It what might seem like a piece of finely tuned timing, but what's more likely a bit of luck, Steve McQueen's 12 YEARS A SLAVE hits home video today fresh from winning the Academy Award for Best Picture Sunday night. The acclaimed historical drama, which also won Oscars for Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o) and Best Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley) just like I predicted, is now available in 1-disc Blu ray and DVD editions. Special Features: a over 40 minute Making Of mini-doc entitled “12 YEARS A SLAVE: A Historical Portrait,” a 7 minute behind-the-scenes featurette (“The Team”), and a 4 minute bit about the music of Hans Zimmer in the film (“The Score”). Read my review from when the film first came out last year here.
The other heavy hitter out this week is Francis Lawrence's sci-fi sequel smash starring Jennifer Lawrence, THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE, in 2-disc Blu ray and single disc DVD editions. Special Features include an Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson, a 2 hour and 24 minute doc made up of 9 Making Of featurettes, a little over 4 minutes of Deleted Scenes, and, for some reason, a almost 7 minute Sneak Peak into the upcoming Neil Burger movie DIVERGENT.
Spike Lee's remake of Chan-wook Park's 2003 cult classic OLDBOY also drops today. I was among many that missed the film that starred Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, and Samuel L. Jackson, as it flopped when it was released theatrically last Thanksgiving, but now we can all catch up with the release that's packaged with over 10 minutes of Extended & Alternate Scenes, The Making of Oldboy (17 min.), Talking Heads (2 minutes and 43 seconds of Cast and crew sound bites), something called Transformation (2:11), and a Workout Video (0:49).
Having never seen any of the FAST AND FURIOUS films, and being oblivious to him in anything else, Eric Heisserer's HOURS, also out today on Blu ray and DVD, was my first time seeing a performance by the late Paul Walker (I did see FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, but don't remember him in it). Walker puts in some admirable acting in this thriller set in a hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, but the film strains unsuccessfully for whatever suspense it can think to wring out of its spare premise concerning a man trying to protect his just born baby. Special Features: “All I Feel Is You” music video by Safran and a PSA for Paul Walker's charity Reach Out.
Another B-movie available this week is Ruairi Robinson's sci-fi thriller THE LAST DAYS ON MARS, starring Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, and Olivia Williams. It's no great shakes, as most movies set on Mars usually go, but at least it's a watchable retread of tropes from classics like ALIEN, and THE THING. Special Features: “The Making of THE LAST DAYS ON MARS” (15 min.), “Analyzing the Visual Effects” (6 min.), Behind the Scenes Comparisons (4 min.), and AXIS TV: A Look at The Last Days on Mars (3 min.).
Other notable releases today include Richard E. Robbins' documentary GIRL RISING (only on DVD), concerning the global campaign for girls' education; Wong Kar Wai's Hong Kong-Chinese martial arts drama THE GRANDMASTER, Tze Chun's crime thriller COLD COMES THE NIGHT, starring Alice Eve and Bryan Cranston;
Giulio Paradisi's 1979 psychological thriller THE VISITOR, and Jamie Payne's Doctor Who TV event THE TIME OF THE DOCTOR, which was the 800th episode of the long running British series, and the last to feature Matt Smith as the iconic character.
Also on the TV front there's Venture Bros: Complete Season Five, Oliver Stone's 2012 10-episode Showtime series Untold History of the United States, Mr. and Mrs. Murder Series 1, Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series 11, Ancient Aliens Season 5 Volume 2 and the seventh season of the classic '60s Clint Eastwood Western series Rawhide gets released in 2 separate multi-disc volumes (DVD only).