Some great titles hit DVD and Blu-ray this week. Nearly every genre is accounted for, which should leave at least one solid pick to add to your collection.
Every once in a while, a studio releases one of their more popular films on home video later in the week. This week, Rango and Arthur both hit shelves on Friday. But the rest of the notable titles will release on Tuesday as usual, including The Lincoln Lawyer, Insidious, Entourage and Robot Chicken.
The following titles can be found on DVD and Blu-ray. Click on any image to order that film from Amazon.
NEW RELEASES - TUESDAY
The Lincoln Lawyer - Matthew McConaughey's serious, but still charismatic turn as criminal attorney Mick Haller didn't do crazy numbers at the box office, but did earn him some positive buzz for acting. In his 4-star review of the movie, Vic Holtreman called it "an overall solid and entertaining film."
The term "gritty" is thrown around far too often in reference to movies that sport a darker tone than most, but The Lincoln Lawyer deserves that description. The film's look transitions well onto home video and is presented in a sharp transfer accompanied by a subtle 7.1 surround sound mix. Usually that is reserved for the more bombastic movies, but the street ambience fills those extra speakers well.
As for the bonus features on this DVD/Blu-ray release, be prepared for somewhat of a letdown. It comes with a little over 30 minutes of material that only scratches the surface of the film's genesis. It almost entirely focuses on Michael Connelly's role in this adaptation of his novel.
- Making the Case: Creating The Lincoln Lawyer
- Michael Connelly: At Home on the Road
- One on One with McConaughey and Connelly
- Deleted Scenes
Insidious - James Wan presented one terrifying movie to follow up his Saw franchise, earning a 4-star review from us. And considering its $1.5 million budget, the $87 million take at the worldwide box office makes it a bona fide success.
The movie was shot digitally, and that translates well on the small screen. While the difference between film and digital can be distracting on the big screen, it really adds to the visual punch on TVs and computers. More importantly, the sound design drives Insidious - even when the visuals are stunning, as seen in the entire third act. To some extent, the sound design and music choices are over-the-top, but it fits the bill as this movie is constructed to attack your senses. Turn the volume up and you will not be disappointed by this home video.
The supplements on this DVD/Blu-ray release are not quite as praise-worthy. The three featurettes roll in at under 30 minutes of material and offer little to the engaged movie fan.
- Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar
- On Set with Insidious
- Insidious Entities
Entourage: Season 7 - This season wasn't only tough on the guys, but fans alike. Both Ari and Vince hit severe rough patches in their lives, leaving a lot of problems to be solved in the eighth and final season that premieres July 24th. Two weeks should be plenty to complete the seventh season - I flew through it in one evening thanks to its addictive qualities.
The bonus features were basically the same as other Entourage home video releases. There are three audio commentaries and a pair of mediocre featurettes. I've always wanted more out of these DVDs, but with the final season coming up we may be provided a complete series box set that includes extra materials. this season includes a Sasha Grey featurette that one would think would entertain; it doesn't.
- Three Audio Commentaries
- Inside the Hollywood Highlife
- The Shades of Sasha Grey
VERDICT: BUY (if you have the other 6 seasons. If not, wait for the full box set next year and RENT this one.)
Robot Chicken: Star Wars III - It's ironic that George Lucas would shut down a harmless Star Wars marathon of a devoted fan the same week that the Lucas-approved parody of his saga hits DVD and Blu-ray. The third installment of Robot Chicken's stop-motion parody loses some of its luster from the previous two, but stays true to its roots and completes the trilogy of parody. The real question now is whether you prefer Robot Chicken or Family Guy when it comes to animated satire of Star Wars.
While Robot Chicken looks fantastic on Blu-ray, it also makes it feel less authentic. Obviously stop-motion animation involves miniatures, and that is no surprise. But the increased quality accentuates the miniature qualities of the figurines used and can be distracting at times. Overall, it's a small price to pay for the hilarious punches the comedy pulls. The best part of this release is how it makes up for such limited material - it is only 45 minutes after all - with a plethora of bonus materials.
