It is another huge week for home video. Almost a dozen DVD and Blu-ray releases are worth your attention, ranging from classic films to remakes of classic films.
It seems every genre is represented this week, from film Noir to grindhouse double features. There are kids kicking butt and kids turning their heads all the way around. Max is mad and beauty falls in love with a beast.
All puns aside, this week is one of the best in terms of sheer volume and should give you no reason to leave your collection alone. There is something for everybody.
The following releases can be found on DVD and Blu-ray.
The Karate Kid - The announcement of a Karate Kid remake caused some fuss for awhile, but Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan did a fine job of recreating the magic of the 1984 hero's journey. Our own Vic Holtreman gave the film a 3.5 out of 5 and called it "a fresh take on the original."
While I wouldn't say it is anywhere near as good as the original, it was a worthy remake for modern audiences. Jackie Chan proved he is more than a stunt actor posing as a leading man.
On just a $40 million budget, The Karate Kid managed a whopping $354 million worldwide box office. Needless to say, a sequel is already in the works.
As for the home video release, there are plenty of special features to keep you occupied. Not to mention, they've tossed in a music video by the one and only Justine Bieber, featuring Jaden Smith. Now that's how you make the most of Blu-ray's 50 GB storage space :-P.
- ON LOCATION: The Karate Kid Interactive Map of China
- Alternate Ending
- Play All Hosted by Jackie Chan
- Production Diaries Hosted by Jackie Chan
- Chinese Lessons - Learn Chinese!
- Music Video: Justin Bieber Featuring Jaden Smith "Never Say Never"
- Just for Kicks: The Making of The Karate Kid
- PS3 Wallpaper Theme
A Nightmare on Elm Street - This week's other remake of a mid-80s film tickles the horror crowd. When I heard Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen) would take on the role of Freddy Krueger in the remake, my expectations ran high. Unfortunately for most, including our own Kofi Outlaw, the remake was "an unimaginative rehash that strips Freddy Krueger of the charms that made him a horror icon."
While the film was visually impressive, it still missed the personality and timeless quality of the original. Audiences gave it a chance, leading the film to a $112 million box office on a $35 million budget. The success was enough to green light a sequel, but the general consensus is that A Nightmare on Elm Street was a missed opportunity.
On the Blu-ray release, you will also get a DVD and Digital Copy to fill out your collection. The special features are small, but should add to your experience.
- Maniacle Movie Mode (WB's Maximum Movie Mode)
- Freddy Krueger Reborn
- Maniacle Movie Mode
- Alternate opening
- Alternate ending
- Deleted scene
Splice - Few people saw Splice in theaters, only mustering up a $25 million box office on a $30 million budget. But those who did see the film in theaters had a blast. Our own Vic Holtreman gave it a 4 out of 5 stars and called it "the creepiest movie to come out so far this year."
Overall, Splice was a fun movie with a specific take on its genre. It is definitely worth the pickup on DVD or Blu-ray. I wouldn't be surprised if it puts up big numbers in the home video market.
You can find a Blu-ray release that includes the DVD and Digital Copy. Unfortunately, that release only has one lone special feature - a documentary called A Director's Playground: Vicenzo Natali on the Set of Splice.
The Human Centipede - One of the most talked about movies of 2009 is finally on home video. The ravenous fan base will surely eat this release up, but will the movie finally break itself out of super-indie status? After all, it only registered $181,467 in the U.S. box office.
While I wouldn't go as far as the comment on the actual DVD/Blu-ray box, Human Centipede was exactly what it set out to be - a disgusting fetish film for the torture-porn crowd. Human Centipede has become a cultural joke, but maybe that was part of the plan - to simply become a part of the conversational zeitgeist.
Unfortunately, the special features are as basic as they come. I was hoping for actor interviews and behind-the-scenes footage to get a full grasp on the general attitude on set for such a perverse film. These will have to do.
- Director commentary
- Making of
- Deleted scene
- Alternate posters
Beauty and the Beast - One of the most cherished animated films of all time hits the Blu-ray format in a comprehensive look back at the box office smash hit. The financial success of Beauty and the Beast really was profound - on just a $25 million budget, it made $377 million worldwide.
The Diamond Edition Blu-ray release is getting all kinds of buzz for its all-inclusive features and beautiful audio and video transfer. There is so much to offer, Disney has provided two 50 GB discs to fit it all in. Enjoy reading all of the features the two-disc Diamond Edition has to offer.
(Special thanks to Blu-ray for providing the extensive information on the special features.)
- Special Extended and Original Theatrical Editions: Two versions of Beauty and the Beast are available from the outset. A 92-minute "Special Extended Edition" and the film's 85-minute theatrical cut.
- Storyreel Picture-in-Picture Experience: Fans can view the theatrical cut alongside the filmmakers' original storyreel, an incredibly early version of the film that features rough animation, hand-drawn storyboards and other preproduction artwork.
- Audio Commentary: Producer Don Hahn and co-directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale discuss the Special Extended Edition of Beauty and the Beast and waste little time doing so. The trio dissect the story and characters, the animation techniques utilized throughout the film, its place in Disney history, the dialogue and songs, casting and the voice recording sessions, the challenges they faced during its long and complex production and much, much more. It's a thoroughly engaging and informative track that should not be missed.
