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Headsup: Blu-Ray Bale and Ben 10 (and more)

Terminator: Salvation Blu-Ray
Ben 10: Alien Swarm Blu-Ray
Better Off Ted: The Complete First Season

Okay, so there was an attempt to relaunch the Terminator franchise with Salvation, starring a shouty Christian Bale and up-and-coming Sam Worthington. I say “attempt” because Halcyon, the folks who made this, are working to sell off the rights to both this film and the potential fifth one. Which means the much talked about new trilogy will more than likely never happen. But regardless, while watching the theatrical cut you can be joined by director McG, who pops up in picture-in-picture to host an array of info about the film, including storyboard comparisons and more. There’s also a director’s cut on a separate disc. There are featurettes regarding the film and the motorcycle company Ducati and a behind-the-scenes featurette. And the thing looks good thanks to the hi-def Blu-Ray format. And, while they didn’t send me a DVD of the film, it looks like the Director’s Cut is only available on the Blu-Ray edition. So should you buy it? Good question. Like I said, without the Director’s Cut, it seems sort of silly to pick up the DVD based on what I know. So that leaves us with the Blu-Ray, if you have an appropriate player. I would say that if you really dug the film enough and have the setup at home to warrant catching it on hi-def, then for $15.99 (what it’s priced as I type this), that’s probably reasonable. I only say that because with the auction for the rights coming, this might be the best version we see for a while. So take that for what it’s worth. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

[ad#longpost]I’ll be glad to get this off my desk–not because I have anything against it, but every time I look over at it I think “Green Lantern.” Seriously, check out the cover of Ben 10: Alien Swarm. Anyway, this is the second live action TV movie based on the animated series, with the director from the first one returning–Alex Winter. Yes, that Alex Winter. This time Ben has to face off against an alien invasion where the vanguard involves an influx of technology that’s spreading all over the world. Not helping matters is that Ben decides to ally himself with someone outside his usual cadre. The Blu-Ray comes with a behind-the-scenes fluffy bit, music video and a two-parter episode from the third season of the animated series, Ben 10: Alien Force. The bonus episode from the animated series doesn’t appear to come on the DVD, but let’s face it, the third season of the series will be available on Blu-Ray eventually. So it’s on the basis of the feature presentation alone…and that’s up to you whether there’s somebody in your house who would want to own the Blu-Ray rather than just rent. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Better Off Ted is available with all thirteen episodes of the first season across two discs from Fox. It’s the tale of Ted Crisp, who’s head burrito at R&D for Veridian Dynamics, where no request is too outlandish if it will lead to profit. He has to contend with an array of eccentric geniuses who work for him, the Emma Frost clone who he works for, and a co-worker he’s attracted to. Now…there’s very little to say here and very little to recommend the set, as it’s completely bare bones. And while I would normally point a fan to it if they felt like owning it, for the moment you can watch them on Hulu if you feel the urge. So the DVD release is only for the hardcore, methinks. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

March of the Penguins: Limited Edition DVD Giftset
North by Northwest: 50th Anniversary Edition DVD
Mental: The Complete First Season DVD cover art

I haven’t seen this much penguin swag since I came across a store in New York City that was dedicated to all things penguins: Next Stop South Pole. (And…holy crap, they’re still around in an evolved form!) This is the March of the Penguins Limited Edition Giftset I’m going through here. It’s now a two-disc affair, with the first disc sporting the original March release, with crittercam footage, behind-the-scenes stuff and a Looney Tunes. I’m almost positive you can guess which one. The second disc is a new documentary about African penguins which isn’t available anywhere else from what I can tell: On the Wings of Penguins. There’s also an array of postcards, a sustainable seafood guide, and a little plush penguin. If you know somebody who’s an utter penguin fiend, then this would make a great gift, actually. And incidentally, Cosette just came in and took the plush penguin away after naming him “Iggy.” So you have confirmation that the little toy is a cute one. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

