This week's DVD and Blu-ray releases are all new to the home video market. No significant re-releases hit shelves this week, so we will focus on the summer movies finally available to watch at home.
There are devils and secret agents hiding amongst us, sleazeballs and gossip queens infecting today's youth and some animated humor to keep you busy in the final weeks of 2010. If you are still looking for a holiday gift, DVD and Blu-rays are the safe bet. Between this and last week, you have plenty of choices.
The following releases can now be found on DVD and Blu-ray:
Salt - Angelina Jolie has played a handful of strong female characters, but this year she revisited the spy-action genre with Salt. The film did rather well for itself, earning nearly $300 million at the worldwide box office. In our 3.5 out of 5 star review, we called it "a decent spy-thriller that once again proves Angelina Jolie can out-punch, kick, and shoot just about any male action star out there."
As a major Sony release this summer, it must have been edited down to the studio's liking because the home video edition has three different cuts - theatrical, unrated and unrated extended. Either way, Salt holds up as summer popcorn entertainment - but I'm not so sure it will hold up upon repeat viewings. Director Phillip Noyce fits enough surprises in the movie to keep it relatively fresh.
The home video not only looks, but sounds phenomenal. Then again, most action movies do. Surround sound is highly recommended for this summer blockbuster. The special features are not too shabby either.
- Spy Cam: Picture-in-Picture (BD-exclusive)
- Commentaries: Filmmakers' commentary, Unrated filmmakers' commentary, Unrated extended filmmakers' commentary
- Featurettes: The Ultimate Female Action Hero, The Real Agents (BD-exclusive), Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt, The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce (BD-exclusive), False Identity: Creating a New Reality (BD-exclusive), "The Treatment" Radio Interview with Phillip Noyce
- SALT: Declassified (BD-exclusive)
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - The belated sequel to Wall Street (1987) continued Hollywood's obsession with Shia LaBeouf. Like his role in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the young actor stepped into an iconic story and made his contemporary mark. Whether you like LaBeouf or not, this outdated sequel was a fresh, updated take on an established storyline. It is enjoyable enough for a rental, but few will feel the need to own it.
If you love the original like I do, you'll be tempted to buy the DVD or Blu-ray. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is a sleek and shiny upgrade from the original. There are no more 10-pound cell phones and old school ticker tapes. The big hair is still there, but bright lights and big money are everywhere in this sequel.
There are plenty of special features to enjoy with this home video release. Oliver Stone provides a commentary and an intriguing five-part look at the real Wall Street is a nice addition for those interested.
- Commentary by director Oliver Stone
- A Conversation with Oliver Stone and the cast of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
- Money, Money, Money: The Rise and Fall of Wall Street (BD-exclusive): a five-part look at the real Wall Street and the challenges and changes that have impacted our economic climate over the last two decades. Includes: Unfinished Business: Oliver Stone & Cast Revisit Wall Street, Gordon Gekko is Back: Character Study, Lifestyles of the Wall Street Rich and Infamous, A Tour of the Streets of Wall Street, Trends, Schemes and Economic Collapse: How did it happen?
- Deleted and extended scenes (BD-exclusive)
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character With: Michael Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Cary Mulligan, Josh Brolin, Frank Langella (BD-exclusive)
Easy A - Every year seems to bring us a new adaptation on a classic story. This year's high school re-imagining was Easy A, which stars Emma Stone in a contemporary remake of "The Scarlet Letter". Director Will Glick presents a comedic take on the story, placing it in 21st century high school and overloading it with drama. Emma Stone makes this 100 times better than Amanda Bynes' (who happens to be in Easy A) Snow White remake Sydney White. However, if the film has a flaw, it's the ridiculous concept that an entire high school would care that one girl (who goes unnoticed her entire life) has lost her virginity to somebody outside of school - unless I just went to the wrong high school.
Easy A did extremely well considering its $8 million production budget. After a 94-day theatrical run, it ended up with $72 million worldwide. The movie looks and sounds great, especially for a high school dramedy. Emma Stone's colorful look and bubbly personality are on full display in a surprisingly clean image transfer. The special features are almost exclusively focused on her comedic output and it serves the home video well.
- Commentary with Director Will Gluck and Emma Stone
- Emma Stone's Webcam Audition Footage
- Extra Credit: Pop-Up Trivia Track (BD-exclusive)
- The Making of Easy A (BD-exclusive)
- The School of Pop Culture: Movies of the Eighties (BD-exclusive)
- Vocabulary of Hilarity (BD-exclusive)
- Gag Reel
Devil - When the trailers hit theaters for Devil, it was met with an onslaught of laughter thanks to the appearance of M. Night Shyamalan's name in the title cards. Coming off the embarrassment of The Last Airbender, Shymalan's attachment was somewhat misunderstood. His only involvement was the creation of the story behind the movie. Those who saw the movie may recognize this, based on its vast improvement over recent Shyamalan films.
While it didn't make a boatload of cash at the box office, Devil did rake in $54 million worldwide and a generous 3.5 out of 5 star review from our own Kofi Outlaw. If you were hesitant to check out the movie in theaters either because of the horror element or Shyamalan's proximity to the project, now is a good time to rent it.
Unfortunately, the special features are slim. Even the titles of the three featurettes suggest Universal just wanted to toss the home video in a dumpster behind the studio. Whatever the reason is, anybody looking for a more in-depth exploration on the production of Devil will be out of luck here.
- The Story
- The Devil's Meeting
- The Night Chronicles
Step Up 3 - The Step Up movies are not for everyone. In fact, they are not for most people. But a huge subculture of dance enthusiasts absolutely love the franchise. For once, a movie completely embraced the sight gags of 3D. There are countless attempts at breaking the third dimension with certain dance moves, splashing water, thrown powder and more. Unless you are a fan of the music video and dance scene, Step Up 3 is a waste of your money if you don't watch it in 3D.
Step Up 3 is a colorful movie - likely the most colorful you'll see in a while. It looks great on DVD and Blu-ray because of the production details and a crisp transfer by Disney. More importantly, the sound is phenomenal. Pump up the volume and you can experience a true surround sound music event. Unfortunately, those dance battles and narrative dance sequences only take up about 60% of the movie - the rest filled with mediocre plot development.
The special features are specific to this film. While many home videos sport a feature commentary and a behind-the-scenes featurette, Disney knew their audience. The supplements include every music video associated with the songs used in the film. In addition, the documentary "made by the main character" of Step Up 3 can be seen in its full form. It's actually an inspiring short film exploring the personal meaning of dance to each individual.
- Extra Moves – a music montage featuring the dancers with alternate angles and extra footage
- Music Videos: Flo Rida Featuring David Guetta, "Club Can't Handle Me", Roscoe Dash and T-Pain Featuring Fabo, "My Own Step (Theme from Step Up 3)", Trey Songz, "Already Taken", Laza Morgan, "This Girl", Sophia Fresh Featuring T-Pain, "This Instant", Sophia Del Carmen Featuring Pitbull, "No Te Quiero (Remix)", Wisin y Yandel, "Irresistible", Jrandall, "Spirit of the Radio"
- Making of the music videos
- Born from a Boom Box: A Luke Katcher Film - Never-before seen documentary that Luke made to get into film school (BD-exclusive)
- Deleted scenes with intros by director Jon M. Chu (BD-exclusive)
Futurama: Volume 5 - It feels like Futurama has been around far longer than five seasons, but the latest is ready for its home video release. The two-disc set includes all 13 episodes.
As with most television show home video releases, the special features are the real treat. The deleted and extended scenes are easily the best part - they always end up filled with laughs and sorely missed scenes.
- Audio commentaries
- Deleted and extended scenes
- Bend it Like Bender
- Previously On...
- Fry's Crudely-Drawn Comic Book - The Crudely Animated Edition
- Behind the Fungus: Makin' a Hit Song
- "The Prisoner of Benda" table read
- Fry's Crudely Drawn Comic Book Alternate Design
- Bender audio outtakes
Laugh It Up, Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy - Family Guy has finally completed their parody of the original Star Wars trilogy. The trilogy will include Blue Harvest (previously unreleased on Blu-ray), Something Something Something Dark Side and the most recent It's A Trap!
While many prefer the Robot Chicken Star Wars spoofs, I have an equal adoration for Family Guy's stab at the saga. The trilogy on Blu-ray is a step up from Robot Chicken's stop-motion animation. I look forward to watching the Family Guy parody in full. Unfortunately, there are no details on special features at this time.
This week was full of new releases on DVD and Blu-ray. The holidays have provided plenty of options for home video purchases, but next week the choices are limited. Within those limits are some squeamish options, like Resident Evil: Afterlife.
Check back every Tuesday for more home video breakdowns. And Merry Christmas.