Headsup: Swans, Lions and Crows With Explosives

There’s a lot of stuff that comes out all the time, and the companies are want your attention and mostly…your coin. But, you know, it’s your coin and you have to take care where you spend it. With these posts we try to take you through recent releases so you can make up your mind. If you find the info here to be of use, do us a favor and purchase stuff from Amazon through us. Especially if you were going to buy the stuff anyway. That gives us kickbacks, which help pay for things. Like the server. And coffee. And therapy. We thank you.

Incredibles Blu-Ray
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Blu-Ray
Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Trader Blu-Ray

Okay, we kick off with Pixar because for a long time, The Incredibles was one of the best comic book movies in history…but with no comic book basis. That was 2004 before Christopher Nolan, before the Marvel array of films…and it took Brad Bird and an animated family to show people you could actually make this work. I absolutely freaking love this film and will never stop yelling for a sequel. I think I started yelling when I originally left the cinema…seven long years ago. Well, here we are with this hitting hi-def and it’s a fairly extensive set, even if most of it is a port from the original DVD release…but Pixar releases used to be pretty damn awesome from the get-go, so there’s only so much you can add. First up, this is a four-disc set: two Blu-Ray, one DVD and a digital copy disc. There’s a lot to be said for the original features that made their way over: the two commentaries, the bloopers and outtake reels, deleted scenes and the alternate opening sequence, all the extensive making-of bits that you would expect from Pixar, and more. Some of it is in regular def, but the deleted scenes and the “Jack-Jack” short among other things are ported to hi-def. So that’s commendable. There’s new goodness as well: the best of the bunch is, in my opinion, the short roundtable retrospective discussion with the creative team. There’s also a section that deals with the fate of Syndrome’s island which is amusing. Some mini-featurettes round out the presentation. I think you can guess my recommendation on this: it’s Pixar, so you must own it. Not certain who in the demographic for this site wouldn’t dig the film, but some among you might be off your meds, I don’t know. It’s only $24.99 as I type this, so it’s affordable and worth having as part of your collection. Yes, when the inevitable sequel hits, a more mondo presentation might surface, but it’s hard to think of what they’ve left off. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

As Harry Potter hurtles towards the end of this part of the saga (eighth book will happen in some form or fashion–mark my words), we have Deathly Hallows Part 1 hitting Blu-Ray in a combo pack with the DVD version from Warner Brothers. I dug the hell out of the first part of the saga but my enthusiasm has waned as the series has progressed, but the good news is that if you’re still on board–then this release is definitely for you. You get all the mayhem of the final book (although Crisis on Infinite Hogwarts comes in Part 2) and how. The main thing we have here is “Maximum Movie Mode,” where the Blu-Ray medium is used to give you all manner of commentary, behind the scenes bits, info on stuff from the books, and more. Even if you don’t have a hi-def television, in my opinion, these sort of add-ons make having a Blu-Ray player worth it. Just saying. Anyway, in addition to scads of stuff that folds neatly into that arena (set and prop featurettes, info on the CG house elves, and–because so much of the book was spent in them–a tent featurette) there’s also the Weasley brothers going golfing and a small bit about how much running took place. There’s supposed to be the opening scene from the final film…but that wasn’t included. Warner Brothers was wanting to make sure it only got leaked by…someone other than websites, I guess. This also comes with a DVD version and digital copy. Now, to own or not, always the question. If you’re getting Blu-Ray, though: this set would be the way to go, since this combo pack is just $6 more. Bear in mind, it’s also available on demand or for download. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the latest Narnia film and it’s out from Fox. And this is my favorite of the C.S. Lewis books, because let’s face it: giant ship and seafaring adventure and such. Magical pool that turns you into gold. You know, stuff like that. I also think it was the book that seemed, to my young mind anyway, the farthest away from Lewis’ agenda. But again, that’s me and your mileage may vary. While domestically it continued to slip, world box office held, which is why you’re getting The Magician’s Nephew adapted at some point in the relatively near future. As for this set, we’re looking at your standard Blu-Ray/DVD/digital copy conglomeration, which being only $4 more than the DVD as I type this is a no-brainer. And let’s face it, with these FX you want the hi-def anyway. An interesting commentary led by director Michael Apted is one of the leading things on here, but there’s something bright points as well: short bit with Neeson discussing Aslan, a dissection of the scene in which they arrive in Narnia, and FX breakdowns with commentary. It’s a decent array of features for the price point, but it boils down to this: do you actually need this on your shelf? If this is something you’ll want to re-visit, then perhaps. If you’re uncertain then grab it for rental from Amazon Instant Video and hey, some of the featurettes are out there for free if you want to sample those. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Elvis is Back CD
Fiddler on the Roof Blu-Ray

