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.

Entourage: The Complete Series DVD
Even the Rain DVD
Sunset Boulevard Blu-Ray

The complete series of Entourage has hit DVD from HBO, with all ninety-six episodes from eight seasons across eighteen discs. The major thing you get here is, well, the entire series on DVD in one fell swoop. If you already collected the series in individual seasons, then you’re not getting anything new here. Bonus bits carry over, including the audio commentaries, behind the scenes bits, location featurettes and more. The main thing you get that’s new is on the Blu-Ray set, which we weren’t sent to look over–but seasons one through five are making their Blu-Ray debut in that set. Despite this not being a hi-def sort of series, I know people who want everything in hi-def (for some reason or another). And considering that it’s only $30 more–and a price point difference of under $1.50 an episode for BD vs. under $1.25 an episode for DVD–hardcore fans of the show that find there’s significant replay value might want to think about sinking coin that direction. (Click here to buy the DVD from Amazon; Click here to buy the Blu-Ray from Amazon.)

Even the Rain involves a director (Gael Garcia Bernal) and producer (Luis Tosar) coming the Bolivia to film their own take on the landing of Christopher Columbus. Unfortunately, they’ve arrived just in time to find themselves in the middle of riots as corporations try to take complete control of the water supply. All of the water supply. So multiple levels of exploitation and social awareness get reviewed–but not in a way that will necessarily piss you off or take you out of the fact that you’re watching a movie that wants to be a movie first, Message later. The DVD from Image Entertainment comes with no bonus bits but is worth seeking out for anyone wanting a different kind of drama. Remember: do not fear the subtitles. They are your friends. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Sunset Boulevard is hitting Blu-Ray from Paramount. For those that don’t know, you have Gloria Swanson playing Norma Desmond, a silent movie star who’s sunk into obscurity and plans a huge comeback. You have William Holden playing a screenwriter who is well versed in obscurity and wants to make it huge. They join forces…but things are never quite that easy when you’re dealing with reality, are they? An excellent film about just that–what we want vs. reality (“Order of Death,” anyone?)–it looks bloody brilliant in hi-def. Yes, I know: the notion of a black and white film needing hi-def when usually I reserve that for big huge splode and BBC nature documentaries? Just trust me. Looks and sounds excellent. And it comes with a very respectable array of bonus bits: an audio commentary from film expert Ed Sikov, a number of featurettes that take you through everything from the lead-up to the film to a retrospective looking back on its impact. There’s a deleted scene, a Swanson retrospective, a look at the film’s composer, plus location featurettes and a William Holden spotlight. Fans of the film will have no problem finding a reason to upgrade. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Astonishing X-Men Blu-Ray Set
Brave Blu-Ray

The four story arcs that formed the Astonishing X-Men motion comics are now collected into one boxed set out from Shout Factory and here across two hi-def discs. My problem is two-fold. First, as much as I like Joss Whedon, I didn’t like what he brought to the X-table in the original comics. The antagonist behind the second story arc, Dangerous, I found simply laughable. And I also wasn’t terribly happy with the ending of Unstoppable, since deaths at Marvel are…well, even more laughable. The other thing is…well, these are motion comics. I’ve never understood the appeal. The animation is limited to the extent that I just wonder…um, why not just go read the actual comics? You do get interviews with Joe Quesada and Neal Adams plus a short behind the scenes bit. That all being said, some people enjoy motion comics and even more enjoy this series–and for them, if they want this in hi-def, this is the only way to snag it. And you certainly save some coin by buying it this way. Though if you already bought the releases separately, there’s no real need to upgrade IMO. I recommend a rental for most everyone. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

I believe at the time that I saw Brave in cinemas, I said the worst you could say about it was that it was just a “good movie.” I didn’t say “Good Pixar Movie” because that means something completely different. Pixar movies all have excellent stories, good characters, surprises (especially what I term the “matchstick moment” where the entire result is thrown into doubt–think original Toy Story) and damn fine animation. Pixar movies are supposed to push the envelope and light the way for all the other studios to follow. Cars 2 wrecked their perfect record and this film is just…a good movie. Which from Pixar is frankly disappointing. That all being said, I know several people who adore the film and I’m sure with kids it’s a huge winner. We’re talking about the five-disc set here–which includes 3D–and let me just get this out of the way: for $8 extra you get the 3D option, which is freaking excellent, and even if you don’t have the rig at present…you will eventually. So I’d recommend taking the plunge. Apart from damn good audio and 3D video, you also get a commentary that’s up to Pixar snuff, the original theatrical short “La Luna” (brilliant–no pun intended) and a new short film with the backstory on the demon bear. You also get a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes, some extended scenes, an alternate opening, deleted scenes and art galleries. Again, a fan of the film or somebody with kids that digs the film, will want to own this edition. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

House of Dark Shadows Blu-Ray
Night of Dark Shadows Blu-Ray

Whether you were a fan of the original show or not–if the recent Tim Burton feature film version offended you, go back to the original feature version of the show–which shares a lot of the same plot as the remake: House of Dark Shadows. Barnabas Collins turns up after being released from his coffin and tries to insinuate himself into life with his family–while seeking out the woman he thinks is his long lost love. Then the sequel, Night of Dark Shadows brings back David Selby as Quentin Collins who inherits Collinwood, only to have to deal with that pesky witch, Angelique. The good news on these Warner Brothers Blu-Ray releases is that the audio and video, while not spectacular, are good for early 70s features. The bad news is you get no bonus bits at all. However, for fans of the show who want to see some of the original stuff in hi-def, this is your shot at it. Hardcore should purchase and consider that doing so votes for seeing more of the original series upgraded. Warner Brothers does listen to such things. (Click here to buy House of Dark Shadows from Amazon; Click here to buy Night of Dark Shadows from Amazon.)

