The next few weeks will comprise one of the best runs in home video release history. Some of the most long-awaited titles finally reach the Blu-ray format, while this year’s summer hits make their way to home video.
The Thin Red Line is this week’s long overdue classic making its way to Blu-ray, but some would argue that the 1933 King Kong is the more intriguing Blu-ray transfer.
The superhero genre has another recent hit to add to home collections with Iron Man 2, but Superman and Batman have teamed up to battle Tony Stark in a home video matchup. A straight comedy and a hardcore dramatic thriller follow the big names in a well-rounded week of releases.
The following can now be found on DVD and Blu-ray.
Iron Man 2 – Flying in hot with a near-perfect Blu-ray review, Iron Man 2 is hoping to resurrect Tony Stark’s on-screen reputation with a great home video release. With a $620 million worldwide box office, there may not be much complaining from the studio, but fans were slightly underwhelmed with the Iron Man sequel. Our own superfan, Vic Holtreman, still found it fun and action-packed as he gave the film a generous 3.5 out of 5 in his review.
As a movie that wants to get bigger and louder, Iron Man 2 succeeds in every way. While the overall story may have suffered a bit, it was still an exciting ride for a summer blockbuster. As the movie makes its way to the small screen, you’ll get a chance to see some great special features. As for the movie itself, it packs some great video and audio for the home theater system.
The special features on the Iron Man 2 home video are profoundly extensive. There is so much, in fact, that I will simply refer you to our previous breakdown of the DVD/Blu-ray release. But be sure to check out the S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Vault, which will constantly update and provide exclusive looks at other Marvel projects like Captain America and Thor.
Also in the supplements is an alternate opening to the film. It almost feels like a parody of the way Favreau feels about the studio involvement of Iron Man 2 – but that’s just me. You can watch the three minute opening HERE.
Get Him To The Greek - The unrated home video release of the Russell Brand comedy Get Him To The Greek comes packed with special features and fantastic video and audio quality. It’s a surprisingly fantastic release for this kind of movie. It also holds the second best box office for a music-related comedy behind School of Rock.
Director Nick Stoller brought Russell Brand and Jonah Hill back together for a follow-up comedy to Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In his 3 out of 5 star review, Kofi Outlaw, called it a “mix of heart and raunch featuring a breakout performance from none other than Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs.”
The extensive supplements can be seen below and seem like a day’s worth of laughs.
- Feature Commentary with director Nicholas Stoller, cast members Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Rose Byrne, Elisabeth Moss and producer Rodney Rothman
- 3 Documentaries: Getting To Get Him to The Greek, Getting In Tune With The Greek, The Making of “African Child”
- Deleted, extended and alternate scenes including an alternate intro and ending
- Additional and extended scenes not available anywhere else (BD-exclusive)
- Five Complete Music Videos featuring Aldous Snow, Infant Sorrow and Jackie Q
- Musical Performances from Infant Sorrow’s triumphant 1999 Greek Theater Concert and 2009 Comeback Concert, plus a peek at their infamous World Tour and the 2002 London Concert
- Musical performances from The Today Show and VH-1 Storytellers (BD-exclusive)
- Karaoke – Sing along to 15 Outrageous Songs (BD-exclusive)
- The actual auditions that landed Rose Byrne, Elisabeth Moss, Nick Kroll, Aziz Ansari and T.J. Miller their roles (BD-exclusive)
- Instant access to stream a bonus movie by choosing one of three comedies: Uncle Buck, Dazed and Confused or Life via BD-Live or a smartphone (BD-exclusive)
- Gag Reel
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse - The latest animated feature from DCU is a quasi-sequel to last summer’s Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. As usual, if you enjoy the animated superhero movies, this will be another great addition to the home video collection.
Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly voice Batman and Superman, respectively. With those two voices, no explanation for a purchase is needed. But DC went and doubled their odds of success with the voice work of Summer Glau (Serenity, Sarah Connor Chronicles) and Ed Asner (Up). Aside from the voice work, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse appears to be an entertaining feature.
Our own Kofi Outlaw took an advance look at the release and reasonably enjoyed it in his review. Though from the sounds of it, Public Enemies is still a little better. Maybe the two will work better as a pair.
- A first look at the next installment of the DC Universe movie: All-Star Superman.
- DC Showcase Short Film: Green Arrow.
- Behind the Story – “The Fourth World: The New Gods” digs into the origin of Darkseid; “New Gods: Mr. Miracle Pod” hones in on High Father’s biological son, Mister Miracle; “New Gods: Orion Pod” dissects the “New Gods” stories further, turning its attention to Orion, Darkseid’s biological son; and “Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton” delves into the history of Supergirl.
- Bonus episodes handpicked by Bruce Timm: Superman The Animated Series -”Little Girl Lost Parts 1 and 2,” “Apokolips Now! Parts 1 and 2″ [NOTE: Only the Blu-ray has all 4 episodes - the DVD only offers 2. The episodes are in low definition in either format]
The Killer Inside Me – While many will wonder if the Casey Affleck character study The Killer Inside Me is a straight-to-DVD release, I have been aching to see this on home video since I missed its terribly short run in theaters. It only hit 17 theaters in a 9 week run, so it is no wonder the film only grossed $1.5 million on a $13 million budget.
Michael Winterbottom directs Casey Affleck in a film that co-stars Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson. Affleck plays a West Texas deputy sheriff with a penchant for psychotic murder. It is a graphic and artistic display of a character with serious issues. The content may have been what kept it out of theaters. The home audiences will get a chance to finally see what the film is made out of and determine the true reason.
The heated debate began at the Sundance premiere of The Killer Inside Me and critics weren’t quite sure how to define it. Judge for yourself and rent it or give the graphic content a run for your money and blind buy. Afterward, head back here and share your thoughts.
