Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New Releases On Blu Ray & DVD: 8/13/13

Antoine Fuqua’s action thriller OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN heads the batch of new releases today on a 2-disc Blu ray/DVD Combo edition (includes UltraViolet Digital Copy), and a single disc DVD version. The movie, starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, and Aaron Eckhart is as standard issue as the floating heads poster art on the packaging (as you can read in my review from last March), but there’s tons of Special Features anyway.

They include a couple of minutes of Bloopers, and several featurettes (“The Epic Ensemble,” “Under Surveillance,” “Deconstructing the Black Hawk Sequence,” “Ground Combat: Fighting the Terrorists,” and “Creating the Action: VFX and Design”) equaling roughly a half hour. After the nearly identical WHITE HOUSE DOWN, which I actually preferred, flopped earlier this summer, don’t expect be any more DIE HARD at the White House movies anytime soon.

A movie I missed, as did most folks did, when it was in theaters last April, Jason Zackham’s THE BIG WEDDING, also drops today on Blu ray and DVD, both in single disc editions. The poorly reviewed comedy stars Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, and, here’s the kicker: Katherine Heigl. Only one Special Feature on this clinker: a 16-minute featurette entitled “Coordinating THE BIG WEDDING.”

A film that fared much better is also available today: Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s modern day adaptation of Henry James’ 1897 novel WHAT MAISIE KNEW, out now in 2-disc Blu ray and 1-disc DVD editions.

Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, Alexander Skarsgård, Joanna Vanderham, and the 6-year old Onata Aprile star in the well done divorce drama that I wrote wasn’t just KRAMER VS. KRAMER from the kid’s point of view in my review during its theatrical run in Raleigh last May. Special Features: a director’s commentary with McGhee and Siegel and a little over 7 minutes of deleted scenes.
I wasn’t alone in being unimpressed by Peter Webber’s post-World War II drama EMPEROR, starring Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones as General McArthur, as most critics hated it and audiences stayed away in droves, but here it is in spiffy single disc Blu ray and DVD editions with a bevy of bonus features anyway. Special Features: Commentary with Director Webber and Producer Yoko Narahashi, a 15-minute featurette “Revenge or Justice: The Making of Emperor,” deleted scenes, Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery, Historical Photo Gallery, and the theatrical trailer. So, if there are actually any EMPEROR fans out there, well, they should be pleased.
Robert Redford’s preachy political thriller THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, another bland offering out today on home video, also gets the single disc Blu ray (Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UltraViolet) and DVD treatment. The film which I called a “star studded dud” in my April review, comes packaged with 4 featurettes: “Behind the Scenes: The Movement,” “Behind the Scenes: The Script, Preparation and The Cast,” “On The Red Carpet” (from the New York premiere), and “Press Conference,” with Robert Redford, Stanley Tucci, Brit Marling and Jackie Evancho. Man, that bonus material sounds almost as thrilling as the film itself! I kid.

In my book, or more accurately on my blog, the best older title new to Blu ray this week is James Frawley’s 1979 family friendly classic THE MUPPET MOVIE in what’s billed as “The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition.” Extras include such featurettes as “Director Jim Frawley’s Extended Camera Test,” “Pepe Profiles Present Kermit: A Frog's Life,” ‘Doc Hopper’s Commercial” (long live Charles Durning!), original trailers, and something called “Frog-E-Oke Sing-Along,” in which viewers can sing along to a few of the soundtrack classics (“Rainbow Connection,” “Movin’ Right Along,” and “Can You Picture That”) with the help of dynamic text.

Another great retro release of a movie making its debut on Blu ray this week is the Criterion Collection edition of John Frankenheimer’s 1966 thriller SECONDS, starring Rock Hudson, one of my all time favorite conspiracy movies. 

Special Features: the 15-minute video interview “Alec Baldwin on SECONDS,” a mini-documentary “A Second Look,” “Palmer and Pomerance on SECONDS” (a new visual essay by film scholars R. Barton Palmer and Murray Pomerance), Archival Footage, a short video interview with Director Frankenheimer, “Hollywood on the Hudson” (a rare WNBC news special shot on location in Scarsdale, New York, during the filming of SECONDS in 1965), commentary with director John Frankenheimer from 1997, and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring an essay by critic David Sterritt.

TV series sets available this week include Girls: The Complete Second Season, Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season, Enlightened: The Complete Second Season, The Mindy Project: Season One, and Southland: The Complete Fifth and Final Season.

More later…

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