It's 2026, and humanity has been pushed to near extinction by a deadly virus. When a group of survivors desperate to find a new source of power travel into the woods near San Francisco, they discover a highly evolved community of intelligent apes led by Caesar (Andy Serkis). The two species form a fragile peace but dissension grows and the groups find themselves hurtling toward all-out war. Extras: "Andy Serkis: Rediscovering Caesar," four galleries. Blu-ray adds Deleted scenes, "Journey to Dawn," "Humans and Apes: The Cast of Dawn," "The World of Dawn," "The Ape Community," "Move Like an Ape: An Artists Artist's Medium," "Weta and Dawn," "The Fight for a New Dawn," commentary by director Matt Reeves. Vitals: Director: Matt Reeves. Stars: Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 130 min., Sci-Fi Action, Box office gross: $207.604 million, Fox.
From the Big Screen:
"Chef" and "Transformers: Age of Extinction." For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week's Highlights:
Hollywood is rife with horror tales of producers and studios yanking a film from a director's hands and destroying it; the 1980s seemed to be a decade in which top directors saw their heartfelt projects edited into oblivion (though some were quickly resurrected). Among them: Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate" (1980), Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" (1982) and Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" (1985). One of the most egregious hack jobs was the U.S. theatrical release of Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America in 1984. Leone's original cut ran some 4 and a half hours; it premiered at Cannes that May in a trimmed 3 hours-49 minute version. When it was released in the U.S., the film was cut to 139 minutes — almost two hours shorter than Leone's original cut and 90 minutes short than the Cannes version. Not only that, but the flashback format of the film was edited away so that the story was told in chronological order, destroying the impact of the film. Since then, of course, restored versions have been shown on the big screen and ported to home video, but until now, the director's original vision has not been available on DVD. Warner has remedied that with the release of "Once Upon a Time in America Extended Edition," a 251-minute cut — with 22-minutes of restored footage — funded by The Film Foundation, the film preservation organization founded by Martin Scorsese, and its partner Gucci. The film — which starred Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Burt Young, Tuesday Weld, Treat Williams, Danny Aiello, William Forsythe and Darlanne Fluegel — will also be available on DVD. The Blu-ray extras include a new 32-page book with rare photos and insightful notes that chronicle the movie's production history; the book also includes a letter written by Martin Scorsese. Other special features (available on all the editions) include commentary by film historian and critic Richard Schickel, and a making-of documentary "Once Upon a Time: Sergio Leone."
There's two spectacular releases from The Criterion Collection this week: First is the Blu-ray debut of "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul" (1974) in which the wildly prolific German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder paid homage to his cinematic hero Douglas Sirk with an "update" of that filmmaker's 1955 "All That Heaven Allows." A lonely widow (Brigitte Mira) meets a much younger Arab worker (El Hedi ben Salem) in a bar during a rainstorm. They fall in love, to their own surprise — and to the outright shock of their families, colleagues, and drinking buddies. In "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul," Fassbinder expertly uses the emotional power of classic Hollywood melodrama to expose the racial tensions underlying contemporary German culture. In a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Next up is "Sundays and Cybele" (1962), a provocative Academy Award winner from French director Serge Bourguignon. A psychologically damaged war veteran and a neglected child begin a startlingly intimate friendship — one that ultimately ignites the suspicion and anger of his friends and neighbors in suburban Paris. Bourguignon's film makes thoughtful, humane drama out of potentially incendiary subject matter, and with the help of the sensitive cinematography of Henri Decae and a delicate score by Maurice Jarre, "Sundays and Cybele" becomes a stirring contemplation of an alliance between two troubled souls. New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
Seems like every couple of years Warner Home Video trots out a "newer" version of classic films in their library ("Casablanca," "The Wizard of Oz") with extra added features and packaging aimed at enticing you to buy the film "one more time." It was only five years ago that Warners gave us a 70th anniversary Blu-ray edition of "Gone With the Wind" (David O. Selznick's monumental 1939 production of Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning book) and now they've released "Gone With the Wind 75th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition" which, thankfully, is well-worth the price ($49.99). Not only do you get a high-def version of the film, you also get new memorabilia and new special features that include a replica of Rhett Butler's handkerchief and a music box paperweight playing Tara's theme with an image on top of the Rhett-Scarlett kiss. Also included is a 36-page companion booklet featuring a look at the immortal style of "Gone with the Wind," written by New York fashion designer and "Project Runway" finalist Austin Scarlett. New special features include footage of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh attending the original movie premiere in Atlanta and "Old South/New South," a journey through today's South, revisiting the real-life locations depicted to see how the world of the Old South continues to inform life in the New South's cosmopolitan world. The set is limited and numbered, with new collectible packaging.