- Sing Along Track: The Special Extended cut even offers a text-based "Sing Along Mode" for anyone interested in belting out a Disney tune or two in the privacy of their own home.
- Fast Play: Looking for yet another way to watch Beauty and the Beast? In a fit of overkill, the BD wizards at Disney have also devised a "Fast Play Mode" that allows users to customize and automate their viewing experience based on time and specific interests. It's rather extraneous, but I'm sure someone will enjoy it. Don't like it? Move along then, there's plenty of other content on tap.
- Beyond Beauty (HD, 157 minutes): An interactive, feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary teeming with worthwhile bonus content all its own (simply press "enter" when the on-screen icons appear to extend the experience further). A handy pop-up menu even keeps track of which sub-featurettes and branching segments you have and haven't watched, making the whole of the documentary as effortless as it is extensive.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 28 minutes): Former Walt Disney Studios chairman Peter Schneider introduces a sprawling alternate opening (pieced together from a studio storyreel created before the official voice actors were cast) and story supervisor Roger Allers does the same for a deleted scene (composed of storyboards) involving Belle's exploration of the Beast's library.
- Classic DVD Bonus Features (SD, 62 minutes): The previously released DVD's high quality materials are included as well, albeit in standard definition. "The Story Behind the Story" digs into seven separate Disney films; Hahn presides over an early presentation reel and an alternate version of "Be Our Guest;" Menken unveils an alternate score for "The Transformation;" Hahn and Menken introduce "Human Again," a deleted song comprised of storyboards; a collection of "Animation Tests, Roughs & Clean-Ups" proves to be an all-too-short treat; a "Camera Move Test" provides a glimpse at the virtual sets created for the film's most complex shots; a "Music Video" features Celine Dion performing "Beauty and the Beast;" and a series of trailers and TV spots will satisfy completists.
- Composing a Classic (HD, 20 minutes): Composer Alan Menken, music agent and Disney historian Richard Kraft, and producer Don Hahn chat at length about the film's rousing songs and musical score, as well as the art of furthering a story through music.
- Broadway Beginnings (HD, 13 minutes): A string of name-that-face celebrities, production team members and stage actors wax poetic about the Broadway adaptation of the film.
- Music Video (HD, 3 minutes): Jordin Sparks performs "Beauty and the Beast."
- Bonjour - Who Is This? (HD): An interactive game for 2-8 players that, strangely enough, requires each player to use either their home or cell phone. Frankly, I can't imagine anyone going to so much trouble for so little. But I'm sure someone out there will try to assemble their friends to play.
- Enchanted Musical Challenge (HD): A more accessible game in which players have to search the Beast's castle and answer trivia questions to find four of Belle's friends.
- Sneak Peeks (HD, 15 minutes): Among the disc's Blu-ray sneak peeks? Toy Story 3, The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland: Special 60th Anniversary Edition (coming in 2011), Dumbo, A Christmas Carol, Tangled Bambi, Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.
- Screen Saver, Adaptive Menus and BD-Live Functionality: A screen saver, another smartly designed Disney Smart Menu and a BD-Live Access Portal round out the supplemental package.
The Exorcist - If The Exorcist was too scary for you to even think about it again, this 2-disc Digibook release may not be for you. The special edition will provide unprecedented features and both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film. That's enough to turn your head all the way around.
The real treat here are the extensive special features. It's easy to look forward to a great movie on Blu-ray, but a real treat when the studio gives you an all-access pass to the cinematic legend. Add to this a 40-page booklet with images and backstory on the film's creation and this is the most comprehensive Exorcist release ever.
Disc 1: - Extended Director's Cut (2000) plus Special Features
- Commentary by William Friedkin
- Raising Hell: Filming the Exorcist – set footage produced and photographed by Owen Roizman, camera and makeup tests, and interviews with director William Friedkin, actress Linda Blair, author/screenwriter/producer William Peter Blatty and Owen Roizman (new; Blu-ray exclusive)
- The Exorcist Locations: Georgetown Then and Now – Featuring a tour of the iconic locations where the film was shot (new; Blu-ray exclusive)
- Faces of Evil: The Different Versions of The Exorcist – with director William Friedkin and author/screenwriter/producer William Peter Blatty discussing the different versions of the film and featuring outtakes from the film (new; Blu-ray exclusive)
- Trailers, TV spots & radio spots from the film's 2000 release
Disc 2 - Theatrical Cut (1973) plus Special Features
- Introduction by William Friedkin
- Commentaries by William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty with Special Sound Effects Tests
- The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist [1998 BBC documentary]
- Additional interviews with William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty:
- Original ending
- Sketches & storyboards
- Trailers & TV spots from the 1973 version
Grindhouse - I've been holding out for this release every day since the movies hit theaters. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's collaborative effort to revitalize the old-school double feature didn't go so well at the box office, but it gave fans of the directors and the genres involved something to salivate over.
