DVD Collectibles: (9/27)Heading up the week's top releases is "Ben-Hur 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition." This is the third release of William Wyler's epic "Ben-Hur" in the last 10 years, which certainly says something about the lasting popularity of the film and its story. Basically a tale of faith and redemption, "Ben-Hur" revolves around a Jewish prince (Charlton Heston) who is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend (Stephen Boyd), but regains his freedom and comes back for revenge ... a revenge that is eventually tempered by the crucifixion of Christ. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the film, Warner Home Video has put together an impressive package that includes a superb restoration of the film with bonus discs and two hard bound books housed in an 8-inch by 11 1/2-inch gift box. Warner has meticulously restored -- cell-by-cell from an original 65 mm camera negative-- "Ben-Hur" at 6K resolution at a reported cost of $1 million -- and it shows. The sound and image are just stunning -- this 50 year old film looks like it was printed yesterday. This set is a must buy for serious movie lovers and collectors. Bonus features: Commentary, a music-only track showcasing Miklos Rozsa's score; "Charlton Heston: A Personal Journey" (78 min), a new high-definition feature-length documentary chronicling Charlton Heston's life while filming 'Ben-Hur'; several behind-the-scenes and retrospective featurettes; "Charlton Heston: The Ben-Hur Diaries," a reproduction of Charlton Heston's private and insightful diary from January 1958 through April 1960, documenting his time before production of the film all the way through his Oscar win; a 64-page hardcover art production book; and much, much more.
Paramount has a remake of "Footloose" coming out theatrical Oct. 14 (with a cast that includes Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough and Dennis Quaid) so it made sense to re-release the original on Blu-ray and DVD. The 1984 "Footloose" -- about a hip young city guy (Kevin Bacon) stranded in a town that has banned dancing -- was a surprise hit, with infectious music and terpsichorean delights. It was a simplistic story of good vs. bad, old vs. young, freedom vs. dogma -- but just what the doctor ordered to fend off the conservatism of the Reagan era. Paramount has added in a couple new featurettes on the success of the film and its characters: "Let's dance! Kevin Bacon on Footloose," "From Bomont to the Big Apple: An Interview With Sarah Jessica Parker"; as well as vintage featurettes and commentary.
This week also marks two new releases from the folks at The Criterion Collection:
From TV to Video: (9/27)"Call Me Fitz: The Complete First Season" (2010) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, from Entertainment One ... "The Cleveland Show Season 2" (2010-11) is a four-disc set with 22 episodes, $29.99 Fox ... "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The Eleventh Season " (2010-11) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $72.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment ... "CSI: Miami -- The Ninth Season" (2010-11) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $64.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment ... "CSI: New York -- The Seventh Season" (2010-11) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $64.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment ... "Holly's World: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2" (2009-11) is a three-disc set with all 19 episodes from the first two seasons, $29.98 from MPI Home Video ... "How I Met Your Mother Season 6: The New Is Always Better Edition " (2010-11) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $29.99 from Fox ... "How to Make It in America: The Complete First Season" (2010) is a two-disc set with eight episodes, $39.98 from HBO ... "Hung: The Complete Second Season" (2010) is a two-disc set with 10 episodes, $39.98 from HBO ... "Kendra: Seasons 2 & 3" (2009-11) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $29.98 from MPI Home Video ... "Kojak: Season Two" (1974-75) is a six-disc set with 25 episodes, $44.99. from Shout! Factory ... "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit -- The Twelfth Year" (2010-11) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, from Universal ... "The Middle: The Complete Second Season" (2010-11) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $44.98 from Warner ... "Treasure Island" (1990 -- TV) stars Charlton Heston, Christopher Bale, Oliver reed and Christopher Lee; first time on DVD from Warner.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (9/27)In "The Stool Pigeon" (2010 -- Hong Kong), directed by Dante Lam and starring Nicholas Tse, Nick Cheung, Lu Yi and Liu Kai Chi, Tse plays an ex-convict, street racer nicknamed Ghost, who unwillingly works as an informant for police detective Don Lee (Cheung) in order to clear debts left by his late father and to rescue his only sister out of prostitution. The film was nominated for eight awards at the 2011 Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Film, Best Director (Dante Lam), Best Screenplay (Wu Wei Lun), Best Actor (Nick Cheung), and Best Supporting Actor (Liu Kai Chi), with Nicholas Tse taking home the trophy for Best Actor. From Well Go USA ... A mild-mannered secretary discovers that she has a talent for murder as she ascends the corporate ladder in "Miss Nobody" (2010), starring Kathy Baker, Leslie Bibb and Brandon Routh, from Inception Media Group ... Set in Quebec, the thriller "Good Neighbors" (2010) follows three apartment building neighbors as they bond over a recent string of murders taking place in their community. As the trio learns more about each other and the horror of what lies outside escalates, dark secrets unfold and they soon learn that nowhere is safe. Stars Scott Speedman, Emily Hampshire, Jay Baruchel. From Magnolia Home Entertainment ... Charlie Hunnam, Patrick Wilson, , Terrence Howard. Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) is on the "The Ledge" (2011) of a building, ready to jump, and Hollis (Terrence Howard), who just learned that he is not the biological father of his children, is tasked with talking Gavin down. Their conversation eventually reveals Gavin s deep-rooted theological conflict with his fundamentalist Christian neighbor Joe (Patrick Wilson). The negotiations take a drastic turn when Hollis learns that Gavin has a deadline, and his life is not the only one hanging in the balance. An unpredictable thriller that asks challenging questions about faith and reason; the nature of belief; and the value of human life. Also stars Liv Tyler. From IFC Films.
