Headsup: Zeppelins, Spies and Guns. Lots of Guns.

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.

Three Musketeers 3D Blu-Ray
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 2011 Blu-Ray
Unforgiven Blu-Ray Book

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes a film that is simply out to be a “flick” rather than a “movie” or “film” doesn’t work for me. I’m sure you grok the subtle differences there. As I’m often fond of saying, not every film has to be Merchant Ivory. Every film doesn’t even have to make any sort of “real world” sense. But if you want a film that manages to, in my opinion, balance fun, spectacle, big plastic boom and an adherence to a sort of mad internal logic–then Three Musketeers will do the trick. And this is coming from a guy who hasn’t been the biggest fan of Paul W. S. Anderson, since he can’t always pull the trick off. Regardless, the Blu-Ray hits in 3Dness from Summit and the story is somewhat what you know: Musketeers on the decline given a spark by the young impetuous D’Artagnan, unite to save the day. Sort of like that but with 124% more steampunk and zeppelin. Which I was fine with. I even enjoyed the 3D of this (a rarity for live action films these days, I know) and it translates fairly well to the home environment. As far as bonus bits go, you get an audio commentary, a picture-in-picture running during which gives you behind the scenes stuff, deleted scenes and some smallish featurettes. The two main bonus bits give me just enough to push it over into a purchase recommendation for my part, but YMMV. I will say that the Blu-Ray is only $3 more than the DVD, and then $2 more gets you 3D. So seems like a no-brainer for me. And sometimes it’s good to keep the brain turned off and give it a rest. So. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The feature film version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy hits Blu-Ray from Universal. And damn, but it is a fine movie. As sprawling and somewhat uncrackable the original Alec Guinness starring miniseries is (but fantastic, don’t get me wrong), this manages to be more approachable in that it’s just in a smaller, more digestible form. But don’t get me wrong here either: it’s still a helluva nut to crack, but it’s one of the most rewarding nuts you’ll have gone to work on in some time (shut up, Scott). The performances are across the board fantastic. And as amazing as Oldman is to watch, look for an unexpected and devastating turn from Benedict Cumberbatch. I highly recommend this–it’s, for lack of a better analogy, the Brit L.A. Confidential. I wish the Blu-Ray had more to offer in the way of bonus bits–as it stands you get interviews, deleted scenes and a commentary with Oldman and director Tomas Alfredson. I’m dying for a La Carre commentary. Oh, and let me just say the thing looks and sounds amazing. My thought is if they continue with another Smiley film, it’s at that point you’ll get some sort of Uber Mongo edition from Universal. But there’s no shame in double dipping on a film this damn good. Again: Highly recommended. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Unforgiven is just one of those films that is not just good…it’s stupidly good. It is quite possibly my favorite Eastwood film because of how smartly everything about it was arranged. And it’s not just Eastwood as both director and performer, but also the supporting cast: Hackman, Freeman, and even a comparatively brief appearance by Richard Harris. It’s the story about a lot of things, but the shot is fairly simple: Eastwood plays Munny, a notorious killer who’s been reformed for years. However, there comes the opportunity for One Last Job and off he goes. And hijinks ensue. Well, hijinks and death. The Blu-Ray here looks and sounds fantastic, worthy of the film. As far as bonus bits goes, you get a commentary from an Eastwood biographer, some docus and a bonus episode of Maverick with Eastwood as its guest star. You also get a really sweet looking book with fifty-eight pages of photos and behind the scenes stuff. Trouble is, apart from the book, we already got this back in 2006. And rather than buy this Blu-Ray Book edition, I would point you to the 2006 release. Why? Because it’s $11 cheaper. The book is nice, but not that nice. (Click here to buy it from Amazon. Click here to buy the 2006 Blu-Ray release from Amazon.)

Beavis and Butt-Head Vol. 4 Blu-Ray
Lady and the Tramp Blu-Ray
Superjail! Season 2 DVD