Let’s face it: Sony Legacy re-releases a lot of stuff. But the Legacy Editions are usually pretty choice. And this Elvis is Back Elvis Presley release is no exception: you’re looking at the original album with the singles attached as a bonus (including “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”). Then there’s a second disc containing the entirety of the album Something For Everybody. That also has five singles attached to it. The first thing is that previous versions of both albums, as near as I can tell, are out of print (physical copy-wise, anyway). So there’s that. Plus the MP3 version of this set, while commendable, is a savings of less than a dollar and you’re without the liner notes, the RCA victor setup for the discs and the photos. Do you need to double-dip if you already own the tracks (or the 1999 version of the albums that included the singles)? Probably not. But if you don’t own the content and need to snag it, it’s the best way to do so. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Fiddler on the Roof hits Blu-Ray from Fox. It’s one of those movie musicals that even if you haven’t seen it, you’re aware of it. You can’t tell me there’s anybody out there who wouldn’t understand a “Tradition” reference. Or if you meet someone like that, do me a favor and thump them on the nose. It’s directed by Norman Jewison, stars Topol as Tevye, and looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-Ray. There’s also a DVD in this set as well, but you know how I am about extras. From what I can tell, these are all direct ports from a previous DVD release (which I don’t own, so I can’t speak to this directly). The good news is, it’s all good stuff: a Topol/Jewison commentary, a deleted song, a docu regarding Jewison shot at the time, a storyboard-to-film comparison and more. The previous DVD release is crazy expensive on Amazon at the moment, so if you don’t own and need to, this is a no-brainer. I would say if you’re a fan of the musical the hi-def upgrade would be worthwhile even if you owned the previous special edition. It’s doubtful that a better stack of features is coming for this one. If you don’t know the film and want to sample before you buy, it’s available to rent from Amazon Instant Video for just $3. So, if your nose has been thumped, go fix that. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides Blu-Ray
Resident Blu-Ray
Venture Bros. Season 4 Blu-Ray

Rivers and Tides is a look at the work of Andy Goldsworthy, an artist who is different without being annoying. You know what I mean: Turner Prize award winning nonsense is annoying. Putting a chair in an empty room and calling it The Longing of an Aardvark for Companionship…annoying. Instead, Goldsworthy works with mostly found objects: everything from ice to leaves to flowers and sticks. In fact, he’s a sculptor/arranger but his work translates best through photos since his stuff is mostly designed for impermanence. This is Docurama bringing to hi-def the contents of the two-disc DVD they released a few years back, showing Goldsworthy trotting across the world and doing his thing. This comes with seven bonus short films about his works, plus a film called “Snowballs in Summer” about an installation regarding exactly what the title says. There’s also a rather extensive interview and a photo gallery. If you want to own this, then you’d be mad not to just go ahead and snag the Blu-Ray, since the two-disc DVD is currently twice the price. While I think the film should be seen, the replay factor intrudes on actually purchasing this, though the price point is respectable for what it offers. You can rent the film for $3 on Amazon Instant Video–so I would sample it there and determine if you want to spring for the full thing. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