Foreign: (9/27)Fox Home Entertainment has jumped into the foreign film DVD arena with a new label, Fox World Cinema, and this week released their first three entries in the market: "Angel of Evil" (2010 -- Italy) Based on the memoirs of infamous Milan gang leader Renato Vallanzasca who admitted, "I was born to be a thief," this fast-paced action film recounts his astonishing four-decade career ... "The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman" (2010 -- China) First feature from Chinese filmmaker Wuershan,executive produced by director/producer Doug Liman, who was intrigued by Wuershan's original approach to the martial arts genre. The film recounts the journey of a mystical blade as it passes through the hands of three ambitious men and features a mix of diverse filmmaking styles, including black-and-white sequences, animation, split screen and a music video ... "Dum Maaro Dum" (2011 -- India) Revolves around an honest, tough cop in Goa who sets out to eradicate the drug Mafia and a college student who turns to crime when his scholarship to an American university falls through. Also this week from Music Box Films: "Viva Riva!" (2010), from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, revolves around Riva, a small-time but ambitious hood (Patsha Bay) who returns to the frantic, corrupt city of Kinshasa after a decade-long absence with a pocketful of cash and a stash of stolen gasoline, a rare commodity in the Congo. Living large in his hometown, Riva soon meets a trio of determined operators who set into a motion a story of vengeance, desire and brutality.
Special Interest: (9/27)"Dust" (2007) is a documentary look at the pervasive power of dust from its tiny particles settling in unseen places to its ability to cause illnesses and create the cosmos. The film examines the myriad forms and pathways of dust, from the places where it settles and the people who contend with it: Armies of cleaning men and women, manufacturers of vacuum cleaners and air cleansing products, housewives, toxic waste disposal workers, and museum custodians. In examining the many types of dust, including microscopic particulates invisible to the naked eye, a variety of scientists -- botanists, biologists, meteorologists, and astronomers -- discuss the environmental and health consequences of dust, from Sahara sandstorms and the Oklahoma dust bowl of the Thirties to the toxic dust generated by the 9/11 demolition of the WTC towers. From Icarus Films ... "Managing Menopause Naturally: What Every Woman Needs to Know" (2011) is a comprehensive program that addresses women's concerns and discusses options ranging from traditional medicine to holistic and "natural" approaches. Available from the new home video entertainment label True Mind for $19.98.
Final 'Harry Potter' Arrives Nov. 11(Sept. 20) Everyone knows the numeric symbol for "The Beast": 666. Here's another numeric symbol for the supernatural: 11-11-11. That's the day that Warner Home Video will release the last episode in the Harry Potter saga, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2." According to the WHV "Deathly Hallows-- Part 2" website, the final conflict will be available in a three-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack for $35.99 (available for pre-order at $29.99) and a standard DVD for $29.99 (available for pre-order at $19.99). Additionally, the film will be available for download from Amazon and iTunes. No word yet on bonus features, though a recent e-mail blast from the studio says there will be "over 3 hours of in-depth bonus content that fans will want to see." A "Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection" will be available on Blu-ray ($139.99) and DVD.
"Bridesmaids," "Dumbo" Blu-ray and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Blu-ray. For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (9/20)It's the 50th anniversary of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," director Blake Edwards' adaptation of Truman Capote's novella about a small-town girl who moves to New York City and reinvents herself as a worldy party girl. Though Hollywood watered down some of the story's characterizations and plot line, the film is a classic romance -- you end up falling in love both with star Audrey Hepburn (in her most iconic role as Holly Golightly) and the city. It's sophisticated, heart-warming and sad all at once. It also features a workmanlike performance by George Peppard (as Holly's neighbor and love interest) and outstanding work by Patricia Neal. And of course there's 'Moon River.' The only sore spot: Mickey Rooney's demeaning performance as Holly's Japanese neighbor. The film has been restored and remastered for this Blu-ray edition, and the image and sound are first-rate, if not spectacular. The original mono soundtrack has been cleaned up, and a 5.1 surround mix added, which highlights Mancini's score. There are no new special features here, though Paramount has culled together various extras from the several different editions released over the past few years.
