One true classic and a few not-so-classic films hit DVD and Blu-ray this week. Next week has one of the best collections of new and old releases on the home video market, but until then, some lighthearted films will keep you entertained.
A massive box office bust (How Do You Know) and a box office surprise (Yogi Bear) go up against an A-lister romantic thriller (The Tourist) and the first alien invasion movie of the season (Skyline). But the release to own this week is the Blu-ray re-release of Stand By Me.
The following titles are now available on DVD and Blu-ray:
The Tourist - Although it rarely dips into the comedy genre, The Tourist earned a Golden Globe nomination and earned over $250 million worldwide. In our 2.5-star review, Vic Holtreman called it an "overt effort to emphasize that Angelina Jolie is beautiful and that Johnny Depp is a ‘regular guy.’" While the movie tries to be too clever for its own good, it does provide a visual love letter to Italy with a pair of Hollywood's finest stars in the limelight.
As it should be, the film looks gorgeous on DVD and Blu-ray. It is colorful and the leading actors fill out the scenery rather well. Angelina Jolie glows on screen. The audio is a bit underwhelming, but when the action kicks in it thrives on surround sound.
The extra features of this home video release are not extensive, but a handful of short featurettes exploring the production of The Tourist add to the overall experience. Unfortunately, the lack of truly in-depth featurettes keeps the audience at a distance.
- Audio Commentary: Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
- Canal Chats
- A Gala Affair
- Action in Venice
- Bringing Glamour Back
- Tourist Destination -- Travel the Canals of Venice
- Alternate Animated Title Sequence
- Outtake Reel
Skyline - The small-budget film that tried to play like a big-time blockbuster didn't blow away the box office, but it did well all things considered. Then again, $60 million at the worldwide box office and awful reviews doesn't equal a solid shelf life on home video. With a number of other alien invasion movies hitting screens this year, Skyline has little hope of ending up on top. But it does get a head start on DVD and Blu-ray this week.
While the disaster spectacle will serve those with home theaters well, other television sets may not have such a memorable experience with Skyline. The movie is loud and has plenty of effects to examine in high definition, but it offers little else to make this worth a purchase.
The special features are limited, but a pair of audio commentaries make this an intriguing release. The directors and writers each get individual commentaries that should help explain how the movie came to be.
- Directors' Audio Commentary: Co-directors Greg and Colin Strause
- Writers' Audio Commentary: Co-writer/producer Liam O'Donnell and co-writer Joshua Cordes
- Deleted and Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Alternate Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Pre-Visualizations with Optional Commentary
- Trailers with Optional Commentary
How Do You Know - As far as romantic comedies go, How Do You Know is one of the most expensive ever made at $120 million. But it's no surprise considering the names involved: James L. Brooks directed, Jack Nicholson, Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson starred, Hans Zimmer scored and Janusz Kamiński shot the film. The only problem with the film is that it is terrible considering the talent involved. It's a bearable romantic comedy, but it serves as a practical waste of talent compared to other films of late. In addition, it turned out to be one of the biggest flops in recent memory, raking in only $42 million worldwide.
James L. Brooks likes to showcase colorful films with his romantic comedies and this is no different. The video transfer thrives with the strong colors and the sound is decent enough, but doesn't need to excel in this average film.
One of the best collections of bonus features this week can be found with How Do You Know. It may not be the film with the most interesting making-of story, but there are enough big names involved that it should add some good stories to the development of an A-list film that performed like a D-list flop.
- Audio Commentary: Writer/Director James L. Brooks and Cinematographer Janusz Kamiński
- Select Scenes Commentary: Writer/Director James L. Brooks and Actor Owen Wilson
- Deleted Scenes
- Blooper Reel
- Extra Innings
- A Conversation with James L. Brooks and Hans Zimmer
- Interactive Script Gallery
- "The George"
Yogi Bear - The Smurfs is the next classic cartoon headed for cinematic disaster like Yogi Bear. Of course, a studio might not see a $200 million worldwide gross as a failure, but the critics gave it hell in a pile of negative reviews. In our 2.5-star review, Paul Young called it "a movie aimed squarely at the 10 and under crowd – but with far fewer childish jokes and sight gags then one would imagine."
Like most of this week's releases, the colorful film looks good on DVD and Blu-ray. At times, the CGI characters are too shiny and fake to match the live-action scenes they exist in, but the audience of children it is intended for won't notice the difference.
As it should, this family-friendly home video has supplements that are functional for the whole family. It may not be loaded with games like some of Disney's releases, but it adds new material to a classic. The Road Runner animated short may even be better than the entire Yogi Bear film to which it is attached.
- Spending a Day at Jellystone Park
- Yogi Bear Mash-Up
- Are You Smarter than the Average Bear?
- Looney Tunes: Rabid Rider
Stand By Me - As if Stephen King needed more proof that he is not just a fantastic horror writer, this adaptation of one of King's novels is a true classic in every sense of the word. Current celebrities as kids starring in a coming-of-age tale from the mid-80s is everything we love about films in that decade. There are few films that capture the essence of being a young man in an adult scenario like Stand By Me.
Stand By Me isn't the most glorious Blu-ray on the video front, but it will suffice with such a strong story. The performances and plot are so powerful that it keeps you happy about owning this Blu-ray, but if you are a cinephile hoping for a transfer that looks like it was shot yesterday, this is not the Blu-ray for you.
A 90-minute picture-in-picture commentary is the highlight of this Blu-ray re-release. Director Rob Reiner and actors Wil Wheaton and Corey Feldman discuss every single interesting angle of the film's production and those involved in a collection of memories that flow like the film itself.
- 25 Years Later: A Picture-in-Picture Commentary Retrospective
- Audio Commentary
- Walking the Tracks: The Summer of Stand By Me
- Stand By Me Music Video
Next week provides more enticing releases on both fronts - new releases and Blu-ray re-releases. Black Swan, Tangled and Mad Men: Season 4 hit home video, while Teen Wold and The Ten Commandments get the Blu-ray treatment.
Discuss the movies you will rent or buy this week and what you hope to get in the near future in our comments section below.