Well, I suppose it was inevitable that Beavis and Butt-Head would return. That seems to be the way of it with animation these days. Admittedly, I was never a huge fan during their original run…but I will never forget quite possibly the funniest thing I ever saw them do (and I understood they did this on a couple of rare occasions)–while normally giving a running commentary on music videos, they sometimes found themselves confronted with one that was so bad, they were rendered speechless. That to me was the height of their comedy and the best comment they could make. Since MTV no longer really plays music videos like it did, upon their return they are providing commentary as well on reality TV programs as well as UFC fights and other things. But it’s pretty much the same show as it ever was. Fans of the series will want to consider renting the set (all Season 8 episodes are here on a single disc) but depending on how big a fan they are, might want to consider owning. Bonus bits include a panel from last year’s Comic-Con featuring Mike Judge, plus small extra bits, the majority of which concern them interacting with folks from Jersey Shore. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for classic Disney. And it’s also even less of a secret that I dig feature-laiden home video releases. Apart from Criterion, the other company that knows how to do it right (when they choose to do it right) is Disney. I’m speaking specifically of what they currently call their Diamond Editions. And when you throw in the Blu-Ray hi-def-ness (which for this release is freaking stunning), then it’s a winner all around. That alone is enough to sell me on this release of Lady and the Tramp. However, you do get the “classic DVD extras” as well: the making-of featuring lots of vintage footage, art featurettes, a storyboard version of the film, bits from the Disneyland TV show, deleted scenes and more. So okay, fine. But you do get the second screen app that lets you tap into other behind the scenes stuff, more deleted scenes and a deleted song. And–and this alone would have made it worth the price of admission–you get the “Inside Walt’s Story Meetings” commentary. If you have the Bambi release, you know how this works…because they had someone in story meetings taking notes, they’re able to do a dramatic “reading” of the notes with actors. It’s fantastic. So yeah, I’m thinking buy this. Unless you’re a soulless individual who has no love of animation, dogs or pasta. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

With Adult Swim branching into live action stuff, the fear is that their signature sick animation would go the way of all flesh. But ultimately, it’s shows like Superjail! that prove that if you want madness–specifically chaos and murderous madness set inside a prison full of villains and a warden from hell–then here you have it. Everything from black market organ sales to a new and “improved” Jailbot to taking everybody on vacation…it’s here. So yes, here with ten episodes across a single disc. Bonus bits include commentaries, with concert footage and a music video by Cheeseburger, who provide the show’s theme music. Like with most shows from Adult Swim, you either watch an episode and your eyelashes hurt, or you’re intrigued enough to watch once–and some people go apeshit for this stuff and want to own everything. Granted, the episodes are eleven minutes each, but about $1.25 an episode isn’t bad if this is your kick. And it helps convince them to make more. So. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Battle Royale Collection Blu-Ray
Sunset Limited DVD

As The Hunger Games has hit cinemas, welcome its Japanese predecessor, Battle Royale, hitting Blu-Ray in a collection that contains both the original film, the director’s cut of the first film and the sequel. Apparently every release of this that I’ve seen previously has been a non-legit Region 1 or 0 copy, since the back of this Anchor Bay release touts it’s the first time this has been available in North America. So. Anyway, the shot is this: in Japan, things have gotten bad to the point where, as a way of thinning the herd, so to speak, a classroom full of kids is picked at random, whisked away to an island, fitted with explosive collars and told: kill each other or we’ll blow your heads off. Last one standing wins. The sequel puts a different spin on the proceedings which I will avoid delving into for spoiler reasons. Anyway, you get three Blu-Ray discs, each with one of the films as mentioned above. The bonus DVD has a decent array of bonus bits: a fairly extensive making-of for the first film, a press conference, a short bit of audition and rehearsal footage, an FX featurette, a docu, and additional behind the scenes footage. Is it the Uber Mongo edition they probably have in Japan? No. I’m sure there’s more bonus stuff that we could get…however for the fan wanting a legit release of this, especially on a really sweet hi-def presentation, this is the only game in town and worth snagging. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

So, here’s the most basic way to lay out what The Sunset Limited has to offer (out on DVD from HBO). Three names: Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy writes, Jackson acts, Jones acts, produces and directs. Jackson and Jones are on stage–it’s just the two of them. And it is a filmed staging of the play. Now…if that doesn’t crank your tractor then I’m not sure what to do for you. The synopsis is thus: Jackson’s character saves Jones’ from throwing himself in front of a train. Then, they talk about what happened and about life–and is it worth living or what. Now that works for me, but if you’re anticipating anything other than that, you might be disappointed. The DVD release is no disappointment, as it comes with a making-of plus a commentary with the three names mentioned above. So that’s gold. Worth at least a watch and a browse-through of the bonus bits, and the hardcore will want to seriously consider owning. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

B-52s: With the Wild Crowd Blu-Ray
Santana Greatest Hits: Live at Montreux Blu-Ray

We previously discussed the CD release of The B-52s: With the Wild Crowd!: Live in Athens, GA and now the Blu-Ray has hit from Eagle Vision. The energy that came across in the sound recording is here with twenty tracks and a bonus bit: an interview with the band. And happily, not one of those lame five minute let’s-get-three-words-from-each-member things, but over a half hour of content. As for the disc, it looks good but sounds even better. And again, when I can tell something sounds good, half-deaf as I am, you should be pleased. Tracks like “Love Shack,” “Party Out of Bounds” and “Rock Lobster” (to close out the show) are all here. Myself, I’m good with seeing a concert once and listening to it multiple times (so the CD is a better fit for me) but I say the fan may want to consider owning this if they’re more of a concert watcher than I am. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Santana is a musician that I’ve never been completely into. Not on my shortlist of stuff to listen to. But just because I’m not listening to somebody regularly doesn’t mean I’m not aware of their presence in the Music World…nor does it mean I can’t have a tremendous amount of respect for them. When you can play guitar well enough that even I can tell you’re a powerful force, then that’s Saying Something. So that’s how I approach something like Greatest Hits: Live at Montreux 2011 in which Santana, with a band large enough that you get the feeling they had to expand the damn stage to get everybody on there, do their best to rock your face off. Opening with “Spark of the Divine” and blitzing through stuff like “Back in Black” and “Sunshine of Your Love” while also hitting “Black Magic Woman” and “Love Supreme” (Coltrane! Nice!), the set is exactly why I don’t go see live shows anymore. Seriously, why would you? The audio and video on this are excellent and you get close to an hour and a half of music mayhem…from your couch. I dig that. If anything, this shows me that I need to listen to more of the guy’s stuff…because it’s damn fine. There are some bonus bits, including an interview with Santana, an interview with his wife, Cindy Blackman Santana, and a behind the scenes bit. But the show makes it worthwhile for fans to own. And hey, the Blu-Ray and the DVD are the same price, so why wouldn’t you? Recommended. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Hornets Nest DVD
Number One With a Bullet DVD

Another entry from the MGM Limited (MOD) Collection making its Region 1 DVD review, in Hornets’ Nest, Rock Hudson stars as an American soldier in WWII paradropped behind enemy lines to blow up a dam. Whoops, total ambush and he’s the only survivor. Taken in a by a gang of Italian kids who want revenge on the Nazis for wiping out their families, they strike an alliance to help each other. Throw in Sylva Koscina as a German nurse because it’s 1970 and you need a female presence to give male audiences something to look at and there you have it. Not the best WWII flick around, but fans of Rock Hudson will want to check it out. Completists might want to consider owning but bear in mind there are no bonus bits. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Number One With a Bullet is the second to last film from Jack Smight (The Illustrated Man, Damnation Alley). It stars Billy Dee Williams but also Robert Carradine. Which Carradine is Robert? Well, this is Robert’s film in between the first two Revenge of the Nerds films, in which he played Lewis Skolnick. If the cocktail that forms the basis for this Golan-Globus 1987 flick doesn’t already set you off, then not sure what will do it for you. Also not sure who this is appealing to, since as lovely as I think Williams is (and I’m sure Carradine is a wonderful example of our species as a person), I don’t know anybody who’s a completist for either one. But again, somebody like random 80s cop flicks. Those people might find this worth renting. But beyond that, unknown who this might appeal to. With no bonus bits and being an MOD release from MGM, it has little to no replay value, I fear. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Wanda Nevada DVD
Wonderful Country DVD

Wanda Nevada is a 1979 film starring Peter Fonda and Brooke Shields, notable for two reasons. One, it came out the year after Shields in Pretty Baby and it’s Peter Fonda’s third (and last) time in the director’s chair. Fonda wins Shields in a poker game, then they go off looking for gold and hijinks, finding, at one point the proceedings, Peter’s dad. No, his real dad. A forgotten western that is probably only recommended for Fonda family completists or anyone who wants to see what Shields was up to between Baby and Blue Lagoon, it’s out from the MGM Limited (MOD) Collection with no bonus bits. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

And we go back to MGM Limited Edition Collectionsville for The Wonderful Country, starring Robert Mitchum, singer Julie London and directed by Robert Parrish (Casino Royale–the original one). Mitchum portrays a mercenary who goes back and forth between Texas and Mexico, finding time to sell weapons, break a limb and wind up falling for a married woman. As always, this is making its Region 1 debut but with no bonus bits, so it’s probably right up the alley of the Mitchum completist, but beyond that, I’m not sure who else might want to own it. Western aficionados will probably be satisfied with giving it a rental. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Ghost Hunters International Season 2, Part 1 DVD
Metal Shifters Blu-Ray
Texas Killing Fields Blu-Ray

Ghost Hunters International hits DVD with the first part of its second season, giving you thirteen episodes across four discs. And considering how many of these silly ghost reality shows are out there, you have to wonder two things. One, considering how much footage has been devoted to this stuff and we have no concrete proof yet? And second, if they ever did find something–then what? Almost seems to me like asking a dog, “What would you do with a car if you caught it?” Anyway, along the way with this set, you get Hitler’s Ghost sought in Argentina, along with locales in Ireland, Italy, Germany and elsewhere (they search for different things each place, mind you–this isn’t the Hitler’s Ghost season…although that would be an interesting idea). Atmospherically, yeah, it’s okay. As to owning, yes, you get some additional footage, but not sure about buying, even with a price point at a little over $1 each. Especially since you can generally find SyFy repeating some version of the show. I say if you really want something spooky, find the BBC show Ghostwatch. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

So what happens when something falls out of the sky that can bring inanimate objects to life, and does just that, creating scrapyard monsters? Well, number one, you might think “SyFy is doing a play on Hardware?” Well, kinda. But yes, it is a SyFy Original hitting Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay known as Metal Shifters (which just sounds like it would have made a great toy line from the 80s, doesn’t it?). And really, once you say SyFy Original, the reader is polarized. There are people who appreciate them for what they are–dumb and entertaining–and people who don’t. But despite the fact that this hi-def release does come with a behind the scenes featurette and does look and sound pretty damn good…does this really have any replay value? I would say rent it or watch it on SyFy proper and decide for yourself. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

There are people who just read crime novels. I believe I’ve mentioned them here before. Level of quality aside, just get them a crime or mystery book and they’re good. They blow through them and they feel content. I’m the same way with bad horror movies of a certain bent. We all have genres that we have an affinity for…and for people who are that way with “true crime” serial killer flicks, they have a friend to talk to in Texas Killing Fields, with Sam Worthington and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. They’re a pair of cops trying to track down a killer who dumps his victims in a marsh that happens to be part of their jurisdiction. If this sort of thing is your bag, then this is probably worth dumping into your Netflix queue or whatnot. However, the hi-def audio and video are good but not great (and this isn’t a hi-def screamer anyway) and the one bonus bit is an audio commentary with the writer and director. So nothing that longs to be on your shelf IMO. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Defending the Realm DVD
Indian Doctor Series 1 DVD

BFS has released Defending the Realm: The Battle of Britain out on DVD. Now on one hand you’ve got a docu about The Battle of Britain, which is an excellent story in need of telling. Especially on this side of the pond–where I went to school, anyway, you were lucky to study World War II at all, much less the Blitz. On the other hand, you’ve got David Jason doing the presenting, and he’s excellent. (Check out his WWII Great Escapes program for another example.) However, on a mysterious third hand you’ve got the fact that this is forty-eight minutes of running time, which for $18 and no bonus bits seems a bit steep. While worth checking out, I would recommend waiting for a compilation of programs on the subject before plonking coin. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Indian Doctor‘s first series hits DVD from BFS with all five episodes across two discs. Set during the summer of 1963, it tells the story of, well, an Indian doctor who emigrates to the UK and finds himself in a coal mining village in Wales. In addition to the cultural disconnect, he finds a disconnect between the local mine and safety and the titular character decides to Delve. As is the case with BFS, it’s a mixed blessing to own: price point is over $5 an episode and you get no bonus features…but it is the only way to get the show at present. I can’t tell where it’s ever aired on this side of the pond–and it’s not available on Netflix. Worth renting for a watch but a hardcore fan would be the one to want to own it. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Nude Nuns With Big Guns Blu-Ray
Screwball: Ted Whitfield Story DVD

So I’ve been sitting here trying to decide what to say about Nude Nuns With Big Guns, the first nunsploitation film I’ve ever been presented with. Because, well, this Image Blu-Ray release is exactly what the title suggests: they promised you nuns. They promised you them nude. They promised guns. And to go along with that, they setup a revenge story so you can get all of the above. And it’s either you want to see what a nunsploitation film looks like or you don’t. Lacking the self-awareness of Grindhouse and the insane style of something like Machete, it still might have some draw to anyone who watched really bad revenge flicks on VHS back in the day (Wednesday). It’s hard to find anything to recommend it for a purchase since the video and audio aren’t great (but that seems to be on purpose considering the genre) and the one bonus is the short film that spawned the feature film. If this is your bag, Netflix it when your queue is shallow. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

I think I’ve spoken before about sports films and comedies and how a really good one will work for me and others will just sort of be there. Well, when you’ve got an unrated mockumentary about how professional wiffleball caught attention when the title character of Screwball: The Ted Whitfield Story makes a serious play for breaking the record of 122 home runs. And then proceeded to get caught in a steroid scandal. If any of what I’ve just outlined for you sounds enticing, then this Anchor Bay release will probably be worth a Netflix snag when you can…the trouble is, even if this is dead-on inside your wheelhouse, the utter lack of bonus bits is going to mean that only the seriously hardcore will want to purchase. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

By | 2017-09-24T22:32:36+00:00 March 25th, 2012|Headsup|0 Comments

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