Disney is slowly but surely re-releasing its classic animated films on Blu-ray, and now it's "Dumbo's" turn. The Disney studio techs usually take their time and spare no expense in restoring these cherished heirlooms and, according to the folks at Disney, this job was especially arduous: The restoration team "turned to the U.S. Library of Congress, who store the original 70-year-old nitrate camera negative in their film vaults, and for reference, to an original 1941 'release' print, held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Using this rare nitrate 'dye-transfer' Technicolor print for color reference, the team was able to restore 'Dumbo' to the color settings most likely approved by Walt Disney himself, which will be seen in their full splendor for the first time in 70 years on the Blu-ray debut." Animated films always look better on Blu-ray, and "Dumbo" is no exception. The colors are gorgeous, the images smooth and luscious. Disney has added a 7.1 surround soundtrack, but the original mono track suffices. An upgrade recommendation on this one is a given. The only gripe: There's no stand-alone Blu-ray version; Disney makes you buy a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack to get the hi-def edition.
Created by legendary crime novelist Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer was brought to television in 1958 for the first time with Darren McGavin as the hardboiled private eye. Pummeled for its "excessive and gratuitous violence" (by 1950s standards), the show was, nevertheless, instantly successful -- thanks, in part, to Gavin's tongue-in-cheek charm. ">Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer: The Complete Series" (1958-59) is now available for the first time on DVD in a 12-disc set with all 78 episodes, $89.95. From A&E Networks Home Entertainment.
The Criterion Collection this week has two early films by famed New Wave director Claude Chabrol. Of the hallowed group of "Cahiers du cinema" critics-turned-filmmakers who would transform film history, Chabrol was the first to direct his own feature. His stark and absorbing landmark debut, "Le beau Serge" (1958) follows a successful yet sickly young man (Jean-Claude Brialy) who returns home to the small village where he grew up. There, he finds himself at odds with his former close friend (Gerard Blain) -- now unhappily married and a wretched alcoholic -- and the provincial life he represents. "Les cousins" (1959) is a mirror image of "Le beau Serge": Chabrol recasts Jean-Claude Brialy and Gerard Blain in startlingly reversed roles. The film is a sly moral fable about a provincial boy who comes to live with his sophisticated bohemian cousin in Paris. Through these seeming opposites, Chabrol conjures a piercing, darkly comic character study that questions notions of good and evil, love and jealousy, and success in the modern world. Both titles are also available on Blu-ray.
And, lastly, for fans of Danny Kye and clean, old-fashioned slapstick humor and comedy, there's "The Inspector General Collector's Edition" (1949), starring Danny Kaye, Walter Slezak, Barbara Bates, Elsa Lanchester, Gene Lockhart, Alan Hale. Extras include rare color home movies taken on the set of the film and "Money On Your Life," a 1938 short starring Kaye. From Shout! Factory.
From TV to Video: (9/20)"Body of Proof: The Complete First Season (2011) is a two-disc set with nine episodes, $29.99 from Disney ... "Call Me Fitz: The Complete First Season" (2010) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, from Entertainment One ... "Castle: The Complete Third Season" (2010-11) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, $45.99 from Disney ... "The Dick Van Dyke Show 50th Anniversary Edition: Fan Favorites" is a five-disc set with 20 classic episodes, $24.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Happy Endings: The Complete First Season" (2011) is a two-disc set with 13 episodes, $35.99 from Sony ... "Hawaii Five-0: The First Season" (2010-11) is a six-disc set with 24 episodes, $64.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment ... "Law & Order: Los Angeles -- The Complete Series" (2010-11) is a five-disc set with 21 episodes, from Universal ... "Mad TV Season One Part One" (2011) includes 13 episodes of the Cartoon Network series, $19.97 from Warner ... "The Mentalist: The Complete Third Season" (2010-11) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, $59.98 from Warner ... "Mike and Molly: The Complete First Season" (2010-11) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $44.98 from Warner ... "Modern Family The Complete Second Season" (2010-11) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $39.99 from Fox ... "Raising Hope Season 1" (2010-11) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $39.98 from Fox ... "10 Things I Hate About You: Season One, Volume 2" (2009-10) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes, from Shout! Factory.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (9/20)The "Set Up" (2011, direct-to-video) is an uneventful heist film about three friends who steal some diamonds, then turn on each other when one of them decides to take the goods and run. Stars Curtis Jackson, Bruce Willis (as a mob boss that one of the robbers turns to for revenge), Ryan Phillippe, Jena Dewan, Randy Couture and James Remar. From Lionsgate ... A homicide detective's past comes back to haunt him when his ex-girlfriends become the target of a serial killer who's determined to destroy him in "The River Murders" (2011), starring Ray Liotta, Christian Slater and Ving Rhames. From Sony ... A group of warriors must face off against a race of genetically-mutated beasts in order to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where jungles that have reclaimed the land as we know it in "The Lost Future" (2010), starring Sean Bean, Annabelle Wallis and Sam Claflin. From Entertainment One ... Another dream house turns evil in "Secrets in the Walls" (2010), starring Jeri Ryan, Kay Pananbaker, Peyton List and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. From RHI Entertainment/Vivendi Entertainment ... "Breaking the Press" (2010) stars Drew Waters, Farah White, Tom Maden and Chad Halbrook in a contemporary retelling of the parable of the prodigal son, set in the world of Texas high school basketball. From Fox ... Canadian bad boy Bruce La Bruce is back with "L.A. Zombie" (2011), a hyper-sexual analysis of contemporary gay culture. Starring international porn star and model Francois Sagat, the film follows an alien zombie creature as he emerges from the sea and attempts to make sense of his new home, Los Angeles, where he proceeds to bring the dead back to life after having sex with them. From Strand Releasing.