Company Blu-Ray
Sesame Street Old School, Vol. 3 DVD

Shortly after Company had a revival on Broadway, led by Raul Esparza–which kicked ridiculous arse, it seems a bit iffy to make an “all-star” version of the show, concert staged along with the New York Philharmonic. It did a limited run (because, I mean, how else could you get this cast) and that was it. However, they did record it and here we are. The main thing to bear in mind is that, being a limited run with this cast, you’re not going to get a fully polished staging. But the fact is you get a bunch of people really stepping up: Neil Patrick Harris (no surprise there), but also folks like Colbert and Jon Cryer. Fans of Sondheim, I think, will appreciate this production for what it is–an excellent interp of an excellent (and freaking hard) show. This release is out from Image and looks excellent–but sadly, comes with no bonus bits. I’ve seen some rehearsal footage online–why we don’t have any here is beyond me. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Well, I had all but given up on a third volume of this, the Sesame Street: Old School series (the last one was out in 2007), but it’s back with five more classic episodes across two discs. This gives you one episode each from the seasons spanning 1979 to 1984. Granted, I’d like to see more from the classic seasons but five with bonus bits–okay, I’ll take it. You get a slew of bonus clips from the seasons in question (including the Beatles parody “Letter B”), some short behind the scenes bits, an interview with Caroll Spinney plus a reading of the book How to Be a Grouch, also by Spinney. Audio commentary on the Puerto Rico episode is provided by Sonia “Maria” Monzano. And huge bonus: the “Goodbye Mr. Hooper” special that dealt with the loss of the actor and thus the character. Fans of the classic show–and parents who want to give their kids something that isn’t “Elmo and Friends” will want to snag this. And if you are a fan, make sure you do snag this so that Warner Brothers puts out a Vol. 4 sometime before 2017. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

D.L. Hughley: Reset DVD
Louie Anderson: Big Baby Boomer DVD

D.L. Hughley‘s new standup DVD, Reset, is an hour of comedy out from Image Entertainment. And we constantly say how comedy is very subjective. In my case, I found Hughley’s set about fifty-fifty. Fifty percent is pretty damn funny–such as dying for his wife and what would result from that setup and declaring Newt Gingrich a rapper. And the other fifty percent is not unfunny enough to make me turn it off. The real problem here comes from the price point–$13 for an hour with no bonus bits…you would have to be seriously hardcore to have enough replay factor to want to purchase. Netflixing it will work for most–even for his existing fanbase, I would think. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Again, this is the bit where I say yes, well, comedy is subjective. I say that because Louie Anderson is one of those comics I remember liking. Quite a bit, actually. However, Image has released his latest standup DVD, Big Baby Boomer, and it doesn’t work for me. Jokes about travel, food, and weight are good…but you really have to bring something new to the table (no pun intended) in order for them to really work. And Anderson seems to be doing little snippets of observational comedy that don’t observe very much. Which is sad for me, because again, I think his classic stuff is just that: classic. The fact that this Image release clocks in at forty-four minutes and has no bonus bits does not help matters. Fans should give it a rental. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 10th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-Ray
Planes Trains and Automobiles Blu-Ray

Ten years ago, My Big Fat Greek Wedding completely blew up the box office, being made for next to nothing and doing a ridiculous amount of business. The movie itself is just a solid, funny, and warm romantic comedy–it just hit in the right way and at the right time. Nia Vardalos plays a version of herself here, reinventing herself when she finds a guy she wants to be with–trouble is, he’s not Greek and thus everybody has to adjust. The Blu-Ray upgrade hits from HBO and setting aside the fact this doesn’t exactly scream for hi-def…the hi-def we have here doesn’t exactly scream, either. So if we look to bonus bits, we have the ten-year-old commentary from Vardalos, director Joel Zwick and co-star John Corbett. New stuff is a retrospective on the film and some deleted scenes. If you love the film and already own it on DVD, chances are you’re fine. If you just want to get at the exclusive bonus bits, give it a rental. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Paramount releases Planes, Trains & Automobiles to Blu-Ray, featuring the comedy classic trifecta of John Hughes, Steve Martin and John Candy. Maybe because this film set the bar so high for “travel-related comedy of errors” is why I didn’t dig Due Date. No idea, but the shot, for the three of you who don’t know, is that Steve Martin is trying to get from New York to his home in Chicago for the holidays, only to find fate working against him and his lot constantly thrown, by necessity, in with John Candy. Hijinks ensue. Some of which have become so ingrained in pop culture that the DVD edition was called the “Those Aren’t Pillows” edition. Which is consistent with Paramount not having any idea how to properly name a special edition. Hilariously, this being a direct port of that release–it still calls itself the “Those Aren’t Pillows” edition…but only in the blurb on the back. The front of the Blu-Ray omits this. Nice. Regardless, you do get some bonus bits: a making-of, a featurette regarding John Hughes and his non-kids films, a tribute to Candy, a deleted scene and a two-part docu about the director. The video isn’t fantastic–and this isn’t a hi-def screaming sort of film. I would almost tell you to go grab the DVD–which is half the price of this, just about. And I don’t think you’re going to miss what little difference there is. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Lincoln Soundtrack CD
Skyfall Soundtrack CD

