This week in the Breakdown, we've got a bit of nostalgia mixed in with a couple of under-appreciated indies. In the last edition of our DVD/Blu-ray feature, there wasn't much on the new release front, but a Blu-ray Lord of the Rings kept plenty of home video lovers occupied. Now that the trilogy is in the "L" section of your collection, what will this week bring?
Let's just say one new release didn't do so hot in the box office and the other didn't even make it there. At least the re-releases are some of cinema's most revered classics in their respective genres.
Next week will feature a handful of new releases that actually filled some seats in theaters and a long-awaited Blu-ray re-release from none other than Steven Spielberg.
All of the following can be purchased on both DVD and Blu-ray online and in stores as of today.
Defendor - The indie superhero comedy stars Woody Harrelson in one of his most impressive performances, according to a number of sources. The hilarious trailer should pique your interest beyond any limitations for which you were prepared. It's truly unfortunate it couldn't find its way into theaters.
Hopefully the film will get the shelf life needed to eventually get a theatrical release, but in the midst of Kick-Ass, another homemade superhero movie, it may get lost in the shuffle. At least give it a chance with a rental. Defendor is only available on DVD (except in Canada).
Pirate Radio - A pretty respectable cast, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost, Emma Thompson and Gemma Arterton wasn't enough to save this $50 million comedy from drowning. Also known as The Boat That Rocked, the film was under-appreciated, making the circuit as an indie comedy about an illegal radio station broadcasting from the ocean in the 1960s.
It would seem as appealing as the 60s are, the box office draw is still limited. But 2009 was a year heavy on the 60s, with A Serious Man, A Single Man and An Education all garnering critical acclaim. Maybe it was their fault the offbeat comedy missed the mark by earning only $36.3 million ($8 million domestic) in its 8 week run.
Apollo 13 - In a fitting tribute to the irony of the number thirteen and its relevance to the failed mission, Universal picked a great time to release the work on Blu-ray. For those of you who don't know, the fateful journey launched at 13:13 pm on April 11th, 1970, with the first malfunction occurring on April 13th.
While we all moaned collectively when Avatar was announced with an Earth Day release date, this brings a little more meaning and nostalgia. Many have waited patiently for Apollo 13 to reach the beautiful Blu-ray. On the film's 15th Anniversary, reviews are good regarding the quality.
Director Ron Howard's film is one of the more intimate and close-knit epics you'll see. It never feels like one, but that's precisely the genre. A space opera based on true events, Apollo 13 gives us a heavy dose a realism, which is a nice break from the CGI/3D-heavy entertainment today. Go get the Blu-ray and remember what it was like when practicality still existed in films like this.
Gone With The Wind - The revered classic get yet another special edition Blu-ray release with the aptly named Scarlett Edition. First, there was the 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition release in November of 2009, encased in a massive box set that is hard to miss on store shelves. In February, Warner Bros. gave a more bookcase-friendly 70th Anniversary edition. Now, they've changed nothing, but practically re-released the Ultimate collection in a more compact 3-disc set.
A Nightmare on Elm Street - As the remake prepares for its release in theaters, Freddy Krueger is back for more blood, only now we get an even clearer look at his mangled face. Two commentaries, including one with Wes Craven, give an in-depth look at all sides of the production. A 50-minute documentary of the story of A Nightmare on Elm Street nicely rounds out a healthy set of supplements.
The good news is the video transfer looks fantastic. While many of the effects were impressive for the time, they will feel a little hokey these days. Still, in a crisp visual, those claws will be even sharper.
The great news is if you speak seven languages, you can watch it in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch or Korean. I guess screaming is a universal language.
DEAL OF THE DAY:
Dark City - Selling for only $9.99 now, Alex Proyas' sci-fi cult classic noir is an absolute steal on Blu-ray at that price. After hearing Christopher Nolan speak highly of the film in recent interviews regarding Inception, curiosity should be rising steadily if you haven't seen the film. The video and audio transfers to Blu-ray are apparently superb and make watching the film feel like a seamless experience.
INTRIGUING RELEASE OF THE DAY:
The Slammin' Salmon - In what my assumption-based-on-movie-images leads to is yet another disappointing failure by the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. This restaurant comedy sounds almost as dumb as it does funny. That may sound confusing, but every once in a while you get a movie so ridiculously awful it actually becomes funny (see Street Fighter). So maybe this deserves a chance.
It's kind of sad to see how far the mighty men of Super Troopers have fallen. They've even brought Michael Clarke Duncan down to the dumps with them. All signs point to a miserable mess, but the crew has a knack for surprising us with dirty, slapstick comedy and it hurts me to count them out, so I won't just yet.
Check back next Tuesday for the start of a great run of releases each week. The Oscar nominees are finding their way onto DVD and Blu-ray now and we can start appreciated them on our own terms.