The Thin Red Line – Terrence Malick’s moody, thoughtful film The Thin Red Line is one of the most beautiful movies ever shot. What better platform to display the raw beauty of his film than Blu-ray? Finally, the “other war movie” of 1998 (besides Saving Private Ryan) makes its way to BD in a stunning transfer by Criterion Collection.
With a cast as top-notch as The Thin Red Line boasts, it isn’t even surprising when you hear the laundry list of A-listers who didn’t make it past the cutting room floor. Ironically, the actors take a backseat to the gorgeous cinematography of John Toll. The performances are superb, but nothing beats the nature shots from Toll accompanied by the mesmerizing score from Hans Zimmer. The Thin Red Line is a masterpiece to many fans across the world who will benefit from the best home video format available – Blu-ray.
It wouldn’t be a Criterion release without an epic array of supplements. The Criterion crew has scrounged up over 2 hours of bonus features to enjoy after your jaw drops to the floor from the film that garnered seven Oscar nominations.
- A half-hour documentary in which actors Kirk Acevedo, Jim Caviezel, Tom Jane, Elias Koteas, Dash Mihok, and Sean Penn discuss the production history of The Thin Red Line as well as their work with director Malick.
- Casting director Dianne Critended discusses her work on the pre-production of The Thin Red Line. Also included in the featuerret is original footage from several casting sessions with actors Ben Chaplin, Tom Jane, Elias Koteas, Dash Mihok, John Savage, and Nick Stahl.
- Editors Leslie Jones, Saar Klein, and Billy Weber discuss how the final version of The Thin Red Line was put together.
- Oscar nominated composer Hans Zimmer discusses his work on The Thin Red Line and relationship with director Malick.
- Eight outtakes presented in rough form.
- Kaylie Jones, daughter of novelist James Jones (The Thin Red Line), discusses her father’s book and how its message was carried over to the film.
- A collection of archival newsreels, highlighting the successes of the troops but omitting the horrors an suffering the soldiers had to endure, which were shown in America during World War II.
- A selection of songs recorded in November 1997 on the South Pacific island of Guadalcanal, illustrated with photographs from the production of The Thin Red Line.
- An audio commentary with production designer Jack Fisk, producer Grant Hill, and cinematographer John Toll. The three recall their work with director Malick, and discuss the production history of The Thin Red Line, the unprecedented cast, the film’s powerful message, etc.
- A 36-page illustrated booklet containing David Sterritt’s essay “This Side of Paradise” (the author is chairman of the National Society of Film Critics, chief book critic at Film Quarterly, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University and the Maryland Institute College of Arts); and writer James Jones’ article “Phony War Films”, first published in the March 30, 1963 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.
King Kong (1933) – One of the most famous films of all-time finally reaches the Blu-ray format with a DigiBook edition. It is difficult to make a case for any film of 1933 quality on the illustrious Blu-ray, but as collections grow with more classics every day, it is a nice addition.
There is no 5.1 surround sound audio and the digital restoration can only go so far, but does a decent job of improving the quality. Some may refuse to even watch the Blu-ray without superior and updated sound design, but who could deny a must-own like King Kong?
- Audio Commentary: While it doesn’t actually begin until the film’s Overture is completed, animation icon Ray Harryhausen, effects master Ken Ralston, actress Fay Wray and producer Merian C. Cooper headline this piecemeal track comprised of Harryhausen and Ralston commentary and archive interviews with Wray and Cooper. Even though they weren’t involved in the production of King Kong (Harryhausen was only thirteen when it hit theaters and Ralston wasn’t born until 1954), the two men are infectious hosts, delivering a grounded yet passionate dissection of the film and its groundbreaking special effects. Meanwhile, the interview segments with Wray and Cooper help fill in some of the track’s gaps and provide a more hands-on perspective of the production. All in all, it’s an easy one to recommend. Cinefiles and students of film history should make a beeline for the disc’s commentary.
- RKO Production 601: The Making of Kong, The Eighth Wonder of the World (SD, 159 minutes): A candid, comprehensive, refreshingly thoughtful seven-part documentary that touches on everything from King Kong’s development to its impact on cinema at large, including its then-revolutionary special effects, the film’s grand scale, its Depression-era allure, casting and performances, central themes and much, much more. Worth the price of admission alone, it digs into “The Origins of King Kong,” “Willis O’Brien and Creation,” “Cameras Roll on Kong, The Eighth Wonder,” “A Milestone in Visual Effects,” “Passion, Sound and Fury,” “The Mystery of the Lost Spider Pit Sequence,” and “King Kong’s Legacy.” Set aside some quality time for this one. You won’t regret it.
- The Lost Spider Pit Sequence: Dinosaurs, Kong, rolling logs, several surprisingly gruesome deaths, plus a variety of giant crabs, lizards and spiders… Peter Jackson and crew pay loving tribute to Kong.
- Creation Test Footage with Commentary by Ray Harryhausen: Animation test footage created by Willis O’Brien in which the visual effects pioneer pairs animated dinosaurs with live actors and other real-world elements.
- I’m King Kong! The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper: Cooper was far more than a filmmaker and producer, as revealed at length in this fascinating biography narrated by Alec Baldwin. As James D’Arc puts it, “Merian C. Cooper was unbelievable, if it weren’t all true.”
There is no question this week is a great one for living room entertainment. But you won’t have long before the next great week kicks up some dirt on the shelves. Between the Grindhouse double feature making a Blu-ray combo debut and The Exorcist transferring over to Blu-ray, there is plenty to be excited about.
Check back next week for another breakdown of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases.
Do you plan on renting or buying any of this week’s releases? Talk about the DVD and Blu-ray titles in the comments section below.