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DVD and Blu-ray Releases for December 21st, 2010

December 21st, 2010

It's the last chance for Christmas gifts, although if you have to order online, you better choose the overnight option. Or do what I do, tell them you pre-ordered it and it will arrive a little late. One of the gifts I'm giving this year is being sent from Japan via boat. It might not get here till February, but the person I'm giving it to knows and they're cool with that. Anyhoo, if you are looking for good gifts, Easy A on Blu-ray is the best reviewed wide release of the week, while geeks would be happy with Family Guy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball on Blu-ray for Futurama: Volume Five on Blu-ray. However, this week the Ultimate Geek Gift and Pick of the Week is The Guild: Season Four.

The Andy Griffith Show 50th Anniversary: Best of Mayberry - Buy from Amazon
Full season sets, full series Megaset, and now a best of set. So what episodes do they consider the best of The Andy Griffith Show? Read our review to find out.

Beautiful Kate - Buy from Amazon: Buy from Amazon
This film is about a writer that returns home to visit his dying father. But when he gets ther, he begins to remember some of his past, and the memories are not good. One of the biggest home-grown hits in Australia this year, the film earned excellent reviews, but its subject matter will limit its target audience here.

Billy the Exterminator - Buy from Amazon: Season One and Season Two
Not the soul-crushing variety of Reality TV, but not compelling enough to recommend either.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Devil, Easy A, Family Guy: It's a Trap, Family Guy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball, Futurama: Volume Five, Matador, Once an Eagle, Orlando, Salt, Step Up 3, and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Slow week with not even a dozen Blu-ray release worth mentioning. There is a high Geek quotient with Family Guy and Futurama coming out. Salt is the best-selling Blu-ray of the week, but Easy A is the best reviewed.

Blu-ray 3-D Releases - Buy from Amazon: Step Up 3D
Another 3D Blu-ray coming out this week and while it is outselling the regular Blu-ray, at least according to, I don't think it will be a huge incentitive for many people to make the leap to the latest home entertainment technology.

Caprica: Season 1.5 - Buy from Amazon
The prequel to the recent Battlestar Galactica earned good reviews, but weak ratings. Add in a hefty production and you can see why it was recently canceled. Fans of the show might want to rent the DVD to see the final episodes before they are aired next year, but the price-per-minute is a little high to recommend buying.

Cyrus - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Since last week's review, the Blu-ray arrived, so I thought I'd update it with the details. The DVD was almost featureless with just a couple deleted scenes (with intros) so I wasn't expecting anything more on the Blu-ray. However, I was pleasently surprised to find a few additional, if short, extras. These start with an 8-minute featurette with the two directors discussing the making of the movie, what it was like to go from a $50,000 budget to a $7 million budget, dealing with a crew of one hundred when you are used to only working with ten or so, and trying to get their kids to share the blue flowers. Music Mash-Up has John and Jonah playing music on the keyboard, interlaced with quotes from the movie. There is a three-minute behind-the-scenes at SXSW featurette. And finally there are two interviews, one with John and the other with Jonah. The disc is also BD-Live enabled.

As for the film's technical presentation... it's a dialogue driven indie film. And with those caveats, it's a good looking film. The colors are good, the details are sharp, the blacks are deep, but this is not reference material by any stretch of the imagination. Likewise, the dialogue is clear, but your surround sound speakers will not get a workout.

The Blu-ray is better than I thought it would be, but it does cost 40% more than the DVD, which is a little higher than I would like for this type of release.

Devil - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This film was advertised as being based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan, but considering how poorly his past few films have been received by critics and moviegoers alike, many questioned this decision. Then when it was dumped into theaters in the middle of September, a lot assumed it could be garbage and bomb. It was neither. Granted, it didn't earn excellent reviews, but 53% positive is better than most films. Also, it wasn't a huge hit, but $33 million domestically on a production budget of just $10 million is a strong showing. It's worth checking out, unfortunately, the home market releases are very weak, so a rental will be enough for most.

Easy A - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A September release, which is usually a really bad sign. However, this film earned amazing reviews and nearly doubled its original expectations. (Emma Stone even earned a Golden Globe Nomination, but considering how badly they bungled some of the categories this year, that's not as big of a selling point as it would be in years past. Don't get me wrong, she deserved it. But when The Tourist earns three nominations, some of the luster is lost.) The DVD does not have a whole lot of extras, just an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, and audition tape. Call it a solid rental. The Blu-ray has all of that, plus a trivia track, making of featurettes, a featurette on 1980s high school movies, and more. Definitely worth picking up, and even a contender for Pick of the Week.

