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I Want My DVD, Tuesday, October 25, 2011

by admin October 25, 2011 6:00 am
I Want My DVD, Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Over there, over there, send the word, send the word, over there/That Cap is coming, that Cap is coming/And he won't be back 'til the Red Skull is over, over there.

Captain America: The First Avenger
Marvel Studios has yet to produce a comic-book classic on the level of Superman II, Batman Returns or The Dark Knight, but all their films have excelled in one department: casting. From Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, to Chris Hemsworth as Thor to Chris Evans as the Star-Spangled Avenger, Captain America, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige and the rest of his casting team have consistently managed to match the right actor with the right hero, avoiding such casting disasters as Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze and Kate Bosworth's Lois Lane. After already demonstrating his super hero bona fides as Johnny Storm -- one of the few good things about the Fantastic Four movies -- Evans proves an equally great fit for Captain America's long johns; as both the Sentinel of Liberty and his former girlyman alter ego Steve Rogers, he projects the right combination of earnestness and humor. The movie itself suffers from a bland villain (the usually reliable Hugo Weaving) and a flabby narrative, but we're ready to follow Evans' Cap through The Avengers and beyond.
Extras: Commentary with director Joe Johnston as well as his director of photography and editor, deleted scenes with additional commentary and seven featurettes covering everything from Cap's sidekicks the Howling Commandos to Weaving's transformation into the Red Skull.

Attack the Block
We raved about Joe Cornish's hugely enjoyable homage to late '70s/early '80s monster movies when it stormed into theaters back in July, praising its young cast (particularly star John Boyega) and the genuinely scary extraterrestrials that invade the film's central setting, a South London public housing complex. (By the way, have you watched the exclusive extended sequence we premiered yesterday? Check it out, if not.) In a summer where many studio-backed genre films fell short, this scrappy British import proved that a low budget doesn't have to put any limitations on a movie's entertainment value.
Extras: Three -- count 'em three -- commentary tracks with various members of the film's cast and crew (including executive producer Edgar "Shaun of the Dead" Wright) and five behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy
Moviegoers have grown accustomed to CGI-generated marvels over the years, so it's hard to recall how revolutionary Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park seemed way back in the summer of 1993. Part of the excitement stemmed from the fact that the digital dinos were kept under wraps up until the movie's release. And those effects remain pretty special today; even on the small screen, it's hard not to feel at least a little bit of awe when paleontologist Alan Grant (the terrific Sam Neill) first gazes up at those grazing Brachiosauruses. And from the Tyrannosaurus attack to the Velociraptors-in-the-kitchen scene, Jurassic Park contains some of the director's strongest blockbuster set-pieces, though in classic Spielberg tradition, he softens some of the book's harder edges too much. For example, Richard Attenborough's portrayal of John Hammond is disappointingly cuddly compared to the bottom-line minded A-hole Michael Crichton described on the page and the film doesn't end with the island being bombed into oblivion as it is in the book. And while the two sequels don't measure up to the original (although The Lost World does have its defenders; on the other hand, most folks agree that Jurassic Park III is little more than a glorified repeat), it's nice to have them included here for completeness' sake.
Extras: The big bonus feature is a new six-part documentary covering the making of all three films, featuring new interviews with Spielberg and the rest of the cast and crew. All of the extras from previous editions have been ported over as well, ranging from vintage featurettes to animatics to behind-the-scenes tours of Stan Winston Studios and Industrial Light & Magic.

The People Vs. George Lucas
Several years in the making, Alexandre O. Philippe's feature-length prosecution of Star Wars creator George Lucas doesn't successfully convict Darth Lucas of any of his supposed crimes against cinema. However, it does offer a lively and wide-ranging portrait of contemporary fan culture, showing how the franchise's followers have funneled their passion for (and in some cases their anger towards) Star Wars into their own works of art, which range from homemade costumes to amateur movies. Although there's too much self-righteous grousing over such tired arguments as "Greedo shot first" and "Jar-Jar sucks" from some of the talking heads interviewed here, The People vs. George Lucas is ultimately self-aware enough to realize that sci-fi fandom would be a poorer place without the Star Wars movies -- yes, even The Phantom Menace -- in it.
Extras: Commentary with Philippe, a music video, selections from a Star Wars-themed poetry slam and an interview with A New Hope and Empire producer-turned-Lucas critic, Gary Kurtz.

Also on DVD:
Decimated by the final Harry Potter film at the summer box office, Disney's Winnie the Pooh -- the latest animated adventure starring that tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff -- will almost certainly find a more appreciative audience on DVD, particularly amongst parents looking for gentler fare for the under-five set. Anyone over that age will probably find the movie sweet, well-meaning... and kinda dull. The extras -- which include deleted scenes, a bonus short, and a sing-along mode -- are geared towards younger viewers as well. Jenna Fischer's real-life pregnancy is no doubt contributing to her lack of material on The Office so far this season, so her spirited turn in the otherwise underwhelming indie drama A Little Help is a nice reminder of her talent and range. One of the most underappreciated comedies of the '90s, the newly re-released Soapdish is a hilarious behind-the-scenes satire of a daytime soap opera with killer turns by Kevin Kline, Sally Field and Teri Hatcher. In between The Godfather and its sequel, Francis Ford Coppola helmed the terrific paranoia-fueled thriller The Conversation, which starred Gene Hackman in one of his finest performances. New bonus features on this Blu-ray disc include interviews with Coppola and compose David Shire, a featurette contrasting '70s San Francisco with today's city, and archival audio of Coppola dictating his taut screenplay. Finally in other classic releases, 1932's Island of Lost Souls is a chilling adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel and the awesome 1968 monster-palooza Destroy All Monsters unleashes Godzilla and a host of other mutated creatures against the great cities of the world.

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