This week is one of the most anticipated of the season for home video releases. Considering last week's duds, this is a Tuesday you may want to sneak out of work early to pick up a DVD or two. Not only does the much-debated bare-bones Avatar Blu-ray release, but also three Academy-Award nominated films. On top of it all, one of Leonardo DiCaprio's most powerful performances and one of Steven Spielberg's more under-appreciated works also hit shelves.
It's a good week to spend the money you've been saving amidst a few weeks of lackadaisical DVD/Blu-ray releases. Just watch your step, because the upcoming slate of home video releases are filled with worthy titles, including Saving Private Ryan, Fantasia and Doctor Zhivago making the move to Blu-ray.
Without further ado, let's get into your upcoming movie store checkout list. All the following can be found on DVD and Blu-ray.
Avatar (April 22) - There has been a surprisingly heated debate over this release. The decision to pump out a release with no special features in order to coincide with Earth Day is really just a clever (and ironic) disguise for the attempt to kill more trees in order to make the money they hope they rake in. In all seriousness, the pre-sales for the first of many Avatar home video releases went through the roof and people are going to purchase this, regardless of the upcoming November four-disc set.
The intention was to release a version of Avatar with the highest possible quality. While I don't doubt they will accomplish it, what's the point, really? Maybe we should just stop concerning ourselves over it, because like the iPad we have our doubts, but temptation is a hell of a demon.
Crazy Heart - The story of down-and-out musician Bad Blake won Jeff Bridges his overdue Best Actor Oscar. Similar to the snubbed performance by Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, Bridges seemed born for the role, bringing a kind of realism and grit to a fictional character in a real environment. That's not always easy.
The actual features on the release are disappointing. Only a few deleted scenes are present, which is truly a shame. Considering the influences of the film and the sheer passion with which the filmmakers and Bridges talk of the musicians behind the movie, you'd think they would honor them with some featurettes. Regardless, it will be nice to blast some good movie tunes in the comfort of your own home.
The Lovely Bones - The new release this week that deserves to be seen on a Blu-ray is this. Peter Jackson's adaptation of the novel of the same name was not necessarily loved by all, but visually it was one of the year's best. And according to sources, the Blu-ray features a gorgeous display of color.
I almost feel bad for the film, considering it released the week prior to Avatar, suffering in the box office and earning less domestically than was spent on production. Hopefully the story and gorgeous cinematography can have a second life in home video and become a must-own.
The Young Victoria -If you are a fan of "rack focusing" in film, this will be your favorite movie of all time. It would be worth the research to find out if the Emily Blunt royalty flick has the most cleavage of all time. Either way, the film has many moments worth remembering and a compelling story, but the audiences just never seemed to give in. Frankly, Elizabethan films have been a mainstay every year in Hollywood, but rarely hit it big. Then again, not every film is made to make money, and that can be a great thing. If you need to know where the reference to "Prince Albert" comes from, it's in The Young Victoria.
Minority Report - Arguably one of Steven Spielberg's most underrated works, this was a true vision of the future already coming true. The film is proof Spielberg is still at (or near) the top of the filmmaking industry; a director who makes compelling and original ideas that can appeal to all audiences. The Blu-ray has gotten near perfect reviews, with compliments on the video quality exploring shadows and dark tones better than most on the format.
The supplements are the real treat on this re-release. With no commentary track, the special features lack the one extra most are hoping for: a Spielberg commentary. Seemingly endless lists of short featurettes on aspects of the creative process - from storyboarding the future to the action-packed chase scenes from the film. The best, though, may be Spielberg's half-hour discussion of the future as he sees it. Few filmmakers have such vivid concepts of the future over such a span of the industry's history. Finally stepping away from aliens, Spielberg found time to explore dystopian culture with the advancement of technologies not so far removed from those present today.
The Basketball Diaries - Leonardo DiCaprio's career has been full of brilliant performances, led by his portrayal of a mentally challenged teenager in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? But one of the overlooked highlights of the star of Christopher Nolan's upcoming film Inception is the true story of a drug-addicted high school basketball phenom in The Basketball Diaries. DiCaprio shines as a troubled boy on the verge of an almost unbearable suffering at his own hands. The film is dark, moody and painful. While it may not need the beauty of a Blu-ray, the platform needs to continue to feature great films of all genres, and The Basketball Diaries adds to that.
Special features will include an interview with the real-life counterpart for DiCaprio's character, Jim Carroll, and interviews with the cast and director.
DEAL OF THE DAY:
Mad Men: Season 3 - Only recently released, it's pretty surprising to see 611 minutes of Mad Men for only $18. That's one hell of a rate, coming off a $50 list price.
INTRIGUING RELEASE OF THE DAY:
The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie - The show is hilariously raunchy and holds nothing back. Most people may not have even heard of the animated comedy, but this has got to be hilarious and worth a look.
This is a great week to add to your home video collection. Plenty of great selections and a reason to get the Blu-ray player fired up. Next week will keep with the pace of multiple releases worth noting, including Michael Bay's Armageddon and Steven Soderbergh's Traffic coming to Blu-ray.