This week presents some summer blockbusters on DVD and Blu-ray alongside a pair of instant classics. You may not get a lot of choices this week, but there is definitely something new to watch.
Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz get a second chance to earn bank with Knight and Day, while The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is just happy to be out of Inception‘s limelight – a problem it had when it released in the same week as Chris Nolan’s mind-bending blockbuster.
There is also a sneaky champion amidst the three new releases this week; the best film of the trio actually made the least at this summer’s box office.
The following movies can be found on DVD and Blu-ray:
Knight and Day – Our review of the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz action comedy was just about on par with the rest of the world’s: Knight and Day was an okay movie. It wasn’t great and it wasn’t awful. In the end it may be quickly forgotten, but now it is immortalized (so to speak) on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s not like the movie tanked at the box office – it raked in $260 million worldwide.
However, the combined star power of Cruise and Diaz just didn’t kick into gear. The action was mediocre and the CGI was weak. For director James Mangold, it was a disappointing follow-up to the great 3:10 To Yuma. But again, all films get a second chance on home video. The promotional videos that led up to the theatrical release were poorly staged, but the inspiration was evident. Clearly, 20th Century Fox had the cameras rolling behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, the bonus features on this release are not as extensive as the pre-release effort would suggest. And wouldn’t you know, those two “viral videos” are in the special features. The featurettes have entertaining titles, but their contents are to be determined. Check it out if you are in the mood for some inside looks:
- Wilder Knights and Crazier Days
- Boston Days and Spanish Knights
- Knight and “Someday”: Featuring the Black Eyed Peas and Tom Cruise
- Knight and Day: Story
- Knight and Day: Scope
- Viral Videos: Soccer, Kick
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Disney revamped the concepts explored in Fantasia (which also hits Blu-ray today) with a big-budget CGI action movie. While it is far from a bad movie, it suffered the fate of challenging Inception at the box office. On a $150 million budget, the film earned $215 million worldwide. That’s not a successful run for a Disney movie.
Nevertheless, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is an enjoyable adventure. It is a family-friendly, easily digestible piece of American Hollywood. It brings the lights, bells and whistles of many action adventure films before it and sticks to a polished routine. Yet, it finds a way to be unique enough to keep you entertained – and what more can you ask for from a live-action version of Fantasia.
While the special features lack overall substance and depth, there is a healthy chunk of featurettes to enhance the movie. Check out the features on the DVD and Blu-ray release:
- “Magic in the City” (HD, 13 minutes)
- “The Science of Sorcery” (HD, 11 minutes)
- “Making Magic Real” (HD, 12 minutes)
- “Fantasia: Reinventing a Classic” (HD, 10 minutes)
- “The Fashionable Drake Stone” (HD, 2 minutes)
- “The Grimhold: An Evil Work of Art” (HD, 4 minutes)
- “The Encantus” (HD, 2 minutes)
- “Wolves & Puppies” (HD, 3 minutes)
- “The World’s Coolest Car” (HD, 2 minutes)
- “Deleted Scenes” (HD, 8 minutes)
- “Outtakes” (HD, 3 minutes)
Going the Distance – Oddly enough, the best movie on new release home video this week is not a big-budget summer blockbuster. Rather, it is the quaint romantic comedy Going the Distance. Drew Barrymore and Justin Long star in a film about a couple’s struggle to stay together while drifting apart. It may not have done wonders at the box office – it made $42 million – but a quick turnaround to home video is impressive.
Like many comedies, the supporting cast steals the show. Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day shine as Long’s comical buddies and Christina Applegate continues to impress in the role of girl’s best friend. Everybody just seems to be having a good time in the movie and it shows.
The special features are impressive for a comedy. Judd Apatow has put all other comedy home videos to shame with his endless array of supplements, but director Nanette Burstein’s commentary will do a nice job of capping a fistful of features:
- Commentary by director Nanette Burstein
- Deleted Scenes
- How to Have a Perfect Date: the stars offer the male and female points of view
- A Guide to Long-Distance Dating: expert advice on the Dos and Don’ts from the movie cast and crew
- The Cast of Going the Distance: Off the Cuff: see the hilarious moments that resulted when the cast’s improvisations went too far
- Music video: The Boxer Rebellion, “If You Run”
- Behind the scenes of the Going the Distance soundtrack
Fantasia Collection – Just in time for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on home video, Disney has re-released the animated classic that inspired the blockbuster, along with its followup film. Now on Blu-ray, you can watch the famous broom scene and listen to “A Night on Bald Mountain” in style.
