Give it a Chance:
Snow White and the Huntsman - Universal - Blu-ray and DVD
Release Date: Jun 01, 2012
Director: Rupert Sanders
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron,Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell. Full cast + crew
Snow White and the Huntsman is the kind of movie that got unjustly dismissed by most audiences. Sure, it did okay at the box office, but even its success came with a modicum of surprise. Maybe it's the Kristen Stewart stigma. Maybe it's because it was a "dark" reimagining of a classic fairy tale. Maybe people laughed at the idea of Charlize Theron wanting to kill Kristen Stewart for being prettier. Whatever the case, it's a better movie than you might think.
Yes, the script is more than a little strained in parts, but the fantasy side of things is strong. Director Rupert Sanders has an incredible eye for visuals (no surprise there considering he comes from a background directing Nine Inch Nails music videos), resulting in some of the most interesting spectacle of any blockbuster this summer. The seven dwarves in particular are a very impressive mixture of inspired casting and seamless effects work. It might just be this generation's Willow - a fantasy the target demographic eats up on home video while the older crowds scoff it off.
Special Features: An extended cut (which is only four minutes longer and contains no crucial new footage); commentary by Sanders, the film's vfx supervisor and editor; an interactive exploration of the set; nearly an hour of mini-featurettes.
The Loved Ones is one of the best horror movies in recent years, which is why it's kind of a shame that Paramount has totally bungled its American release nearly three years after it first came out in Australia. But let's not lament its lame attempt at a theatrical release, or the fact that it's only available on DVD and not Blu-ray, and let's cherish a movie that's both funny and horrifying. It's about a crazed father/daughter team who kidnap the daughter's crush and force him to partake in a homemade prom, and it's kind of perfect. It plays best with a crowd, so if you've got a few horror-loving friends, gather them together for a movie night and you will have a total blast, I guarantee.
After that we have Beyond the Black Rainbow, a sci-fi movie I've still yet to see but that garnered all sorts of interesting praise earlier this year, the generic action-dramas Cleanskin and For Greater Glory, which was one of Peter O'Toole's last movies before declaring the spark had gone out of him (so take that as you may), and the family comedy Goats.
Following those is a truly random mixture of new releases: Karate-Robo Zaborgar, the latest from the director of The Machine Girl, Lola Versus, October Baby, What to Expect When You're Expecting (which I'm sure is a totally accurate look at what pregnancy is like, if you happen to be beautiful and rich), and Where Do We Go Now?
Finally on Blu-ray:
Titanic - Paramount - Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD
Release Date: Nov 01, 1997
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher. Full cast + crew
Titanic is a helluva film. It became such a worldwide phenomenon that people started to hate it for the sheer popularity of it, mocking it left and right with stupid jabs like "Guess what, the boat sinks!," as if such quips could take anything away from just how stunning James Cameron's film is. And it looks absolutely incredible now that it is finally on Blu-ray.
It's available both in a four-disc 3D set, which also includes the 2D version, as well as a 2D-only version, and an elaborate collector's edition. The 3D version was something I intentionally avoided in theaters, because as much as I love this movie, I just didn't think a 3D conversion would add anything at all. However, it just so happens I recently upgraded to a 3D TV so I decided to give this updated version a shot, and to my great surprise the added depth actually looks pretty incredible. There are a few moments, particularly when a CGI element is involved, where either the speed or motion of 3D becomes quite distracting, but overall it's not the ghastly visual disaster I feared it would be.
Is the 3D version the way it should only ever be watched from now on? Absolutely not. But if you do have a 3D TV, it does not disappoint. And, of course, the transfer on the 2D version looks and sounds as perfect as you'd want for a film from a technical master like James Cameron.
Special Features: Two brand-new, HD documentaries Reflections on Titanic (64 minutes) and Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron (96 minutes). The former is a nostalgia-filled trip back to the '90s to look at how Titanic was being treated before and after its release, while the latter is a history- and science-heavy documentary about the sinking of the ship.
This set also includes the major extras from the 2005 DVD release of the film, including three feature commentaries, nearly an hour of deleted scenes, animatics, a bunch of mini-featurettes, Celine Deon's music video, storyboards and even parody skits from MTV and SNL.
The Box Set to End All Box Sets
Harry Potter Wizard's Collection
Just look at that chest of movie magic and behold its glory. If you are a Harry Potter super fan, this new, and presumably final, set is here to rob your bank account. Not only does it contain every film and all of its previously released extras spread across 31-discs, all housed in some of the coolest movie packaging we've ever seen, but it also boasts a bevy of physical items collectors will no doubt drool over.
But before getting to the physical goodies, there are several new featurettes worth mentioning. This set contains the previously unavailable final two parts of the ongoing Creating the World of Harry Potter series, which, together, represent a terrific and vast look at the production of the entire series. There are also several hours of other new Deathly Hallows-related extras as well, each covering a different aspect of those two films.
A new disc has been put together for this collection as well, including an 87-minute long cut of the documentary about the cast and crew leaving the set for the last time. Then there's a 64-minute long "50 Greatest Moments," plus nearly an hour of other featurettes about the world of Harry Potter. All told there are over 37 hours of special features in the entire thing.
As for the collectibles, there's a hardback Catalogue of Artefacts, a "label collection," which are just closer looks at some of the smaller props created for the film. There's also concept art, a fabric poster of Hogwarts, and even a replica of Voldemort's Horcrux locket. It's a pretty steep price for the entire collection, but at least Warner Bros. has packed in some value for those who are probably doubling (if not tripling) up on the actual movies at this point.
Conveniently timed for Titanic's first trip to Blu-ray is a Blu-ray 3D of James Cameron's standalone documentary about the doomed ship, Ghosts of the Abyss. It's only an hour long, but as far as informational history films go, it's one of the more livelier ones you can find. Will you learn more than you will watching the extras on the Titanic Blu-ray? No, probably not. But the presentation of it all is top notch, which should earn it a spot on the shelf of James Cameron devotees.
Also available this week are new Blu-rays of '90s cable mainstays The Firm and Steel Magnolias. Odds are that if you like either of them, you like them a whole lot, if only for the sheer fact that if you were watching cable in the '90s it was hard to avoid them. Then there's the 1959 drama The Sound and the Fury, and the American remake of The Ring. The two couldn't be any more different, so they barely belong in the same sentence, but hey, we've only got so much space to cover so many movies. Note: The Ring was previously available on BD as a Best Buy exclusive, but now it's available everywhere.
Ending the week are four more horror movies, at least one of which should be of interest to genre fans. Despite that weirdly religious cover art that makes it look like a slasher about a priest, the Jeepers Creepers above is indeed the 2001 creature feature starring Justin Long. And it just so happens that Rosewood Lane is the new movie from the director of Jeepers Creepers. What a coincidence!
Finally we have some extremely misleading and modern cover art for Killer Klowns from Outer Space, a movie that just does not need an HD upgrade. And speaking of that, you'll probably do just fine holding on to your DVD of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.