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I Want My DVD: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

by Ethan Alter November 6, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hey there, there goes the new Spider-Man.

The Amazing Spider-Man
As enjoyable as Sam Raimi's three Spider-Man adventures were (well, two-and-a-half out of three anyway), the idea of re-starting the franchise with an all-new director and star seemed both inevitable and promising. After all, since Spidey's origin was now well-known to moviegoers thanks to all of Raimi's heavy lifting, a new movie could skip over the whole "Who he is and how he came to be stuff" and leap right into a rip-roaring comic book tale. Unfortunately, for reasons that still aren't clear, the makers of The Amazing Spider-Man took the character back to square one, revisiting territory that has been trod and re-trod in virtually every single medium the webhead has appeared in. What's worse is that there are several points in the movie where director Marc Webb is clearly angling to put a new spin on the Spidey mythos, specifically in regards to Peter Parker's absent father. But Webb must have been overruled in the editing room, because those threads are left dangling in favor of all the usual beats. (This article does a nice job outlining what an alternate version of TASM might have looked like.) In the plus column, incoming Spider-Man Andrew Garfield proves that he's more than up to the task of web-slinging and villain-defeating, while Emma Stone steals every scene she's in as Peter's paramour, Gwen Stacy. Forget about The Amazing Spider-Man 2... the movie we really want to see is a Stone-led Amazing Spider-Woman.
Extras: A Second Screen app accompanies the feature on Disc 1 that offers behind-the-scenes information and permits viewers to sling content like Spidey from a television to a computer or tablet; Disc 2 comes with 90 minutes of making-of material including location videos and an in-depth look at Spider-Man's new outfit. Interestingly, there don't appear to be any deleted scenes in the mix, which suggests the storylines that were obviously dropped will remain on the cutting room floor for the foreseeable future.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to read our look back at Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man
Click here to read our Q&A with The Amazing Spider-Man's cast and crew
Click here to see what's new about this new Spider-Man movie

Your Sister's Sister
Lynn Shelton's follow-up to her breakthrough indie hit, Humpday, is another small-scale, nicely observed relationship dramedy, this one focusing in on two step-sisters (Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt) and the guy (Mark Duplass) that kinda, sorta comes between them. Taking place largely at a picturesque cabin in the woods (note: not this kind of cabin in the woods) somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, the movie begins with a depressed Duplass (who is still grieving the recent death of his brother) turning up at the house at his pal Blunt's invitation only to find DeWitt there instead. One long night of drinking later, the two wind up in bed together, despite his unexpressed love for her sister and her preference for sleeping with her own gender. Then Blunt turns up and the situation gets really complicated. As with Humpday, Sister is largely improvised, an approach that can be risky depending on the actors involved; fortunately, DeWitt and Blunt prove themselves more than capable of riffing on the fly and Duplass keeps pace nicely as well (although he's by far the least interesting of the three characters). If you're looking for a movie filled with great conversation, these actors are more than happy to talk your ear off... in a good way.
Extras: A pair of commentary tracks.
Click here to read our original review

Arthur Christmas
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Is it time for kiddie Christmas movies already? We haven't even bought our Thanksgiving turkey yet! Flying onto DVD a year after its theatrical release is Arthur Christmas, the latest CGI-animated feature from the England-based stop-motion house, Aardman. James McAvoy voices the title character, the accident-prone youngest son of Father Christmas or, as he's known on these shores, Santa Clause. When one little girl's present is inadvertently left undelivered on Christmas Eve, it's up to Arthur to save the day. While it lacks the lovely technique of Aardman's stop-motion efforts, Arthur Christmas is a perfectly acceptable kids' movie that's sweet and funny without being too cloying. Eight years after the previous Muppet feature and two years after the sudden death of their creator, Jim Henson, Kermit and the gang returned to the big screen in a Muppet-ized version of Charles Dickens's classic Christmas fable, A Christmas Carol, featuring Michael Caine as that live-action grinch, Scrooge. As versions of this oft-filmed story go, it's a solid B-grade effort, one that's mainly enlivened by the cameos from the various Muppets. Compared to the first three Muppet films, however, it's a noticeable step down in quality -- though not quite as dire as the let-us-never-speak-of-it Muppets From Space. Pick it up if you're a Muppet completist, but honestly your kids will probably have more fun watching The Muppets Take Manhattan again or even the 1951 version A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim, which remains the best cinematic version of Dickens's tale.
Extras: Arthur Christmas comes with a making-of featurette, an animation demonstration and an elf-recruitment video. The Muppet Christmas Carol includes a Muppet-led commentary track plus an additional track with director Brian Henson, a blooper reel and two featurettes.

Beaches
Rejoice fans of old-fashioned movie melodrama! The three-hankie weepie that gave us "Wind Beneath Our Wings" is at last available on Blu-ray to reduce a whole new generation of mothers and daughters (and dads too -- let's not gender-type) to tears. Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey star as pals CC and Hillary, who first meet when they're children and continue to move in and out of each other's lives over the decades, experiencing various joys and tragedies together and apart. Shamelessly manipulative, Beaches is nevertheless difficult to resist, particularly in its final half-hour, which practically leaps off the screen and slaps you in the face to get you to cry. And damned if it doesn't succeed.
Extras: First and most importantly, yes, the Blu-ray comes with the music video for "Wings." It also makes room for Hersey's screen test, a retrospective featurette with Mayim Blalik and a blooper reel.

Also on DVD:
You'd think a movie starring Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson and... um, Josh Duhamel would merit a theatrical release. But it looks like Fire With Fire, which casts Duhamel as a firefighter who is placed in witness protection after agreeing to testify against a big-time gangster, is going the ol' direct-to-DVD route. Just in time for his most excellent turn as a Bond villain in Skyfall, Lionsgate releases a triple-bill of Javier Bardem flicks; Biutiful, No Country for Old Men and Mondays in the Sun are all part of the Javier Bardem 3-Film Collection. In Hollywood to Dollywood, a pair of twin brothers with a screenplay that would be perfect for their idol, Dolly Parton, set off on a ride to Dollywood where the intend to hand-deliver the script and not take no for an answer. Available for the first time on DVD, The Rolling Stones: Charlie is My Darling is notable for being the first documentary film about the hard-rocking British band, filmed during their 1965 tour of Ireland. If Beaches is too weepy for you, another '80s classic is out in a special edition today: the John Carpenter sci-fi satire They Live. Elsewhere, Akira Kurosawa's ground-breaking Rashomon is newly available in a Blu-ray version from Criterion Collection and Billy Wilder's immortal Sunset Boulevard also gets a high-def, giving Norma Desmond her first Blu-ray close-up. Finally, if the Tim Burton version of Dark Shadows left a bad taste in your mouth, Warner Bros. is releasing the two '70s movies derived from the '60s soap. Both House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows feature some of the stars of the TV version and actual camp instead of manufactured camp.

Think you've got game? Prove it! Check out Games Without Pity, our new area featuring trivia, puzzle, card, strategy, action and word games -- all free to play and guaranteed to help pass the time until your next show starts.

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