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DVD Releases for September 29th, 2009

September 28th, 2009

This week there are not that many releases on this week's list, but there a few releases at the very top that are worthy of being the DVD Pick of the Week. Monsters vs. Aliens is certainly in that list, but until the DVD and Blu-ray shows up, I can't confirm if it's a DVD Pick of the Week of merely a must buy. Wizard of Oz - 70th Anniversary Edition on either DVD or Blu-ray Gift-set is DVD Pick of the Week material.

Away We Go - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A good movie, but not a great movie. It did have a lot of pre-release buzz and that helped it earn nearly $10 million in limited release, which is a fantastic run. The DVD has an audio commentary track, a making of featurette, and a featurette on the growing Green Movement in filmmaking. The Blu-ray has these while the disc is BD-Live enabled; however, this is not the kind of film that needs to be seen in High Definition, and it costs 65% more on It's worth checking out for most, picking up for many, but sadly the DVD is the better deal.

Baby Einstein - World Animal Adventure - Buy from Amazon
I have a copy of this DVD that I got in the mail to review, but how do you review a show like this? Even most shows aimed at pre-school kids at least have characters and plots you can talk about, this is just images of animals and music playing for 35 minutes. So instead of reviewing it, we are going to give it away in a contest starting this Friday.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Away We Go, Billy Jack, Burst Angel - The Complete Collection - includes OVA, The Dark Crystal, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, The Girlfriend Experience, Henry - Portrait of Serial Killer, How I Met Your Mother, Labyrinth, Management, Monsters vs. Aliens, National Geographic - Ultimate High-Definition Collection, The New York Ripper, Snakes on a Plane, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Ultimate Fighting Championship - Ultimate Knockouts - Volume 7, The Unit - Season Four, The Universe - Season Three, The Universe Seasons 1-3, The Wizard of Oz - 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition, and Yellowstone - Battle for Life
Another great week for High Definition releases. Included on this week's list are first run releases like Monsters vs. Aliens, limited releases like Away We Go, TV on DVD releases like How I Met Your Mother, and classic releases like The Wizard of Oz. I'm also very interested in Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, so it's going to be an expensive week for me.

Cagney & Lacey - The Return - Buy from Amazon
A TV movie that reunited Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly in their most iconic roles. How amazing were they in Cagney & Lacey? The show ran for six full seasons and in that time they were both nominated for the Emmy for Best Lead Actress in Dramatic Series six times and one of them won that award every single year. Amazing. The Return was the first of four TV movies made in what was called The Menopause Years collection. Speaking of which, you can get all four movies in the Box Set, which is at a considerable savings.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 8th. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

Crank 2 - High Voltage - Two-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The first of several late releases to be reviewed this week, this film starts at the end of Crank. Literally. In fact, the last minute of Crank is seen at the beginning of this movie. For those who haven't seen the earlier film, Chev Chelios is a hitman who was poisoned after his boss turns on him. But by some miracle, he survived. He not only survived the poisoning, but the fall from the helicopter. This is where Crank 2 - High Voltage starts, with Chev Chelios lying on the streets after his fall, but before EMT can arrived, he's picked up by the Triads who want to harvest his heart and transplant it in their leader, Poon Tang. They replaced his heart with an artificial one, because they want to harvest the rest of his organs, starting with his... organ, which prompts him to wake up and kick ass. But now he has to stay electrically charged in order to keep going long enough to retrieve his heart.

At the beginning of the movie, John de Lancie has a cameo as a new anchor talking about the events of the day, which he describes as, 'improbable'. In the audio commentary track, the writer / director team of Neveldine/Taylor say that this is their cover for those who think the movie isn't realistic enough. Or at all. And it isn't. This movie has been described by many as a live action video game more than it is a movie, and that's a good term to use. If you are looking for low expectation cinema, a film filled with over-the-top action, violence, vulgarity, nudity, etc., then this is the film for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a coherent plot, character development, etc., then you should stay far, far away. Even those just looking for action, violence, and nudity could find their patience tested by some of the more ridiculous scenes in the movie and because of that I think the replay value will be lower than some of Jason Statham's past films.

