This week: Mena Suvari
swims in a lake of rose petals in high definition and an arena's worth of gladiators battle it out.
American Beauty (Blu-ray): Sam Mendes's dark drama written by Alan Ball about one family's suburban hell won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1999 and, 11 years later, viewers can still discover new interpretations of the material. Kevin Spacey is fantastic as the midlife-crisis sufferer making his last grasp at virility, Annette Bening is icy good as his success-hungry wife selling real estate, and Wes Bentley tries to convince us that a blowing plastic bag in the wind is beautiful. You can almost dive into that lake of rose petals with a naked Mena Suvari because the picture looks so good now on Blu-ray, but your TV asked me to beg you not to. Best extras: The BD debut contains a commentary track by Mendes and Ball, "American Beauty—Look Closer," a storyboard presentation with Mendes and director of photography Conrad L. Hall, and two theatrical trailers. Blu-ray Bob's Verdict: Buy Me
The Experiment: Blu-ray Bob used to think that he'd watch Adrien Brody read the phone book until he saw this clunky thriller co-starring Forest Whitaker. The "experiment" is based on one conducted at Stanford: a group of men are paid $15,000 each to participate in a simulated prison setting where half of them are assigned as guards and the other half are prisoners. Gee, do you think those in the guard role will abuse their power? Watching this movie begs the same question as the one you'd ask Brody and Whitaker's characters for signing up in the first place: Why torture yourselves? Best extras: Neither the DVD nor the Blu-ray have a single extra. Blu-ray Bob's Verdict: Forget Me
Being Human: Season Two: It's tough being supernatural in this second season of the stylish BBC series about a vampire, werewolf and a ghost who all try to lead normal lives. Whereas the first season seemed more like a kitchen-sink affair with the quirkiness centered on the flat the threesome share, this season ups the ante and the effects budget for a more True Blood experience as our three friends are threatened by CenSSA—a religious organization dedicated to the destruction of supernatural freaks. The show is heavily censored on BBC America for violence, language and nudity, so this is definitely a series that you want to enjoy on disc. Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray have behind-the-scenes featurettes. Blu-ray Bob's Verdict: Buy Me
Spartacus—Blood and Sand: The Complete First Season: Do you like old gladiator movies? If so, this Starz series inspired by an actual slave of the Roman Republic who led a revolt in 73 B.C. will satisfy your cravings for blood, swordplay and an endless parade of nearly-naked ripped man meat and toga-tossing goddesses. Andy Whitfield plays the titular character taken from his wife and forced to perform as a gladiator under the ownership of Batiatus (John Hannah) and his wife, Lucretia (Lucy Lawless). Starz doesn't pull any punches here: there are orgies and plenty of gratuitous nudity, the stylized blood spurting will remind you of 300 and Gladiator, and the coarse language is jaw-dropping. The show gets an "A" for audacity, so when in Rome… Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain "Gladiator Camp," "History Rewritten," bloopers, behind-the-scenes footage and commentaries; the BD adds extended director's cut episodes. Blu-ray Bob's Verdict: Buy Me
Also New This Week: Robin Hood (read the full review in Disc-y Business tomorrow), Modern Family: The Complete First Season, The Secret in Their Eyes, Stomp the Yard: Homecoming, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue and Triple Dog