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Headsup: Some Like It With Swords, Some With a Shotgun

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.

13 Assassins DVD
Warrior's Way Blu-Ray
Ferocious Planet DVD

[ad#rightpost]The proper response to hearing that Takashi Miike is going to create a film called 13 Assassins is “Yes, have some.” And that’s even before you know what the shot is. But here it is: a bastard of a lord looks to have a shot at ruling Japan, but the titular cadre of people wielding pointy metal things is enlisted to take the guy out. And he’s a sadistic bastard, as one would expect from a baddie in such a situation. At this point I would normally just shorthand it by saying “hijinks ensue” as is my wont, but here I’ll also add: “Double carnage. I love it.” This is a must-watch for fans of samurai flicks, Miike fans or not. The final battle will entertain practically everyone in that wheelhouse. We have the DVD here from Magnet, which doesn’t have an extensive array of features (no idea if the Blu-Ray is any better) but it does comes with an interview with the director, deleted scenes and a trailer. Watch once and decide for yourself how often you’ll want to replay it. Amazon Instant Video is an option in this regard. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Warrior’s Way is basically the answer to Cowboys and AliensCowboys and Ninjas. You see, a badass swordsman works to wipeout the rivals of his clan…and he does a pretty damn good job. The last one standing is well…not standing at all. It’s a baby. And rather than slaughter the infant, he takes it and runs. He runs all the way to the American west to seek out an acquaintance, only to find a ragtag group of dreamers and carnies. But the past eventually will show up and try to kick your ass, so you can guess that eventually comes to pass. As I said in my review, if you see this as delivering on the promise of the trailer–cowboys and ninjas–then it’s all good. The fights are good, Geoffrey Rush is having fun and Danny Huston is chewing scenery like it was made of Toblerone. So it’s pretty simple: if that prospect of fu appeals, then you’ll have fun. It won’t transcend, but you’ll enjoy yourself. This is a two-disc set from Fox with a digital copy as well, but bonus bits it is sorely lacking. You get a brief array of behind the scenes stuff in a montage and some deleted scenes. That’s it. It’s a decent hi-def presentation, so if you do need to purchase go for the Blu-Ray. However, it’s hard for me to recommend even with a good replay factor just because of the lack of features. Amazon Instant Video is an option if you want to check it out on the cheap. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Ferocious Planet is another SyFy original release hitting DVD from Vivendi. The setup’s pretty basic: a dimensional device goes berserko and strands our protagonists on a…wait for it…ferocious planet filled with beasties that want to mangle them. They have to then race against time to fix the machine and get back to where they once belonged before all is lost. That’s the thing about SyFy originals…you either love them or you don’t. And even if you love them, they will sometimes get the hell on your nerves. What I have found with cheesefests is that everybody has their own limit for cheese so it’s a very personal thing. If the idea of watching people running around getting menaced by monsters appeals to you, you could do a lot worse than check this out. But if you stopped reading the moment I said SyFy Original…then you aren’t reading these words so why should I bother continuing with that particular train of thought. No bonus features make this, even at $10.99, hard to propose for purchase. Amazon Instant Video is an option but it’ll probably come back around on SyFy at some point. So. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Happily Ever After
Hobo With a Shotgun DVD
Rubber Blu-Ray

