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DVD and Blu-ray Releases for May 18th, 2010

May 17th, 2010

It's an amazingly slow week. In fact, there is only one Featured Review on this week's list that is for a DVD coming out this week. (The other four are for screeners that arrived late.) Additionally, there's not a single first-run release on this week's list that managed to be a hit both at the box office and with critics. The film that came closest was Invictus, but for Pick of the Week I'm going with The Messenger on DVD or Blu-ray. Both are worth picking up, and High Definition is the better deal.

30 Days: Season Three - Buy from Amazon
Morgan Spurlock created this documentary series where people spend 30 days living someone else's life. This season included living as a coal miner, as a paraplegic, in an Indian Reservation, and others. It's a good show, but not as good as Super Size Me, and it never developed the audience the network was hoping for. The final season is coming out on DVD this week, as is the Complete Series Megaset. Since they are the same price, the latter is the better deal.

American Bandits: Frank & Jesse James - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A western starring Peter Fonda, among others. He's been in more than a few westerns, while his father was practically synonymous with the genre in the 1950s and 60s. Interestingly, the Blu-ray release is more than 30% cheaper than the DVD, but until the screener arrives, I won't know if it is worth picking up, renting, or skipping altogether.

American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about Norman Finkelstein, a political scientist who specializes in the Middle East conflict. The film earned perfect reviews but went nowhere at the box office. Perhaps it will find an audience on the home market, because it is an interesting film regardless of what side of the debate you side with.

And Then Came Lola - Buy from Amazon
A lesbian romantic comedy that some have compared to Run Lola Run, while others are calling it a remake of that movie. Or an homage. Or a rip-off. It depends on your point of view. There are not many reviews online, but those I have found are mostly positive, although not usually enthusiastically positive. Call it a solid rental for most, worth purchasing if you are in the target demographic.

Apocalypse Now: Redux - Buy from Amazon
A great movie, regardless which version you watch. It has already been released on a special edition DVD, so there's no reason to buy this one as well.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: 9 Songs, Appleseed, Carlito's Way, Dogora, Dragon Ball Kai: Season One, Part One, The Dukes, Extraordinary Measures, Invictus, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, The Messenger, The New Daughter, Outlander, The Spy Next Door, Valentine's Day, and Walkabout
Slim pickings on the Blu-ray front. The best-selling Blu-ray is Invictus and it is hard to argue that it is undeserving of that. However, The Messenger is the better movie. The only other film on this week's list that I would seriously consider recommending is the Criterion Collection release for Walkabout.

Warning: This Blu-ray does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 4th. However, the screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

Elektra - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
The spin-off to the moderately successfully comic book film, Daredevil. This film was less successful, to put it mildly, but it was also the victim of a lot of negative buzz. Five years later, does the movie survive now that it has put some distance between it and the buzz? Or was it destined to fail? Read our review for my opinion.

Extraordinary Measures - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A typical January release. In other words, the film earned weak reviews and an even weaker box office run. Its struggles at the box office explain why the only extras on the DVD are a couple of featurettes. Meanwhile, the Blu-ray is BD-Live enabled and has a movieIQ track, but that's not enough to lift it past the rental level. Even calling it a rental might be a tad generous.

Gamera: The Giant Monster - Buy from Amazon
This is the only featured review on this week's list that is actually coming out this week. The other four are late DVDs, and I have two more late DVDs that I didn't get to. Slow week.

The Girl on the Train - Buy from Amazon
Émilie Dequenne stars as Jeanne, a young lady that hasn't quite matured. Her mother, played by Catherine Deneuve, tries to get her a job at the law firm headed by an ex-flame, but when that doesn't go well, she fakes an anti-Semitic attack on the train. (She isn't Jewish, but that doesn't stop the press hyping her claims.) The second part of the film is about the lawyer who defends her, who is actually Jewish, and his complicated family life. The film was a huge hit in its native France, but despite earning solid reviews it never really found an audience here. Worth checking out for most, worth picking up for fans of French cinema.

Greatest American Hero: The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
All three seasons of this fun super hero show. Although, to say it lasted three seasons is a bit misleading, as it was a midseason replacement for season one and was cancelled halfway through season three, so it really only lasted two seasons. It's a high concept show and these usually have trouble in the long run, as they run out of steam quite quickly. That said, for fans of the show, this is a great deal.

Gunfight at La Mesa - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD western about a man returning to his home town for revenge. Hardly a unique setup, but with solid execution, it could still be worth checking out. However, I won't know if this is the case till after the screener arrives.

Hunter: Season Two - Buy from Amazon
The second season of this 1980s police show is getting re-released on DVD this week. While the show lasted seven seasons on TV, only the first three have been released on DVD so far. At this pace, we should get the third season in the fall and the first of the unreleased seasons early next year.

Invictus - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
In 2008, Clint Eastwood released Gran Torino, which became the biggest hit of his career. He followed that up with a biopic, of sorts. It's about the Rugby World Championship that was held in South Africa in 1995 that was seen as the first real oppurtinuty to heal the wounds in a post-apartheid South Africa. The film's reviews were great, but expectations were greater. It failed to live up to expectations at the box office as well, but with a worldwide box office of $125 million on a $50 million budget, it will likely see a profit sometime on the home market. Speaking of which, the DVD is lacking in special features. It has a featurette on Matt Damon playing rugby and a music video, but that's not enough to be a serious selling point and limits its value to a solid rental. On the other hand, the Blu-ray has a Picture-in-Picture commentary track, a meeting between Nelson Mandela and Morgan Freeman, and excerpts from the Clint Eastwood documentary. Definitely worth picking up.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 4th. However, the screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

Iron Man: The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
This TV on DVD release hit the home market the Tuesday before Iron Man 2 hit theaters. This was not a coincidence. But was it an excellent week for Iron Man fans, or is this a show that is best forgotten? Check out our review for my opinion.

The Jeff Dunham Show - Buy from Amazon
I'm not a fan of ventriloquism, so a show dedicated to one is of no interest to me. On the other hand, Jeff Dunham is arguably the most popular ventriloquist around, so that has to count for something.

Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Season Five - Buy from Amazon
With the demise of Law & Order announced last week, this is a sad time for fans of the franchise. Then again, with 890 episodes, so far, plus a new spin-off coming next year, it is hardly that shocking the original would be cancelled, nor can one complain about the lack of episodes to watch. That said, these episodes can be seen in syndication several times a day, so the DVD really needs a lot of extras to be worth picking up and that's never been the case with any of the Law & Order releases.

The Messenger - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
One of the few bright spots on this week's list. The Messenger wasn't able to become a box office hit, barely crossing $1 million during its run, but it was a major hit with critics and was able to garner numerous Awards Season nominations, and even a win for Woody Harrelson. Extras on the DVD include an audio commentary track with writer/director Oren Moverman and producer Lawrence Inglee, as well as the two stars, Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster. There's also a behind-the-scenes featurette, a Q&A with the cast & crew, and a short documentary about real life notification officers. Absolutely worth picking up. Meanwhile, the Blu-ray has no additional extras, but it only costs $2 more, so it is the better deal and a contender for Pick of the Week.

The New Daughter - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Has Kevin Costner's career gone so far south that's he has been reduced to making direct-to-DVD movies? To be more accurate, this movie may have earned a limited release in December, but if it did, they never released box office numbers. Given the film's reviews it is probably most interesting for its two firsts. It is the feature-length directorial debut for Luis Berdejo, who previously wrote [REC]. It is also the English-language debut for Ivana Baquero from Pan's Labyrinth. The extras are better than with an audio commentary track, making-of featurette, and deleted scenes. That said, it's only worth a rental, and that's only if you are a fan of the genre and / or actors / director.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 20th of April. However, the screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

Prom Wars - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian movie starring two Americans, Alia Shawkat and Raviv Ullman. (Most of the rest of the cast are Canadians, including Rachelle Lefevre of Twilight fame.) It's a small film from Canada in a rather crowded market, but can it stand out? Check out my review to find out.

Reggie Watts: Why S#!+ So Crazy - Buy from Amazon
I recently saw the music video for the first song on this DVD / CD. I won't repeat the name here, but it is definitely not safe for work. It is also incredibly funny. That one song alone makes this DVD / CD worth checking out. And the price is quite low for the amount of material here.

Sometimes in Life - Buy from Amazon
Jill Ludvik (Sara Stepnicka) is worried about her relationship with Adrianna Vokler (Gunhild Giil). At the same time, Rob Hill Jr. (Eric Morrison) is dealing with the death of his father and the lack of direction in his life. When the two meet, it could either turn things around, or make their situations worse.

The Spy Next Door - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Just a quick note that the screener for this movie is late. It could still arrive today, probably not, but even if it did, I won't be able to get to the review in time.

Tokyo Gore Police 1.5 - Buy from Amazon
It's the old DVD plus a bonus disc of short films. Fans of extreme films from Japan will want to check out this movie; however, the regular DVD is $10 cheaper.

Valentine's Day - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
One of the biggest hits of the year so far. It is also one of the worst. Its huge cast just means there are more romantic comedy clichés to go around. Even fans of the genre should give this film a pass and stick with Love Actually. Those that are interested in buying this movie are presented with a bit of a conundrum. The Blu-ray is nearly 50% more than the DVD, which is very high and this is not a movie that needs to be seen in High Definition. On the other hand, the Blu-ray has far, far more extras. The DVD just has some deleted scenes with an intro by Garry Marshall and a music video. The Blu-ray has this, plus an audio commentary track, a couple of featurettes, outtakes, another music video, and a DVD and Digital Copy of the movie. It's arguably the better deal, but it's more money than I'd be willing to spend on this movie.

Whitest Kids U Know: Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
For those who have never seen this show, two of the five members of the comedy troupe were in Miss March. That's pretty much all you need to know.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 4th. However, the screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

X-Men: Volume Five - Buy from Amazon
X-Men is still considered one of the best comic book cartoons of all time; however, it was supposed to end after season four, but was extended for one more year. Was it still able to go out on a high note? Or should it have quit while it was ahead? Check out our review for my opinion.


Filed under: Video Releases, Outlander, The Dukes, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, The Spy Next Door, Valentine's Day, Invictus, The Messenger, Extraordinary Measures, The New Daughter, La fille du RER, American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein, Gunfight at La Mesa, American Bandits, Sometimes in Life