Warner also has on hand this week the "Audrey Hepburn Blu-ray Collection," a nifty set with three of Hepburn's most endearing films on Blu-ray for the first time: "Funny Face," "Sabrina" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's." The latter two account for two of Hepburn's five Best Actress Academy Award nominations (The other Best Actress nominations were "Wait Until Dark," "The Nun's Story," and "Roman Holiday," for which she took home the statue. She was also honored posthumously by the Academy with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993). Born in 1929 in Brussels, Hepburn spent part of her youth at an English boarding school and studied at The Netherlands' Arnhem Conservatory. After World War II, she studied ballet in Amsterdam and London and made her stage debut in 1948 in the chorus of "High Button Shoes." Additional small parts on the British stage were followed by appearances in English films, including the Alec Guinness classic "The Lavender Hill Mob." Soon after, she came to America to take on the title role in the Broadway production "Gigi" and her career took off. All three discs are loaded with bonus features. $29.99.
Another impressive set is "Motown 25: Yesterday — Today — Forever" (2014). "Motown 25" was an iconic TV concert event — airing on NBC on May 16, 1983 — for so many reasons: It celebrated one of the most influential labels in music history, put all of its biggest stars — from Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye to Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and many more — on a single stage for one incredible night and introduced the world to the moonwalk in six seconds that would change the world. It was a true water cooler event in the era before social media. "Motown 25" was taped before a live audience and showcased virtually every Motown artist from the company's inception, including Jackson, Gaye, Robinson, Wonder, Ross, The Supremes, The Jackson 5, The Miracles, The Temptations, Four Tops and many others. The show also featured many guests outside the Motown Records sphere who had been influenced by Motown artists, including Linda Ronstadt, who performed a memorable duet with Smokey Robinson, Billy Dee Williams, Jose Feliciano and British new wave star Adam Ant, who was riding a wave of popularity from MTV exposure. As an added highlight, the historic evening was hosted by Richard Pryor, who was arguably the hottest comedian in the world at the time. A seminal event in pop culture history, this concert event would establish the gold standard for all future televised concert events and go on to provide the backstory for the Tony-nominated Broadway play, "Motown the Musical." There are three configurations for the release: A deluxe six-DVD Set ($79.95) featuring the Extended version of the original broadcast with new 5.1 surround sound and hours of bonuses including nine specially-produced featurettes, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder's rehearsal footage, a "Motown 25" performers roundtable, interviews with Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, Otis Williams and many more, an exclusive collector's book and a copy of the "Motown 25" program; available direct from MOTOWN25DVDS.COM. Also available at retail on September 30 will be a three-DVD set ($39.95) and a single ($19.95). From StarVista Entertainment/Time Life.
Lastly, there's "Ghost in the Shell 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray" (1995). Mamoru Oshii's cyberpunk thriller gets an all new HD transfer. 2029 – A female government cyber agent and the Internal Bureau of Investigations are hot on the trail of a "The Puppet Master" – a computer virus capable of invading cybernetic brains and altering its victim's memory. Created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and codenamed "Project 2501", this "hacker" is actually a prototype virtual agent which has now defied its makers by seeking asylum within a new host body outside of the electronic net. Now the two agencies must maneuver against each another in a violent, high-tech race to capture the omnipresent entity. From Anchor Bay.
From the Big Screen:
"Godzilla," Think Like a Man Too" and "The Fault in Our Stars." For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week's Highlights:
"Eraserhead": When I first saw "Eraserhead" back in 1977 during the now-defunct Filmex Los Angeles film festival, high above Beverly Hills in the Greystone Mansion (which, at the time, housed the American Film Institute), I was astounded and shocked at what unfurled before my eyeballs. Don't forget, this was a time in film history when many, many films were released with little or no fanfare; there was no Entertainment Tonight, no TMZ, no Indiewire, no blogging and Internet universe to leave no stone unturned as to the production, filming and gossip surrounding virtually every film that gets made today. It was a time when you could be truly surprised at the cinema, a time when an "El Topo" or an "Eraserhead" could burst upon the scene and change everything that came after it. Lynch's debut feature — a work of extraordinary craft and beauty — became a lasting cult sensation. Its story — with undercurrents of sex, industrial living and surrealism, shot with mesmerizing black-and-white photography by Frederick Elmes, with bizarre set designs by Jack Fisk and a unique industrial sound design — takes place in a nightmare world and revolves around Henry Spencer (Jack Nance in an unforgettably enigmatic performance), an expressionless man who must marry his girlfriend, Mary X, when she gives birth to an inhuman child —- a swaddled bundle with a snakelike face — and live with her in his small apartment. After Mary leaves him and the child, Spencer begins having visions, including those of a planet with a man pulling levers and some involving the famous singing and dancing Lady in the Radiator. It's all very mind-blowing and fantastical, a very, very dark dream of life. The folks at The Criterion Collection have put out a director-approved DVD and Blu-ray special editions of the film with a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras: include "Eraserhead Stories," a 2001 documentary by David Lynch on the making of the film; new high-definition restorations of six short films by Lynch: "Six Figures Getting Sick" (1966), "The Alphabet" (1968), "The Grandmother" (1970), "The Amputee, Part 1 and Part 2" (1974), and "Premonitions Following an Evil Deed" (1996), all with video introductions by Lynch; new and archival interviews with cast and crew; trailer. Fascinating, freaky stuff.
"The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Black Maria Limited Edition" (1974): Tobe Hooper's horror-thriller gets a 40th anniversary makeover with an all-new 4K digital transfer and a newly created 7.1 surround sound mix (supervised by Hooper). The release marks the only transfer of the film to go back to the original 16mm A/B rolls, the actual film that rolled through the cameras. The Limited Deluxe "Black Maria" Edition will be released at retail on October 14 but will be available exclusively for $99.98 at www.gorgon-video.com for 30 days beginning September 16. Fans of the film will recognize the unique packaging as a replica of the iconic "Black Maria" cattle truck that comes to Sally Hardesty's rescue when she's being pursued by Leatherface, a fitting nod to the legions of "TCSM" enthusiasts who were instrumental in keeping the film at the forefront of the genre for the past 40 years and a true collectible display piece. This four-disc DVD/Blu-ray combo pack will include such extras as a Leatherface apron, theatrical mini-poster, five audio options, feature commentaries with the filmmakers and cast, several making-of featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes, bloopers, trailers and more. A Collector's Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo and single DVD and Blu-ray will also be available on September 16. From Dark Sky Films.
"Ghostbusters Anniversary Editions": To celebrate the 30th anniversary of "Ghostbusters" (1984) and the 25th anniversary of "Ghostbusters II" (1989), Sony will release 4K remastered versions of both films on Blu-ray (with the sequel making its Blu-ray debut) as well as a two-disc anniversary edition Blu-ray Digibook that includes both films as well as a Limited Edition gift set that includes both films, an exclusive collectible Slimer figurine and the two-disc Digibook. Both films were directed by Ivan Reitman and starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson. From Sony.
