This week in DVD and Blu-ray includes a true classic and a few not-so-classics. While one of the new releases is actually a worthy purchase if you own a solid home theater, the other two are hardly even worth a rental.
This week has a new Criterion Collection release for hardcore movie fans. The Makioka Sisters makes its way to the Blu-ray format with an esteemed new release. On the television side of home video, Season 2 of Supernatural and Season 1 of Haven reach home video.
In addition to those and the following titles, the much-anticipated indie thriller Rubber hits home video. It’s a bizarre piece of work that explores a psychotic telepathic wheel that has a propensity for murdering living creatures. I say give it a chance, but you may want to hide the kids.
NEW FEATURES: As recommended by you readers, we’ve added some new features to our weekly breakdown. You can now click on any Blu-ray cover to order a film from Amazon; in addition, each entry in the breakdown will now come with a quick-look recommendation on whether the film is worthy of a rental, a purchase, or should be skipped until it hits cable. Hope you enjoy.
The following titles can be found on DVD and Blu-ray:
Battle: Los Angeles – The key phrase in our 3-star review of Battle: Los Angeles is that the movie “might win audiences over.” Much like a Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich action movie, this one is polarizing in many ways. Some love it for its loud and unrelenting action sequences, while others hate it for never slowing down. Like it or not, Battle: Los Angeles is exactly the type of movie director Jonathan Liebesman set out to make. And at $200 million worldwide on a budget of $70 million, it should be considered a moderate success.
If you have a home theater for your DVDs and Blu-rays, there is no reason to leave this title on the shelf. The home video utilizes every ounce of power your television and surround sound can emit. The crushed blacks and accented greens of the war zone that audiences are thrown into make for a gritty movie that has a gorgeous look. Of course, the sound design is phenomenal, mixing exotic alien sounds with the intense screaming of American military. This movie was made to be payed loud and it earns its stripes doing so.
There is a unique and cool feature in the bonus materials that allows viewers to view storyboards and other behind-the-scenes clips at their leisure throughout the movie. It is reminiscent of Maximum Movie Mode, without the drop-in commentary. But with almost an hour of featurettes, this is a great release for anybody interested in how Battle: Los Angeles was made.
- Command Control
- Behind the Battle
- Aliens in L.A.
- Preparing for Battle
- Boot Camp
- Creating L.A. in LA
- Directing the Battle
- The Freeway Battle
Verdict: Rental (Purchase if you enjoy mindless and noisy action flicks)
Red Riding Hood – A release of this re-interpretation of the famous tale includes an Alternate Cut and the Theatrical Cut just in case you didn’t like it enough in the movie theater. Apparently, few enjoyed the theatrical cut as we gave it a 2-star review and it only earned $89 million worldwide at the box office. While I can’t say I am surprised at the critical reaction – based on the comparisons to Twilight – I am surprised it didn’t make more money for the same reason.
Since the look of Red Riding Hood is so strangely artistic, it comes off as odd on Blu-ray. The home video release gives you an unwelcome closer look at the art design of the movie, which is brilliant at times and ghastly at others. The sound mix is a different story, filled with great design and a wonderful score that makes the film somewhat bearable.
The aforementioned alternate cut is a whopping one minute longer, so don’t expect a major difference apart from a tweaked ending. The 35-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and a Picture-in-Picture video commentary headline the bonus features, but don’t make the movie any better.
- Alternate Cut
- Secrets Behind the Red Hood
- Behind the Story
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel
- Music Videos
- Easter Egg
Verdict: Skip It
Hall Pass – The Farrelly Brothers are still working hard to find their groove again as directors, but miss the mark with another relative failure (compared to their previous works). Hall Pass has hilarious and redeeming moments, but overall it lacks the non-stop hilarity we need in modern comedy. Our 2.5-star review is a testament to both the inconsistency of its comedy, and its potential for belly-bursting moments.
The typical visual palette of a comedy like this includes bright colors that shine on Blu-ray, but don’t offer much beyond the set design and wardrobe. If anything, the ridiculously fake tans applied to Jenna Fischer’s face in this film come off even more disturbing with the Blu-ray transfer. The audio is not special, but does its job.
There are nearly ten minutes of extra material on this disc – and that includes the extended cut sequences. Needless to say, this home video is a huge waste of money all around. If you absolutely want to watch it, I recommend waiting for a friend to foolishly spend money on this release.
- Extended Cut
- Deleted Scene
- Gag Reel
The Cincinnati Kid – Not to be mistaken with another great 1960s gambling movie, The Cincinnati Kid is a great film in its own rite. It explores much more drama and personality than The Hustler, but never shies away from the fun of gambling and the smokey rooms where card sharks wrestle. If you have not seen this film, it is a must-see.
While Battle: Los Angeles may make better use of your surround sound, The Cincinnati Kid does what it can with what it’s got. There isn’t much sound design aside from the noisy poker rooms, but the video transfer is where this Blu-ray really shines. The color scheme of the movie is a bit dull, projecting the colors of the Depression Era, but it is executed well and looks genuine on screen.
If you enjoy a little extra poker knowledge in your home video features, there is a fun commentary from poker hosts Phil Gordon and Dave Foley, who add a little comedic spice to their commentary. Otherwise, there is a director commentary and another poker-centric featurette. This Blu-ray isn’t stacked with bonus features, but what it has should be enough for any fan of the movie.
- Commentary by Director Norman Jewison
- Scene Specific Commentary by Celebrity Poker Showdown Hosts Phil Gordon and Dave Foley
- The Cincinnati Kid Plays According to Hoyle
Verdict: Rental (Purchase if you’re a classic film fan)
Next week brings some worthy new releases to your local shelf. The Adjustment Bureau, Unknown and Cedar Rapids release on DVD and Blu-ray. Channing Tatum’s The Eagle also hits home video. The release I am looking forward to the most is Michael Bay’s The Island, which is a movie that deserves a Blu-ray release in every way possible.
Check back every Tuesday for reviews of new releases and Blu-ray re-releases in the new and improved Breakdown.