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I Want My DVD: Tuesday, September 13, 2011

by admin September 13, 2011 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We sense a great disturbance in the Force...

Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Attention nerf herders and Padawans! Your leader, the dreaded Beaded One, has detected a new element in the home entertainment Force -- a little thing called Blu-ray. So you know those six movies you love (well, at least two or maybe three of them, anyway)? Get ready to buy 'em all over again... that is, provided you're willing to put up with yet another batch of "improvements" that don't really improve much at all. The more discerning fans can pick their preferred trilogy by plunking down for either the original trilogy or the prequels (though why anyone would willingly choose the latter option is a question not even Master Yoda could answer) , but if you've got the credits we recommend going for the whole six-movie megillah. With the wizards at ILM overseeing the high-def transfer, you know that the Star Wars movies will look better than ever. It's just a shame that a certain director doesn't know how to keep his hands to himself when it comes to their content. [Note: The Star Wars sets officially go on sale Friday, September 16 -- Ethan.]
Extras: The movies themselves come with two audio commentary tracks, one featuring Lucas and other behind-the-scenes folks (these have been ported over from previous DVD releases) and another stitched together out of archival interviews with various cast and crew members. The final three discs are where the action's at in the extras department -- chose from a slew of new documentaries and featurettes, deleted and alternate scenes lifted from Lucas' vault, a conversation with the makers of the second (and best) Star Wars outing, The Empire Strikes Back (RIP Irvin Kershner), 90 minutes of Star Wars spoofs and three vintage making-of docs, including 1977's The Making of Star Wars, which transports you back to where the magic began.

Thor
Despite the success of Iron Man, many wondered whether moviegoers would show up to support another supposedly "second-tier" Marvel superhero, particularly one with a more fantastical tilt like The Mighty Thor. With over $180 million (plus an additional $270 million worldwide) in the bank, we guess we have our answer: Yes. Still, quality-wise, Thor is a far cry from Iron Man, marred by lame fish-out-of-water comedy, a lifeless romance, choppy action sequences and too many overt nods to The Avengers. (Jeremy Renner's two-minute cameo is particularly egregious.) On the other hand, Chris Hemsworth absolutely delivers the goods as the title character and that makes us excited to see what writer/director Joss Whedon has in store for him come next May. And if you are a fan of the film, the three-disc combo pack is worth the price, offering a Blu-ray version, a Blu-ray 3D version and a standard disc, plus a digital copy.
Extras: 7 behind-the-scenes featurettes, commentary from director Kenneth Branagh, 11 deleted scenes and, best of all, an exclusive look at those mighty Avengers in action.

Meek's Cutoff
Kelly Reichardt's latest film is a moody look at the pioneer life. In 1845, a wagon train of settlers (played by a cast that includes Michelle Williams, Paul Dano and Will Patton) follows boastful guide Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) through the unforgiving Oregon wilderness. Are they hopelessly lost or does their leader know where he's going as he so strenuously claims? Their situation grows even more tenuous as their supplies dwindle and they capture a Native American scout, who will either lead them to water or straight into an ambush. Shot entirely on location, Meek's Cutoff is one of the year's most beautifully photographed features and while the deliberate pacing and ambiguous ending my frustrate some viewers, for serious movie buffs this is absolutely a journey worth taking.
Extras: Slim -- just a making-of featurette and the movie's trailer, which gives away a few too many key moments.

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
We've already written at length about our love for for Rodman Flender's fly-on-the-wall look at Conan O'Brien's 2010 live comedy tour, launched in the wake of the whole Tonight Show debacle. Now that it's on DVD, here's your chance to catch up with one of the year's finest documentaries. Whether you're a card-carrying Team Coco member or completely oblivious to the late night television scene, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop effectively captures the passion and drive of an artist doing what he loves, while also depicting the way that same passion and drive can lead said artist to behave in questionable and even downright cruel ways.
Extras: Additional scenes, interview outtakes and, best of all, a commentary track with O'Brien and Flender.

Also on DVD:
Officially sanctioned as The Greatest Movie Ever Made Citizen Kane arrives on Blu-ray in a 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition that comes with two commentary tracks (one from director Peter Bogdanovich and the other from film critic Roger Ebert), the invaluable Battle Over Citizen Kane documentary, deleted scenes, photo stills with commentary by Ebert, storyboards, call sheets and more. All in all, it's a film school in a slender jewel case for aspiring filmmakers and critics. Danny Boyle's Trainspotting may not be a timeless masterpiece on the level of Kane, but it's absolutely a classic of '90s cinema and remains the Scottish director's best work, a picture where all of the individual elements -- soundtrack, casting and his hyperkinetic visual style -- came together perfectly. The soundtrack is the finest part of the Coen Brothers' offbeat period piece, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, an extremely loose adaptation of Homer's Odyssey that features a pretty hilarious star turn by George Clooney. Not exactly the Coens' finest hour, but there's still lots of interesting stuff here. With the TV version of Alexandre Dumas' classic revenge tale The Count of Monte Cristo set to debut next week (that would be the ABC serial Revenge, which topped our list of the fall's must-see shows) it's a good time to revisit the above-average 2002 film version starring Jim Caviezel as the wronged man and a wonderfully slimy Guy Pearce as his nemesis. Before he ventured into Middle Earth, Peter Jackson made the underrated horror comedy The Frighteners, out today in a high-def version at last. In new releases, the usually reliable (well, except for that G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra thing) Joseph Gordon-Levitt headlines the indie drama Hesher, Julie Taymor's shaky post-Turn of the Dark reputation takes another hit with her underwhelming film version of Shakespeare's final play The Tempest and the motion comics feature Marvel Knights: Thor & Loki Blood Brothers brings the 2004 Loki miniseries to animated life. Finally, one of our personal guilty pleasures, 2008's Karate Kid rip-off Never Back Down gets a direct-to-DVD sequel Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, which stars Michael Jai White as an MMA-instructor who prepares four very different contestants for an upcoming tournament called -- what else? -- the Beatdown. Sounds like bad movie heaven.

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