Two comedies, two thrillers, a sword-and-sandals epic and a Michael Bay Blu-ray hit shelves this week. Clearly there is a little for everybody, unless you are a couple looking for a romantic comedy to watch.
A few of the titles this work are definitely worth your money, though there are no movies that will bring fans to stores in droves. Instead, some of the titles may quietly find their audiences, but hopefully they will do more in the week before Lord of the Rings returns to Blu-ray.
The following titles can now be found on DVD and Blu-ray.
The Adjustment Bureau - In this writer’s opinion, George Nolfi’s The Adjustment Bureau is one of the surprise films of 2011. Although it seemed great in concept, Philip K. Dick novel adaptations are a risky propositions when they reach the big screen. Even (arguably) the best one, Blade Runner, was met with a shockingly low $3.7 million box office return. Yet, the highest grossing adaptation, Minority Report, made $132 million. The Adjustment Bureau rests firmly in the middle at $62.4 million.
Although it didn’t match up with its mind-bending counterpart from 2010, Inception, this title did muster up a 4-star review from us and earned generally good acclaim. The DVD/Blu-ray release is a worthy addition with a solid audio and video transfer that accentuate the stylish cinematography and deep sound design.
Two featurettes stand out in this otherwise slim selection of supplements. Becoming Elise should prevent any comparisons to the stunt dancing controversy in Black Swan and Labyrinth of Doors is a fun Google Earth crossover that shows the “portal doors” in the real-world.
- Feature Commentary: Writer/Director George Nolfi
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Labyrinth of Doors
- Leaping Through New York
- Destined to Be
- Becoming Elise
VERDICT: Buy It (Rent if you aren’t a big sci-fi fan)
Unknown – While initial reactions linked it to Liam Neeson’s other dark revenge thriller, Taken, this title had an identity of its own. Neeson is great at kicking ass and taking names and there is plenty of that in Unknown. Our 3.5-star review generally praised the movie and it did surprisingly well at the box office, making $130 million on a $30 million budget.
As with most of the releases this week, Unknown comes with an above-average audio and video transfer. The dreary look of the film is accurately preserved on DVD and Blu-ray and the action scenes hit the surround sound with fervent energy.
While the movie looks and sounds good, it comes with bare essentials in the bonus feature department. There are only two featurettes that offer little on the production side of the movie.
- Liam Neeson: Known Action Hero
- Unknown: What is Known?
VERDICT: Rent It
The Eagle – It is a strange idea to put Channing Tatum in a period piece action movie that tries to be a drama as well. It’s as if somebody saw a young version of Russell Crowe and figured Tatum could carry on the torch of sword and sandal epics. His dearth of acting talent was stretched to the extreme, but all things considered, Tatum didn’t fail miserably. In our 2.5-star review of The Eagle, we applaud the actor for giving it his best shot.
The film’s strength lay in its production design and overall authentic look. While the video transfer comes in a little dark (the movie has a stark contrast), it is still crisp and shows off the great production details.
As with most unrated cuts, there are few additions to the theatrical edition, but some changes have been made. Otherwise, there are the typical selections to view, but nothing special.
- Unrated Cut
- Audio Commentary: Director Kevin Macdonald
- The Eagle: The Making of a Roman Epic
- Deleted Scenes
- Alternate Ending
VERDICT: Skip It (Unless your girlfriend loves Channing Tatum)
Cedar Rapids – One of the best comedies that nobody saw earlier this year has reached DVD/Blu-ray. Ed Helms gets a lead role and shines with it alongside the always great John C. Reilly, whose presence simply enhances everybody around him. The business retreat comedy brings a fresh take to the buddy comedy genre that Helms himself is partly responsible for bruising recently (at least in my opinion) with The Hangover II.
There is a little heart in Cedar Rapids that puts it a cut above the rest in its genre. It’s no surprise one of the best indie distributors, Fox Searchlight, sent this title to theaters nationwide. This is arguably the home video release most worthy of your money this week.
In addition to housing one of the best movies of the week on DVD/Blu-ray, this release also includes the best selection of bonus features. It brings all the elemtns you hope to see in a comedy – deleted scenes, gag reels and character-centric featurettes.
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel
- Convention Connection
- Mike O’Malley – Urban Clogger
- Tweaking in the USA
- Wedding Belles – Crashing a Lesbian Wedding
- Top Notch Commercial
- Theatrical Trailer
- Fox Movie Channel Presents – Direct Effect Miguel Arteta
- Fox Movie Channel Presents – Writer’s Draft Phil Johnson
- BD-Live Exclusive: Ed Helm’s Mad Chopper Skills
VERDICT: Buy It
Louie: The First Season – It is unknown whether Louie C.K. deliberately made his show feel like a cheesy network sitcom, while still delivering his trademark raunchy humor, but it worked. The show didn’t hit a massive crowd, but those who enjoy his comedy fell in love with the show. The 13-episode first season hits home video with a few essentials that expand on the show that helped the comedian branch out off stage.
- Deleted scenes
- Unaired and unrated comedy sketches
VERDICT: Rent It
The Island – This title is easily Michael Bay’s most underrated film. Say what you will about the director’s work, but this movie deserves more recognition. Nobody has doubted Bay’s ability to bring quality and explosive action to the screen, but The Island couples that with a fantastic screenplay that puts a twist on its genre. While the movie totally bombed domestically, it deserves a second chance as Michael Bay’s Transformers trilogy comes to a close next week.
The Island has already been on Blu-ray for some time overseas (it’s no surprise considering 78% of its box office came from the foreign market), but reaches the American codec in a stunning video and audio transfer. The DTS 5.1 lossless sound delivers in every way if you have surround sound.
Three featurettes and a director commentary make up the bonus features on this Blu-ray. Maybe if it played better in theaters we would get a better assortment of supplements, but Michael Bay commentaries tend to be highly entertaining and filled with anecdotes.
- Audio Commentary: Director Michael Bay
- The Future in Action
- The Making of The Island
VERDICT: Rent It
Next week brings back one of the most beloved trilogies of all time to the Blu-ray platform. Many of you waited patiently for the Extended Cut of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and it finally arrives next week. There are even more action movies hitting shelves as well, like Season of the Witch and Sucker Punch. Blu-ray fans can also welcome Jumanji to the platform.
Come back every Tuesday for DVD and Blu-ray reviews and updates.