I have a theory about films like The Resident. Because the question comes up about how do you get Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (one an Oscar winner, the other a rising star) to do what is, in essence, a just so-so thriller where you can see everything coming a mile off? Christopher Lee. Pay to get Sir Christopher in your film and…well, wouldn’t you be in just about any film if asked, if only to say you had worked with him? Hell, I know I would. Anyway. This New Hammer film, released on Blu-Ray by Image, involves Swank moving into a new apartment with Morgan as her landlord, with her ignoring all the warning signs about Something Not Being Right. Christopher Lee is on tap as Morgan’s grandfather and Need Coffee fave Lee Pace is here as well as Swank’s ex. But the whole package doesn’t deliver. The Blu-Ray comes with no bonus bits as well, which, if it had contained a featurette about how everyone involved loved working with Lee…my theory could have been proved. But alas. If you want to check it out, it rents for $4 from Amazon Instant Video. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The fourth season of Venture Bros. hits Blu-Ray, whereas the DVD releases of this season were in two DVD volumes. We get the further adventures of the Venture Family as they try to make do without Brock Samson while foes, both new and old, still try to cause mayhem. There are some things to bear in mind about this release. First, it’s Venture Bros., so it’s quality. Two, it’s uncensored. Three, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick provide their own version of commentaries. If you haven’t heard one before, you…well, I mean, they created the show so you can probably imagine how they work. There’s an array of deleted scenes as well as some other promo featurettes. This is one that I would vote for owning but I’m a little biased. The show is probably one of the best animated programs out there and the creators are awesome and hilarious individuals. I would not recommend hopping in the middle of it, though. I would say go back and start from the beginning, otherwise you will be lost beyond measure in the plot and where we are in the story thus far. You’re paying about $2 an episode, so if you find it’s a keeper, you could do a lot worse than spring for the hi-def…and dollar for dollar, it’s about the same price as buying both DVD sets, so in the end you’re better off. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Black Swan Blu-Ray
Four Lions DVD
The Red Green Show: The Delinquent Years DVD

So Black Swan. I reviewed it here and it made my Top 5 movies of last year. I think it’s pretty freaking amazing stuff and Portman deserved the hell out of that Oscar. The setup is this: Portman plays a ballerina who’s vying for the major role in Swan Lake, stressed out by her overbearing stage mom (an excellent Barbara Hershey) and a director (Vincent Cassel) that’s a bit unorthodox. When a new dancer comes on the scene (Mila Kunis) who seems to be in direct competition, Portman’s character starts to…unhinge. I haven’t done it justice with that write-up, because when you’re giving a synopsis you can’t talk about the amazing cinematography, the sound design and the costumes. I’m going to go ahead and say: yes, it’s one to own because you will want to watch it more than once, if for no other reason to go back and answer the questions like “Did I just see…?” Anyway, my reservation for this is I’m betting we will see, probably not immediately, a better version of this. I say this because you get a behind-the-scenes docu, you get small featurettes and interviews and that’s really it, besides a digital copy. You really need a commentary on this film from somebody. I’m just saying. So that being said, it’s available for $4 as well from Amazon Instant Video in case you didn’t catch it in cinemas and want to give it a go. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Four Lions is a black as pitch comedy concerning a terrorist cell in the UK and their plans to commit a suicide attack. Of course, the trick is they are all idiots. It takes a wheelbarrow in order to support the balls necessary to make a jihadi satire but that’s what Chris Morris does here and does it in precisely the opposite of the way that you might be afraid someone else might. In other words, there’s nothing easy here. It’s just pure mainlined satire. The DVD presentation is decent here with an interview, behind the scenes footage, background material, deleted scenes and storyboards. I have a suspicion that, while the film isn’t for everyone, it will be for a lot of people who frequent this site. It’s available to rent for $4 on Amazon Instant Video, so you can try it out for yourself. I’m uncertain about replay factor for most, however. And I would want more bonus bits before I took the plunge, myself. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

I had never heard of The Red Green Show before it started hitting DVD. But Canada-philes apparently love it because it comes from Canada, naturally. The show ran for three hundred episodes and Acorn Media has three seasons–forty-seven episodes–here across nine discs. The premise is basically a mad Canadian home improvement/outdoors show, hosted by the titular character and his friends, and hijinks ensue. There is a better than average chance those hijinks employ the use of duct tape. The three seasons here are from seasons seven through nine (1997-1999). If you’ve never seen the show, I will tell you it works for some better than others. You might want to check out an episode from Amazon Instant Video before you grab an entire set. A number of sets are available over at Netflix as well. If you do decide to take the plunge, the set is $71.99 as I write this…so that’s a $1.50 an episode. Not a bad price point, but something you’re going to want to make sure you want before you plonk down the coin. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

By | 2017-09-24T22:41:34+00:00 April 26th, 2011|Headsup|0 Comments

Leave A Comment

%d bloggers like this: