DVD/Blu-ray Breakdown: May 17, 2011

DVD Blu-ray Releases May 17

Jason Statham, Anthony Hopkins, Leighton Meester, Eddie Murphy and Paul Newman would make for one intriguing cast. While they'll never join the screen together, they all hit shelves on DVD and Blu-ray in their respective titles this week.

The Mechanic gives action fans something to drool over, while The Rite and The Roommate try to entertain horror fans. but if you really want something to spend your money on this week, it is the Blu-ray re-releases found below. Two very different classics earn the Blu-ray treatment this week.

Natalie Portman hits shelves again in the dramatic The Other Woman. The movie didn't get much press, but if you want further proof that Natalie Portman Cries A Lot, just give this title a shot.



The Mechanic DVD Blu-ray

The Mechanic - Jason Statham stars in yet another R-rated action movie and keeps his reputation intact with The Mechanic. The movie received mixed reviews, but our 3-star review shared some positive sentiments. The overall tone and vibe was a pleasant throwback to the 70s-era original for which this film was based.

Every action movie deserves a strong soundscape and The Mechanic is no different. The movie hums through home theater speakers with tenacity and shares a surround sound sensation one should expect from a Statham film.

If you are looking for bonus features, this home video is not for you. With only one short featurette and a few deleted scenes, there is not much to explore beyond the movie itself.

  • Deleted & Extended Scenes
  • Tools of the Trade: Inside the Action


The Rite DVD Blu-ray

The Rite - Just as The Mechanic is a by-the-book predictable action movie, The Rite presents nothing new to the exorcism genre (if that even counts as a genre). Although the film is not a wholly original concept, as our 2.5-star review will attest, it does benefit from the presence of Anthony Hopkins in one his best roles - a creepy one. The cover art for this DVD/Blu-ray looks eerily like a lost Hannibal Lecter image, but that's no surprise since his character in The Rite is practically a re-hashing of his award-winning performance.

There is some fun sound design to play with in the film and it makes good use of home theater speakers, but visually the movie does not stretch its imagination. It is a dark and shadowy flick that looks good for the most part on Blu-ray, but doesn't deserve any medals.

The supplements on the home video release are nothing to write home about either. It's a shame considering this film is "based on true events" and could have used an extra dose of validity to its premise. Yet, the bonus features provide only an alternate ending, deleted scenes and a weak real-life interview.

  • The Rite: Soldier of God
  • Deleted Scenes & Alternate Ending


The Roommate DVD Blu-ray

The Roommate - The best way to describe The Roommate is as a successful failure. There was no reason to make this movie and it did nothing to progress its horror genre, but did churn out $37 million domestically on a $16 million budget. It's early February release date didn't help prove its worth, but it did give Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly a chance to grace the big screen as more than just supporting characters. If the concept of the movie is one that interests you, and watching a movie about murderous roommates is something you desire to check out in your own home, then maybe a rental is in order - but otherwise just stay away.

The audio levels on this Blu-ray could have used some work. At one point it blasts rock music in your face and at others it is deathly quiet to accent the fearful silence. It's never fun to play with the remote during a movie to adjust volume levels.

And while the bonus features won't do much to change your view on the production, at least Sony gave a little more effort for this release and included an audio commentary and some featurettes.

  • Audio Commentary: Director Christian E. Christiansen
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes
  • Obsession: The Making of The Roommate
  • The Roommate: The Next Generation of Stars
  • Dressing Dangerously



Beverly Hills Cop Blu-ray

Beverly Hills Cop - A true 80s classic hits Blu-ray for no reason other than to give fans of the format a great new title to add to the collection. Axel Foley returns to the small screen after a long stint in commercial-heavy television. I can still hear the theme song for Foley in my head and it will sound glorious in 5.1-DTS. Unfortunately, the effort to revitalize the movie via Blu-ray was not undertaken with much effort, yet the result is good enough for a movie that thrives on its laughs more than its action - though the two sometimes go hand-in-hand.

Luckily the bonus material is nostalgic in nature. Most of it serves as a look back at the legacy of Axel Foley and the production that helped launch Eddie Murphy's status as an iconic feature film comedian.

  • Audio Commentary: Director Martin Brest
  • Beverly Hills Cop -- The Phenomenon Begins
  • A Glimpse Into the Casting Process
  • The Music of Beverly Hills Cop
  • Location Map


The Hustler Blu-ray

The Hustler - One of Paul Newman's most memorable characters of his illustrious career (and one that would later earn him an Oscar in The Color of Money) comes to Blu-ray in a beautiful transfer. Black and white films tend to really transcend the formats well and this one is no different. It doesn't hurt that the movie is gorgeously shot and possesses a historical beauty rivaled by few films of the 60s.

Some put The Hustler in the category of best sports movies, but it deserves more praise than that. The movie is one of the true classics that stands the test of time and entertains still today. Some classics lose their luster along the way, but as The Color of Money proved, Eddie Felson is a character worth remembering.

The supplements on this Blu-ray release could fill an entire afternoon. Many of them are repeated from the previous DVD Special Edition, but a few new featurettes honor the legendary actor who passed away only a few years ago.

  • Paul Newman at Fox
  • Jackie Gleason: The Big Man
  • The Real Hustler: Walter Tevis
  • Commentary with Paul Newman, Carol Rossen, Dede Allen, Stefan Gierasch, Ullu Grosbard, Richard Schickel and Jeff Young.
  • Life in the Fast Lane: Fast Eddie Felson and The Search for Greatness
  • Milestones in Cinema History: The Hustler
  • Swimming with Sharks: The Art of the Hustle
  • The Hustler: The Inside Story
  • Paul Newman: Hollywood's Cool Hand
  • Trick Shot Analysis by Mike Massey
  • How to Make the Shot with Mike Massey


Next week will feature a wide range of options on DVD and Blu-ray. Gettysburg as well as Gods and Generals will release on Blu-ray in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. More recent titles like I Am Number Four and Gnomeo & Juliet also find their way home. The highlight of the week, though, is the Blu-ray re-release of Platoon.

Check back on Tuesday for more details on those titles and more.

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