blu-ray and DVD titles they think consumers might be interested in gifting for the holidays. But it also means overall pickings are typically rather slim, this year no different than any other. Still, there’s plenty to talk about, more than a few of these ones I’m actually a tiny bit interested in picking up for myself.
Phillip Noyce could typically make a movie like Salt in his sleep, but as easy as he makes it all look apparently bringing this one to cinema screens this summer wasn’t as simple as he ended up making it look. When I reviewed it last July (read my review here) I said the film was a “heck of a lot of fun” and that it was a “ticking clock espionage thriller that definitely, and defiantly, [stood] on its own.”
But as great as all that sounds apparently Noyce and Sony didn’t always see eye-to-eye on this one, something this Deluxe Unrated Edition Blu-ray clearly shows. There are three versions of the film, the theatrical cut, an extended cut and a director’s cut, the latter two apparently changing the narrative in fundamental and somewhat shocking ways (including making the likelihood of a sequel, something the theatrical version blatantly hints at, highly unlikely). Personally, as a fan of the film in its original version this is a Blu-ray I can’t wait to get a look at, and hopefully it will end up in my Christmas stocking otherwise I’ll be forced to pick it up as a purchase myself after the New Year.
Making a quick turnaround from its September theatrical release to the Blu-ray front just in time for the holidays, Oliver Stone’s 23 years later sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is a fine motion picture filled with solid performances only undermined by a last ten minutes that just don’t cut it. In my original review (read it here) I said that this second film was “better than the original” and that it was a “smoothly entertaining character-driven morality thriller that also just so happens to explain recent economic events in a way that is both informative and easy to follow.”
The Blu-ray comes positively loaded with extras, including a commentary track from Stone, a five-part “insider’s look” documentary entitled Money, Money, Money: The Rise and Fall of Wall Street and countless featurettes and other items fans of the series are sure to want to take a look at. On the DVD front, Fox is also offering up a “Wall Street Collector’s Two-Pack” assuming there are those out there who would want nothing better than a double-dose of Gordon Gekko for the holidays. Expect a full review of the Blu-ray soon.
Emma Stone got a much deserved Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress, Musical or Comedy for her portrait of a High School student her pretends to be the campus slut in order to make life easier for some of her less fortunate classmates and to also up her own Q rating only to meet with some uncomforting unintentional consequences. Back in September (read my full review here) I said that Stone was “just fantastic” and that she “[balanced] all of her characters sides to craft a portrait of teenage rebellion that… just about anyone [could] relate to.” I highly entertaining move full of laughs, smarts and moxie, I imagine this Blu-ray will fly off the shelves this holiday season.
The third and final Star Wars spoof from the Family Guy clan comes to Blu-ray this holiday season, the 57-minute space adventure having Han Solo (Peter), Chewbacca (Brian) and Princess Leia (Lois) doing battle against the Evil Empire, where Darth Vader (Stewie) and the Emperor (Carter) try to recruit Luke Skywalker (Chris) to the Dark Side of the Force with taco nights and T-shirts. Bonus materials include audio commentary, Making the Scene, outtakes, a special message from Darth Stewie, and more. Expect a Blu-ray review early next week!
Devil didn’t screen for critics here in Seattle and, for whatever reason, I never made my way to the theatre to watch during its theatrical run. I wanted to, the trailers piqued my interest, and as I’ve always felt producer M. Night Shyamalan has always been a better storyteller than screenwriter the fact he come up with the idea for the picture but left it to noted scribe Brian Nelson (Hard Candy) and director John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine) to write the finished script my willingness to give this one a chance is high. So as a review copy never made it our direction I’ll be adding this trapped-in-an-elevator-by-Satan thriller to the Netflix queue, seeing for myself if this stripped down B-movie is worthy of my time.
None of the Step Up movies are all that deep, all of them nothing more than boy-meets-girl fodder set to a hip-hop beat and filled with multiple styles of dance. But as I mentioned in my August theatrical review (read it here), this one is easily the most needlessly convoluted of the trilogy, and while the dance sequences are eye-popping the character-driven dramatics are fairly nonsensical. The Blu-ray comes in both 3D and 2D versions, and while it isn’t a horrible film it’s still nowhere near the giddy, schmaltzy guilty pleasure the previous two entries in the series were.
Based on the novel by Virginia Woolf, director Sally Potter’s remarkable time and gender-bending 1992 stunner Orlando surprisingly makes its way to Blu-ray and I couldn’t be happier about that. Starring the great Tilda Swinton in the title role, this is one release I can’t wait to add to my personal hi-def library, this stirring emotional whirlwind a motion picture I’ve cherished ever since that first moment I had the good pleasure to see it 18 long years ago.
This is uniformly fantastic, Futurama returns after too many years off the air. These 13 episodes (the last one’s a holiday special) originally aired months ago on Comedy Central in HD, and the quality should look pretty much the same on Blu-ray, maybe even a bit better. The show hasn’t lost its comedic edge, telling out-there stories and keeping the outlandish gags coming left and right. Fans of the series should grab up Volume 5 right away, and casual viewers will find plenty to like as well.
These are sad times. A prequel to Battlestar Galactica that’s set on the home world where everything originated, Caprica was canceled before it concluded its broadcast run. Even sadder, however, is the decision by the SyFy channel to withhold the airing of the remaining episodes until January or later, so that the studio Universal could release the second half run on DVD as a semi ‘exclusive’ (but obvious ploy) and make some bank on a property they clearly didn’t care about (or spent time marketing).
Either way you look at it, the second volume containing the final 9 episodes of Caprica makes its way to DVD just before Christmas, and two and a half months after the first volume hit the format (October 5, to be specific), which was in support of SyFy channel premiering the show’s second half. The decision to break up this series into two volumes is a pure money-making scheme. Unfortunately, Caprica, as intriguing and intense as it got over the course of its first season, never stood a chance.
From director François Ozon (Time to Leave, Swimming Pool, 8 Women, Under the Sand) comes Angel, a 2007 feature starring Michael Fassbender, Sam Neill, and Charlotte Rampling, about the rise and fall of a young eccentric British writer (Romola Garai) in the early 20th century.
Fatih Akin’s wonderful Soul Kitchen my not rise to the instantly classic heights of his previous pictures The Edge of Heaven or Head-On but that doesn’t make it any less of a delightful, must-see achievement. Back in August (read my full review here) I called the film “a wildly eccentric change of pace” for the acclaimed director and that the finished product was a “a hugely enjoyable frolic almost impossible not to adore.” I wish they would have sent us a review copy of the DVD as this is one title I wouldn’t mind having in my own personal collection.