From TV to DVD:
"About a Boy: Season One" (2013) Two-disc set with 13 episodes, $29.98 from Universal …
"Arrow: The Complete Second Season" (2013) includes all 23 episodes plus a Season One recap. Based on the DC Comics "Green Arrow" superhero comic book series. Billionaire archery enthusiast Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returns for another season in Starling City. Sworn to fight crime and corruption in his city, Oliver (aka the Arrow) — with the help of the tech-savvy Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) and his iron-fisted right hand, John Diggle (David Ramsey), and the occasional, reluctant assistance of former police detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) — has been waging a one-man war on crime. But in all wars, there are casualties. To honor his fallen friend, Tommy Merlyn, and protect the people he loves, Oliver must rededicate himself to his mission and be more than just a vigilante. He must become a beacon of hope for the city's most vulnerable…and a weapon of justice against those who prey upon them. Formats: Five-disc DVD: $59.98, nine-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $69.97. From Warner … "Awkward Season Three" (2013) is a four-disc set with 20 episodes of the MTV series, $26.99 from MTV/Paramount … "Bones Season Nine" (2013-14) is a six-disc set with 24 episodes, $39.98 from Fox … "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – The Fourteenth Season" (2013-14) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $69.99 from CBS/Paramount … In "DCI Banks: Season Two" (2014), Stephen Tompkinson returns as the tenacious and stubborn Chief Inspector Alan Banks in three more chilling crime stories. Two-disc set, $34.98 from BBC Home Entertainment … In "Death in Paradise: Season Two" (2014), Ben Miller returns as Detective Richard Poole, solving more mysterious murders and still stuck in paradise on the stunning Caribbean island of Saint-Marie. Two-disc set, $34.98 from BBC Home Entertainment … In "Father Brown: Season One" (2013), "Harry Potter's" Mark Williams plays GK Chesterton's ecclesiastical sleuth in the 10-episode first season of this crime drama. Four-disc set, $39.98 from BBC Home Entertainment … "Grimm: Season Three" (2013-14) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes. Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt is back — but not exactly himself — as "Grimm" returns for another 22 hair-raising episodes. With his abilities manifesting in new and unusual ways, Nick is stronger than ever with his partner, Hank, and reunited love, Juliette, by his side as he tracks down Wesen criminals with renewed determination. But things are changing all around him. As Captain Renard embroils himself with the birth of a royal child and Monroe and Rosalee's relationship intensifies, the ties between humans and the Wesen world will become even more irrevocably intertwined. DVD: $59.98, Blu-ray Disc: $69.98 from Universal … "Hannibal: Season Two" (2014) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes. Based on the characters and elements appearing in the novel "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris, "Hannibal" stars Mads Mikkelsen as the iconic Hannibal Lecter, Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne. The second season continues with Will Graham (Dancy) locked in a mental asylum, accused of Hannibal Lecter's (Mikkelsen) crimes. Jack Crawford (Fishburne) is dealing with his own feelings about Will, and whether his protege is in fact a cold-blooded killer. With Will locked up, Hannibal becomes Jack's new consultant on cases. The deadly dance between these characters continues to turn in startling and unexpected ways. Formats: DVD: 39.97, Blu-ray: $39.98 from Lionsgate … "Hawaii Five-O (2010) – The Fourth Season" (2013-14) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $64.99. The Hawaii Five-O team fights to keep paradise safe from the most dangerous criminals on the islands. This season, Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) and Detective Danny "Danno" Williams (Scott Caan) pursue an expert hacker and are taken hostage by an escaped convict who convinces them of his innocence while the danger of Kono's (Grace Park) relationship with the son of a Yakuza boss escalates. Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) is investigated by Internal Affairs about his ties to the head of a drug cartel, and Catherine (Michelle Borth) gains a spot on the team but must repay a debt of honor in Afghanistan. From CBS/Paramount … "Petals on the Wind" (2014) stars Heather Graham, Ellen Burstyn, Rose McIver and Wyatt Nash in this sequel to V.C. Andrews's best-selling novel and Lifetime's hit movie "Flowers in the Attic." Set 15 years in the future from the end of the previous film, the second installment shadows the Dollanganger children as they attempt to find their way in the world following their escape after years of imprisonment. From Lionsgate … Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp return in "Scott & Bailey: Season Two" (2014), Sally Wainwright's investigative drama that explores the personal and professional lives of two female detectives. Two-disc set, $34.98 from BBC Home Entertainment … "South Park: The Complete 17th Season" (2013) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes. DVD: $29.99, Blu-ray Disc: $39.99 from Paramount … "Spartacus: The Complete Series" (2013) is a 13-disc set with all 39 episodes. DVD: $199.99, Blu-ray Disc: $149.99. A limited edition Blu-ray set packaged with a Spartacus collector's figurine will also be available for $199.99. From Anchor Bay.