ESPN 30 for 30 - Buy from Amazon: The Best That Never Was, The House of Steinbrenner, One Night in Vegas, and Pony Express
Four films that were part of the 6-disc Gift Set being sold separately. It's hard to imagine these single-film releases are a better value than the full set. I guess if you are absolutely only interested in one or two of these sports documentaries, but even then the price-per-minute is much better with the box set that it is worth picking up on the off chance a few others will be worth watching, even if just once.

Family Guy: It's A Trap - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Family Guy spoofed A New Hope in a special episode called Blue Harvest. After it was a hit, it was a guaranteed that they would spoof the other two films. Now the final one is hitting the home market, but is it worth checking out? Or even buying? Or is the box set, Laugh it Up, Fuzzball on DVD or Blu-ray a better deal? Check out our review for my opinion.

Futurama: Volume Five - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Potential Pick of the Week material. Won't know for sure till the screener arrives, but I'm really looking forward to getting it.

Gene Simmons Family Jewels - Buy from Amazon: Season Four and Season Five
I haven't seen many episodes of this show, as I avoid the genre as a whole. However, the one I've seen showed that Gene Simmons is a surprisingly normal individual, but his life fits nicely in the Reality TV gold zone. As a famous rock star, enough interesting things happen to him that the show will hold your attention. On the other hand, he's not a train wreck and you don't feel sleazy watching the show.

The Guild: Season Four - Buy from Amazon
Woo hoo! Geeks of the world rejoice. And it's just in time for Christmas. Actually, it won't arrive before Christmas, but I guess you could buy it for your favorite geek and then include a printed invoice in a Christmas card. For those who don't know the show, Felicia Day stars as Cyd Sherman, a.k.a., Codex the priest. She, along with her guildmates, Vork, Zaboo, Clara, Tinkerballa and Bladezz, play a MMORPG and have to deal with a rival guild, interguild politics, and sometimes even real life. Nooooo! It's insanely popular with more than 50 million hits on YouTube alone. The DVD has plenty of extras (audio commentary tracks, featurettes, music video, etc. Easily worth picking up and a contender for Pick of the Week.

The Heavy - Buy from Amazon
For a small film from the U.K., the film has an incredibly impressive cast with the likes of Christopher Lee, Stephen Rea, and others. However, that wasn't enough to save it at the box office back home. It will likely do better on the home market. It would be hard for it to do worse. But is it an undiscovered gem, or did it deserve to go unseen? Read our review for my opinion.

Salt - Buy from Amazon: Theatrical Edition DVD, Special Edition DVD or Blu-ray
When Tom Cruise dropped out of this film to do Knight and Day, Angelina Jolie took over. The gender switch of the main character was interesting, but the rivalry between the two films was more interesting for a box office watcher like myself. This film won the box office race, both domestically and worldwide, while it earned slightly better reviews and it is worth checking out for fans of the genre or of Angelina Jolie. Extras on the DVD include and audio commentary track, interview, and a couple short featurettes. The Blu-ray has a Picture-in-Picture track, a quartet of additional featurettes, and it is BD-Live enabled. That's enough to lift it to a purchase.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Five - Buy from Amazon
When this show started, I had a mixed reaction to it. There were a few parts that I liked (including the lead character) but the execution was so bad at times that I questioned if they were being sincere or if this was a sly parody. Each time I get a chance to review this show, I'm hoping it will finally turn itself around. Is that the case here? Check out our review for my opinion.

Step Up 3D - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack, 3D Blu-ray / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy Combo Pack
This franchise has never been a hit, but thanks to a very small production budget, they've constantly been making money. The latest installment went 3D, which did increase the production budget. Was it worth the extra money? Read our review for my opinion.

The Town - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
I mention this release last week, but it came out on Saturday, so it straddles two weeks.

Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This film came out more than 20 years after its predecessor, which caused some concern with regard to its box office chances. It didn't help that it was being released in September. In the end, the film earned mixed reviews and was close enough to matching original expectations to call it a victory. The DVD has a couple interview featurettes and it is worth a rental. The Blu-ray has that, plus a featurette on the real world economic subjects dealt with in the movie, deleted scenes, and an episode of Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character With... It's nothing that pushes the technology, but it is worth picking up. Also coming out this week is the franchise box set on DVD. Would have been nice to have a Blu-ray box set.


Filed under: Video Releases, Orlando, The Matador, Salt, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, The Town, Step Up 3D, Cyrus, Devil, Easy A, The Heavy, Beautiful Kate