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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 10.4.11)

The Lion King has made a killing at the Box Office, back in 1994 and now over the last few weeks during its 3D run. It is a childhood favorite for many people, including many of us at Player Affinity. The re-release of The Lion King includes both a two-disc Blu-ray set and a four-disc 3D Blu-ray set and has range of extras including deleted scenes and songs.

First Releases
Fast Five (DVD and Blu-ray)
Scream 4 (DVD and Blu-ray)
Disneynature: African Cats (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Releases
The Lion King (DVD and Blu-ray)
Beauty and the Beast (3D Blu-ray)
Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray)
Jackie Brown (Blu-ray)
Almost Famous (Blu-ray)
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (Blu-ray)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Blu-ray)
Cinema Paradiso (Blu-ray)
Life is Beautiful (Blu-ray)
Dead Alive (Blu-ray)
Space Jam (Blu-ray)
Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom (Blu-ray)
Harakiri (Blu-ray)
The Lion King Trilogy (Blu-ray)

The Lion King (DVD and Blu-ray) *Recommendation of the Week*

What’s the Deal?
The Lion King was a childhood favorite of mine and I used to watch it all the time on VHS. Its 3D re-release has been a big hit and the re-release is Player Affinity’s clear Recommendation of the Week, four of us gave it a perfect 10/10 score. The Lion King was made at the height of the Disney Renaissance and is often considered the best movie from this period. The voice cast includes Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Nathan Lane, Rowan Atkinson and Whoopi Goldberg. Director Rob Minkoff has also turned into a fairly successful live action director, making Stuart Little and The Forbidden Kingdom. Elton John and Tim Rice wrote songs for this classic movie.

In the African Savannah, Mufasa (Jones) and Sarabi (Madge Sinclair) have a son, Simba, their heir to their throne. Mufasa being a fair and noble king teaches his son about the circle of life and how to be good ruler. But Mufasa’s brother, Scar (Irons), plots to seize the throne, murder his brother and force Simba into exile. As an adult, Simba has to reclaim his birthright in a tale somewhat based on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 89% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 10/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: 4 Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes; Deleted Song; The Morning Report: Extended scene; Never-Before-Seen Bloopers; Disney Second Screen*; Pride of The Lion King; The Lion King: A Memoir- Don Hahn; Disney Sing Along Mode; Interactive Gallery; Audio Commentary; Disney’s Virtual Vault: Classic DVD Features Powered by BD-Live*

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $21.99 (2-Disc Blu-ray), $29.99 (4-Disc 3D Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  Content 4.5 stars, Video 5 stars, Audio 5 stars, Extras 4 stars, Replay 4 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

There are only three new releases out this week, two of them being sequels in long-running franchises. Action junkies will get a kick out of Fast Five and Scream 4 continues that series’ post-modern satire on horror movies. But if you are disappointed about the lack of new releases, there are plenty of re-releases to compensate, including two Quentin Tarantino classics, two Tim Burton movies, three movies from Italy and the 3D re-release of another Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast.

Fast Five (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Rarely is the fifth movie in a franchise good, let alone the best in the series, but that is the general consensus towards Fast Five. Who would have thought that the first movie, The Fast and the Furious, would lead to a long movie franchise and that Fast Five is so far the fifth highest-grossing movie of 2011. Justin Lin returns to the series for the third time as does Chris Morgan as the writer and most of cast reprises its roles: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. Added to that, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joins the franchise.

After former cop Brian O’Conner (Walker) breaks Don Toretto (Diesel) out of custody, both men end up outside the law. Both end up in Rio de Janeiro and they amass a team of elite racers to rob $100 million from a powerful crime lord. Remember kids, its okay to steal if you’re stealing from a scumbag. But hot on their trail is one of the FBI best agents, sent especially to Brazil for them, Lucas Hobbs (Johnson).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 78% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 5.9/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $21.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  Content 4 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 4 stars, Replay 4 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Scream 4 (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
After an 11-year hiatus, the “Scream” franchise has brought us a fourth installment, setting it sights on satirizing horror remakes and reboots. Director Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson return as director and writer. The hope was an instant hit and a new trilogy perhpas, but Scream 4’s box-office returns were disappointing. Rumor persists a fifth is possible, and DVD sales could help. Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox return to the series and new bodies include Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere (Heroes), Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell and Rory Culkin (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World).

It has been 10 years have years since Sidney Prescott (Campbell) last visited her home town of Woodsboro. She returns whiles promoting her new self-help book, meets up with her old friends Sheriff Dewey (Arquette) and journalist Gale (Campbell) and her cousin Jill (Roberts) and Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell). But Sidney’s return also sees Ghostface coming back to terrorize the town.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 58% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 7.3/10 (read the review)

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Alternate Opening; Alternate Ending; Wes Craven Commentary for Feature and Deleted Scenes; “Making Of…” Featurette; Over 15 Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel

Amazon Price: $15.49 (DVD), $22.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 2.5 stars, Video 5 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 2 stars, Replay 2 stars (out of 5). Rent It.

Disneynature: African Cats (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Disneynature is Disney’s nature documentary wing, hoping to entertain and education at the same time. British producers Alastair Fothergill (Earth) and Keith Scholey (Big Cat Diary) took on the challenge of bringing big cats to the big screen. Samuel L. Jackson narrates in a movie that looks at two big cat families, a mother cheetah and her cubs and a pride of lions as they attempt to survive in the wilds of Africa.
 
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 66% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 6.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Filmmaker Annotations – Interactive Experience Takes You Behind The Scenes With The Filmmakers And Conservationists; “The World I Knew” by Jordin Sparks Music Video

Amazon Price: $19.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Beauty and the Beast (3D Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Last year, Disney re-released this 1991 classic, but seeing that Disney loves to squeeze every last penny out of its beloved properties, they have decided to give us a 3D re-release while the iron is hot from The Lion King. Beauty and the Beast was the first Disney movie ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and mixed both traditional animation and CGI. Based on the French fairy tale La Belle et la Bete, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a arrogant young prince who is cursed with a heart too hard to love. After her father offends the Beast, Belle volunteers to take his place and live with the Beast and teach him how to love.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 92% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 9.6/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Blu-ray 3D(TM) Feature Film; Blu-ray(TM) Feature Film + Bonus; DVD Feature Film + Bonus; Digital Copy Of Feature Film; Digital Restoration; 3 Versions Of The Film; “Broadway Beginnings”; Music Video; Deleted Scene And Alternate Opening; Disney Sing-Along Mode; “Beyond Beauty” — The Untold Stories; “Enchanted Musical Challenge” Game and more.

Amazon Price: $31.99 (3D Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  N/A

Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Pulp Fiction is Tarantino’s magnum opus, a universally highly regarded movie. Roger Avary (Beowulf) co-wrote the script with Tarantino, who took so many big risks when casting: John Travolta, for one, took on the lead role of Vince Vega when his career was at a real low. Yet he and co-star Samuel L. Jackson were both nominated for Oscars for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor (which Jackson won) and Uma Thurman was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Also in this ensemble cast are Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth and Christopher Walken.

Set in the Los Angeles Underworld, Pulp Fiction is  a multi-story movie with a non-linear narrative. The focus includes hitmen Vincent Vega (Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Jackson) on a hit with one of them questioning why they do what they do, a boxer Butch (Willis) who crosses a major gangster, Marsellus Wallace (Rhames), after refusing to throw a fight, Vincent’s night out with Marsellus’ wife, Mia (Thurman) and the robbery of a diner.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 94% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 9.7/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $15.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  Content 5 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 5 stars, Extras 4.5 stars, Replay 5 stars (out of 5). DVD Talk Collector Series.

Jackie Brown (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
After the success of Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino made a more grounded, serious crime drama, based on the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard. Pam Grier leads another Tarantino ensemble cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster (earning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination), Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton and Bridget Fonda.

Jackie Brown is a flight attendant arrested by the FBI for smuggling for an arms dealer, Ordell Robbie (Jackson). If she tells the FBI about Ordell she will get her freedom, but if Ordell suspects anyone is talking to the authorities  then he will kill them. But Jackie is able to team up with bail-bondsman Max Cherry (Forster) and the two plan to play the FBI and Ordell off each other.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 86% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.8/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $10.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Almost Famous (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Almost Famous is a semi-autobiographical movie by Cameron Crowe, loosely based on his time as a Rolling Stone journalist. It stars Patrick Fugit (Wristcutters: A Love Story) along ith Billy Crudup (Watchmen), Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand, Jason Lee, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Zooey Deschanel.

Set in 1973 during a great era of rock music, William Miller is a 15-year-old aspiring rock journalist. His mother (McDormand) wants him to be a lawyer and his sister (Deschanel) is the only way William can get around his mother’s strict ban on rock music in the house. William gets his big chance when he is able to accompany a up-and-coming band and report on them for Rolling Stone.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 88% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.2/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $17.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 4.5 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 4 stars, Replay 4.5 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Pee Wee‘s Big Adventure (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Tim Burton is renowned for being the master of gothic filmmaking, but his first feature film was Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. I will repeat that, Tim Burton’s first movie was Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Paul Reubens’ popular character started as a stage character and in 1985 got the cinematic treatment.

The story is simple, man-child Pee Wee Herman has his most prized possession stolen, his shiny new bicycle, by rich man-child Francis Buxton (Mark Holton). Pee Wee is forced on a cross country adventure to recover what is rightfully his.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 91% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 4 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 3 stars, Replay 4 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the second adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s novel of the same name. Directed by Tim Burton, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is further prove that his skills don’t lie in remaking family films (though they do make money). Freddie Highmore stars as Charlie and Johnny Depp steps into the shadow of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. Other actors involved are David Kelly, AnnaSophia Robb, Christopher Lee and Deep Roy.

This adaptation sets out to be a darker attempt more accurate to the novel. Willy Wonka is a reclusive chocolatier who after years of isolation puts five golden tickets in his bars. The children who find them get to see the inside of the factory. One of them is Charlie Bucket (Highmore), a boy who lives in poverty who with his grandparents. He goes with his Grandpa Joe (Kelly) to the factory and finds out that Willy Wonka is a very cruel and sadistic man.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 82% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 5.8/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $15.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 4 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 3.5 stars, Replay 3.5 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

Cinema Paradiso (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Cinema Paradiso is a highly regarded movie from Italy, winning Special Duty Prize at Cannes and the Best Foreign Language Film at the 1989 Academy Awards. Written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, this classic movie tells the story of Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio), a young boy living in a small town in post-war Italy. Salvatore befriends the projectionist of the local cinema, Alfredo (Philippe Noriet) and not only falls in love with the cinema but also the process of showing movies.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 89% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 10/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $10.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Life is Beautiful (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Life is Beautiful is another critically acclaimed movie from Italy earning a re-release this week. It won the Grand Prix at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival and won Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Music and Best Actor for Roberto Benigni. Benigni also directed and co-wrote is comedy about one of the most grim subjects in the Holocaust.

Guido Orefice (Benigni) is a Italian Jew who has a wife and a young son. But when the Nazis take over Northern Italy after the Allies invade, Guido and his family are taken to a concentration camp during the dying days of World War II. In the Camp, Guido makes it his duty to protect his child.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 80% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 8.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $10.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Dead Alive (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Before Peter Jackson made it big with Lord of the Rings, he was best known for making low-budget horror-comedies in his native New Zealand. Dead Alive (or known as Braindead in the rest of the world), is a zombie tale about a man, Lionel (Timothy Balme) whose mother is bitten by a monkey-rat hybrid and dies. But the worst is yet to come when she comes back alive as a zombie and Lionel has to stop her and the swarm of zombies she creates.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 85% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 7.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $10.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 4 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 0.5 stars, Replay 4 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

Space Jam (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
In the 1990s, Michael Jordan was one of the biggest sports stars in the world and it was seen as conventional wisdom that sports stars should become actors. After making a string of commercials with the Looney Toons, it was decided that the concept could be turned into a movie.

Set in the embarrassing period where Jordan attempted to be a baseball player, an evil owner of a theme park in space, Mister Swackhammer (voiced by Danny DeVito) decides he needs a new attraction. He sends his minions to capture the Looney Toons. Bugs Bunny challenges the seemingly weak aliens to a basketball match, but the crafty fellas steal the abilities of the best players in the NBA at the time. The Looney Toons have only one course of action, ask Michael Jordan to train them.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 37% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 6.8/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  N/A

Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Salo, or the 120 Das of Sodom, is a highly controversial movie from Italy and has some of the most disgusting images put to celluloid. Loosely based on a novel by Marquis de Sade, this movie is Pier Paolo Pasolini’s last as a director and tells the story of four fascist libertines in the puppet Nazi state in Italy, 1944. These fascists kidnap 18 teenage boys and girls and force them to endure four months of extreme violence, sadism and sexual and mental torture. This movie is famous for being a tough watch.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 70% (good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; Salo: Yesterday and Today, a thirty-three-minute 2002 documentary; Fade to Black, a twenty-three-minute 2001 documentary; The End of Salo, a forty-minute documentary about the film’s production; Video interviews with set designer Dante Ferretti and director and film scholar; Optional English-dubbed soundtrack; Theatrical trailer; PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by Neil Bartlett, Breillat, Naomi Greene & more

Amazon Price: $34.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Harakiri (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
From Japan this week is the 1962 samurai drama Harakiri. Directed by Masaki Kobayashi (Kwaidan), Harakiri is a story set between 1619 to 1630 during the Edo period.

A long period of civil war has fallen over the land. Many samurais are forced into poverty and ritual suicide or hara-kiri (self-inflicted disembowelment) is seen as a honorable way out. Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai) is an elderly warrior who finds out that his son-in-law is forced to take this course of action, using a bamboo sword because he had to sell his real one to support his family.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): N/A
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; Video introduction by Japanese-film historian Donald Richie; Excerpt from a rare Directors Guild of Japan video interview with the director; Video interviews with star Tatsuya Nakadai and screenwriter; Original theatrical trailer; PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Joan Mellen and more!

Amazon Price: $27.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Lion King Trilogy (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
We have already covered The Lion King above as it is Player Affinity’s Recommendation of the Week, but Disney does not know when to stop; The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride is a direct sequel to the original movie focusing on Simba’s conflict with a rival pride as his daughter (Neve Campbell) falls for the son of the other pride. The Lion King 1 ½: Hakuna Matata is a interquel told from the perspective of Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella) as they first meet each other and then Simba, helping him survive in the jungle. Both sequels have the majority of the cast returning to their roles.

The Lion King
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 89% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 10/10

The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): N/A
Player Affinity Score: 6.5/10

The Lion King 1 ½: Hakuna Matata
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 79% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: The Lion King: 4 Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes; Deleted Song; The Morning Report: Extended scene; Never-Before-Seen Bloopers; Disney Second Screen*; Pride of The Lion King; The Lion King: A Memoir- Don Hahn; Disney Sing Along Mode; Interactive Gallery; Audio Commentary; Disney’s Virtual Vault: Classic DVD Features Powered by BD-Live*; The Lion King 2: Timon and Pumbaa’s Insectapedia; “One by One”- Animated Short; Proud of Simba’s Pride; Timon and Pumbaa: Find Out Why; Music Video; The Lion King 1 ½: Timon and Pumbaa’s Vacation Safari; Deleted Scenes; Timon: Behind the Legend; Before the Beginning: The Making of The Lion King 1 ½; Music Video

Amazon Price: $74.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

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