Star Trek Into Darkness - Paramount Pictures - Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban,Simon Pegg. Full cast + crew
Star Trek Into Darkness is, in a word, divisive. If you ignore the Star Trek branding of it entirely, it's a dazzling movie about a bunch of people who are trying to stop an intergalactic terrorist out for revenge. It's got huge set pieces, elaborate action, and some of the most impressive visual effects of the year. If you're a Star Trek purist, however, Into Darkness is mighty frustrating.
I'm not even a hard-core fan and I was a bit disheartened by how out of touch with the optimism and humanity the entire franchise was founded on. If you can get past all of that, though, the movie still does have great interplay between its ensemble and some cool action. It's just disappointing that Abrams and company followed up the surprise gem that was their Star Trek reboot with this aggressive, occasionally baffling direction for a beloved property.
Special Features: This is a little complicated because there are numerous, retail-exclusive releases of the film. The standard Blu-ray 3D set of the film contains about 45 minutes of making-of material spread across eight featurettes (the longest is 8:28, the shortest is 1:29). Combined they form a broad, glossy look at the designs that went into various aspects of the film, like the opening alien planet and the choice to bring Khan into the reboot.
If you really want to go behind the scenes, though, you sadly may want to pick up one of the retail-exclusive sets. Best Buy's comes with an extra 30 minutes of featurettes on various designs in the film. The Target one has another 30 minutes of material that's different than the 30 Best Buy has. Perhaps the best exclusive of all is actually on iTunes, where your $20 HD package will buy you the movie and a commentary track from J.J. Abrams and crew, though you can only watch this version on your computer since iTunes extras cannot be streamed to devices. So, choose wisely.
Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection - Warner Bros.
Finally horror fans can own the entire Friday the 13th series (12 films total) in high definition in one handy, metal tin. Here's the disc-by-disc breakdown:
Disc 1 - Friday the 13th (1980)
Disc 2 - Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Disc 3 - Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D (1982)
Disc 4 - Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) NEW TO BLU-RAY
Disc 5 - Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)/Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) NEW TO BLU-RAY
Disc 6 - Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)/Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) NEW TO BLU- RAY
Disc 7 - Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)/Jason X (2002) NEW TO BLU-RAY
Disc 8 - Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Disc 9 - Friday the 13th (2009) (Theatrical Version and “Killer Cut” Extended Version)
Disc 10 – Killer Bonus DVD Disc
On top of that, the tin also includes a 40-page book filled with glossy images and notes excerpted from Crystal Lake Memories, plus a sweet Camp Crystal Lake counselor patch you can embroider onto your favorite pair of '80s booty shorts. Plus, there's an Ultraviolet code for the entire collection, in case digital streaming is also your thing.
As for the Blu-rays themselves, most of these discs have been available as stand-alone releases over the years, but some of the best entries are hitting HD for the first time (Jason Takes Manhattan, for one). If you've never experienced the entire F13 franchise, this is a great, affordable way to do so. Most of the Blu-rays actually look surprisingly clean for a grungy, old slasher franchise, and the movies themselves are all still consistently entertaining. Unlike some other horror series out there, Friday the 13th always found some ways to up the ante, even when treading on the same ground. Were they silly ways? Yes. Did they have highly entertaining payoffs, though? Almost always. Hell, even when Jason goes to space, it's a blast.
Other Notable New Releases
If you're looking for something a bit more serious than a Friday the 13th box set this week, look no further than a trio of fantastic films hitting store shelves from indie champions Cinedigm: Chasing Ice, War Witch and Ping Pong. Chasing Ice chronicles the Extreme Ice Survey, an expedition to track the health of one of the most crucial components of our planet, and the result is an often beautiful, often scary look at our world and how it's falling apart around us. (You can listen to our interview with director Jeff Orlowski from Sundance right here.) Next is War Witch, which you may recall was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars earlier this year. It's a striking, heavy story about how a young girl's life in war-torn, sub-Saharan Africa changes when a rebel leader thinks she's a witch who can predict enemy movements. And if either of those sound too heavy for you this week, you can counter them with Ping Pong, a light and highly enjoyable documentary about a table tennis tournament for people in their '80s. It's a funny, inspiring film about how you're never too old to do something you enjoy.
On the action movie front Magnolia is putting out Hammer of the Gods, a rather violent flick set in an ancient Norse world about a warrior who crosses sea and land to search for his lost brother. If you like movies like Centurion, you'll want to check it out. And finally, going back a bit father in time, Fox is putting out a new and gorgeous Blu-ray for the 1958 version of The Fly. This story of a scientist with good intentions but bad luck still holds up to this day, and it stands as one of those rare cases where the original is just as cool as the remake.
On the TV front, this week sees the release of the second season of Showtime's tremendous series, Homeland. You're not going to want to dive into this second season without having seen the first, as you'll be a bit lost regarding the plot of an American war hero who may or may not have been turned into the key player of a terrorist plot after having been kidnapped and held as a prisoner of war. The show features a commanding and career-high performance by Claire Danes, but it's also filled with dynamite supporting players across the board. It's an increasingly complex show that sort of rollercoasters between its own highs and lows a bit, but if you like thrillers about the US' intelligence community, this is the best you're going to find on American television.
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