On the other hand, the extras are strong for a film that wasn't a major box office hit. Things start off with an audio commentary track with Neveldine/Taylor, who fill the track with plenty of information, although fortunately they never try to defend their movie as anything more than it is. (In fact, at one point they say one of the scenes was a joke put into the script to test to see if anyone read it before it was given the go ahead. Apparently no one at the studio did.) There is also a 50-minute making of featurette that is split into two parts that talks about the origins of the movie, the script, the filming, etc. with the usual mix of talking heads, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips of the movie. Very in-depth for a movie that is incredibly shallow. There is a much shorter, 4-minute featurette on how the film was shot (for less than $13 million) and how that caused a lot of things to appear in the movie that shouldn't be there, like cameras, lights, the crew, etc. The second disc is just a digital copy of the movie.

Crank 2 - High Voltage is too over the top for most people and even for a lot of Jason Statham's fans, it is probably only worth a rental. If you are interested in buying, the Blu-ray is the better deal than the Two-Disc Special Edition and that edition is worth buying.

CSI - New York - Season Five - Buy from Amazon
The screener is late, but I will get to this one as soon as I can after it arrives.

Farmhouse - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD horror film starring Steven Weber, Kelly Hu, and others. Since it is a direct-to-DVD horror film, the expectations are low, but it has been earning some positive reviews. (None that have filter to Rotten Tomatoes, however.) The film should keep fans of the genre interested right up to the surprise twist, even if that twist doesn't satisfy everyone. Sadly there are no extras, so for most people a rental will do.

Filth and Wisdom - Buy from Amazon
The directorial debut of Madonna. The film was greeted with disinterest among critics and moviegoers alike. There are no extras on the DVD, which means it is only worth a rental, and that's only if curiosity gets the better of you.

Foyle's War - Series 1-5 - From Dunkirk to VE-Day - Buy from Amazon
This is an expensive DVD; however, this 19-disc set has a price per minute that is roughly the same as the average full season release for a domestic TV series, which is much, much cheaper than most British imports. It is also about half as expensive as buying the individual series, so if you waited, you just saved a lot of money.

The Girlfriend Experience - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This film earned mixed reviews, opening respectably at the box office, but not spectacularly, and couldn't maintain its audience as it tried to expand. The home market releases are not particularly strong with an audio commentary track and a making of featurette. The Blu-ray has no exclusive extras, but is also only costs 12% more, so it is the better deal. Regardless of what format you chose, it is worth checking out, especially if you are a fan of Steven Soderbergh, but start with a rental first.

The Guild - Seasons 1 & 2 - Buy from Amazon
If you don't have the first two seasons already, this is a great deal. And if you don't have the first two seasons, this is worth a blind buy, especially if you are on the geeky side. Are you geeky enough for this show? Check out this music video. If you get the jokes, then the show if perfect for you. On a side note with regard to the music video, Felicia Day is much hotter than her avatar.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
This is the remake from 2002 and not the original from the 1980s, although quite frankly this is arguably the better version, but I was never a fan of the original. Extras include audio commentary tracks on a dozen episodes, interviews, and more.

How I Met Your Mother - Season Four - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A perennial favorite among Award Season voters earning nine Emmy nominations winning four of them. (It has also been nominated for a Golden Globe, as well as several People's Choice Awards and others awards.) The latest DVD release has audio commentary tracks on four episodes, outtakes, recap of season three (this makes more sense than including recaps for the current season), Q&A at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and more. The Blu-ray doesn't appear to have any exclusive extras, but it only costs 32% more over on Amazon, which is a good deal for a TV on DVD release.

Kings - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Originally meant to be an ongoing TV series, initial poor reviews resulted in the show being promoted as a TV mini-series. It's a good series with plenty going for it, including a stellar performance by Ian McShane, while the three-disc set has some deleted scenes cut from the series finale (they were originally there to set up the second season, which never happened). Worth checking out, but I think I rental will be enough for most.

Lies & Illusions - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD movie starring Christian Slater and Cuba Gooding, Jr., both of whom used to be box office draws. The most interesting thing about the movie is that it came out on Blu-ray a couple week ago making it one of the few movies to have been released on High Definition before Standard Definition. With just a making of featurette, neither version is worthy anything more than a rental, and even then, that's only if you are a fan of both actors.