The thing about the soundtrack to Lincoln, with music by John Williams, is that I haven’t seen the film yet. It doesn’t open until this weekend. What I find fascinating about it, taken out of context with the film itself, is that it’s a lot like the footage I’ve seen of Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. We have no recordings of what Lincoln sounded like–and yet Day-Lewis sounds like what Lincoln seems like he should sound like. Which is weird. Just as weird is the fact that this soundtrack sounds like what a film that centers around the Civil War period should sound like–but still keeps that John Williams feel to it. It is not one of his best scores–but I have a feeling it serves its purpose well and does stand alone quite nicely. This is out from Sony Classical on CD. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

With the new James Bond flick, Skyfall, being a startling success (and being damn good), what you want is a film score/soundtrack that works like the film does: namely, hits the ground running and then runs at the pace of the film. And the Newman score, presented here on CD by Sony Classical, is excellent in that it did what a really excellent score should do: work under the film without being too in your face–to the extent that you barely notice what’s going on. However, when you listen back to a good score, you get the benefit of remembering the film with all the musical goodness underneath. What I find most fascinating are bits like the opening, “Grand Bazaar, Istanbul,” which sounds like the roller coaster that the opening sequence in the film was–but when it drops down…it goes way down. A nice supplement to the chaos on screen. And when you get into the latter half of the score, like the title track, that’s where the score really gets interesting. It, like the film, gets close in and personal. And works surprisingly well. And like all good scores, it’s awesome to work while listening to it. One odd thing: is it normal for the theme song to not be on the soundtrack? “This album does not contain a recording by the artist Adele.” Well, why bloody not? Anyway, recommended regardless. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Fire With Fire Blu-Ray
Maximum Conviction Blu-Ray
Triad Wars DVD

What’s odd about Fire With Fire is, well, that’s Bruce Willis on the cover of a direct to video feature? His career’s okay, right? Didn’t I see another Die Hard trailer the other day? Personal theory as a sidebar: direct to video (and digital) isn’t the kiss of death it used to be, especially if most of your play is going to come from overseas. Thus you can pay people. People like Willis, Rosario Dawson, Richard Schiff, Vinnie Jones and the guy I’m thinking might just be the most underrated and best villainous actor to not be an import–Vincent D’Onofrio. Think about it. Anyway, the shot on this Lionsgate Blu-Ray release is that a firefighter (Josh Duhamel) is at the wrong place and definitely the wrong time, sees something he’s not supposed to, and because he goes to testify has to flee for a while. Of course–with D’Onofrio as the baddie, you can tell it’s not going to be that easy. The release is a decent one: video and audio are good (though this title doesn’t scream hi-def) and it comes with two audio commentaries–one with the director and cinematographer and one with members of the cast (including D’Onofrio). There’s also behind the scenes bits and interviews. Even Willis hardcore will probably be fine with renting this (his part is actually fairly small) and everyone else will be too. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Give credit where credit is due: as a child of 1980s video rental stores, I can appreciate films that promise you splode and then deliver upon that promise. You might think that Maximum Conviction is one of those films, what with Steven Seagal and Steve Austin packing heat on the cover. You would be correct. Sometimes you don’t want plot or extensive characterizations or even superlative dialogue. Sometimes you just want gunfire and shit to blow up. And that’s what this provides. The two stars under attack in a military prison while trying to protect some inmates within. This Anchor Bay Blu-Ray release looks really damn good, frankly, so if you like the splode the hi-def splode it provides will fill you with joy. You get an audio commentary, behind the scenes and interviews. Despite all this, only the hardcore will want to own–splode lovers will probably be fine with a rental. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Triad Wars looks to be yet another film with decent amounts of fu and gunplay that brings in a known fu master to draw attention to itself. That would be Sammo Hung, who plays the crime boss who suddenly finds himself in the middle of some…wait for it…Triad Wars…and must go to great lengths to try and re-cement his power base. That aforementioned type of film? That’s this. It never really transcends its direct to video fu feel and also has a very confusing promotional bit on the cover art: “From the award-winning action choreographer of Rush Hour, Shanghai Knights and The Day After Tomorrow.” What was that last one again? Man, if there had been fu in Day After Tomorrow that would have improved that film immensely. Now I feel sad. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)