- Four Audio Commentaries:
- Chicken Nuggets
- Six Featurettes
- 25 Minutes of Deleted Scenes and Animatics
- Robot Chicken Skate Tour '09
- Star Wars Celebration V Robot Chicken Panels
- Time Lapse
- Animation Reference
- Skywalker Ranch Premiere
- Gag Reel
- Sunday in the Boardroom with George Lucas
VERDICT: Buy if you have the other two.
NEW RELEASES - FRIDAY
Rango - Not everybody was as impressed with Rango. After all, we gave it a 2.5-star review and Ben Kendrick said, "Much like the characters in Rango, no matter how competent its various parts, the completed film comes up short in our rapidly changing times." Gore Verbinski's animated film showcases Johnny Depp's voice talents with Industrial Light and Magic's visual skills to tell a slightly tweaked Western. Although it cost $135 million to make, it did earn a modest $242 million worldwide.
As if this gorgeously animated film - with help of legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins - needed any help, the Blu-ray looks as flawless as any I've seen. Unless you are watching this movie on this television set, you are going to find it tough to beat the video quality of Rango - even then you might be impressed.
The bonus features give fans even more to smile about as it explores the creation and experimentation involved in the film's production. There is nearly 90 minutes of material and an audio commentary for the extended cut that is included in the home video release. Given the behind-the-scenes videos released prior to the film's theatrical debut, we knew there was plenty to be shared by the filmmakers.
- Audio Commentary Director Gore Verbinski, Head of Story James Ward Byrkit, Production Designer Mark McCreery, Animation Director Hal Hickel and Visual Effects Supervisor Tim Alexander
- Breaking the Rules: Making Animation History
- Deleted Scenes
- Real Creatures of Dirt
- Storyboard Reel Picture-in-Picture
- A Field Trip to Dirt
Arthur - While we weren't huge fans of the film, giving it a 2-star review, the DVD and Blu-ray release is as dull as any this week. The film itself released poorly, only earning $45 million worldwide on a $40 million budget. Considering the original movie made $95 million back in 1981, we can safely say this was a flop. The home video isn't much of an improvement.
The video transfer forces the heavy colors onto the small screen, but it looks manipulated from the theatrical color, which wasn't as distracting. The audio is basic and offers little to any home surround system.
As for the bonus features on this home video release - we find it hard to call anything about it a bonus. A one-minute gag reel is the only entertaining aspect of the supplements and you would expect more than a minute from a freestyle comedian like Russell Brand.
- Arthur Unsupervised
- Additional Footage
- Gag Reel
Brazil - Truly creative films are common from Terry Gilliam, but few are as expansive as Brazil. Unfortunately, this Blu-ray re-release doesn't even hold a candle to the twelve-year-old Criterion Collection DVD release that included multiple cuts of the film and extensive bonus materials. This release simply brings the one cut Universal approved to the table and does nothing with it.
The video quality is not that much improved from the DVD releases of past and the audio is a weak 5.1 mix. But it gets much worse than this. This Blu-ray has zero bonus materials. While many Gilliam fans will likely rush to the shelves to get this title on Blu-ray, I implore you to resist on all counts. It is a pointless release that offers nothing to fans and nothing to the movie. One can only assume Brazil will be released on Blu-ray by Criterion soon enough, so save your money for that unannounced date.
Next week presents some fantastic titles on both DVD and Blu-ray. The foreign classic, Amelie, reaches Blu-ray as more recent hits like Limitless and Doctor Who find their way to home video. In addition, The Boy with the Striped Pajamas (a heartbreaking Holocaust story) and Take Me Home Tonight (a heartbreakingly bad movie) also release.
Stay tuned and return every Tuesday for the breakdown of DVD and Blu-ray releases.