BLOGS

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This week, Zack Snyder sucker punches moviegoers, Nicolas Cage gets medieval on our asses and a certain batch of Hobbits get a high-def makeover.

Sucker Punch
Zack Snyder's grrl power-enhanced action movie/hallucinatory fantasy musical/Brazil knock-off didn't make a lot of sense in its theatrical version, but this Blu-ray only extended cut, which adds 17 minutes to the runtime, may help clear up some of the (many) unanswered questions. Although really, the best way to enjoy the movie is to ignore the plot and enjoy the hyper-stylized, slow-mo battles and the video-game like environments (which look even better on Blu-ray) that Snyder drops the characters into. Purely in terms of its style, Sucker Punch may be the closest Hollywood has ever gotten to making a live-action anime film, although most anime has more depth than this flashy, ultimately inconsequential bit of fluff. (Also available via Movies on Demand.)
Extras: Snyder walks viewers through behind the scenes production stories while the movie is going on courtesy of Blu-ray's Picture-in-Picture commentary and Director Walk-On capability. There are also four animated shorts and a featurette about the soundtrack, which offers covers of such rock staples as "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and "White Rabbit."

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Extended Edition)
The theatrical versions of Peter Jackson's beloved fantasy series made their Blu-ray debut last year and now at long last here come the extended editions, collected in a hefty 15-disc package. Many of the extras are ported over from the standard DVD sets that were released six years ago (which makes them ancient in DVD years) so the main attractions here are the visually upgraded versions of the films, particularly the first chapter The Fellowship of the Ring, which was re-mastered from the original digital files for this edition. By the time you finish making your way through these 15-discs, the first Hobbit installment -- currently filming in New Zealand -- should be in theaters.
Extras: If you don't own the previous incarnation of the Extended Editions, the copious bonus features include dozens and dozens of featurettes, a whopping four commentary tracks for each movie and interactive maps. New to this edition are three standalone making-of documentaries chronicling the production of each installment.

Season of the Witch
Here's our new working theory for Nic Cage movies: whenever his hair is long and greasy, you know you're getting some high-quality cheese. That's certainly the case with this laughably bad medieval adventure, in which the Cage-ster plays an errant knight tasked with escorting a suspected witch to a remote monastery, where she'll be tried by a fair-minded (yeah, right) group of God-fearing monks. Ron Perlman and Christopher Lee -- who are almost equal to Cage in their inability to say no to obviously crappy projects -- co-star. (Also available via Movies on Demand.)
Extras: What we wouldn't give to hear a Nic Cage commentary track. Sadly, the star is probably too busy making another terrible movie to help pay off his massive tax debt. In his absence, expect director Dominic Sena to anchor the yack track, which will be accompanied by deleted scenes and an alternate ending.

Beastly
Pity Alex Pettyfer. This was supposed to be the year this British actor (who got his start as a kiddie star in the James Bond Jr. knock-off Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker) blew up big time with starring roles in the sci-fi blockbuster I Am Number Four and this modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast co-starring High School Musical icon Vanessa Hudgens. Unfortunately for him, neither movie performed up to expectations, largely because they both kinda sucked. (Although Beastly does earn points for casting the awesome Neil Patrick Harris as the Beast's blind confidante.) Poor Alex -- he'll just have to content himself with his handsome face, chiseled abs and the not-inconsiderable paychecks he earned from his attempts at stardom. (Also available via Movies on Demand.)
Extras: Two featurettes, deleted scenes, an alternate ending and a music video for the Kristina and the Dolls track "Be Mine."

Also on DVD This Week:
It's a sci-fi Blu-ray bonanza this week, starting with a two-disc set that will make every die-hard Browncoat's heart flutter. Joss Whedon's Serenity, the feature length spin-off of his cult space western Firefly, gets a Blu-ray/DVD combo release that comes with a digital copy of the movie for handheld media players. The '80s cult classic The Last Starfighter also gets the combo treatment, as does the kiddie outer space adventure, Zathura, directed by a pre-Iron Man Jon Favreau. (It's not sci-fi, but Hot Fuzz is also out in a combo pack and we never miss a chance to pimp this modern comedy classic, brought to you by the always-reliable team of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.) Finally, landing on a straightforward Blu-ray disc is Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, another big-screen version of a western-influenced intergalactic TV series, this one hailing from Japan. If you're new to Bebop, it's probably best to start with the series, as the entertaining, but bizarrely-plotted movie is a true space oddity.

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