This week in DVD and Blu-ray things range from good to mediocre on the new release list and from good to most excellent in terms of re-releases. We have Super 8, Conan the Barbarian, Spy Kids 4, Scream 4, The Devil’s Double and Doctor Who on the new release list and we have new versions of Three Amigos, 12 Angry Men and Rushmore on the oldies but goodies list.
We gave Super 8 4 out 5 of stars in our review – it’s definitely worth seeing if you didn’t get a chance to catch it on the big screen. Written and directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg, it attempted to capture the feel of Spielberg films back when he was creating now beloved classics like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Whether it succeeded is up to the viewer, but we thought that while it was overall a pleasant movie worth seeing once, it didn’t quite have the magic of those older films.
Includes over two hours of behind-the-scenes special features:
- Deconstructing the Train Crash: Uncover the secrets behind filming the astonishing scene
- 8 Exclusive Featurettes: Explore the origins of the story, casting, creating the alien and more
- 14 Deleted Scenes
- Director JJ Abrams & Filmmakers’ Commentary
VERDICT: Rent It.
Conan the Barbarian
Jason Momoa has a strong fan-following based on his role in Stargate: Atlantis, and throughout this film’s production we were hopeful that he would be a convincing Conan, more true to the source material than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sadly, the film did not measure up (we only gave it 2 out of 5 stars), and if you want special features with this release, you’ll need to pick up the 3D combo pack version – otherwise it seems you just get the movie in the 2D only Blu-ray (according to Blu-ray.com).
3D combo pack special features:
- Audio Commentary With Director Marcus Nispel.
- Audio Commentary With Actors Jason Momoa and Rose McGowan.
- The Conan Legacy
- Robert E. Howard: The Man Who Would Be Conan
- Battle Royal: Engineering the Action
- Staging the Fights
- Theatrical Trailer
VERDICT: Rent It (if you’re a big Conan or Jason Momoa fan and are curious about the film).
Doctor Who – The Complete Sixth Series
Seems people are torn regarding Matt Smith as The Doctor, and that will determine whether you’ll consider buying, renting or skipping this altogether. If you ARE a fan, there are tons of extras on this release that should make it worth your while.
- 5 Night and the Doctor specially recorded scenes exclusive to DVD and Blu-ray
- 5 specially recorded episode prequels
- 2 sketches recorded for the UK’s Comic Relief charity event
- 4 Monster Files – Get under the skin and inside the minds of the Doctor’s most challenging opponents
- Doctor Who Confidential – An inside look at each episode
- Bonus Doctor Who Confidential – “A Night’s Tale” about the exclusive DVD scenes
- Audio Commentary on select episodes
- BBC1 Trails
VERDICT: Buy It (if you’re a hardcore Doctor Who fan).
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
Spy Kids 4… let’s just stick a fork in this franchise, because it’s done. We didn’t even bother reviewing it. I suppose if you have kids 8 or under it might be a way to keep them occupied for a couple of hours, but the use of 3D and “Aromascope” indicated (to me, anyway) the level of gimmicky desperation to get audiences to return one more time to this franchise.
- Deleted Scenes
- Robert Rodriguez Interview with Kid Reporter
- Spy Kids: Passing the Torch
- Rowan and Mason’s Video Diary
- How to Make a Robotic Dog
- Ricky Gervais As Argonaut
- Spy Gadgets
- Digital Copy
- DVD Copy
VERDICT: Skip It.
The Devil’s Double
While we haven’t reviewed The Devil’s Double on the site, we’ve heard nothing but great things about this film, which stars Dominic Cooper as Uday Hussein (son of Saddam) and his look-alike bodyguard (also played by Cooper) – highlighting the debauchery and utter disregard for life that defined Uday, and caused deep conflicts for his bodyguard.
- Audio Commentary with Director Lee Tamahori
- True Crime Family
- Double Down with Dominic Cooper
- The Real Devil’s Double
VERDICT: Rent It.
For what it was, we were fairly generous in our review of Scream 4, giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars. If you’re a fan of this series, then you’ll probably enjoy this one. It’s as gory as those that came before and while it wasn’t as successful with the social commentary this round – the movie succeeds in keeping viewers guessing and serving up a few especially tense moments.
Special Features (shout out to Horror-Movies.ca for listing these):
- The Making of Scream 4 featurette
- Alternate Opening
- Extended Ending
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Gag Reel
VERDICT: Rent It.
Ah, here’s an oldie but goodie, back from the days when Chevy Chase was in his prime and actually still funny on the big screen. There was big time chemistry between Chevy, Steve Martin and Martin Short in this comedy about three Western actors who find themselves in a real “cowboy” situation – in the tried and true fish out of water genre. Sadly there’s not a whole lot in the way of special features – understandable since the film was made back before there was such a thing, but some releases of older films still manage to pull together a lot more.
- Cast interview with Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short
- Deleted scenes
VERDICT: Rent it.
12 Angry Men
12 Angry Men AND the Criterion Collection? That’s a win. If you’re a young ‘un that hasn’t seen (or gasp! heard of) this film, then you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a classic and for good reason. Amazing performances and a riveting film all around even though the entire thing takes place within the confines of a juror’s room. Henry Fonda is the one dissenting voice in what looks like an open and shut murder case in a film populated with great actors from yesteryear including Ed Begley, Jack Warden, Jack Klugman and E.G. Marshall.
- New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the blu-ray edition
- Frank Schaffner’s 1955 television version, with an introduction by Ron Simon, director of the Paley Center for Media Studies
- “12 Angry Men”: From Television to the Big Screen, a video essay by film scholar Vance Kapley comparing the Sidney Lumet and Schaffner versions
- Archival interviews with Lumet
- New interview about the director with writer Walter Bernstein
- New interview with Simon about television writer Reginald Rose
- New interview with cinematographer John Bailey in which he discusses cinematographer Boris Kaufman
- Tragedy in a Temporary Town (1956), a teleplay directed by Lumet and written by Rose
- Original theatrical trailer
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by writer and law professor Thane Rosenbaum
VERDICT: Buy It.
With Rushmore we have another Criterion Collection release. The film is the story of a precocious 15 year old (Jason Schwartzman), whose life revolves around the extra-curricular activities at his school (while his grades suffer). It also stars Bill Murray and Brian Cox, and if you’ve never seen it, it’s well worth checking out. If you have seen it and you’re a fan, there are plenty of behind the scenes extras to make you a happy camper.
- New high-definition digital transfer of the director’s cut, supervised by director Wes Anderson, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
- Audio commentary by Anderson, cowriter Owen Wilson, and actor Jason Schwartzman
- The Making of “Rushmore,” an exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary by Eric Chase Anderson
- Max Fischer Players Present: Theatrical “adaptations” of Armageddon, Out of Sight, and The Truman Show, staged for the 1999 MTV Movie Awards
- Episode of The Charlie Rose Show featuring Anderson and actor Bill Murray
- Cast audition footage
- Wes Anderson’s hand-drawn storyboards, plus a film-to-storyboard comparison
VERDICT: Buy It.
Next week will be another potpourri of good and bad releases including The Smurfs, Smallville Season 10 and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.
Return to Screen Rant every Tuesday for the latest breakdowns of DVD and Blu-ray releases.