Night Shade returns with another themed anthology to smack you around with a veritable buffet of fantasy choices, because this time around the theme du jour is fairy tales and the book in question is Happily Ever After. There’s nothing like a fantasy anthology that will stop a bullet, and this answers that call. It’s because of the cast of writers bringing their fairy tale reworkings to the table: Gregory Maguire, Charles de Lint, Bruce Sterling, The Neil, Peter Straub, and many, many more. Four hundred pages of stuff and it’s all for less than $12 as I type this, or just $7.99 if you go the Kindle route. Either way, it’s a great way to get your fix. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Hobo With a Shotgun is hobosploitation madness starring legend Rutger Hauer in the title role. The shot is this: he rides the rails into a city hoping to finally get the coin to start a business of his own. However, he’s faced with pure evil and surrounded on all sides by innocence being threatened, so he puts his dreams on hold and instead buys a shotgun. And hijinks ensue. The film is a love letter to the madness of 70s exploitation films and 80s films that wound up being known on VHS more than anything else. And sprinkle a bit of Troma over the top for good measure. And this release from Magnet, in its two-disc DVD incarnation, is fairly well stacked. You get featurettes and behind the scenes stuff accessible via the feature in “Shotgun Mode” or through the menus. There’s two commentaries, one with Hauer himself. There’s also deleted scenes, an alternate ending, interviews, a test reel and more. If this is your sort of film, then you’re going to want to own this. If this isn’t your sort of film, I’ll be amazed if you watch it once. It’s just that type of thing. However, they didn’t send me one, but I would think the Blu-Ray would be the way to go, as it’s only a dollar more than the DVD as I write this. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Rubber has the most mental premise for a film I’ve heard of in a long time: in the desert, a tire become sentient, discovers it has a taste for destruction, and then further discovers he has powers that enable him to kill from a distance. He starts stepping up his lethal shenanigans, only to find himself falling for and stalking a woman. And things just get more nuts from there. Just to make sure you caught that: a living rubber tire with Scanners-esque abilities goes on a spree. The Blu-Ray is out from Magnet and has some short interviews as its major bonus bit, plus some camera tests. I think for fans of the weird and bizarre, they’ll want to check this out just…well, just because. But only if it strikes a cultish chord would you want to snag it permanently. The video and audio on the Blu-Ray are decent enough, so there’s that–and it doesn’t scream for hi-def regardless. The Blu-Ray is about $7 more than the DVD as I type this, so there’s that to contend with as well. Catch it by some means or Amazon Instant Video at least and then make your decision from there.

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son Blu-Ray
Ceremony DVD
Some Like It Hot Blu-Ray

Okay, so, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son is the third entry in the Martin Lawrence “Big Momma” franchise and they’ve done with it what franchises through time immemorial have attempted to try to keep themselves afloat just a bit longer. They’ve added another major character and instituted a changing of the guard with a second generation. So joining Lawrence in drag this time around is Brandon T. Jackson. The two of them must go into hiding at a girls school after they witness an informant getting killed. And so now you get two–two–two characters in one film with potential for drag and fat suit jokes. This isn’t my bag but you never know when somebody will have a weakness for this sort of thing. If you do, then here’s the shot: three disc set here, Blu-Ray, DVD and digital copy all represented. The unrated extended version is included and gives you a grand total of five more minutes of footage. There are deleted scenes, a choreography featurette, a retrospective on the series, a gag reel and more. There’s also an audio commentary that includes the director and Jackson among its participants. And yes, this film made money, so expect another. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Ceremony concerns a wedding between the characters played by Uma Thurman and Lee Pace and the man who has caught a ride from a friend, winding up trying to crash it and try to get his love back. The love is Thurman, by the way, in case you were wondering. The true test of the movie is whether or not you find the characters endearing or annoying–I think it might be worth checking out if you enjoy Wes Anderson flicks, personally. And I always enjoy Lee Pace. The DVD here from Magnolia is not bare bones: it comes with deleted scenes, outtakes, an extended scene, and some behind the scenes bits. I would advise you to Netflix this before making the plunge, and indeed, if you are going to plonk down the coin, it just makes more sense to grab the Blu-Ray since it’s a $1 more. I didn’t have that here to review but just from a bang for your buck perspective it must have more going on from an A/V point of view. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Some Like It Hot hits Blu-Ray from MGM. And this is how you do drag comedy. The classic Billy Wilder flick with Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe concerns another two guys who run away after witnessing a murder. They find safety taking a gig–but it’s for an all-girl band. So into the dresses they go, only to find themselves having to deal with the fact that Marilyn Monroe, also in the band, is…well, Marilyn Monroe, and thus hot as hell. And hijinks definitely ensue. The Blu-Ray setup here looks good but it’s a black and white film from 1959…so I can’t really tell what the hi-def brings to the table. I wish there was some sort of restoration featurette (assuming it’s been restored at all, of course.) What you do get is a port of the features from the previous DVD edition. This includes a making-of, some retrospectives, and an audio commentary. In addition to the writers (not of this film, but they are writers) you get bits from Lemmon and Curtis spliced in where appropriate. I’m not sure where, if you already own the two-disc set, upgrading makes sense–but if you don’t already have that set, this is only $3 more, so it makes sense to snag it. But this is one of those comedies that’s definitely worth owning. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Big Bang Blu-Ray
Bloodrayne: The Third Reich Blu-Ray
Waiting for Forever Blu-Ray

If ever thought to yourself, “Man, I wish there was a whacked-out physics-infused noir film starring Antonio Banderas along with Snoop Dogg and Sam Elliott in a scary wig,” then your thoughts have been eeriely answered. Because that’s The Big Bang, where a search for diamonds lead to crooked cops, a rogue scientist playing god, and a stripper with a rather scientific tattoo. Among other things. The film gets points just for trying to do something interesting but its level of success will be decided by how willing you are to go along for the mad ride. What I can tell you for certain is that the audio and video are both quite good, even though this isn’t a film that necessarily screams for it–just sort of hollers for it here and there. It’s also not without bonus bits, as there’s a making-of, extended scenes and an audio commentary. The replay factor comes in, though…once seen, I’m not sure how many times you’ll want to catch it. However, Amazon Instant Video is there as an option. The DVD is there, but if you are going to make the plunge, go for the Blu-Ray. It’s only $4 more as I type this. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Uwe Boll‘s parade of video game adaptations continue with BloodRayne: The Third Reich, in which our heroine, played again by Natassia Malthe, fights Nazi vampires. Not just any Nazi vampires, but one in particular who wants to turn Hitler into a creature like Rayne–half-human, half-vampire. All the benefits of being undead but with none of the weaknesses. And I’m sure there are those among you who would like to knock back a few drinks and watch this, so here you go. Here we have the Blu-Ray release from Phase 4, and it’s an unrated director’s cut. I haven’t seen a non-director’s cut version of the film, so I can’t really say what’s been added or subtracted here. I do know that the Blu-Ray looks decent but not spectacular, although it does hold up well when it comes to features. You get a commentary (including Boll), a making-of and a brief interview with the film’s scribe. The Blu-Ray is $24.99 as I write this, and while I can see watching the film…I’m not really sure who’s going to love it enough to grab it, features or no. Netflix it if you must. And remember the drinks. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

There’s a fine line between being a lovestruck and eccentric individual and being a stalker. That’s…not the intended premise of Waiting for Forever, but that appears to be part of what it’s getting across. Tom Sturridge (who was great in Pirate Radio) is Will, who has been following his actress/friend from childhood/love of his life around, waiting for the right moment to say how he feels. Of course, every girl wants to have somebody that devoted…but somehow without the impending need for additional personal security. I mean…that’s just odd, right? If that notion sounds romantic, then the film is probably for you. But the trouble with romantic comedies is that, in my opinion anyway, you have to be something special to stand out. And just because you’re quirky and wear a bowler hat, that’s not enough. This is out from Fox and the Blu-Ray comes with no bonus features. It looks and seems fine, but this just isn’t a hi-def sort of film. If you’re a junkie for this genre, sure, go ahead and snag it via Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. And if you must purchase it because you’ve fallen in love with it, Blu-Ray’s the way to go, as it’s just a couple of bucks more than the DVD. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Lorna Doone DVD
Upstairs Downstairs New Series DVD
A Woman's Guide to Adultery DVD

This 1990 TV production of Lorna Doone stars a pre-Patriot Games Polly Walker and Sean Bean and a circa Chancer Clive Owen. The gist is pretty clear: the Doones are ne’er do wells who killed Owen’s character’s father. He is sworn to revenge, but then he meets Lorna, in the midst of his enemies. And he falls in love–because that’s what you do, of course. Making things more complicated is that Lorna is promised to the man who’s next in line for being, well, Head Doone. And things just go from there. This version is good for anyone who wants to see the aforementioned cast members in their earlier days but probably won’t appeal to big fans of the book, since it does leave out a lot of the background happenings. As for the DVD itself, there’s nothing in the way of bonus features to help bolster its cause, outside of text-on-screen filmographies and a biography of the book’s author. I’d grab it via Netflix or equivalent. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

So what’s going to be fun is to compare and contrast the revival of Upstairs Downstairs, the first series of which is collected here from BBC Home Video on DVD, with the recently announced Dallas. The comparison that first springs to mind is that both series bring back people from their previous incarnation. However, I think this will appeal to fans of the original more than say, the people who were once addicted to the goings and comings of the Ewings. Still, that’s an article waiting to be written. Anyway, to the point: six years after the end of the previous run, the house is re-opened by a new tenant, who brings in Rose Buck (Jean Marsh from the original) to help staff the place. Also of interest is Eileen Atkins joining the cast, so long after helping Marsh create the thing to begin with. This is a three-episode series that’s here across two discs with a docu as the only bonus bit. Dual class dramas like this, Downton Abbey and even Gosford Park appear to have their own fans–so anyone who enjoyed the original or anyone who just digs this particular sub-genre of drama should be sure to check it out. Just how big a fan you are will determine the replay factor that goes into a purchase decision. If you’re just wanting to watch it through the once, you can do the entire thing for $7 via Amazon Instant Video. And remember, this isn’t a hi-def release, although that’s coming. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Weren’t we just talking about a young Sean Bean? If you’ve ever wondered what he would look like with a bit of MacGyver’s mullet then look no further. It’s A Woman’s Guide to Adultery, a three-part series here presented by BFS on a single DVD. The shot here is that he is one in a series of relationships that are affected by the titular transgression. In his case, he gets involved with a photographer he’s not married to. And problems ensue. The fact that Bean starred in Game of Thrones is why they pulled this out (and, for that matter, why Lorna above got re-issued, no doubt) again, but it makes sense. Some people are Bean completists and those will want to check this out. However, I’m not sure who would want to replay it enough to grab this permanently. It is available via Netflix if the mullet idea has some appeal. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Challenge of the Gobots DVD
Best of Sesame Street Spoofs Vols. 1 and 2 DVD
Tom and Jerry: Fur-Flying Adventures, Vol. 2 DVD

Even though when I originally joked about the Gobots becoming a movie unto themselves I didn’t know that they were bought up by Hasbro in the early 90s and for all intents and purposes absorbed into the Transformers line, I’m still surprised they haven’t been used more often. For something. Anyway, it makes perfect sense that in this time of the transforming toy-robots generating Metric Arsetons of box office magic, the Warner Archive would release the first in the Gobots animated franchise, Challenge of the Gobots: The Original Miniseries. This is the first five episodes which were their testing ground, following up later by the regular series. In a startingly similar setup, two faction of warring robots bring their conflict to Earth and we’re caught in the middle. This time, though, the good guy leader’s a jet and the bad guy leader’s a motorcycle. Warner Archive is burn on demand releases…so as a result the main content is all you get. But if you’re a Gobot fiend (if such people exist and, I’m sure, they do), then this is your only way to get a legit release on Region 1 DVD. And let’s face it: this is about the best release you’re going to get until the Archive goes to Blu-Ray. And even then, how much of an upgrade will that bring you? (Click here to buy it from the Warner Archive.)

If there’s one thing that I’m uncertain about, it’s why we don’t have complete seasons of Sesame Street available on DVD. I know, that sounds mental, considering they’ve done, what, over four thousand episodes. But I know people who would personally pay good money for that…even from an on-demand digital library or something. And with a number of the recent episodes hitting Amazon Instant Video, my hope is that we’re close to that, the questionable nature of some of the material aside. Anyway, to the point here: this is a two-disc set spanning the life of the series and giving us Best of Sesame Street Spoofs: Vols. 1 & 2. I was actually afraid we were going to get just the recent stuff, but it’s actually a blend of classic and newer stuff. Sure, there’s going to be something you’re missing (I would have thought “Letter B” should have made such a collection) but you do get everything from “Monsterpiece Theater” and “Rebel L” to parodies of Mad Men and Dirty Jobs. There’s also a total of five bonus spoofs including Grover’s “Smell Like a Monster” Old Spice parody. Sure, there’s also additional bonus material that could have been welcomed: I’d like to have a featurette talking about how they approach people to get permission to do these things, personally. That sort of thing. But this set is just under $17 as I type this–and any Sesame Street fan is going to want it. And not just because of the content…but to keep them wanting to release more. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The latest volume of Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures has hit from Warner Brothers and it’s not designed for us, in all honesty. Because if you’re a serious Tom and Jerry fan, you already have the Spotlight Collections that were previously released. Or you’re holding out for the first volume of the Blu-Ray Golden Collection that’s due out later this year. Because you want to collect the lot–all the classic shorts–and you want them in chronological order, not leaping about all over the place. Like here, you do get fourteen shorts, but some are classic, some are the later “Tom and Jerry Tales.” No bonus bits. So even though the price point is $1 a short, I say hold out for the Blu-Ray coming later. Unless you seriously just need to get this for your kids. Then nobody can blame you for anything. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

1 comment

  • I clearly need so many of these, like Ferocious Planet and Happily Ever After.