Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Releases On Blu Ray & DVD: 2/11/14

The biggest new release on home video this week has to be Gavin Hood’s ENDER’S GAME, last year's adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s hugely popular sci-fi novel from the mid ‘80s, which is out today in 2-disc Blu ray or 1-disc DVD editions. I enjoyed the film when I saw it last November (my review: ENDER’S Big Screen Video GAME, 11/4/13), but honestly I haven’t thought much about it since then. 

The film, which stars Asa Butterfield as a young fighter pilot in training with a stellar cast including Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, and Ben Kingsley, is packaged on Blu ray and DVD with two commentaries (one with Director Hood, the other with Producers Gigi Pritzker and Roberto Orci), a collection of eight featurettes that make up a 49-minute “Making Of” documentary, over 10 minute of Deleted/Extended Scenes, “Inside the Mind Games” (a 4 minute look into the movie’s motion capture techniques), and theatrical trailers.

Also out today is the movie that many thought Robert Redford was sure to get a Best Actor Oscar Nomination for: J.C. Chandor’s ALL IS LOST, now available in both 1-disc Blu ray and DVD versions. Redford alone owns the screen in this tension-filled tale of a man stranded at sea, as I noted in my review last year (ALL IS LOST: The Film Babble Blog Review, 11/8/13). Special Features include Filmmaker Commentary with Chandor, “Preparing for the Storm” Featurette, “Big Film, Small Film” Featurette, 3 vignettes (“The Story,” “The Filmmaker: J.C. Chandor,” and “The Actor: Robert Redford”), and “The Sound of ALL IS LOST” Featurette. This bonus material is good ‘n all, but I really wish Redford had done a commentary. I mean, his character barely speaks in the film so it would be nice to hear him take us through what he went through making the film. Oh well.

A movie that I missed in its theatrical run, but am very curious about because a friend (Kevin Brewer of postmodcast) chose it as his favorite film of 2013, also releases today: Ridley Scott’s THE COUNSELOR. The Cormac McCarthy-scripted thriller, available in 2-disc Blu ray or 1-disc DVD editions, stars Michale Fassbender as a lawyer who gets caught up in the crazy world of drug trafficking along with Brad Pitt, Goran Visnjic, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz, and Javier Bardem. The R-rated theatrical cut is joined by such Special Features as The Unrated Extended Version (21 minutes longer!), and the featurettes “Truth of the Situation” and “Virals.” Again, I’ve got to check this one out.

Kevin McDonald’s (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, STATE OF PLAY, MARLEY) latest film, HOW I LIVE NOW, drops today in both single disc Blu ray and DVD editions. Based on the popular young adult novel by Meg Rosoff, the British drama stars Saoirse Ronan as an American teen sent from New York to live with her cousins in England as a war appears to be breaking out with terrorist attacks on London. Ronan has the unfortunate factor of looking and sounding like Lindsay Lohan at times, but her invested performance strongly carries the film even through overly artsy sex and dream sequences. Special Features: Interviews (with Cast, Director, and Author), Behind the Scenes Comparisons, Deleted Scenes, “Making Of” featurette, and AXS TV: A Look at HOW I LIVE NOW, and the Theatrical Trailer.

“We sang a fun song in a church,” Masha Alekhina of the Russian punk rock protest group Pussy Riot told Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report last week in answer to the question “what did you do that got you arrested?” Folks wanting more context should check out Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin’s 2013 documentary PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER releasing today on DVD. Though the footage is fascinating, the film, which I first saw at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival last April, could be better structured, but it’s still a worthwhile watch. Bonus Features are spare, only a Skype Q & A with Pussy Riot’s Katya Samutsevich and the trailer.

Other notable films releasing today on home video: Nick Ryan’s K2 climbing documentary THE SUMMIT, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s little seen biopic DIANA starring Naomi Watts as Princess Di, Jared Hess’ AUSTENLAND starring Keri Russell, Malcolm D. Lee’s THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY starring Monica Calhoun and Morris Chestnut, Brad J. Silverman’s Christian music drama GRACE UNPLUGGED, Bryan Fogel’s Jewish rom com JEWTOPIA, and Nicolas Aaron Mezzanatto’s Navy SEALS action flick SEAL PATROL

TV series sets out today: Sherlock Season Three, Newhart: Season Two, Dallas: The Complete Second Season (Larry Hagman’s last), The Americans: Season One, Red Skeleton Show – The Lost Episodes, and the 15th Anniversary Edition of Farscape: Season 2

More later...

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