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DVD and Blu-ray Releases for December 29th, 2009

December 28th, 2009

The Tuesday after Christmas might seem a strange week to release a DVD or Blu-ray because it's too late to be a Christmas gift. On the other hand, it's perfect for Boxing Week sales. Overall we have a very short list this week, but there are still a few releases of note, including 9, which is bit expensive on Blu-ray, but still Pick of the Week material. Meanwhile, Paranormal Activity is also a Pick of the Week contender, but the screener is late, so I can't say for sure. I blame the Christmas shipping rush for the delay in getting here.

(500) Days of Summer - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray + Digital Copy
This film hit the home market last week; however, the Blu-ray + Digital Copy didn't arrive till this week, so this is just a quick update to the previous review to see if it is worth grabbing in High Definition.

The DVD only had two extras, the audio commentary track and deleted scenes. But while that's not a lot, both had high replay value, especially the audio commentary track. The Blu-ray, on the other hand, is loaded with exclusive extras starting with a nearly 30-minute long making-of featurette called Not a Love Story. It tackles every aspect of the filmmaking process from the inspiration to reception. (Apparently a lot of the movie is based in reality, which is kind of scary.) Summer at Sundance spends 14 minutes talking about the history of Sundance (very briefly) and the film's premiere there. There are two audition tapes for Matthew Gray Gubler and Geoffrey Arend, with optional audio commentary track. It's better to have these than not, but there is not a lot of replay value here. There are two scenes presented in storyboard form, Summer Effect & Expectations / Reality, which can be seen either separately or compared to the final film and with or without commentary. Since both scenes are quite stylistic, these are good choices for this feature. The first of two music videos is next, this one for "Bank Dance" featuring the two leads and directed by Marc Webb, which is very stylish and very cool. Next up is a Sid and Nancy / (500) Days of Summer mash-up, which is a little hard to explain but worth checking out. Another music video is next, this time for "Sweet Disposition", which is from the soundtrack. There is a six-part conversation with the two leads. Each segment is about 2 minutes long, more or less, and they get into some really interesting topics. There are six more featurettes under the heading of Filmmaking Specials that are short segments with the director or the two leads on subjects from the character, casting, the dance number, etc. In total there's roughly 90 minutes of Blu-ray exclusive extras to be found here, about half of which are in High Definition (by running time) and all of which are worth checking out.

Speaking of High Definition, the film looks great given the film's low budget and the nature of the movie. Detail is good, if a little soft, and there were no problems I could spot. Likewise, the audio is clear, but the mix won't challenge your home theater system. It's a dialogue driven movie with only hints of ambience and sound design. There are no complaints, but not something you will pop into your machine to show off your home theater system.

The Blu-ray also comes with a Digital Copy of the movie.

Looking at the price, currently on Amazon.com, it costs $9 more than the DVD, which is more than 50% additional expense. If you say the Digital Copy accounts for half of that, which is fair, the premium for High Definition is a much more acceptable 22%. Even if you say the Digital Copy is just $3, the premium is 32%, which is still worth it given the number of Blu-ray Exclusives.

9 - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
One of the most visually interesting films to come out this year, the overall reviews were only mixed and it struggled at the box office. Fortunately this didn't cause the studio to skimp on the DVD, which is loaded with extras, including an audio commentary track, several making-of featurettes, deleted scenes, and the original short film on which the movie is based. The Blu-ray upgrades the audio commentary track to a picture-in-picture track, and this is a movie that deserves to be seen and heard in high definition. I'm not happy that the Blu-ray costs almost 50% more than the DVD on Amazon.com right now, but it is still Pick of the Week material.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: 9, Jennifer's Body, The Marine 2, Paranormal Activity, and The Perfect Getaway
A very short list of Blu-ray releases filled mostly with films that missed expectations at the box office. Mostly. The list also includes what could be the most profitable movie of all time, but the release I'm most interested in is the visually stunning 9.

Carriers - Buy from Amazon
A horror / thriller that opened in limited release and like many films of the same genre to do so, it failed to make an impact at the box office. The reviews are much better than its box office performance and the movie is worth checking out. However, with no word on extras, if there are any, I would start with a rental.

Diagnosis - Death - Buy from Amazon
A comedy / horror from New Zealand about two people who meet at a clinic while participating in a drug trial. It's being advertised as "featuring the cast of Flight of the Concords" on the official site, but that's a bit of a stretch, as the two have very brief roles. On the other hand, if you are a fan of Black Sheep, or other similar films, then this could be worth checking out.

Emily of New Moon - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian TV series based on the series of novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery, who also wrote the Anne of Green Gables novels, which was also made into a Canadian TV series. Both shows are excellent and I recommend picking them up, especially if you are a fan of shows like Little House of the Prairie, for instance. It has a similar old-fashioned feel to it, but in a good way.

Facing Ali - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about the most famous boxer of all time. I'm looking forward to reviewing this movie when the screener arrives.

Glee - Volume One - Road to Sectionals - Buy from Amazon
The first half of the first season is coming out on DVD this week and I will review it, as soon as I can after the DVD arrives. However, while this is a four-disc set, I will only be getting the final disc. Could make for an interesting review.

Jennifer's Body - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Written by Diablo Cody, who previously wrote Juno; directed by Karyn Kusama, who previously made Girlfight; and starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. Check out our featured review to see if the movie lives up to the sum of its parts.

The Marine 2 - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A direct-to-DVD sequel to a film that wasn't a hit with moviegoers or critics. Maybe this movie will be better than its origin suggests, and I will let you know if and when the screener arrives.

Paranormal Activity - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Limited Edition DVD, or Blu-ray
Reportedly the most profitable movie ever made in terms of percent return on investment. I should be getting a screener to do a featured review with, but it is running late. Also, we will be holding a contest with this movie. Stay tuned for updates.

A Perfect Getaway - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A couple on their honeymoon meet another couple who may or may not be serial killers that target couples on their honeymoon. While the film earned better than expected reviews given its sub-genre, it still struggled at the box office. This explains why neither format has much in the way of extras, but if you are a fan of these films, it is still worth checking out. However, start with a rental.

Princess of Mars - Buy from Amazon
Based on the story that inspired Avatar? Talk about stretching, even for a marketing department. Actually, since this is made by Asylum, we should just be impressed that this "knockbuster" isn't called Avatar of Mars.

United States of Tara - Season One - Buy from Amazon
Toni Collette stars in this Showtime series about a woman with dissociative identity disorder. Like many DVDs coming out this week, the screener is late, but I hope to get to it ASAP.

Vampire Killers- Buy from Amazon
Or as it is known in its native U.K., Lesbian Vampire Killers. The writers tried to come up with the dumbest name for a movie that they could think of, but one that would still be commercially viable. Lesbian Vampire Killers certainly fits that bill. The reviews are quite poor, but that's to be expected given its origins, and it might be worth renting if you are a fan of juvenile humor.

Weather Girl - Buy from Amazon
This movie did reasonably well during its opening weekend, but with weak reviews, it was unable to maintain momentum and disappeared from theaters quickly. Critics complained that the film didn't overcome the limitations of its genre and it feels more like a TV sitcom than a theatrical release. Perhaps it is better suited to the home market, but even if you are a fan of romantic comedies or sitcoms, start with a rental here.

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Filed under: Video Releases, (500) Days of Summer, 9, A Perfect Getaway, Jennifer's Body, Carriers, Weather Girl, Paranormal Activity, Diagnosis Death, Facing Ali, The Marine II, Lesbian Vampire Killers