Death Proof and Planet Terror gave us an inside look at the dual dream of two filmmakers that wanted to give movie lovers something special. The world didn't take to it, but maybe Tarantino and Rodriguez don't care. After all, there is a cult following that passionately loves these films.
The double feature Blu-ray release is everything the original releases of the films should have been. A mashed-up wonder ride back to the days where these double features were a mainstay. The special features make the Blu-ray release even more exciting for those interested.
- Audience Reaction Track
- Audio Commentaries
- 10 Minute Film School
- The Badass Babes of 'Planet Terror'
- The Guys of 'Planet Terror'
- Casting Rebel
- Robert Rodriguez' 10 Minute Cooking School
- The Makeup Effects of 'Planet Terror'
- Sickos, Bullets and Explosions: The Stunts of 'Planet Terror'
- The Friend, the Doctor and the Real Estate Agent
- 'Planet Terror' Poster Gallery includes publicity material for both Machete and Planet Terror
- Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of 'Death Proof'
- Quentin's Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke
- The Guys of 'Death Proof'
- Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike
- Finding Quentin's Gals
- Uncut 'Baby, It's You' by Mary Elizabeth Winstead
- Introducing Zoë Bell
- 'Double Dare' Trailer
- 'Death Proof' Poster Gallery
- Extended Movie Cues
- The Hot Rods of 'Death Proof'
- From Texas to Tennessee: The Production Design of 'Death Proof'
- Extended 'Werewolf Women of the S.S.' Trailer (with optional commentary by Rob Zombie)
- The Making of 'Werewolf Women of the S.S.'
- Extended 'Don't' Trailer (with optional commentary by Edgar Wright)
- The Making of 'Don't' Trailer
- 'Don't' Storyboard/Trailer Comparison (with optional commentary by Edgar Wright)
- 'Don't' Storyboards Still Gallery;
- 'Don't' Poster (with extended score excerpts by David Arnold)
- The Making of 'Thanksgiving' Trailer
- New York Times Talk
- Comic-Con 2006
- Hobo With A Shotgun
The Last of the Mohicans - The 1992 Michael Mann film helped catapult the director to the head of Hollywood after also giving us Manhunter. Daniel Day-Lewis stars in the film that won an Oscar for Best Sound. The new Blu-ray release will provide audiences with the "definitive" director's cut. The sprawling epic should now be complete and you can add it to your Blu-ray collection.
The special features are limited, but provide an extra glimpse into the making of The Last of the Mohicans.
- Commentary by director Michael Mann
- The Making of The Last of the Mohicans featuring new interviews with Daniel Day-Lewis
- Theatrical trailers
The Maltese Falcon - John Huston's film is the definition of a "classic film" and one of Hunphrey Bogart's best. It helped Bogart move past his onscreen gangster persona and remains one of the first of the film Noir genre.
Warner Home Video has been doing a great job releasing classic films on Blu-ray with a great transfer both visually and auditory. The special features add a much-needed punch of color to the black and white film.
- Commentary by Bogart Biographer Eric Lax
- Featurette: The Maltese Falcon: One Magnificent Bird
- Breakdowns of 1941: Studio Blooper Reel
- Makeup tests
- Becoming Attractions: The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart
- Warner Night at the Movies 1941 – Short Subjects Gallery
The Treasure of Sierra Madre - Another Warner Home Video release this week sports a 1947 adventure film also starring Humphrey Bogart. Needless to say, Bogart fans with a Blu-ray player will be happy today.
John Huston reunites with Humphrey Bogart to create The Treasure of Sierra Madre, adding to his illustrious resume. Shot on location for the most part, Sierra Madre is a gorgeous example of location shooting in the 1940s, somewhat of a rarity at the time.
The special features look similar to Warner Home Video's other release this week, but it serves as a nice template for the classic films.
- Commentary by Bogart biographer Eric Lax
- Featurette: Discovering Treasure: The Story of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
- Feature-length documentary profile: John Huston
- Classic Cartoon: 8 Ball Bunny
- Warner Night at the Movies 1948 – Short Subjects Gallery
Mad Max - As news pumps through the wire about a new Mad Max film starring Tom Hardy, the original hits Blu-ray today. MGM's home video release will actually feature two audio tracks - the original and an American dubbing for anybody who can't quite follow the Aussie dialect.
The dystopian film follows a man on a revenge kick after his family is murdered in a desolate world. George Miller's film paved the road for future traveler revenge movies like Book of Eli and Waterworld. Believe it or not, those movies would be completely different without the influential style of Mad Max.
The bonus features are a compilation of original and special edition DVD supplements. It should make for a comprehensive look at one of Mel Gibson's earliest works.
- Filmmaker commentary by Jon Dowding, David Eggby, Chris Murray and Tim Ridge
- Two Documentaries: Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon and Mel Gibson: The Birth of a Star
- Theatrical trailers
- TV spots
- "Road Rants": Trivia & Fun Fact Track
- Photo gallery
Quite a lot of DVD and Blu-ray options this week. It should hold you over through next week as the quality dies down for a moment before picking right back up with a few monster releases, like Back to the Future and The Alien Anthology.
Are you going to snag any of these new releases or will you simply make a rental night out them?