This week brings home the documentary about what would have been Michael Jackson’s final concert performance and Bruce Willis’s underrated sci-fi thriller.
Michael Jackson’s This Is It: This extraordinary time capsule is culled from more than 100 hours of backstage footage from Michael Jackson’s This Is It concert series, which would have been a 50-date extravaganza starting in London. Jackson died shortly before the shows even began, but this documentary gives fans a thrilling look at what might have been via rehearsal footage. Extras include the documentary “Staging the Return,” a featurette on what makes each of Michael’s costumes unique, “Memories of Michael” and “Auditions: Searching for the World’s Greatest Dancers.” The Blu-ray includes all of these as well as “Smooth Criminal Vignette,” “Making Smooth Criminal” and “Thriller Vignette.”
Surrogates: In the future, people experience life vicariously at home by sending surrogates—flawless robotic extensions of themselves—into the real world to assume their life roles. The world is free of crime until the murder of a college student linked to the creator of surrogate tech forces an FBI agent (Bruce Willis) to re-enter the world and find out who is trying to, literally, blow people’s minds via their surrogates. In an age of bloated movie run times, this underrated sci-fi thriller seems almost rushed at a lean 89 minutes. Bonus features include audio commentary with director Jonathan Mostow and Breaking Benjamin’s “I Will Not Bow” music video. The Blu-ray adds deleted scenes, “A More Perfect You: The Science of Surrogates” and “Breaking the Frame: A Graphic Novel Comes to Life.”
Whip It: Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut and co-stars in this girl-power dramedy about a small-town teenager (Ellen Page) who becomes a roller-derby queen named “Babe Ruthless.” Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain an alternate opening as well as deleted and extended scenes, while the BD also has “Writer’s Draft with Shauna Cross.”
Saw VI: The latest sequel in the never-ending Saw series is surprisingly the best chapter since the original. The signature brutal traps are still here along with gruesome torture effects, but this time Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) posthumously takes on corrupt health-care workers who make it their life mission to deny coverage to people who really need it. Jigsaw has always been about punishing people who take their lives for granted, but this time you might actually cheer him on. Extras include several behind-the-scenes featurettes, commentaries and music videos. The Blu-ray even comes packaged with the original Saw BD for no additional charge.
Alone in the Dark II: In this sequel to the god-awful horror film based on a video game that starred Tara Reid as a (insert laughter here) genius anthropologist, the evil creatures of the dark are crawling out of the shadows again. Edward Carnby is back to stop them, but this time he’s played by Rick Yune instead of Christian Slater. For some reason this sequel that no one asked for is available on both DVD and Blu-ray, yet studios are hesitant to release some of their finest films in high-def. Therein lies the true horror.
Also new this week: Little Ashes; Fame (1980)(BD); Atonement (BD); Give ‘em Hell Malone; Paris, Texas (BD); Wild Ocean.