Life on Mars - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Based on a TV series from the U.K., this version stars Jason O'Mara as Detective Sam Tyler a cop who we meet trying to capture a serial killer, but after his girlfriend is captured, he is hit by a car and wakes up in 1973. Maybe. He might be having a dream while in a coma. Or maybe aliens are harvesting his intellect. Or maybe he's just nuts.

Regardless of why he's there, he has to adapt to his new surroundings, his new co-workers, etc., while trying to deal with decidedly old attitudes and police methods. His new boss is Lieutenant Gene Hunt who is a prototypical tough 70s cop. Detective Ray Carling, who is not happy with his arrival, as he was expecting a promotion. Detective Chris Skelton is more of a modern detective and accepts Sam's use of technology to solve crimes and objects to the use of violence (or at least would object if he wasn't so easily bossed around by his co-workers). Finally, there's No Nuts Norris, who is named that because she is a woman. (Like I said, it's the 70s and they have different attitudes.) No Nuts, a.k.a. there's Annie Norris is a police woman, which means none of her male co-workers take her seriously, except Sam. In return, he confides in her and explains the situation he's in. Not that she's convinced, but at least she listens.

There are essentially two parts to this show that you have to judge. Firstly, it is a police procedural show set in 1973. Secondly, it's a Sci-fi mystery show with a mythology we have to uncover. For the show to be completely successful, both aspects of the show have to work. And they do... right up to the ending. That ending... I'm not sure about it. A great surprise twist makes you want to re-watch the show right away to look for clues. A bad surprise twist makes you want to slap the people involved in making it. This ending is right in the middle. Good news, the show works even if you don't even watch the final episode, and by the time the series finale comes around, you will be interested in seeing how it ends, even if you are not fully satisfied.

Extras on the four-disc set include audio commentary tracks on four episodes, including the finale. There is a 16-minute long making featurette, which does discuss the ending, in vague terms, but obviously don't watch it first. There is a 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that follows Jason O'Mara on a filming day. Jason O'Mara gives Lee Majors a tour of the set. Finally there are ten deleted scenes and 3 minutes of outtakes.

I'm sure the makers of Life on Mars would have loved it if the show has lasted more than one season. That said, at least The Complete Series remains strong throughout its short run and the 4-disc set has plenty of extras compared to the average concurrent TV on DVD release. Worth checking out for most, picking up for many.

Madonna - Celebration - The Video Collection - Buy from Amazon
A 2-disc set with nearly four dozen music videos. It doesn't include her entire library of music videos, so there are some who will complain about those left off the list, but even so it is good value for the money.

Management - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This film opened in limited release with mixed reviews. It opened poorly and went nowhere at the box office, so I'm a little surprised the movie is coming out on High Definition. The Blu-ray has the same slim set of extras as the DVD (audio commentary track, deleted scenes, outtakes) but only costs 15% more, so it is the better deal. That said, a rental will be enough for most people.

Midsomer Murders - Set 13 - Buy from Amazon
This is either a very expensive TV on DVD release, or a reasonably priced box set of TV movies. Fans of the series have gotten used to the price by now, so I suspect that won't be an issue, but it might shock others who just found the show on BBC America recently.

Monsters vs. Aliens - Buy from Amazon: DVD, DVD Double-Pack, or Blu-ray
I will be getting this movie to review, but the screener won't be shipped till Tuesday. The review should be online this time next week, assuming it gets here before the weekend.

A Muppets Christmas - Letters to Santa - Buy from Amazon
It's not even October, but this is the first of three Christmas spotlight reviews on this week's list. I'm not a fan of studios who release Christmas releases this early, as being inundated by Christmas cheer for nearly three months is the main reason I hate Christmas by the time it actually rolls around. That said, I take each release on its own merits. But is this good news for this release?