Foreign: (9/20)"Bride Flight" (2008 -- Netherlands) is a romantic drama that charts the lives of three women from different backgrounds, forever changed when they emigrate to New Zealand as war brides after WWII. Stars Karina Smulders, Waldemar Torenstra, Anna Drijver, Plenui Touw, Petra Laseur, Elise Schaap, Willeke van Ammelrooy, Rutger Hauer. From Music Box Films Home Entertainment ... Filmed along the back roads of rural Mexico and set to the music of the indie-rock band Calexico, "Circo" (2011-- Spanish) is a documentary that follows the Ponce family's hardscrabble circus as it struggles to stay together. From First Run Features ... "We Are the Night" (2010 -- Germany) stars Karoline Herfurth, Nina Hoss and Jennifer Ulrich in a female vampire thriller set in modern-day Berlin. From IFC Films/MPI Media Group.
For the Family: (9/20)"Chrysanthemum ... and Other Stories About Mischievous Mice and Adorable Animals" features 17 Storybook Treasure stories -- more than three hours of fanciful content starring a memorable collection of critters from all walks. These three DVDs include animated adaptations of such award-winning classics as "Chrysanthemum," "Owen," "A Weekend With Wendell," "Make Way for Ducklings," "Is Your Mama a Llama?" and "Noisy Nora." With celebrity narration by Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker, Danny Glover, and others. "Chrysanthemum ... and More Mouse Mayhem," "Rapunzel ... and More Classic Fairy Tales" and "Is Your Mama A Llama? ... And More Classic Children's Stories." $24.95 from Scholastic Storybook Treasures ... Also from Scholastic is "My First Collection Volume 2 Featuring Spoon," a value-priced three-DVD set containing 13 stories for young children that, together, have won notable awards such as a Caldecott Honor, an ALA Notable Video and an American Film Festival Blue Ribbon Award. Comprised of three individual DVDs: "Spoon ... and More Stories About Friendship," "Dem Bones ... and More Sing-Along Stories" and "That New Animal ... and More Stories About the New Baby" featuring the title stories as well as "The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night," Mia Farrow's beautiful narration on "I Love You Like Crazy Cakes," Mercer Mayer's "A Boy, A Dog and a Frog." Rosemary Wells' "Otto Runs for President," "Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!" and Robert McCloskey's beloved "Blueberries for Sal." $24.95 ... "Spooky Buddies" (2011) is the latest in the direct-to-video Buddies franchise: Talking pups B-Dawg, Budderball, Buddha, Mudbud and Rosebud embark on a spine-tingling journey across town to a shadowy mansion shrouded in legendary secrets where, in a race against the mysterious Howlloween Hound, the Buddies must stop Warwick the Warlock to save the world from his dastardly deeds. Available as a two-disc Blue-ray/DVD combo pack and a single DVD. From Disney ... "Timmy Time: Hide and Seek" (2011) features five episodes from the Disney Channel pre-school series, $14.98, from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... "Families of Philippines and Families of Germany" (2011) are the two latest additions to the "Families of the World" series that allows future travelers to reach across the globe and visit other people and cultures from a child's point of view. $29.95 each from Master Communications ... In "SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob's Runaway Roadtrip" (2011), SpongeBob enjoys the Great Barrier Reef, a romantic cruise, a trip to the Ocean Mint, a homebound holiday and a trip that's out of this world in six adventures in one grand vacation, debuting on DVD before the November TV premiere, $16.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount.
Special Interest: (9/20)Entertainment One and The Archive of American Television is bringing "The Play of the Week" -- one of the classics from the Golden Age of TV -- into living rooms via DVD. The ambitious syndicated anthology series, which ran from 1959-61, was executive produced by David Susskind, and it staged a different play every week covering all genres -- dramas, comedies, musicals, fantasies, mysteries, et al -- while tapping some of the best talent appearing on Broadway. The first two: "The Dybbuk" and "The World of Sholom Aleichem." Acclaimed director Sidney Lumet's version of "The Dybbuk" -- arguably the most famous work in the cannons of Yiddish theater and cinema -- follows the story of a young bride possessed by a malicious spirit. Originally broadcast in 1960, "The Dybbuk" stars Carol Lawrence. When a young maid is possessed by the soul of her deceased lover on the eve of her wedding, a rabbi must exorcise the dybbuk and the young bride must choose between marriage to a man she does not love or an unworldly union with her dead lover's spirit. Originally broadcast in 1959, the acclaimed teleplay "The World of Sholom Aleichem (adapted by Arnold Perl from his 1953 Off-Broadway play) was drawn from writer Sholom Aleichem's touching tales of Jewish life in the ghettos of Eastern Europe. The broadcast featured several actors who had been blacklisted during the McCarthy Era -- including Zero Mostel, Lee Grant, Jack Gilford, Morris Carnovsky, and Sam Levene -- and proved to be one link in a chain of events that brought about the end of the blacklist. The production is a compilation of three stories from Aleichem: "A Tale of Chelm," about a bookseller who tries to buy a goat in a town of fools; "Bontche Schweig," a tale of a poor man whose heavenly arrival coaxes tears from the angels; and "The High School," about a couple's attempts to send their son to a nonreligious school.
For Civil War buffs celebrating the 150th anniversary of the start of that conflict, A&E Networks Home Entertainment has two releases: "Gettysburg" (2011), a history special that strips away the romanticized veneer of the Civil War to present the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg in a new light -- a visceral, terrifying and deeply personal experience, fought by men who put everything on the line in defense of their vision of the American future. Ground breaking, information-packed look at the turning points, strategic decisions, technology and little-known facts surrounding the battle. Developed in collaboration with highly esteemed Civil War historians. Executive produced by Ridley and Tony Scott. $24.95. "Lee & Grant" (2011) is a personal look at two iconic leaders of the Civil War. $24.95.
For a controversial take on history, check out "The Kennedys" (2011), the Reelz Channel miniseries about the Kennedy clan that provides an intimate look at how Joseph Kennedy Sr. shaped his sons John and Robert to become two of the most influential men in U.S. history. The series was originally slated to air on the History Channel, but criticism of the harsh depiction of the Kennedys (none of the clan were angels, after all, and Joe Kennedy has been tied to the Mafia) lead the network to back down and pass on the show. Stars Greg Kinnear, Barry Pepper, Katie Holmes, Tom Wilkinson, Diana Hardcastle, Kristin Booth. Pepper won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. From New Video.
And we round out the week with three interesting documentaries:
From the Big Screen This Week:September 13-19: "Thor," "Meek's Cutoff," "Hesher" and "Incendies." Also: "Star Wars" and "Citizen Kane" Blu-ray sets. For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles:It's the 70th anniversary of 'Citizen Kane' (May, 1941) (voted the No. 1 film of all time by the American Film Institute) and this seemed like a perfect time for Warner Home Video to bring the classic out of the vault with an all new 1080p hi-definition restoration from original nitrate elements in 4K resolution and revitalized digital audio. They've packed the film in a black and white box with a 48-page collector's book filled with photos and behind-the-scenes details, a 20-page reproduction of the original 1941 souvenir program, five one-sheet lobby cards, and 10 reproductions of rare production memos and correspondence. The three-disc set also includes the 1995 documentary 'The Battle Over Citizen Kane' and the 1999 telefilm 'RKO 281,' about the making of 'Kane.' Is It Worth Upgrading?: The image is breathtaking and the sound superb; if you own a Blu-ray player you must run out buy this edition and sell your old copy on e-Bay. (Warner is also releasing a remastered DVD version for those lacking Blu-ray capability). Unless you have a 35mm projector and a mint print, you won't get better reproduction.
George Lucas has decided it's time to release all six of the 'Star Wars' films on Blu-ray just in time to boost the sagging home video retail sales segment -- which is suffering from VOD -- and just in time for some early holiday shopping. Or this may just be an arbitrary release date to prepare us all for the next round of 'Star Wars' reissues, which begins in February 2012 with the re-release of 'Episode I' in 3D, followed by the other five movies, and then their DVD and Blu-ray equivalents. Despite the fact that Lucas has come in for some heavy drubbing for altering several scenes in the films (The most notorious: Adding audio to the scene at the end of 'Return of the Jedi,' when Darth Vader throws Emperor Palpatine down a shaft; in the original, Vader was silent, but now he cries out "No!" There's other changes, too, that are bothering fans, such as CGI versions of Yoda and the Ewoks as well as audio changes for Obi-Wan Kenobi's Krayt Dragon howl when he rescues Luke Skywalker from a Tusken Raider attack.) die-hard 'Star Wars' fans are sure to gobble up the set -- even with its steep price tag of $139.99 (though Amazon is selling is for $79.99 with free shipping, quite reasonable for nine discs).
From TV to Video:"The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season" (2010-11) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $44.98 from Warner ... "Danny Phantom: Season One" (2004-05) is a four-disc set with 20 episodes, $29.93 from Shout! Factory ... "Ghost Hunters: Season 6: Part 1" (2010) is a three-disc set with 12 episodes, $29.98 from Image Entertainment ... "Glee The Complete Second Season" (2010-11) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $39.98 from Fox ... "Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Seventh Season" (2010-11) is a five-disc set with 22 episodes, $45.99 from Disney ... "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Complete Sixth Season" (2010) is a two Two-disc set with 13 episodes, $39.98 from Fox ... "Private Practice: The Complete Fourth Season" (2010-11) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $29.99 from Disney ... "Rescue Me: The Sixth Season and The Final Season" (2010-11) Five-disc set with 19 episodes, $45.99 from Sony ... "Sanctuary: The Complete Third Season" (2010) is a six-disc set with 20 episodes, $59.98 from Entertainment One.
Buzzin' the 'B's:"True Legend" (2010 -- China) Directed by Woo-ping Yuen and starring Vincent Zhao, Andy On, Michelle Yeoh, Jay Chou and David Carradine in his final screen performance. Ex-warrior Su Can's (Vincent Zhao) respectable life as a kung-fu teacher is obliterated when his vengeful brother, Yuan (Andy On), returns from war armed with the deadly Five Venom Fists. Weakened but not destroyed, Su Can learns a never-before-seen form of martial arts: the Drunken Fist. Armed with this new power, he returns home to honor his family through retribution by taking on his brother in a battle to the death. Amazing action sequences and special effects -- and the distinct fighting styles of Woo-ping Yuen -- makes this one a notch above most period martial arts epics. The opening battle scene in a mountain fortress is incredibly intense and exciting and over the top. From Indomina Releasing/Vivendi Entertainment ... "Son of Morning" (2011) Joseph Crosss, Heather Graham, Lorraine Bracco, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Danny Glover, Bob Odenkirk, Jesse Bradford, Edward Herrmann, Steven Weber. As an environmental catastrophe threatens the world, a stressed-out, lowly copywriter experiences an episode of stigmata in church and is positioned as the next Messiah by an ambitious reporter. From Entertainment One ... "The Silent House" (2010 -- Uruguay) Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi. A teenage girl and her father are hired to clean out an abandoned house in the country, a house that was once the scene of unspeakable horror and which is seemingly hungry for fresh blood. Shot in a single, uninterrupted take. From IFC Films ... "Haunting at the Beacon" (2009) Teri Polo, David Rees Snell While trying to get their lives back on track after the loss of their four-year-old son, Bryn and Paul Shaw move to the charming old Beacon Apartments, but Bryn begins seeing a ghostly little boy skulking around the building. When she tries to free he child to carry a message to her son, she realizes a second malevolent entity stalks the halls of the Beacon: one that doesn't want the boy, or her, to escape. Filmed at the haunted Rogers Hotel in Waxahachie, Texas. From Take 2 Releasing.
On the Indie Front:"35 and Ticking" (2011) Tamala Jones, Nicole Ari Parker, Keith Robinson, Kevin Hart, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Darius McCrary, Meagan Goode, Dondre Whitfield. Romantic comedy about a group of thirtysomethings trying to figure out life, love and marriage. From Image Entertainment ... "Leading Ladies" (2011) Melanie LaPatin, Laurel Vail, Benji Schwimmer, Shannon Lea Smith, Nicole Dionne. Comedy about two sisters, their gay best friend, and their overzealous stage mom. When one sister gets pregnant and the other plans to waltz out of the closet, the family must hustle to maintain their status quo in the harsh arena of competitive dance. Features dancers from "So You Think You Can Dance." From Wolfe Video ... "Love, Wedding, Marriage" (2011) Mandy Moore, Kellan Lutz, Jane Seymour, Jamess Brolin, Christopher Lloyd. Comedy directed by Dermot Mulroney. A happy newlywed marriage counselor's views on wedded bliss get thrown for a loop when she finds out her parents are getting divorced and her new hubby neglected to tell her about his first wife. From IFC Films.
For the Family:"Arthur's Music Jamboree" features eight fun-filled episodes of pure aardvark entertainment, $12.99 from PBS Distribution ... "Dora the Explorer: Dora's Storybook Adventures" (2011) is a boxed set with "Fairytale Adventure," "Dora Saves the Snow Princess" and "Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom," with a total of nine episodes, $24.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount ... "Dora the Explorer: Dora's Enchanted Forest Adventures" (2010) includes three animated adventures, $19.99 from Nickelodeon/Paramount ... In "Barney: Big World Adventure -- The Movie" (2011), Barney and his playground friends take a balloon ride around the world, encountering princesses and kings, musicians and magicians, puppeteers and artists across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. $14.98 from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate.
