I'm not too sure what to make of this week in DVD and Blu-ray releases. It looks weak, yet some cherished films are a part of the release schedule. One thing is for sure, the number of worthy rentals or purchases is small.
Vampires, romance and westerns find their way to home video this week. Unfortunately for Twilight fans, those genres are sold separately.
The good news is next week may be one of the most epic home video release dates in recent memory. For now, let's make do with what we've got. The following releases can be found on DVD and Blu-ray.
True Blood: The Complete Second Season - The HBO series has capitalized on the entertainment trend of vampires. But the fans of True Blood are a different breed than the Twi-hards. The darker tale has been a great asset for HBO and begins its third season on June 13th.
On the technical side, the set is getting fantastic reviews. The audio and video both received near-perfect ratings and the special features are extensive when compared to single-movie supplements. But as a full season, the add-ons are rather limited. Some cast and crew commentaries shed light on the stories and creative process. The best feature may be the 122-minute "Character Perspectives."
The Road - Cormac McCarthy's novel was given a stellar adaptation in what our own Kofi Outlaw called, "Both gorgeous and gut-wrenching." The tale of survival in post-apocalyptic America is gripping and all too possible. This is one of those definite blind buys if you missed it in theaters.
Dear John - Nicholas Sparks is a hot commodity in the romantic book adaptation genre of Hollywood, if there is such a thing. The Notebook is one of the best love stories in all of film. But the title card is wearing thin and a new hit must emerge soon. Dear John may have been the success everybody hoped by raking in nearly four times the production budget.
On Blu-ray, the film is getting solid reviews for both picture and audio quality. So, if the story doesn't move you at least the imagery might.
Spartacus -Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier join director Stanley Kubrick in one of classic cinema's most cherished films. While there are naysayers who blaspheme about the length or overly epic nature of the film, there are many more who love it. Along with Ben-Hur, this is one of the most memorable sword-and-sandals epics of its time.
Unfortunately, the video transfer is underwhelming, but great audio makes up for it. In addition, the special features are generally lacking however, if you enjoyed the film in its original form, this is a must own.
Stagecoach -As expected, the legendary Criterion Collection churns out another all-around hit on Blu-ray with Stagecoach. Instead of attempting to reiterate all the wonderful features on the collector's Blu-ray, I'll let the description speak for itself:
"John Ford's 'Stagecoach' (1939) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include an audio commentary with film historian and western scholar Jim Kitses; 'Bucking Broadway' (1917), a forty-four-minute silent film directed by John Ford; an extensive interview with John Ford, conducted by British journalist and television presenter Phillip Jenkinson; an interview with Peter Bogdanovich; 'Dreaming of Jeanie,' a video essay by writer Tag Gallagher; 'True West,' a video interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Buzz Bissinger; 'Yakima Canutt,' a video piece about the legendary stuntman; an interview with John Ford's grandson and biographer Dan Ford; 'Screen Director's Playhouse,' a radio adaptation of Stagecoach; and the film's original theatrical trailer. The disc also arrives with a 34-page illustrated booklet."
Now that is how you release a classic. The reviews are near perfect across the board, chalking up another victorious transfer by the Criterion Collection.
INTRIGUING PICK OF THE DAY:
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog - Joss Whedon + Neil Patrick Harris? A must-own.
"Broadway vet Neil Patrick Harris stars as the title's cut rate supervillain, a wannabe who's always one step behind his preening nemesis, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). The hero thwarts Dr. Horrible's schemes and courts his dulcet-voiced, do-gooder crush, Penny (Felicia Day), a sad fate the evil doctor laments via blogs and hilarious, brokenhearted ballads."
This week was a letdown, even after last week's horrendous titles. But next week should prove unforgettable. The upcoming Breakdown will feature some Spielberg, some Burton, some great double features and a heck of a lot of Eastwood.