While next week has some of the most exciting home video releases of the year, this week is reasonably entertaining. Specific crowds will be pleased with some of the new DVD and Blu-ray releases, but the big picture is relatively weak.
There is only one release from this year that might make a few dollars on the shelves, but even that is questionable. Let’s face it, few people praised Jonah Hex. The other notable titles are mostly re-releases that deserve a spot in your collection.
The following films can be found on DVD and Blu-ray.
Jonah Hex - One of the worst box office flops in recent years will need one hell of a shelf life to make up for its losses. Even the star of the film, Josh Brolin, has admitted it isn’t very good. In the same breath he compared it to Piranha 3D.
Our review might not bring people to stores in a stampede looking to cop the film. In his 2 out of 5 star review, Paul Young said the only way to enjoy it is “if you like your Western films to have l0ts of ridiculous action, bad dialog, cool weapons, rock music and poor acting.” Regardless, it comes out on DVD and Blu-ray today and there are plenty of executives hoping the home video crowd will give it another a chance.
The home version doesn’t open the curtains on the making of such a disaster in the special features. Either Warner Bros. is trying to sneak this home video under the table and hope the world forgets it even exists or there just wasn’t a lot to look at. There are just three features on the DVD and Blu-ray release:
- Deleted Scenes
- The Inside Story of Jonah Hex
- The Weird Western Tales of Jonah Hex
Leaves of Grass – Tim Blake Nelson directs two Edward Nortons in this intriguing film about Bill Kincaid and his twin brother. An Ivy League professor learns of the death of his twin brother back in his Oklahoma hometown and returns to deal with the situation. When he arrives, he discovers that his brother is not actually dead, but in the middle of a drug-filled mess that takes two Edward Nortons to clean up.
A limited release, the film did not reach many eyeballs in theaters. Fans of Edward Norton will surely jump to this film, but it is worth a look by any fan of film in general. It received some great reviews for its eccentric comedy and unique approach. I would recommend at least a rental.
I Am Love – Many know Tilda Swinton as a frigid onscreen personality, while others find her endlessly engaging and emotional. I Am Love gives her a warm and sensual persona to portray. Aside from Tilda Swinton, the almost entirely Italian cast creates a true sense of foreign culture for the audience. It’s as if we observe a world we will never know – one of the beauties of film.
The love story follows the “fall of the haute bourgeoisie due to the forces of passion and unconditional love.” Considering the Academy’s love for Tilda Swinton, don’t be surprised if she finds her way into the Best Actress field this year.
- Commentary with director Luca Guadagnino and Tilda Swinton
- Moments on the set of I Am Love
- Interview with cast and crew
Dollhouse: Season 2 – The final season of Dollhouse finally makes it to home video and now fans of the show can have both seasons at their disposal. The show is finished on television, but can live on in your home video collection.
As Whedon moves on to direct The Avengers, he leaves behind a television show that had its time on the air and collected a decent fan base. Those fans will surely head over to shelves to pick up Season 2. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough of those fans to save the show.
FRIDAY: How to Train Your Dragon – Although 3D home video is on shelves, this 3D animated feature will only be available in 2D for now. Either way, the home video comes with a stunning video and audio display. There is no question the animation in How to Train Your Dragon was fantastic and lends itself well to a home video release.
The rousing critical and box office success looks to capitalize on its theatrical run with an odd Friday home video release. A sequel is already in the works after a powerful $493 million box office return. Our own Vic Holtreman reviewed the film and gave it a stellar 4.5 out of 5. He may be right in stating that it might be Dreamworks’ best animated film to date.
The home video release comes with a plethora of bonus features as well. It would be easy to get lost in the supplements, but that’s what we look forward to here at the Breakdown.
- Filmmakers’ commentary
- Animators’ Corner (BD-exclusive)
- Trivia Track (BD-exclusive)
- Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon Featurette
- Tech of Dragon Featurette
- Viking – Sized Cast Featurette
- The Way We See it Featurette
- Meet Cressida Cowell Featurette
- Going for the Gold Featurette
- How to Draw a Dragon Featurette
- Dragon Training Final Exam Featurette
- Viking – Sized Cast Featurette
- Deleted scenes
- DWA Jukebox
Three Kings - It’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years since Three Kings came out, but it was one of those movies that found a way to entertain in the midst of political commentary. Interestingly, the memorable cinematography led Warner Bros. to add a statement on the DVD telling viewers not to change their TV sets.
The cast is a combination of perfectly different personalities. George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Spike Jonze and Ice Cube all play their respective parts as well as any other films I can remember them in. The film is just as funny as it is entertaining, while dealing directly with a socio-political topic – a difficult feat.
The new Blu-ray release isn’t the most crisp-clean transfer ever made, but this isn’t because of a lazy conversion. Rather, the distributors wanted to maintain the intentionally grainy imagery that caused Warner Bros. to make an unusual statement on the DVD release years ago. The supplements are where the Blu-ray shines, delivering a healthy amount of behind-the-scenes featurettes to keep the fans busy.
- Additional scenes
- Audio commentary by Writer/director David O. Russell
- Audio Commentary by Producers Charles Roven and Edward L. McDonnell
- Featurette: Under the Bunker: On the Set of Three Kings
- David O. Russell’s Three Kings video journal
- An Intimate Look inside the Acting Process with Ice Cube
- Tour of the Iraqi village set with production designer Catherine Hardwicke
- Interview with director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel
The Darjeeling Limited - The Criterion Collection has given Wes Anderson’s Darjeeling Limited a brilliant Blu-ray crossover. Of course, this is the norm for Criterion, but a Wes Anderson film almost feels like a unique stray from the regular classics Criterion typically transfers. Arguably, Darjeeling is a classic all its own. The Blu-ray also features the prologue short, Hotel Chevalier, which features the endlessly gorgeous Natalie Portman semi-naked.
Anderson’s dedication to even his completed works is evident in the booklet that comes with the Blu-ray. In it, Criterion claims Anderson supervised and approved the high-definition transfer. For a director who takes color and details to the extreme, that instills even more confidence in the Blu-ray transfer.
As usual with the Criterion Collection Blu-rays, the special features are ridiculously in-depth. Anderson’s films typically have a good amount of featurettes, but this is pretty amazing.
- Commentary - in this audio commentary, recorded in March 2010, director Wes Anderson and co-screenwriters Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman discuss how The Darjeeling Limited evolved from an idea into a film, some of interesting locations seen throughout the film, how certain scenes were shot, the cast they worked with, etc. Generally speaking, this is a rather dry but very informative commentary.
- Documentary by Barry Braverman – a standard making of featurette with plenty of raw footage from the shooting of The Darjeeling Limited in India. In English and portions of Hindi, not subtitled. (41 min, 1080p).
- Conversation with James Ivory – a lot of the music in The Darjeeling Limited comes from the original scores from the films of Merchant Ivory and Satyajit Ray. Director Wes Anderson and James Ivory met in June 2010 and discussed this special tribute. In English, not subtitled. (21 min, 1080i).
- Essay by Matt Zoller Seitz – Mr. Seitz, who reviewed Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket in the Dallas Observer, deconstructs The Darjeeling Limited. In English, not subtitled. (12 min, 1080p).
- American Express commercial - a hilarious spoof with Wes Anderson. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080p).
- Sriharsh’s audition – raw footage from the audition. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080i).
- Oakley Friedberg/Packer speech – In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080i).
- Deleted scene and two alternate takes - In English, not subtitled. (4 min, 1080p).
- Sketch by Roman Coppola – a short sequence stirred together from Roman Coppolla’s footage shot (mostly in India) during the writing of The Darjeeling Limited and set to the electronic tabla. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080i).
- Waris’ diary – In English, not subtitled. (1080i).
- Trophy case – a quick look at the various awards The Darjeeling Limited has won. (1 min, 1080p).
- Stills galleries – a collection of stills from full-time-on-set photographer James Hamilton, Laura Wilson (mother of Owen Wilson) and Sylvia Plachy (mother of Adrien Brody).
- Theatrical trailer – the original theatrical trailer for The Darjeeling Limited. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080p).
- Booklet – an illustrated booklet containing Richard Brody’s essay “Voyage to India” (Mr. Brody is the movies editor for the New Yorker’s Goings On About Town and the author of Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard).
Gamera Double Feature – Many of the readers were disappointed when Gamera didn’t make my Top 10 Scariest Giant Movie Monsters list. Now is your chance to add the giant turtle to your Blu-ray collection. The double feature includes Gamera: Guardian of the Universe and Gamera: Attack of the Legion.
Monster movie fans now have a true Gamera Blu-ray to challenge their Godzilla home videos and just maybe Gamera will have the upper hand here. Don’t complain when the video transfer isn’t on par with The Thin Red Line, but fans of Gamera know exactly what they want and what they’ll get with this 1995 double-feature.
This week had a few movies worth your money, but mostly rentals. I can’t say the same for next week, which brings some of my personal favorites films of all time to Blu-ray. I’ll give you one hint – it isn’t Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl.
Check back next Tuesday for the latest on DVD and Blu-ray releases in the Breakdown.