DVD/Blu-ray Breakdown: September 13, 2011

DVD Blu-ray Releases September 13 2011

It's the week every Star Wars fan has been waiting for - or at least complaining about - since news of George Lucas' latest milking of the legendary saga. But the Skywalker saga is not the only title worth your attention arriving on DVD and Blu-ray this week.

In addition to Star Wars, a number of television shows and some independent films make their way to home video. But Tuesday offers up another blockbuster as Thor comes to DVD and Blu-ray in both 2D and 3D. If that isn't enough, one of cinema's most cherished classics, Citizen Kane, hits Blu-ray as well.

The following titles can now be found on DVD and Blu-ray.



Thor DVD Blu-ray

Thor - Kenneth Branagh's superhero film made just under $500 million and earned a 3.5-star review from us. It may not have been the greatest superhero movie ever made, but it did merit a green light for a sequel.

Paramount has brought an exquisite video and audio transfer to home video. Thor is a film of massive scale, spanning two worlds, and the visual experience on Asgard is significantly better than what we see on Earth. But this DVD and Blu-ray release does great justice to both. Moreover, if you have any kind of surround sound system, turn the volume up and enjoy one of the best 7.1 mixes of the year. This release has a solid collection of bonus features that makes the difference when comparing Thor with other comic book movie DVDs and Blu-rays of the past.

  • Audio Commentary: Director Kenneth Branagh
  • Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant
  • From Asgard to Earth
  • Our Fearless Leader
  • Assembling the Troupe
  • Hammer Time
  • Creating Laufey
  • Music of the Gods
  • A Conversation
  • Road to the Avengers
  • Deleted Scenes


Hesher DVD Blu-ray

Hesher - This may be a good release, but the cover art is baffling. The most prevalent pull quote states, "Hilarious." If you didn't catch our Hesher review, you should be informed that the film is far from hilarious. It's a somber film about loss and recovery. Yes, it has some moments of comedic relief, but it's otherwise a pretty serious film. Regardless of what category it falls under, though, the DVD and Blu-ray release is a nice one for fans of independent cinema.

Watch your volume level on this one. The sound mix is very detailed and even offers 7.1 surround, but the moments that utilize such audio are shockingly loud. It's part of the identity of the film, as short spurts of metal rock splatter the speakers when you least expect it. Generally speaking, this home video release does a great job of making the most of Hesher's crisp cinematography. The bonus features are the only thing we would qualify as hilarious. Be sure to check out the extensive outtakes and an odd featurette called "Air Traffic."

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Air Traffic


Meek's Cutoff DVD Blu-ray

Meek's Cutoff - An award winner at the Venice Film Festival, Meek's Cutoff showcases Michelle Williams in a dramatic tale of an Oregon Trail trek. The DVD and Blu-ray come in the film's original 1.33:1 aspect ratio - an uncommon one that may cause confusion if you aren't prepared. A 10-minute making-of featurette is all you'll get with this home video release.


The Tempest DVD Blu-ray

The Tempest - Julie Taymor's unique vision of one of Shakespeare's works comes home after a tremendously poor run in movie theaters. The film only made $346,594 worldwide on a $20 million production budget. Coupled with her disastrous Spider-Man musical situation, it's been a tough year for the director. The release comes with very little to offer on every level, including the bonus features. If anything, it will provide a visual feast of imagery with a unique look.

  • Audio Commentary with director Julie Taymor
  • Russell Brand rehearsal riff
  • Music video: Reeve Carney, "O Mistress Mine"


Conan O'Brien Can't Stop DVD Blu-ray

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop - Gorgeous cover art headlines this documentary's debut on DVD and Blu-ray. The late night comedian's opportunistic documentary follows him in between jobs as he tries to keep the creative juices flowing with a massive live tour. As is the case with most documentaries, there is little to explore on the special features side of this home video.


Spartacus DVD Blu-ray

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena - If any television show deserves a look on home video it is Spartacus. Of course, the show already airs on television, but the advent of Blu-ray allows us to see the show in an even better way than during its initial run. It looks absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray, but both the DVD and Blu-ray brings some special features to the table as well - so much so that they merit a separate disc.

  • Audio Commentaries
  • 3D "Ring of Fire" Battle Sequence
  • Starz Studios: Gods of the Arena
  • Weapons of Mass Disruption
  • Battle Royale: Anatomy of a Scene
  • On Set with Lucy Lawless
  • 10 Easy Steps to Dismemberment
  • Post Production: The Final Execution
  • Enter the Arena: Production Design
  • Dressed to Kill
  • Convention Panel
  • Arena Bloopers


Big Bang Theory DVD Blu-ray

The Big Bang Theory - 500 minutes of the fourth season of The Big Bang Theory heads to home video with a basic sitcom transfer that doesn't impress, but also doesn't take away from the show's look or sound. That's right, you'll get all the surround sound canned laughter you can handle here. By shoving all 24 episodes onto two discs, there isn't much room for bonus features.

  • The Big Bang’s Theory of Relativity: Actor on Actor – Simon, Melissa, and Kunal
  • The Big Bang’s Theory of Relativity: Actor on Actor – Kaley and Johnny
  • Gag Reel
  • The Big Bang Theory Live
  • Barenaked Ladies on The Big Bang Theory
  • The Big Bang Theory Theme Song Music Video

VERDICT: Buy if you have the rest. Pass if you don't.

Glee DVD Blu-ray

Glee - While the Glee 3D movie did not fare well at the box office ($15.8 million worldwide), the show hopes to march on with the debut of season two on home video. The DVD and Blu-ray release devotes much of its power to a 5.1-surround mix that highlights the musical numbers. The bright colors of the show fair well on this 2-disc collection of all 22 episodes. The four-disc set includes a healthy array of bonus materials.

  • Glee Music Jukebox
  • Guesting on Glee
  • Stevie Nicks Goes Glee
  • A Day in the Life of Brittany
  • Sue's Quips
  • Santana Slams
  • The Wit of Brittany
  • Building Glee's Auditorium with Corey Monteith
  • Shooting Glee in New York City
  • The Making of the "Rocky Horror Glee Show"
  • Exclusive Bonus Song "Planet, Schmanet, Janet"
  • Getting Waxed with Jane Lynch
  • Glee at Comic Con 2010

VERDICT: Buy if you have the rest. Pass if you don't.

Supernatural DVD Blu-ray

Supernatural - As season seven approaches, the sixth season hits home video with a four-disc set. Nearly 1,000 minutes of the CW show are covered with a nice transfer that brings the "dark" show to life on DVD and Blu-ray. Fans of the show will be pleased with the assortment of supplemental materials on this set, but you won't be overwhelmed by it.

  • The Hunter's Guide to Season Six
  • Audio Commentaries
  • Jensen Ackles: A Director's Journey
  • Supernatural and the Quest for the Soul
  • "The French Mistake" Trivia Track
  • "The French Mistake" Alternate Takes and Outtakes
  • Supernatural: The Anime Series Episodes
  • Gag Reel

VERDICT: Buy if you have the rest. Pass if you don't.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia DVD Blu-ray

  • Audio Commentary on "The Gang Buys a Boat", "Who Got Dee Pregnant?", "Charlie Kelly: King of Rats" and "The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods" episodes.
  • "Lethal Weapon 5" Extended Cut with Optional Commentary
  • Dennis and Dee's Podcasts
  • Blooper Reel
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Legal Advice with Jack Kelly
  • The Sunny Flip Cup Trivia Challenge
  • Wilfred Pilot Episode

VERDICT: Buy if you have the rest. Pass if you don't.



Star Wars Blu-ray

Star Wars (Friday) - The #1 film on our 2010 list of Ten Movies That Need a Blu-ray finally makes it to the format. One of cinema's most iconic sagas of all time reaches Blu-ray amidst plenty of controversy. It wouldn't be a Star Wars discussion without a few complaints. But this time, George Lucas has irritated even his most loyal fans by making additional alterations to his already "enhanced" saga. Some of the changes include a CGI Yoda in Episode I and the addition of some dialogue to a rather famous moment in Episode VI.

Some fans have vowed to boycott the Blu-ray, but it is difficult to argue the value of this release. Aside from the obvious visual improvements of any film on Blu-ray, Lucas made the most of 6.1-surround sound. There's a reason everybody seems to go to Skywalker Sound for the best mixes in the land. It seems Lucas put his best on this transfer because it is absolutely mind-blowing.

While this Blu-ray will cost you a pretty penny at its retail price of $140 (cheaper at select outlets), it will give you your money's worth of special features. Across three extra discs, there is a flood of features that will take an entire weekend to explore, but sure sound worth the commitment.

  • Audio Commentaries - Each film has two commentaries. One features George Lucas and some cast members as heard on the DVDs. A second brings a number of cast and crew members together via individual interviews taken across the span of the last few decades.
  • Hours of Interviews
  • Almost 90 minutes of unseen deleted and extended scenes
  • The Collection - a closer look at items from the films.
  • Concept Art Gallery
  • Archive Fly-Through
  • The Making of Star Wars (49 minutes)
  • The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX (48 minutes)
  • Classic Creatures: The Return of the Jedi (48 minutes)
  • Anatomy of a Dewback (26 minutes)
  • Star Warriors (84 minutes)
  • Star Wars Tech (45 minutes)
  • A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later (25 minutes)
  • Star Wars Spoofs (97 minutes)

VERDICT: Buy it! Alterations or not. This is STAR WARS ON BLU-RAY!

Citizen Kane Blu-ray

Citizen Kane - Another film on our "10 Films That Need a Blu-ray Release" list comes to Blu-ray the same week as Star Wars. This cinematic gem came in at #5 on the list, but is just as deserving as Star Wars. It is widely considered the greatest film of all time according to many lists. At 70 years old, this is as good a year as any and it's a mighty fine release, too.

The video transfer comes from a 4K restoration, which means it is about as pristine as any release we've seen. The Blu-ray enhancement technology of today allows technicians to ensure this Blu-ray is the most efficient display available. It's difficult to provide merits for an audio track that stays true to its original sound design, of which many movie fans have outgrown with recent advents in sound mixing. This is still a Blu-ray release worth your money.

  • Commentaries by Roger Ebert and Peter Bogdanovich
  • Oscar-nominated documentary, 'The Battle Over Citizen Kane'
  • The Opening: World Premiere of Citizen Kane
  • Interviews
  • Production
  • Post Production
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • HBO documentary, 'RKO 281'
  • Orson Welles Citizen Kane Hardback Book
  • Original key art and advertisements on cardstock
  • Several RKO letters and tangentially related paper from Welles and others
  • Opening Night Souvenir Program


O Brother Where Are Thou DVD Blu-ray

O Brother, Where Art Thou? - Yet another Coen Brothers title comes to Blu-ray, but this time it is the pair's rendition of Homer's Odyssey. As are many of the Coen Brothers' films, O Brother remains a cult classic across a wide range of movie lovers. Even the film's musical track "A Man Of Constant Sorrow" became a hit in multiple mediums. The Blu-ray comes with a select few featurettes that fans of the film should enjoy.

  • Painting with Pixels
  • Production featurette
  • Storyboard-to-Scene comparison
  • "Man of Constant Sorrow" music video
  • Theatrical trailer

VERDICT: Buy if you don't own it yet.

Trainspotting Blu-ray

Trainspotting - In 1996, Danny Boyle jumped to the front lines of filmmaking with Trainspotting. While it doesn't hold up as well visually today, the Blu-ray brings out some bright spots in the film. It's not gorgeous, but the Blu-ray definitely improves upon the DVD.

  • Audio Commentary by Danny Boyle, Andrew Macdonald, John Hodge and Ewan McGregor
  • Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary
  • Trainspotting Retrospective
  • Interviews
  • Behind the Needle
  • The Making of Trainspotting
  • Cannes

VERDICT: Buy. It's a worthy upgrade.

The Count Of Monte Cristo Blu-ray

The Count of Monte Cristo - Disney and Touchstone bring this film adaptation of the famous novel to Blu-ray. A 5.1-surround track and a slight upgrade from the DVD video transfer are a decent enhancement to the film. But the DVD should do just fine, unless you've been waiting for this release.

  • Audio commentary w/ Kevin Reynolds
  • Layer-By-Layer
  • Five deleted scenes
  • The Clash Of Steel
  • Adapting A Classic
  • The Napoleonic World
  • The Pen
  • En Garde



Next week a true animated classic arrives on Blu-ray after 70 years as Dumbo emerges from the Disney vault. Other classics like Breakfast at Tiffany's and new release hits like Bridesmaids will give the ladies something to be proud of. It is definitely a less packed week of DVD and Blu-ray releases, but there are titles worth grabbing so keep some money in your account.

Stay tuned every Tuesday for the latest breakdowns of the latest home video releases.

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