This week presents seven new titles to DVD and Blu-ray, but few carry a large fan base with them. We break down the handful of movies which are worth your money.
A pair of classics also hit shelves as Legends of the Fall and Thelma & Louise finally make their way to Blu-ray.
The new releases are less enticing, but horror fans can rejoice at the arrival of Paranormal Activity 2 and I Spit On Your Grave. On the other side of the spectrum are two romantic comedies for the early Valentine's Day shopper - You Again and Life As We Know It.
The following movies can now be found on DVD and Blu-ray.
Paranormal Activity 2 - At first, a sequel to one of the most profitable films of all time seemed like a cheap attempt at capitalizing on a rabid fan base. As it turns out, Paramount had a trick up their sleeve and made a sequel arguably better than the first. Regardless of which one you like better, Paranormal Activity 2 proved a huge success - enough to lock down Paranormal Activity 3 for a 2011 release.
In our 4-star review, Vic Holtreman praised Paranormal Activity 2 for "manag[ing] to feel different while also feeling familiar." The sense of familiarity did not just come from the scare tactics, but also its box office success: the sequel raked in $171 million worldwide on top of a $3 million production budget.
The DVD and Blu-ray releases include both the theatrical cut and the unrated director's cut, which should be an interesting watch. While that feature alone is enough for a rental, the limited special features make a purchase seem wasteful. In addition, the video quality is purposely degraded to portray a real-life feel, so Blu-ray might not enhance the visual component. The only supplement is almost four minutes of deleted scenes.
I Spit On Your Grave - The remake of a 1978 horror classic hits home video the same week its predecessor makes the jump to Blu-ray. You can pick up one or both this week, but if you preferred the 2010 edition, you are in for a mediocre release.
The remake didn't do so well at the box office, only earning $93,051 domestically. The DVD and Blu-ray poses itself as the unbearable edition with an unrated cut that challenges you to watch it all. Unfortunately, audiences didn't even want to watch it before the home video cover started taunting them.
There is little to get excited about in regards to special features. The unrated cut includes only a few supplements, none of which truly engage the viewer.
- Audio Commentary: Director Steven R. Monroe and Producer Lisa Hansen
- The Revenge of Jennifer Hills: Remaking a Cult Icon
- Deleted Scenes
Tamara Drewe - While it did not fair well at the box office (just under $9 million worldwide), Tamara Drewe proved to be a romantic comedy worth our time. In my 3.5-star review of the film, I described it as a movie that straddles the line between tragedy and comedy.
Tamara Drewe has plenty of predictable romantic moments, but those dull in comparison to the complicated love story. If you need to watch one movie on Valentine's Day, this has the best chance to please both sexes without shoving a famous ensemble cast down your throat. It has enough British charm to merit a rental, but I wouldn't go as far to say it has value as a purchase.
Like many of this week's releases, there is little to learn from Tamara Drewe's special features. There is at least one featurette on the origin of the story - a graphic novel by Posy Simmonds.
- Audio Commentary: Actors Gemma Arterton and Luke Evans
- The Making of Tamara Drewe
- Reconstructing Tamara Drewe
Life As We Know It - It seems a year can't go by without another Katherine Heigl romantic comedy. The latest edition has arrived at your doorstep with the DVD/Blu-ray release of her most recent baby mama drama comedy. The difference is that in Life As We Know It, she isn't giving birth to a child, but rather taking care of one. Of course, along the way Heigl falls into a romantic tangle with the charming Josh Duhamel.
If quirky British humor (see Tamara Drewe) isn't your loved one's type of Valentine's Day DVD/Blu-ray gift, this is your more traditional option. In addition, quite a few people saw this theatrical treat as it grossed $96 million worldwide.
With just over 30 minutes of bonus features, this release doesn't leave much to enjoy after the credits roll. It seems rare to have a studio comedy like this lack any kind of bloopers or true supplemental packaging, but viewers will have to make the most of what is provided.
- A Survival Guide to Instant Parenting
- Katherine Heigl: Becoming the Best Mom Ever
- Josh Duhamel: The Triplet Tamer
- Deleted Scenes
You Again - The best part of Disney's latest release is the endless hyperbole on the backside of the DVD and Blu-ray copies of You Again. It uses every synonym in the thesaurus to express how funny the movie is without giving much explanation to its actual content. While You Again does have its moments, it falls apart as a generic multi-generational family event.
If you are looking for a reason to watch this title on your home television, a brief cameo by Dwayne Johnson as an emotional Air Marshal is pretty funny. Even though the all-female leads seem to be having plenty of fun in their respective roles, the movie just doesn't come off as fun at all.
The Blu-ray does look and sound mighty fine, though. It presents a crisp, colorful image that works well with the family comedy genre of this Disney release. The special features give you about as much of director Andy Flickman as anybody can handle; he zips from featurette to featurette as if he couldn't stand a moment off camera. Like much of the movie, the supplements are fun enough for the family to enjoy once.
- Deleted Scenes
- Following Flickman: On Set With the Director
- Ask the Cast
- Funny or Die
- Blooper Dance Party
Legends of the Fall - In my opinion, Legends of the Fall is one of the best romantic movies for men of all time. As Valentine's Day approaches, push this to the top of the list if you need a new Blu-ray. Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins star in the 1994 drama that follows one complicated family and the romantic webs that tangle the relationships within.
Many classic films deserve a quality Blu-ray transfer, but Legends of the Fall is a gorgeous spectacle with landscapes that require the power of Blu-ray to truly jump off the screen. Pre-announced in late 2006, this Blu-ray release was well worth the wait.
The special features are not massive in size, but offer everything a fan of the film could desire. Two commentaries give the perspective of both director and cinematographer and deleted scenes include similar commentary.
- Audio commentaries: One with Director Ed Zwick and actor Brad Pitt and another featuring Cinematographer John Toll and production designer Lilly Kilvert
- Deleted Scenes with optional commentary
- Original theatrical promotional featurette
- Deconstructing Helena
Thelma & Louise - Ridley Scott's everlasting story of friendship heads to Blu-ray this week. Finally, we can relive one of the most memorable moments in movie history - the cliff jump. This 20th Anniversary Blu-ray release features a plethora of features and an overdue video transfer.
Blu-ray is a great format for a road trip movie that includes huge vistas and sweeping landscape shots. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis shine as the charismatic friends who push life to the edge. The real treat in this release is the extensive collection of supplemental material.
- Commentaries: One with Ridley Scott and one with Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and Callie Khouri
- Deleted and extended scenes
- Extended ending (with commentary by Ridley Scott)
- Documentaries and featurettes, including "Thelma and Louise: The Last Journey"
- Original theatrical featurette (with and without promotional narration)
- Multi-angle storyboards: The Final Chase
- Music video: Glenn Frey, "Part of You, Part of Me"
- Trailer and TV spots
A pair of classics trump a collection of mediocre new releases in this week's home video releases. Paranormal Activity 2 should do well on DVD and Blu-ray, but the best picks this week are Thelma & Louise and Legends of the Fall.
Next week is less impressive. It features Unstoppable and Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol. A few intriguing re-releases will find some Blu-ray fans, but otherwise it will be an underwhelming week. But check back on Tuesday to see if there are any surprises.