North by Northwest brings together two things that are fantastic: Cary Grant and Hitchcock. And here were are again with the 50th Anniversary Edition on DVD. First up, the feature itself is “restored from original VistaVision elements” and remastered and such. I do not own a previous version of the DVD, so I can’t speak to how well it’s improved but it looks pretty damn good to me. Granted, I’m not an audiophile and videophile, and you have to get some serious hi-def action going before I can even tell the difference. So take that with Lot’s Wife. The first disc also comes with previous features: commentary by scribe Ernest Lehman and a music-only audio track. The “Cary Grant: A Class Apart” has been previously available, as was a making-of. You do get some new bits: a retrospective of Hitchcock and his influence as a director as well as a retrospective on the film itself and what innovations it brought to the cinematic table. If you don’t own this already, it’s $14.99 as I write this, so it’s not a bad deal. Of course, the Blu-Ray is $5 more for the hi-def experience–but I haven’t sampled it so I can’t really advise you beyond the price tag. If you do already own this, I’m also handicapped, because I’m looking at a little over an hour of new content and the remastering. And if you’re going for the remastering, you would figure the hi-def option would be the way to go anyway. I would say if you’re happy with how your currently owned copy looks and can’t upgrade to Blu-Ray, rent or Netflix the second disc to see if it’s worth owning and then wait and upgrade when you can go hi-def. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Mental has positioned itself as House for your head. Seriously, it says so on a sticker on the front of the case. And it’s out from Fox on a four-disc set that contains all thirteen first season episodes. It does come with a featurette on the lead character and an alternate pilot episode. And was this renewed? A cursory search reveals…that I don’t know. The main thing with a show like this is that you’ll either like it or you won’t and without a huge plethora of features, that’s what will sell the set either way. But there is one other thing: the $36.99 price tag. Which means the episodes are $2 each. Your best bet, honestly, is if you must own it–and don’t care for the features–the whole set is $19.99 on iTunes. But if you want it so you can hold it in your hand, then this version is probably the best we’ll see. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Andy Barker P.I.: The Complete Series DVD cover art
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt DVD
Paper Heart DVD

The died-before-its-time Andy Parker, P.I. hits DVD thanks to Shout! Factory with all six episodes. Yes, just six. Alas. Who knows what it could have become? But regardless, Andy Richter stars as Barker, who has a CPA business. Trouble is, it’s not going too well and he’s been mistaken for the former tenant of his office, a private investigator. So he goes with it. Admittedly the set is stacked: commentary on every episode, with the directors, writers and cast members. Along for the ride on some are Richter and his accomplice and co-creator of the series, Conan O’Brien. There’s a writers featurette as well as a retrospective and gag reel. If you’re a fan of Conan and Richter or a fan of the show or both, then this set is more than worth it. It’s a buy. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Well, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt was…not well received. A remake of Fritz Lang’s last American film, this update has Michael Douglas as a D.A. who may or may not be crooked. Jesse Metcalfe is a reporter who frames himself in order to get the dirt on Douglas and Amber Tamlyn is an A.D.A. who is caught in the middle. Hey, it did give cool guy Orlando Jones a paycheck, though, so there’s that. It hits DVD with a reasonable–Jesus, I didn’t even think about it when I typed that–array of features: scribe/director Peter Hyams is here with a commentary, plus there’s a making-of and a forensics feature. I think you’d need to be a serious Douglas completist not to be okay with a rental on this one, which hits on December 22nd. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Paper Heart is the non-documentary documentary spearheaded by comedian Charlyne Yi as she goes around trying to get to the bottom of this whole love business. Along the way she runs into Michael Cera, playing himself, and they hit it off. So we’ve got the docu going and the fiction going at the same time and as a result, you’ll either warm to what it’s trying to do or you won’t. I would recommend renting or Netflixing before you purchase, but if you plan on snagging it, it’s an okay presentation here from Anchor Bay: blooper reel, making-of, live musical bits and a music video, interviews and deleted scenes. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

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