It's Christmas Eve and Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and many of the rest of the Muppets are about to head out of New York City for the holidays, but they are in line waiting to mail off the last of the Christmas letters. Why they waited to the last minute is beyond me, but after a dance number gets out of hand, they are thrown out of the post office. Just before they go, they are invited to Christmas dinner by Claire, but is disappointed that they are all traveling and her and her Mom will have to spend the holiday along. But at least Gonzo was able to mail her letter to Santa, right? Nope. It the commotion at the post office, her letter and two others were accidentally left behind, now Gonzo, Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Rizzo the Rat, and Pepe the King Prawn will do anything, and I mean anything, to get those letters to Santa before Christmas officially begins.

Anyone reading this know who Zero Punctuation is? He does video game reviews and is quite cranky. In one review he complains about the nature of side missions in a lot of Role Playing Games. Find Item A and give it to Person B. In poorly designed games, a lot of times these missions are complicated by a series of hindrances that make little sense in the grand scheme of things and are only there to pad the playing time. I was reminded of this while watching the movie. The task is simple: take three letters meant for Santa and make sure they are delivered, but the post office is closed. Muppet labs steps in to help, but that works about as well as you would expect. They try carrier pigeons, the mob (huh?), etc. I think this story could have worked as a 30-minute TV special, or a 20 -minute TV special, if you minus the commercials and credits. However, this 55-minute version seems padded. It's better than the previous two TV specials (2002's It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and 2005's The Muppets' Wizard of Oz) but it is nowhere near as good as Muppet Christmas Carol, which is the one I would recommend instead.

(On a side note, when Beaker had the wish granting hat on, his wish was not what I was expecting. Had I been in his shoes, and given Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's track record, I would have wished with all of my heart that I WASN'T WEARING THE WISH GRANTING HAT!)

Extras on the DVD include something called The Muppets Stocking Stuffer Smorgasbord, which is a Yule Log set with close to a dozen places to select (gifts, decorations, stockings, etc.) that take you to image galleries, behind-the-scenes clips, and interviews. There are also about 10 minutes of outtakes at the end of the movie itself.

A Muppets Christmas - Letters to Santa is a move in the right direction for the long-running franchise, but it is still well below its peak. The DVD has some extras, but not a whole lot and I think it is worth a rental, but no more.

NHL - Buy from Amazon: Calgary Flames - 10 Great Playoff Games and Toronto Maple Leafs - 10 Great Leafs and Their Most Memorable Games
Two 10-disc sets featuring 10 full games for each of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames. I love these sets and I can't wait till they put out a similar DVD for the Vancouver Canucks. Of course, for that to happen the Canucks would have to play 10 memorable games where they were on the winning side. Okay, that's not fair to the team, but I'm a little bitter since I've sworn an oath not to shave or get a haircut till the Canucks with the Stanley Cup. I swore that oath on June 11th of 1994 and I could really use a shave and a haircut. (In my defense, the Canucks had just won game six of the Stanley Cup Finals, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Patty Duke Show - Season One - Buy from Amazon
Hot off her Oscar win for The Miracle Worker, Patty Duke got her chance to star as identical twins in this show. Actually, they were not twins, they were the daughters of twin brothers making them identical cousins. ... I don't think that's medical possible. The show was popular throughout its run and was only cancelled due to the prohibitive costs of doing the spit-screen special effects in color. This 6-disc set has all 30 episodes from season one, but not the original unaired pilot. The only extra is a retrospective on the show featuring interviews with many of the cast, but that's better than a lot of shows from the era will get on DVD.

The Real Ghostbusters - Complete Collection - Buy from Amazon
This came out last year as a Time Life exclusive, but now it is being sold in stores everywhere. This has resulted in a lower price, so your patience will be rewarded.

Shrink - Buy from Amazon
This film opened in limited release with terrible reviews, open reasonably well, but then collapsed immediately after that. Given that, the extras are better than expected with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, interviews, and a music video. That said, stick with a rental.

The Stepfather 2 - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The remake of the original is coming out in a few weeks, so there's no better time to release a special edition DVD of the sequel. This film is nowhere near as good as the original was, but still has its fans. The extras are good and include audio commentary track, retrospective featurette, and deleted scenes. Worth picking up for fans of the movie, renting for fans of the genre.

Steve Vai - Where the Wild Things Are - Buy from Amazon
This has nothing to do with the upcoming movie, but it would be hilarious if people were buying it thinking it did.

