This week: The best superhero film of this summer season, a teenage assassin gone wild and Tony Montana's introduces his "little friend" in high definition.
X-Men: First Class
This year's superhero movies have been hit (Captain America, Thor) and miss (Green Lantern), but few will argue that director Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class is a first-class prequel to the X-Men trilogy. Starring James McAvoy as a young Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Erik "Magneto" Lensherr, X-Men: First Class takes us back to the Mad Men era as we learn the origin stories of our favorite mutants and meet a few new ones, like Emma Frost (January Jones) and the fearsome Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Watch as the rift between Professor X's X-Men and Magneto's Brotherhood is opened for the first time in this super superhero movie featuring a stellar ensemble cast that is mutant manna from geek heaven.
Although new disc releases usually come out on Tuesday, X-Men: First Class arrives on store shelves this Friday, September 9.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain the "Children of the Atom" making-of featurette. Blu-ray exclusives include 10 X-Men digital comics, "Cerebro Mutant Tracker," "X Marks the Spot," deleted and extended scenes, and the composer's isolated score.
Verdict: Buy Me
Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan proves again that she is a young actress to watch—even if you can't pronounce her name—as the titular character in this knockout spy thriller directed by Joe Wright that pulses with a refreshingly original electro score by the Chemical Brothers.
After years of living isolated from the rest of the world in the icy Finland wilderness and being trained to be an assassin by her father (Eric Bana), Hanna leaves her forest cabin to track down CIA agent Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), who wants her and her father dead for reasons unknown to Hanna. Along the way, Hanna tags along with another teenage girl and her family and, for the first time, experiences a taste of what a normal girl's life would be like as the chase is on from Morocco to Berlin. By the time of the inevitable nail-biting showdown between Hanna and Wiegler at an abandoned amusement park, you will realize that you have never seen a spy movie quite like this before, which is a good thing.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain commentary, "Anatomy of a Scene: The Escape from Camp G," an alternate ending and deleted scenes. Blu-ray exclusives include featurettes on Ronan's intense training, the Chemical Brothers' approach to writing and scoring the unusual soundtrack, the locations in Finland and Morocco, and interviews with the cast and crew about creating an original spy film.
Verdict: Buy Me
It's hard to fathom that Brian De Palma's Scarface—a gangster movie with a script by Oliver Stone that has become an inspiration to rappers everywhere—was maligned during its theatrical release in 1983 for its glorification of violence and unapologetic profanity, the very things that make it the ultimate cult classic. The story of Cuban refugee Tony Montana (Al Pacino) and his meteoric rise to become Miami's drug kingpin is a cautionary tale about the perversion of the American Dream as Tony—a little insane in the membrane due to the mountain of cocaine on his desk—barks commands from his monogrammed throne as his empire crumbles around him, just like his relationships with his trophy wife (Michelle Pfeiffer), his best friend (Steven Bauer) and his naïve sister (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio).
If you like iconic gangster movies, say hello to Scarface on Blu-ray because the vibrant colors of disco-era Miami pop like never before and the extras (read below) are fit for a king…or kingpin.
Best extras: This Blu-ray debut comes packaged in a handsome limited edition steelbook case that holds 10 cards of fan-created artwork. Many of the special features on the BD are ported over from the DVD edition, including deleted scenes, the "Scarface Scorecard" that keeps track of the F-word while you watch, several making-of featurettes and a hilarious look at how some scenes were edited for television. What's new is a 39-minute documentary titled "The Scarface Phenomenon" in which the cast, filmmakers and other celebrities talk extensively about their love of the film with a focus on the public reaction and its cult status. The steelbook also comes with a DVD copy of Howard Hawks's classic Scarface from 1932.
If you really want to take it to a Tony Montana level, you can buy this Blu-ray packaged with a limited edition custom humidor (only 1,000 worldwide) that will set you back $700 on Amazon.
Verdict: Buy Me
Also New This Week: Big Momma's House (BD), Big Momma's House 2 (BD), Dressed to Kill (BD), The Entitled, Everything Must Go, Fringe: The Complete Third Season, Hellbound: Hellraiser II (BD), The Hills Have Eyes (1977) (BD), A Horrible Way to Die, The Office: Season Seven, Scream: 5 Film Set, Straw Dogs (BD), United 93, Last Night and 40 Days and 40 Nights (BD)