While the two Fantasia movies are visually spectacular, they thrive on sound. Disney has done their homework and released the collection in DTS-HD 7.1 surround sound. Let’s just say that if you want to wake the neighbors, this is the Blu-ray to do it. It won’t just wake them, you may even leave them hard of hearing as well. My suggestion is to pump up the volume and let one of the better audio transfers in recent memory wash over you.
The four-disc collection has everything you need to travel back in time to the creation of Walt Disney’s vision. When you get done with all the supplements, you’ll wonder where that time actually went. I am most excited for Destino, the unfinished collaboration between Disney and Salvador Dali.
- Fantasia Audio Commentaries: Fantasia includes three audio commentaries. The first, helmed by eloquent Disney historian Brian Sibley, offers a veritable treasure trove of information on the development, design, production and legacy of the film. Sibley not only details and dissects each animated segment and its creation, he weaves a compelling history of Disney’s grand design. The second, introduced by Roy Disney and hosted by historian John Canemaker, features archive interviews, audio recordings, story note recreations and meeting transcript readings. The result? An invaluable posthumous Walt Disney commentary; one that, to its editors great credit, could only be bested if Disney were still alive. Finally, a third commentary with Roy E. Disney, conductor James Levine, animation historian John Canemaker and film restoration manager Scott MacQueen do a fine job filling in whatever blanks remain. Their track suffers from some inherent repetition, but it simply offers too much worthwhile insight to pass up. Together, Fantasia’s three commentaries are an excellent addition to an already strong release.
- Fantasia DisneyView Presentation (HD): Viewers can watch Fantasia in its original 4:3 presentation or with optional DisneyView, a feature that fills the black bars on either side of the image with custom paintings by visual-effects artists and designer Harrison Ellenshaw.
The Schultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure (HD, 14 minutes): Diane Disney Miller and a variety of notable filmmakers discuss Herman Schultheis’ recently discovered production notebook: a coveted tome that reveals Disney’s secret animation and special effects techniques, knowledge which had been lost for decades.
Interactive Art Galleries (HD): Two sprawling galleries of concept art, storyboards, original paintings and other production materials are on hand for Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.
- Disney Family Museum (HD, 4 minutes): A brief promo for the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.
- Fantasia 2000 Audio Commentaries: Two tracks are available. First up, the directors and art directors of each animated segment are given the opportunity to discuss their contributions to the sequel. And because each group of commentators only has a limited amount of time to speak, gaps of silence and rambling tangents are nowhere to be found, and the whole of the track is breezy, high-spirited and much easier to digest and enjoy. The second finds Roy Disney, James Levine and producer Donald W. Ernst tackling the entire film, digging into the genesis of the project, Walt Disney’s original intentions, the sequel’s individual shorts and the differences and similarities between Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. Though not as essential as the Fantasia commentaries, both are worth a listen.
- Destino (HD, 7 minutes): In 1946, Walt Disney and Salvador Dali began work on a short film they never finished. The recently completed short is presented here in all its weird, wonderful, animated glory. Just be warned: parents of younger children may want to screen this one ahead of time.
- Dali & Disney: A Date with Destino (SD, 82 minutes): A lengthy documentary about the strangest collaboration most of you never knew occurred.
- Musicana (HD, 9 minutes): A look at the long development of a potential Fantasia sequel that never came to fruition, Musicana.
- Disney’s Virtual Vault (SD, 304 minutes): And what of all the missing supplemental content from the previously released DVD editions of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000? All of it can be found and viewed via this handy BD-Live portal, primed for fans and aimed at completists. In it, you’ll find five hours of documentaries, featurettes and other making-of materials that are well worth perusing. (For those keeping track, that amounts to 125 minutes of additional Fantasia features and 178 minutes of Fantasia 2000 goodies).
The Wiz – The updated classic is injected with soul in this rendition of The Wizard of Oz. It features Diana Ross and Michael Jackson (Scarecrow) in an addicting sing-a-long. Now you can have a Blu-ray double feature with the original film and judge which is actually better – most will stick with the original.
There is only one special feature on this Blu-ray re-release – Wiz on Down the Road. It’s a shame Universal is dumping this bare bones release of a film, as many would like to see the creative process. I am more intrigued by the development and behind-the-scenes than watching the actual movie. While it entertains as much as it can, it isn’t the most rewatchable movie ever made.
This week’s slate of home videos is small, but worth a trip to the store. At the least, there are some worthy rentals. I would suggest a purchase of Going the Distance and Fantasia – the rest are good rentals.
On the other hand, next week’s releases are epic. Two of the most profitable films of 2010 hit home video along with plenty of fantastic Blu-ray re-releases for every crowd. It should be a good week.
Check back every Tuesday for updates on the latest DVD and Blu-ray home video releases.