A Stellar Blu-ray for an Almost Stellar Movie
Prometheus - 20th Century Fox - Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD
Release Date: Jun 08, 2012
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron,Idris Elba, Guy Pearce. Full cast + crew
Prometheus may not have been the return to brilliant science fiction everyone hoped for from Ridley Scott, but it's still a remarkable, must-watch film. The script, which has more characters than it needs and often doesn't know how to manage them all, is its biggest handicap, but once you can get past, there's a visually and thematically rich film about mankind's need for answers. If you absolutely hated it in theaters, you're probably not going to have your mind blown on home video. But, if you liked but didn't love it, repeat watches at home will help massage away some of its problems.
Plus, this is without question one of the best Blu-ray transfers not only of the year, but ever. It is, in a word, flawless. If you're a home theater nut obsessed with the best looking and sounding discs out there, this is an absolute must own.
Special Features: Two commentary tracks, one with Ridley Scott, one with writers John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof; 15 deleted scenes; the Peter Weyland Files (the viral videos); "The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus" (a nearly four-hour long series of features); Weyland Corp Archive (marketing materials, basically).
Ever get that feeling when you rewatch a movie from, say, the '80s and think to yourself, "Wow, is this awful. How did I ever love this as a kid?" That's Rock of Ages, only it doesn't have the benefit of actually being an '80s movie, it just tries to ram nostalgia down your throat and hope that's enough. It isn't. Tom Cruise is great when he's on-screen, but despite what the cover and trailer make it out to be, this is not a Tom Cruise movie. It's just a long, bad musical that ruins great songs.
Similarly, The Raven twists a highly influential artist into a very modern monster of a movie, only in this case it's taking the world of Edgar Allan Poe and merging it with a Saw-esque story about a madman who makes elaborate death traps for people. It's quite nicely shot, and John Cusack is enjoyable in the same ways Nicolas Cage is enjoyable these days, but it's a mostly forgettable murder mystery.
Then we have a trio of smaller arthouse-type films; A Cat in Paris (which was actually nominated for Best Animated Feature Oscar earlier this year), Shut Up and Play the Hits (the LCD Soundsystem documentary), and Crazy Eyes (an indie drama about functional alcoholics with some rather fine performances by Lukas Haas, Madeline Zima and even Jake Busey).
Also out this week are a handful of straight-to-video horror movies. The biggest of the bunch is Werewolf: The Beast Among Us, which is a cheesy, Syfy-worthy movie about some werewolf hunters, though it does have some pretty gruesome gore throughout it (in the unrated version, at least). The best of the bunch, however, is Bedevilled, a South Korean film about a woman who is just repeatedly pushed to her limit. It's a fantastic film, and not a traditional horror movie, but it's more disturbing than anything else out this week.
Then there's Truth or Die, which has a really silly title but is actually a pretty fun, nasty little movie from England about some teens who go to a party at a cabin in the middle of nowhere only to be forced into the worst game of truth or dare ever. Unfortunately it's only available on DVD, but it's the kind of horror movie that's best in a group watch, so if you're looking for some new blood this Halloween, give it a shot.
And finally on the new release horror front we have The Barrens, a new thriller from Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw 2) about Stephen Moyer versus the Jersey Devil. But if horror isn't your thing, you can also check out The Courier, a straight-to-video action movie led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
You Know You Need It
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial - Universal - Blu-ray
Release Date: Jun 11, 1982
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore. Full cast + crew
Steven Spielberg's classic is one of the best family-friendly sci-fi films ever made. It's an utter marvel of filmmaking, a brilliant blending of childhood traumas with a fantastic, optimistic story. It's also kind of terrifying, but maybe that's just me.
But you don't need me to tell you how special E.T. the movie is. So how about E.T. the Blu-ray debut? Well, it's pretty much everything you could hope for. For starters, this is the original 1982 release of the film, not the 20th anniversary rerelease with CGI E.T. The video transfer here is wonderful, but unfortunately the clarity of it does shine a big spotlight on some of the film's weaker effects. E.T. still looks fantastic, but some of the compositing work (like the flying bikes) certainly looks dated. But, it's all in an endearing, product-of-its-time kind of way.
Special Features: "The E.T. Journals," a new documentary made entirely of on-set footage during production; "Steven Spielberg & E.T." (the director reflects back on the film's conception); deleted scenes; and over two hours of making-of materials ported over from the 2002 DVD set.
Still a Classic
Little Shop of Horrors - Warner Bros. - Blu-ray
Release Date: Dec 19, 1986
Director: Frank Oz
Cast: Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, Levi Stubbs. Full cast + crew
It's hard to imagine Little Shop of Horrors getting made today and turning out with even a quarter of the personality as Frank Oz's film. Even if you could convince a studio to keep in the musical numbers, the animatronic puppet would surely be replaced by a CGI killer plant, and Rick Moranis would undoubtedly be swapped out for a typical, handsome leading man. That's not to say that this '80s classic is only a classic because of those antiquated novelties, but they certainly only further prove how singularly unique and special this movie is. It still holds up today.
Special Features: For the first time ever, the original 20-minute alternate ending is included on a director's cut of the film; commentary track; "A Story of the Little Shop of Horrors;" outakes and deleted scenes. Plus, there is Blu-ray book packaging with 36 pages of glossy photos and trivia.
It may seem like 3D for movies that don't need 3D is a new Hollywood gimmick, but it isn't. Case in point: Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder. As far as the film goes, it's still lesser Hitchcock, but the 3D does transform it into an interesting novelty. Even still, it's not an effective enough use of it to warrant this being a must-own disc for even 3D enthusiasts. And speaking of Hitchcock, this week also sees the Blu-ray debut of Strangers on a Train. The video quality on the transfer is incredibly vivid, with only a few scenes and transitions showing their true age, but unfortunately the movie itself, like Dial M, isn't one of Hitchcock's finest.
Red Dawn hits Blu-ray this week, a month ahead of the decent, but equally silly, remake. And if that's not enough of an '80s nostalgia fix for you, Enemy Mine (which is limited to 3,000 unites only) and The Great Mouse Detective both enjoy their HD debuts this week.
Finishing out the week is a smattering of random titles sure to pique the interest of existing fans. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Dead Ringer, Find Me Guilty, Ice Station Zebra and George Romero's original Night of The Living Dead.
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