One of the best weeks in DVD and Blu-ray releases is upon us. Of course, next week has a pair of special re-releases that put this entire week to shame, but we'll get into that later. For now, let's focus on the eight awesome home video releases that hit shelves today.
Two films we desperately wanted to see on Blu-ray finally make it to the format this week. In our 10 Movies That Need A Blu-ray Release, we begged Hollywood to bring us ten awesome movies to the Blu-ray format and we can knock a pair of films off that list now - Psycho and Apocalypse Now.
Nostalgia is a key phrase this week. Many of the notable releases are re-releases of classic films that had specific impacts on cinematic history. In addition, my first movie review for Screen Rant hits shelves today :-).
The following can be found on DVD and Blu-ray this week:
Predators - Nimrod Antal brought an all-star cast together for Predators on a moderate $40 million budget. In its theatrical run, the film found its niche and made a solid $126 million worldwide. Generally speaking, Predators was successful enough, garnering a 3 out of 5 review from our fearless leader, Vic Holtreman.
Our own Kofi Outlaw recently talked to Adrien Brody about starring in this reboot of the testosterone-filled Predator franchise. Just one look the now-buff Brody will shatter any doubts that the former toothpick thespian could hold up a leading role in a film like Predators.
It's interesting to see the Predators box art still riding the Robert Rodriguez gravy train. There isn't a single mention of director Nimrod Antal on the cover, but then again, Robert Rodriguez's name will sell better. It doesn't hurt that the home video release has a handful of great special features to enhance the experience:
- Commentary by producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimród Antal
- Motion comics -- "Moments of Extraction" - Robert Rodriguez presents exclusive prequel vignettes voiced by the cast of Predators. Witness the secret adventures that turned our world's most ruthless killers into the ultimate Predator prey.
- Evolution of the Species: Predators Reborn
- The Chosen Featurette (BD-exclusive)
- Fox Movie Channel presents: Making a Scene (BD-exclusive)
- Nine deleted and extended scenes (BD-exclusive)
- BD-Live -- Exclusive Predator Features (BD-exclusive)
- Live Lookup -- Powered by IMDB (BD-exclusive)
Oceans - Disneynature put a lot of effort in this visually stunning display of oceanic beauty. The $80 million production may have only squeaked by its production budget with an $81 million worldwide box office, but making money wasn't the point.
In my first Screen Rant review, I labeled Oceans a 3.5 out of 5 film. The big question was whether 90 minutes of underwater footage would hold up. After all, Pierce Brosnan's mesmerizing voice can only woo the mind for so long. As it turns out, Oceans serves its subject matter justice. It only falls apart when the political message and call to action takes away from the beautiful imagery by blaming mankind (including those watching the film) for the deterioration of sea life.
The special features on the home video release of Oceans looks pretty decent. Of course, there is a music video featuring Joe Jonas and Demi Levato. Other than the music video, I'm definitely excited about this release.
- Living Menus - an Interactive Experience (BD-exclusive)
- Filmmaker annotations (BD-exclusive)
- Music video: "Make a Wave", Disney's Friends for Change with Demi Levato and Joe Jonas
- Disney & Nature - Preserving the World We Share
- Deeper in the Ocean - Select Videos from Living Menus and Filmmaker Annotations
Apocalypse Now - Arguably the most epic production of all time, Apocalypse Now comes full-force, or should I say Full Disclosure, to the Blu-ray market. I begged for this in my 10 Movies That Need A Blu-ray Release article in April. The Apocalypse Now Full Disclosure Edition features the 1979 theatrical cut, the Redux cut and the greatest behind-the-scenes documentary ever made, Hearts of Darkness.
Francis Ford Coppola's brilliantly constructed retelling of the Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness puts the tale in the middle of the Vietnam War. On every single level, Apocalypse Now finds a way to close in on perfection. Plenty of viewers have found flaws and even disliked the film, but most will instantly recognize its enormous impact on movies. Apocalypse Now transcended film and became a part of a culture that was finally figuring itself out.
Of course, there is another edition coming out this week without the Hearts of Darkness documentary, but why spend money if you're not going to spend it right? This is one of the better releases I've ever seen on Blu-ray.
- "A Conversation with Martin Sheen" interview by Francis Ford Coppola
- "An Interview with John Milius" interview by Francis Ford Coppola
- Complete Francis Ford Coppola interview with Roger Ebert at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival
- Monkey Sampan "lost scene"
- Additional Scenes
- "Destruction of the Kurtz Compound" end credits with audio commentary by Francis Ford Coppola
- "The Hollow Men," video of Marlon Brando reading T.S. Eliot's poem
- The Birth of 5.1 Sound
- Ghost Helicopter Flyover sound effects demonstration
- A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now
- The Music of Apocalypse Now
- Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now
- The Final Mix
- Apocalypse Then and Now
- The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now
- PBR Streetgang
- The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now
- The Synthesizer Soundtrack" article by music synthesizer inventor Bob Moog
Full Disclosure Edition Also Includes:
- Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse -- Optional audio commentary with Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola
- 48-page collectible printed booklet with special note from Francis Ford Coppola, never-before-seen archives from the set, behind the scenes photos and more
- John Milius Script Excerpt with Francis Ford Coppola Notes
- Storyboard Gallery
- Photo Gallery, including images from photographer Mary Ellen Mark
- Marketing Archive
Psycho - The #8 film on our 10 Movies That Need A Blu-ray Release is now available on the format. One of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films and arguably his most iconic will look and sound better than ever on Blu-ray this week in honor of its 50th anniversary.
The new 5.1 DTS-HD surround sound should bring an entirely new element to the amazing film. The mono track will be available for viewers who want to hear the film in its original form, but why would you with the new surround sound. This is a testament to the power of the Blu-ray transfer on every level.
Revisit the legendary shower scene with this Blu-ray re-release and explore the making of Psycho with over a dozen supplements.
- Feature-length audio commentary with Stephen Rebello (Author of Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho)
- The Making of Psycho: A feature-length documentary on Hitchcock's most shocking film
- In the Master's Shadow – Hitchcock's Legacy: Some of Hollywood's top filmmakers discuss Hitchcock's influence and why his movies continue to thrill audiences.
- Hitchcock/Truffaut Interviews: Excerpts from a 1962 audio interview with Alfred Hitchcock.
- Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho: Vintage newsreel on the unique policy Alfred Hitchcock insisted upon for the release of the film.
- The Shower Scene: A look at the impact of music on the infamous "shower scene."
- The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass: Original storyboard design.
- Production Notes: Read an essay on the making of the film.
- The Psycho Archives: See the gallery of on-set photo stills from the film's production.
- Posters and Psycho Ads: See a gallery of original posters and ads from the theatrical campaign.
- Lobby Cards: View a gallery of promotional lobby cards from the film's theatrical campaign.
- Behind-The-Scenes Photographs: View rare photos showing the cast and crew at work.
- Psycho Sound: A never-before-seen piece that looks at the re-mastering process required to create a 5.1 mix from the original mono elements using Audionamix technology.
- Theatrical Trailer: Watch the original promotional trailer from the film's theatrical campaign.
- Re-Release Trailers: Watch the promotional trailer created for the re-release of the film.
Romeo + Juliet - One of two Baz Luhrmann Blu-ray releases this week is actually one of my favorite films. Hopefully I don't lose credibility with you fine readers, but the 1996 adaptation of William Shakespeare's epic love story has always hit the right chords with me. Leonardo DiCaprio is still the only actor I can imagine taking on the role of Romeo in the mid-90s and Claire Danes was great as Juliet.
The Blu-ray release should give the visually eccentric take on Shakespeare an extra kick. Colors are a major facet to most of Baz Luhrmann's films and the great video transfer should help those colors pop off the screen.
The bonus features are not extensive, but give some nice backdrop to the interesting adaptation. Although none are listed, hopefully the Blu-ray also features the DVD's features that include behind-the-scenes footage of casting and development.
- Shaking Up Shakespeare: Picture-in-Picture mode with audio commentary by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M. McAlpine and Craig Pearce and featuring behind-the-scenes footage and stills
- Uncut Footage from the Bazmark Vault
- Documentary: Romeo + Juliet: The Music
- Filmmaker and interview galleries
Moulin Rouge - The other Baz Luhrmann movie hitting Blu-ray this week stars Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman in the musical "counterpart" to Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. The two films are tremendously different in story, but share so much in common.
McGregor's vocal ability is put on display and Kidman's stage presence is presented to the camera. The raunchy tale is an exciting one that bleeds sexuality and keeps the addicting tunes coming.
Luhrmann supervised the transfer process for both films and the original negative was used. Rest assured, these transfers were meticulously put together with the director's best interests in mind. The bonus features give a great behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Moulin Rouge.
- Spectacular, Spectacular: Picture-in-Picture mode with audio commentary by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M. McAlpine and Craig Pearce, and featuring behind-the-scenes footage and stills
- All-new featurette: A Creative Adventure, with introduction by Baz Luhrmann A Word from Baz
- Uncut footage from the Bazmark vault including Father & Son: a look at an alternate opening and Nicole Kidman's first vocal test
- Production featurettes and interviews: The Stars, The Writers, The Design, The Dance, The Music, The Cutting Room
- The Making of Moulin Rouge
The Rocky Horror Picture Show - 35 years later, The Rocky Horror Picture Show still makes me cringe. It is the perfect "weird" movie and found a cult following that stays faithful to this day. Those people will be happy to add the film to their Blu-ray collection.
Tim Curry puts the [psycho] ward in awkward in his amazing turn as Dr. Frank-N-Furter. It's hard to describe the film without sounding like a bizarro myself, but if you've seen it, you know a plot synopsis is unnecessary. Rocky Horror is one of the craziest films out there.
The bonus features are just as intriguing as the film itself. I'd like to see most of these without spending the money to buy the movie. For some, Rocky Horror is an instant buy. For others, it is a never-touch. I'll rent the Blu-ray to get a glimpse at the supplements.
- The Midnight Experience: The Late Night, Double Feature, Picture-in-Picture Show, Vintage Callback Track (Unrated), Prop Box, Trivia Track (new)
- Audio Commentary by Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn
- Rocky-oke: Sing It! (new)
- Don't Dream It, Be It: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast, Part I (new)
- An-tic-i-pation: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast, Part II (new)
- Mick Rock (A Photographer) (new)
- Mick Rock's Picture Show (A Gallery) (new)
- Pressbook and Poster Gallery (new)
- Deleted Musical Scenes and Outtakes
- Alternate Credit Ending and Misprint Ending
- Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show
- Beacon Theater, New York City "Time Warp" Music Video (possibly from the 15th Anniversary VHS/LaserDisc?)
Seven Samurai - One of the most influential and beloved films ever made has been finally released on Blu-ray in yet another stunning transfer by Criterion Collection.
In a unique way, Akira Kurosawa’s classic set the standard for many of the westerns we see today. Films such as ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and Roger Corman’s 1980 version of ‘Battle Beyond the Stars’ were inspired by the epic tale. Unfortunately (or fortunately) they never replaced the Kurosawa classic about a town of besieged villagers pushed to their limit. Those villagers resort to hiring seven strongmen to protect them from the evil bandits who are wreaking havoc on their homes.
The special features on this historic Blu-ray take up two discs. If you have even the slightest love for Akira Kurosawa's work, these supplements will be a welcome addition.
- Scholars' Roundtable - a fascinating commentary with popular scholars and critics David Desser, Joan Mellen, Stephen Prince, Tony Rayns, and Donald Richie discussing the history of Seven Samurai, its landmark status, the impact the film and Mr. Kurosawa's work have had on generations of different filmmakers, etc. The comments provided by the scholars and critics were recorded between 2005 and 2006. In English, not subtitled.
- Michael Jeck - an audio commentary with Japanese film expert Michael Jack, which was recorded exclusively for Criterion in 1988. Most viewers are probably already familiar with it since it appeared on Criterion's SDVD release of Seven Samurai. In English, not subtitled.
- Akira Kurosawa - It Is Wonderful to Create - a documentary on the making of Seven Samurai, part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It is Wonderful to Create, featuring interviews with various Kurosawa collaborators, including writer Masayuki Yui, screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto, director Hiromichi Horikawa, set decorator Koichi Hamamura, script supervisor Teruyo Nogami, lighting technician Mitsuo Kaneko, actors Seiki Miyaguchi and Yoshio Tsuchiya. In Japanese, with optional English subtitles. (50 min, 1080i).
- My Life in Cinema: Akira Kurosawa - a lengthy video interview, filmed for the Directors Guild of Japan in 1993, featuring Akira Kurosawa and Nagisa Oshima. The two legendary directors discuss Kurosawa's life, career and legacy. In Japanese, with optional English subtitles. (116 min, 1080i).
- Seven Samurai: Origins and Influences - a very good documentary, recorded exclusively for Criterion, focusing on the important role the samurai occupy in Japanese history, art, and cinema. With comments by various scholars and critics, including Tony Rayns, Donald Richie, and David Desser. In English and Japanese, with optional English subtitles. (56 min, 1080i).
- Three Trailers and a Teaser - In Japanese, with optional English subtitles.
- Behind the scenes - (B&W, 1080p).
- Posters - Japanese, Polish, British, U.S., Argentine. (Color, 1080p).
- Booklet - 60-page illustrated booklet containing Kenneth Turan's essay "The Hours and Times"; Peter Cowie's essay "Seven Rode Together"; Philip Kemp's essay "A Time of Honor"; Peggy Chiao's essay "Kurosawa's Early Influences"; Alain Silver's essay "The Rains Came"; Stuart Galbraith's essay "A Magnificent Year"; a tribute from Arthur Penn; a tribute from Sidney Lumet; and Toshiro Mifune: In His Own Words.
What a week for the home video market. I hope you've been saving up money because there's at least $100 worth of DVD and Blu-ray discs worth the trip to the ATM.
But don't go too wild, because next week is another historic one. Two of the most anticipated Blu-ray releases of all time will hit shelves before this week's even have time to settle in: The Alien Anthology and Back to the Future Trilogy.
What will you spend your hard-earned cash on this week? Talk DVD and Blu-ray in the comments section below.