Special Interest:"Nostalgia for the Light" (2010 -- Chile) An amazing study in contrasts by legendary Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzman ("The Battle of Chile"). In Chile's Atacama Desert, atop the mountains, astronomers peer deep into the cosmos in search of answers concerning the origins of life. Nearby, relatives sift through the sand searching for the remains of loved ones, the disappeared dumped unceremoniously by Pinochet's military regime during the 1970s. From Icarus Films ... "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop" (2010) After a much–publicized departure from hosting NBC's "Tonight Show," O'Brien hit the road with a 32-city music-and-comedy show. The "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour" was O'Brien's answer to a contractual stipulation that banned his appearance on television, radio and the Internet for six months following his last show. From Magnolia Home Entertainment.
Fox Adds 27 New Titles to MOD Program(Sept. 7) 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's "manufacturing on demand" (MOD) program continues to expand with the newest selection of films as part of MGM's Limited Edition Collection. Twenty-seven more films have been added to the collection, which are available for order through major online retailers. This group of releases features classics from 1942 to 1993 including performances by Hollywood’s greats --– Sterling Hayden, Barbara Stanwyck, Malcolm McDowell, Vanessa Redgrave to name just a few; and such cult and classic films as "The Living Ghost" (1942), Phil Silvers' "Top Banana"(1954), "The Quatermass Xperiment (aka Creeping Unknown)" (1955), "Five Guns to Tombstone" (1961), "The Christine Jorgensen Story" (1970), "Ken Russell's The Music Lovers" (1971), and more. Check out the complete list here.
"X-Men: First Class," "Hanna" and "Everything Must Go." For more releases this week, see the "Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases."
DVD Collectibles: (9/6)Brain de Palma was at the peak of his storytelling and directing skills when he brought the ulta-violent "Scarface" to the big screen. Part Machiavellian allegory about corruption and the debasement of the American dream, part love story, part epic gangster action, 'Scarface' has become a cultural touchstone with its over-the-top violence and scenery chewing acting by Al Pacino. This Blu-ray edition does the film justice, with crisp images and a soundtrack that puts you so close to the center of action that you'll literary duck for cover when the shooting starts. Also included with the Blu-ray is a DVD of the original 1932 'Scarface,' which was directed by Howard Hawks, written by Ben Hecht and starred Paul Muni. Bonus features include "The Scarface Phenomenon" featurette on the film's impact on popular culture; deleted scenes; "The World of Tony Montana" as told by experts on the real world violence, fear and paranoia that surrounds a drug lord; "The Rebirth" featurette on the history of the remake and the original; a "Scarface Scoreboard" that lets you keep track of the number of times the "F" word is used and monitor the bullets fired; and much more. Hey, you cock-a-roach Tony Montana fans, line up to buy this one. From Universal
From TV to Video: (9/6)"Airwolf: The Movie" (1984) stars Jan-Michael Vincent, Ernest Borgnine, Alex Cord in the fully restored, uncensored telefilm that engendered the TV series; from Shout! Factory ... "Community: The Complete Second Season" (2010-11) is a four-disc set with 24 episodes, $45.99 from Sony ... "Criminal Minds: Season 6" (2010-11) is a six-disc set with 24 episodes, $64.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior: Season One" (2011) is a three-disc set with 13 episodes, $49.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "Fringe: The Complete Third Season " (2010-11) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98 from Warner ... "The Good Wife: The Second Season" (2010) is a six-disc set with 23 episodes, $64.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount ... "The Office: Season Seven" (2010-11) is a five-disc set with 24 episodes, $44.98 from Universal ... "Parks and Recreation: Season Three" (2010-11) is a three-disc set with 16 episodes, $39.98 from Universal ... "Police Story: Season One" (1973-74) is a six-disc set with 21 episodes, $39.97 from Shout! Factory ... "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters: Season 1" (1973) is a three=disc set with 17 episodes of the Sid and Marty Krofft series that followed the adventures of Sigmund Ooze -- a friendly googly-eyed sea monster that ran away from his family after refusing to frighten people and lived in Johnny and Scott Stuart's backyard clubhouse; $29.33 from Vivendi Entertainment ... "Two and a Half Men: The Complete Eighth Season" (2010-11) is a two-disc set with 16 episodes, $44.98 from Warner.