Superman/Batman - Public Enemies - Buy from Amazon: Single-Disc DVD, 2-Disc DVD or Blu-ray
Based on the six-issue arc of the same name, the story has Lex Luther elected as President of the United States, which is something he wanted not for the power as much as the ego boost. And what better way to boost your ego as President of the United States than to be a really good President of the United States. Thanks to his leadership, the economy is strong, crime is down, and there is peace in the world. However, that could change when a massive chunk of kryptonite is discovered to be on a collision course with the Earth. Lex Luther using this as an opportunity to become a greater hero, while framing Superman for killing one of the super heroes the government has hired and has placed a $1 billion bounty on his head. Now it is up to Superman and Batman to clear his name, stop the Kryptonite meteor, while figuring out Lex Luther's master plan and stopping it. It's not a bad movie, but it's not a great movie either. For that matter, it's nor really a movie, as it is only 60 minutes long. If you are a fan of D.C.Comics, there are enough gratuitous cameos to keep you watching, but for most a rental will be enough. Extras on the Single-Disc DVD includes an interview over dinner with several of the people involved in the movie, a making of the movie, and two bonus episodes from Superman: The Animated Series. The second disc of the Two-Disc DVD is the digital copy, while the Blu-ray has all that plus a 4-part storyline from Justice League Unlimited. The latter is the better deal, and if you are a fan of the two series found here, it's enough to push the Blu-ray to the purchase level.

Ultraman - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
A 4-disc, 14-hour box set for just $11 on Amazon. It's hard to beat that price. This 1960s Japanese series is the first show to feature the 'Ultra-being' concept. I.E., two men in rubber suits fighting while standing within a miniature mockup of a city to make them look huge. This sub-sub-genre has spawned countless imitators, remakes, sequels, spoofs, etc. and it is still popular to this day. Fans of these shows will obviously want to check out the original, while at this price it is worth buying over just renting.

The Unit - Season Four - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A TV series about a counter-terrorism special forces unit. The show started out with strong ratings, but dipped below 10 million viewers this past season, which could explain why it was cancelled. The show is also coming out in a Complete Series Giftset, but only on DVD and not Blu-ray. If you are making the leap to High Definition, I'd wait for a Blu-ray Megaset.

Walt Disney Animation Collection - Volume 7 - Mickey's Christmas Carol - Buy from Amazon
The latest volume of the Walt Disney Animation Collection. This one presents four Christmas themed cartoon shorts ranging in ages from more than 70 years to under 30 years. The shorts included here are...

  • Mickey's Christmas Carol - It's Uncle Scrooge taking the lead role in the Dickens tale. If you don't know the plot of that story, you likely have no interest in this DVD.
    Easily the best known short on this DVD and it is also the newest from 1983. It is also arguably the best, as it was nominated for an Oscar.
  • The Small One - A young boy has to take his small donkey into town to sell it because it can no longer pull its weight. At first he almost sells the donkey to a tanner, but he wants to find someone who will take care of the donkey as much as he does. It looks like he won't be able to find one, till a many needs to carry his pregnant wife to Bethlehem.
    This film was directed by Don Bluth, and you can tell, because the animation is excellent. On the other hand, I found it a little dull, but I think I'm in the minority here.
  • Pluto's Christmas Tree - Mickey and Pluto cut down a tree from the forest to be their Christmas tree; however, the tree they choose is the home of Chip 'n' Dale. Now Pluto is trying deal with these two pests, but Mickey doesn't even know they are there.
    This short is over 50 years old, but it is part of the tailing end of the Golden Age of Walt Disney shorts. Good humor, good action, and fans of the studio will be glad to have it on DVD (if they don't already).
  • Santa's Workshop - The short takes a look at Santa's workshop where we see singing and dancing elves as they make singing and dancing toys.
    From 1932, this is very typical of the era. I.E. there's little in the way of plot and it is also heavy in repeated animation. Those who are aficionados of animation from this era will be happy that this short is included and it has historical significance. That said, it is not the best on this DVD.
Like all other releases in the Walt Disney Animation Collection, there are no extras on the DVD.

It is way too early for a Christmas release, but Walt Disney Animation Collection - Volume 7 - Mickey's Christmas Carol has no real duds, and depending on your tastes, all four shorts included have something to offer. Call it a solid purchase.

Winnie the Pooh - Seasons of Giving - Buy from Amazon
Top of the DVD proclaims that this is a 'Full-Length Adventure', but it is not a real movie. It is the TV movie called A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving plus two episodes from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh squished together to form a 60-minute 'movie'. This is hardly a unique occurrence; in fact, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was a combination of several short stories and that's one of my favorite Disney film. But will it work here?

The three stories here are...

  • Groundpiglet Day - It's winter but there's no snow. Rabbit's calendar say's its Groundhog day, but without a groundhog to consult, they give the job to Piglet. But when his predictions fail to come true, he's blamed for the winter storm.
  • A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving - It's time for Thanksgiving dinner, but Rabbit's type-A personality takes over and tries to organize the celebration according to traditions. Tigger and Eeyore have to find cranberries, Gopher has to make a pumpkin pie, etc. And Winnie the Pooh and Piglet have to capture a turkey, but they don't have any idea what a turkey is.
  • Find Her, Keep Her - A winter storm causes a little bird, Kessie, to be blown out of her nest and into Rabbit's home. So Rabbit decides to adopt her and raise her as his own.
The three stories do not mesh well together, as they were made 10 years apart. The animation quality is not the same throughout and the changes are quite noticeable. I think it would have been better to present these three tails and separate episodes in a compilation disc rather than try and turn them into one movie.

Extra on the DVD include two more episodes from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, also with winter themes, and couple of simple games. Also included with the DVD is a stocking you can hang on your Christmas tree.

Winnie the Pooh - Seasons of Giving is merely average compared to recent releases for the franchise. That said, the 10th Anniversary Edition Giftset is good value, assuming you don't already have the previous release and you would be willing to pay around $5 for the Christmas tree decoration.

Wizard of Oz - 70th Anniversary Edition - DVD, DVD Gift-set, or Blu-ray Gift-set
One of the greatest movies ever made, and it's coming out on Blu-ray. That's pretty much all you need to know. The 2-Disc DVD has plenty of extras that are new compared to the previous release, while the DVD Gift-set has collectable mini-posters. The Blu-ray Gift-set has the posters and a documentary on the studio. Easily worth picking up, and a contender for the DVD Pick of the Week.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 21st of July. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

Wolverine and the X-Men - Deadly Enemies - Buy from Amazon
The latest X-Men TV series is set shortly after an attack that left both Professor X and Jean Grey missing and the X-Men disbanded as a result. Now years later the X-men have reformed with Wolverine as the leader, which is a role he is not very well suited to. I reviewed the previous release and enjoyed the series, but thought the DVD was too expensive. This time around there are five episodes instead of three, so we already know that on a price per minute basis there's an improvement, but what about the show?

  • Overflow - Wolverine gets a message from Professor X from the future. It seems that an event that is about to happen will destroy all of Africa. He is even more troubled when he finds out Storm is the one responsible.
  • Thieves' Gambit - Forge has worked on a collar that can inhibit mutant powers, but it is stolen by Gambit who was being paid by Senator Kelly. Now Wolverine and Gambit have to team up to steal it back. Of course, Gambit's a thief, and one should never trust a thief.
  • X-Calibre - Cargo ships have been making money by transporting mutants to Genosha; however, recently these ships have come under attack and mutants are not among the survivors that are found floating among the wreckage. Now Nightcrawler has decided to figure out who, or what, is responsible.
  • Wolverine vs. The Hulk - Quite frankly, all you need to know about this episode is the title, as The Hulk vs. Wolverine is one of the best rivalries in all of comics. This time around Nick Fury of SHIELD 'recruits' Wolverine and he is sent in to stop The Hulk after The Hulk was similarly recruited and sent in to stop the Wendigo.
  • Time Bomb - The Brotherhood of Mutants have a plan to take out MRD computer archives using a mutant called Nitro, whose powers are as unstable as his name suggests. Unfortunately Professor X warns Wolverine that his powers will destroy half the Mutant population if they can't capture him and give him back to the MRD.
Extras on the DVD include audio commentary tracks on all five episodes, which is more than some full season sets have. Great energy on these tracks and plenty of information as well. Definitely worth checking out.

Wolverine and the X-Men is an excellent show and the extras on this DVD are better than most TV on DVD full-season releases. That said, Deadly Enemies has a price per minute that's a little higher than I would like. Personally I would wait for a full season set. I would assume it will come out sooner rather than later and it should be a better deal.

Warning: This Blu-ray does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 15th. However, the screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine - 2-Disc Blu-ray Edition
The Blu-ray finally arrived this past week. It's the first summer blockbuster to come out on Blu-ray this year, so I'm very interested in seeing what they did with the technology and if it is worth buying.

The film tells the origins of Wolverine, which is one of the most popular mutants in Marvel Comics. We learn his connections with several other characters from the X-Men franchise, including Sabretooth. Especially Sabretooth. But there are also a number other seen here, some of which play key roles (Gambit, The Blob, etc), while most others are nothing more than cameos. On the one hand, this does give the comic book nerds in the audience a chance to play, "Spot that Mutant", it doesn't give more casual moviegoers a lot to sink their teeth into. There are a number of impressive action scenes, but the story is weak without much in the way of dramatic tension.

On a side note, Ryan Reynolds short role as Wade Wilson was the best part of the movie. Thank goodness there are making a Deadpool spin-off and I'm happy early reports will make him more like the comic than in this movie. (He will be breaking the fourth wall, for instance.)

The extras on the DVD include two audio commentary tracks, the first with the director and the second with two of the producers. Both are worth checking out, but solo tracks tend to be drier, and that this is the case here. Next up are several featurettes. Starting with the longest, there's Weapon X Mutant Files, which takes a look at a number of the mutants featured in this film (and some of the non-mutants). The Roots of Wolverine is a 16-minute interview featurette with Stan Lee and Len Wein, who talk about how X-men were created and how Wolverine joined the group, etc. Any fans of the comic will love this and will want to watch it several times. Wolverine Unleashed is a 12-minute making of featurette, which is typical of these types of featurettes. Thrill of the Chase is a 6-minute making of featurette about one of the specific action scene. There is a featurette about the World Premiere, and finally four deleted / alternate scenes.

The 2-Disc Blu-ray Edition has all of this, all of which is presented in High Definition. It also has Ultimate X-Mode, which are four Picture-in-Picture tracks. X Connect has information about the movie vis a vis the comic book origins. The Director's Chair talks about the making of the movie. Pre-Visualizing Wolverine has some early special effects for some of the scenes. Finally, X Facts is a pop-up trivia track. The disc is also BD-Live and you can look up facts for the actors. The second disc of the 2-Disc set is the digital copy of the movie.

Technically speaking, the High Definition presentation is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the video is good, but not great. Well, to be fair, it's very good, but not among the best I've seen, and not a disc I would grab to show off my home theater system. (It would have to be in the top five for that to happen, so that is a very high bar to reach.) Since this was the first summer blockbuster to come out on Blu-ray this year, I was expecting top-of-the-line video quality. On a side note, I've come to a conclusion... Nature looks awesome in High Definition. I'm not sure what it is about a lush forest that shines so much more compared to an urban environment, but it does. Maybe nature just has more details by its very nature. The audio is better than the video, and it is worth showing off to your friends, as the 5.1 track makes excellent use of all speakers to put the viewer at the heart of the action.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine is not a perfect movie with a rather simplistic story, but I think it is better than its Tomatometer score would indicate. Causal fans of the franchise will want to check it out, while hardcore fans of the comics will want to own it. And if you want to own it, the 2-Disc Blu-ray Edition is the one to get. It looks good, sounds amazing, and has plenty of extras, including some High Definition exclusives that push the technology. And to top it all off, it comes at a price that is lower than the equivalent DVD.


Filed under: Video Releases, Monsters vs. Aliens, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Snakes on a Plane, Fireproof, Crank 2: High Voltage, Facing the Giants, Away We Go, Management, The Girlfriend Experience, Shrink, Filth and Wisdom, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies