Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New Releases On Blu Ray & DVD: 6/11/13

The two biggest titles releasing today, Sam Raimi’s OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (no colon) and Tommy Wirkola’s HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, are both the stuff of modernized fairy tale fodder, which makes it hard to believe that Tim Burton had nothing to do with either of them.

Anyway, OZ, starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and a bunch of green screen/CGI effects, which I wrote was “Not a bomb, but no magical masterpiece either” (3/8/13) is available now in the standard Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy package. Special Features include six featurettes: “Walt Disney and the Road to Oz” (10 minutes), “My Journey in Oz” (a 22 minute sampler of a video journal by Franco). “China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief” (5 min), “Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas To Oz” (11 min), “Metamorphosis” (8 min), “Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions” (7 min), and 5 minutes of bloopers. My review from its theatrical release last March is here.

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, which I liked a lot less, is out in a likewise Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy edition, but adds a UltraViolet copy. Its Special Features are only 3 featurettes: “Reinventing Hansel & Gretel” (15 min), “The Witching Hours” (9 min), and “Meet Edward the Troll” (5 min). None of these extras are likely to sway me from re-thinking my description of the film last January that went like this: “From the same lack of inspiration that brought you ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’” comes this muddled mixture of the action genre with fairy tale mythology.” Read the rest of my review here.

Having only seen the film on a crappy truncated VHS release back in the ‘80s, it’s cool to see that Paul McCartney and Wings’ ‘70s concert film ROCKSHOW is out now on both Blu ray and DVD, marking the first time in over 30 years that the full over 2 hour program is available to the public. There’s only one bonus extra, a 10 minute backstage featurette entitled “A Very Lovely Party,” but the 30 songs of vintage Beatles, solo, and Wings classics from McCartney and crew’s 1976 tour of North America contained in this package should be satisfying enough on their own.

I skipped Ric Roman Waugh’s SNITCH starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson when it was released theatrically early this year, but folks who are into such action genre exercises should know that its new release (Blu-ray + UltraViolet + Digital Copy) is outfitted with Special Features like a 50 minute ‘Making of’ doc entitled “Privileged Information,” commentary with Director Waugh and Editor Jonathan Chibnall, and deleted scenes.

A more appealing looking title from earlier this year out today on both formats is Im Sang-Soo’s South Korean erotic thriller THE TASTE OF MONEY, available with sparse extras (“Behind the Scenes” featurette, trailer) on both 1-disc Blu ray and DVD editions. Other new movies hitting home video today include: Quentin Dupieux’s WRONG (Blu Ray + Digital Copy), and Jared Moshe’s 2012 Western DEAD MAN’S BURDEN (only on DVD).

Last week, this New Releases feature reported about the release of the Lifetime TV movie RING OF FIRE, a biopic about June Carter Cash as played by Jewel. This week, another RING OF FIRE comes out, but this one is a TV miniseries produced by REELZ about an oil rig causing a volcanic eruption in a small town starring Michael Vartan, Terry O'Quinn, and Ian Tracey. Since end-of-the-world scenarios are hot right now, maybe more folks than who saw it when it aired last March will check out this release (available in both 1-disc Blu ray and DVD editions), but probably not. Its lone Special Feature is a Sneak Peek of Reelz’s follow-up miniseries Eve of Destruction, which aired in April and is releasing next month on Blu ray and DVD.

Despite getting mixed reviews and a lot of internet ridicule for its unrealistic and pretentious agenda, Aaron Sorkin’s preachy HBO series The Newsroom was renewed for a second season that premieres next month (July 14, 2013). Folks who want to catch up with the trials and tribulations of self righteous news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), his neurotic executive producer (Emily Mortimer) and his mostly inexperienced staff at the fictional Atlantis Cable News (ACN) channel can pick up The Newsroom: The Complete First Season now out on 4-disc Blu ray (+ DVD Combo + Digital Copy) and DVD sets. 

Special Features include “The Rundown,” (an 25 minute long discussion about the show with Sorkin, Daniels, Mortimer, Waterson, executive producer Alan Poul and co-executive producer Greg Mottola), five commentaries with Sorkin, Poul, Daniels, Waterston, Mortimer and others, “Mission Control” (a behind-the –scenes featurette), “Inside the Episodes” (individual featurettes about each episodes), and deleted scenes. Now folks who loved hating the show will have a lot more material to “hate watch.”

The complete first season of Netflix’s much hyped series House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey as ruthless U.S. Representative Frank Underwood, hits Blu ray and DVD today in 4-disc sets. The very entertaining and addictive show, episodes of which were directed by David Fincher (SE7EN, FIGHT CLUB, ZODIAC, THE SOCIAL NETWORK) and Joel Schumacher (a much less impressive filmography including THE LOST BOYS, BATMAN FOREVER, and THE NUMBER 23 - see what I mean?), also stars Robin Wright, Kate Mara, and Carey Stoll. Like many people did when all 13 episodes dropped on the streaming service last February, you can still watch the whole season in a little over half a day, because this release has no bonus material (no commentaries, featurettes, nothing) to add to the running time. No word yet about when the second season, now in production, will air.

Despite its similar title to the Will Smith sci-fi summer bomb AFTER EARTH, the History Channel’s 3-Disc Collection, AFTER PEOPLE, out today on DVD only, is a fascinating breakdown of what life on this planet would be like if the entire human population went extinct. Made up of 4 extended programs from the History Channel series Life After People, the set has no Special Features, but at its 288 minute running time, they’re really not needed. It may be too intensely scientific for some folks, but the insights and speculations, as well as all the CDI-ed global destruction, should strongly draw most interested viewers in.

On the older film front, titles new to Blu ray out today include a couple of early ‘70s Clint Eastwood Westerns (John Sturges’ JOE KIDD and Don Siegel’s TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA), Phil Alden Robinson’s 1992 Robert Redford thriller/comedy SNEAKERS, and the Criterion Collection edition of Igmar Bergman’s 1957 classic WILD STRAWBERRIES.

More later…

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