Buzzin' the 'B's: (9/6)Jean-Claude Van Damme and Scott Adkins star in "Assassination Games" (2011) as rival assassins -- each a master of their respective weapons -- who form an uneasy alliance in their mission to take down a DEA-backed drug cartel; from Sony ... "Triad Underworld" (2004-- Hong Kong) is a talky Hong Kong gangster film from the Asia Extreme line: On the same night his wife gives birth to their first son, Triad mob boss Hung (Andy Lau) learns that an assassin plans to kill him within the next 12 hours. Encouraged to leave town by his best friend and right-hand man Lefty (Jacky Cheung) and three untrustworthy lieutenants, Hung decides to stay and makes plans to protect himself and his family. From Palisades Tartan ... In "Clash of Empires" (2011 -- Malaysia) starring Stephen Rahman Hughes, Gavin Stenhouse, Gavin Stenhouse, Jing Lusi. A kidnapping threatens to set off a war between the empires of Rome, China and Malaysia in, a kidnapping threatens to set off a war between the empires of Rome, China and Malaysia in this Malaysian extravaganza set in 120 AD; from Image Entertainment ... Everything goes wrong in "The Entitled" (2011), starring Ray Liotta, Laura Vandervoort and Kevin Zegers: Paul Dynan (Zegers) plans the perfect crime to help his struggling family -- he wants to extort a fortune from three wealthy men. The plan: to abduct their socialite children and collect a healthy ransom of $3 million. Unfortunately, some of the men don't want to pay up. From Anchor Bay.
On the Indie Front: (9/6)"Bed & Breakfast" (2010) stars Juliana Paese, Dean Cain, Julia Duffy, Eric Roberts and John Savage in a romantic comedy about a saleswoman from a large department store in Rio who discovers she has inherited property in the wine country of California; problem is, the almost ex-husband of a movie star.
For the Family: (9/6)"A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song" (2011) is the third in Warner Bros.' modern-day teen Cinderella series, here about a gifted singer who must lay down vocal tracks so her evil step-sister can win a recording contract. A vehicle for Lucy Hale, one of the stars of TV's 'Pretty Little Liars'; from Warner ... In "Thomas & Friends: Day of the Diesels: The Movie" (2011), the steamies and the diesels face off in a new action-packed feature that has Diesel 10 masterminding an attempt to take over the Steamworks on the Isle of Sodor; from HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate ... In the new feature "Care Bears: Share Bear Shines Movie" (2011), Share Bear and a Twinklet named Gleamer lead a heartwarming mission in caring when they travel to Glitter City, a magical place where Princess Stargio trains Twinklets to become stars; $14.98 from Lionsgate ... "Babar: The Classic Series: Best Friends Forever" and "Babar: The Classic Series: School Days": First appearing in "Histoire de Babar," Jean de Brunhoff's 1931 storybook classic based on a tale that his wife Cecile had invented for their children, Babar the Elephant has, for 80 years, captivated millions around the globe. The story of the little elephant who leaves the jungle, visits a big city and returns to bring the benefits of civilization to his fellow elephants has been captured in a multitude of best-selling books (over 12 million sold worldwide, and more than 1,000 titles in print) and several animated series. These are from the HBO series that ran 1989-91. "Best friends" features four episodes that focus on the bonds Babar shares with his pals and family; "School Days" features four episodes about Babar's own school day adventures as well as those of his friends and family; from Entertainment One ... "Scooby-Doo: Legend of the Phantosaur" (2011) is a new Scooby-Doo feature, $19.98 from Warner.
Special Interest: (9/6)"Rebirth" (2011) is a stirring documentary by James Whitaker, filmed during the past 10 years since 9/11, that takes a look at the physical and emotional healing process after the tragedy; it follows five people whose lives were transformed by the attack, juxtaposed with a multi-camera time-lapse photographic study of the evolution of the space where the Twin Towers once stood. From Oscilloscope Laboratories ... "Remembering 9/11: 10 Year Commemorative Collection" (2011) is a National Geographic four-disc set (with more than eight hours of programming) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11: "Inside 9/11," "Giuliani's 9/11," "Witness 9/11" and the new program "9/11: Where Were You?" $39.97 from National Geographic Entertainment/Vivendi Entertainment ... "Denise Austin: Sculpt & Burn Body Blitz" (2011) is a new cross-training cardio workout, $14.98 from Lionsgate ... "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition -- The Workout" (2010) is the first home workout video from the ABC series, $14.98 from Lionsgate ... With"Baseball's Greatest Games," MLB opened its archive of classic, historic, singular and momentous games to put together this series with A&E. The first 10 -- at $12.95 each, are: The 1960 World Series, Game 7; 1975 World Series, Game 6; 1979 Wrigley Field Slugfest; 1985 NLCS, Game 5; 1986 World Series, Game 6; 1991 World Series, Game 7; 1993 NLCS, Game 7; 1993 World Series, Game 6; 2003 ALCS, Game 7; 2004 ALCS, Game 4. From A&E Home Entertainment ... "Randy Orton: The Evolution of a Predator" (2011) is a three-disc set that takes an in-depth look at WWE's Apex Predator from Elimination Chamber through the road to WrestleMania and Orton's brutal bout with CM Punk. Along the way, fans learn about the Viper in and out of the ring as he reflects on his career to date. $29.93 from World Wrestling Entertainment.
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September 1, 2011
OnVideo News (ISSN 1094-3676).