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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 11.08.10)

There is an unremarkable collection of releases this week, with a number of critical and box-office disappointments. But there are some crumbs of comfort, with two comic-book adaptations, a cult sci-fi comedy and an adaptation of a classic Charles Dickens story.

First Release
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (DVD and Blu-ray)
Grown Ups (DVD and Blu-ray)
Charlie St. Cloud (DVD and Blu-ray)
Ramona and Beezus (DVD and Blu-ray)
Antichrist (DVD and Blu-ray)
Love Ranch (DVD and Blu-ray)
Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Release
Highlander II: The Quickening (Blu-ray)
Tremors (Blu-ray)
Ocean’s 11 (1960 (Blu-ray)
A Christmas Carol (1984)(Blu-ray)
Robin-B-Hood (Blu-ray)

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was a box office disappointment, but often times these films (like Kick-Ass) find a second life on DVD and Blu-ray. Based on a comic book series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Edgar Wright took on his first Hollywood film after success with his British films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and he made a live-action comic book and video game. Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead lead the ensemble cast that includes Kieran Culkin (Paper Man), Alison Pill (Milk), Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Ellen Wong and Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) as well as cameos from Chris Evans, Brandon Routh and Thomas Jane.

Scott Pilgrim (Cera) is a 22-year-old unemployed slacker who is in band and going out with a 17-year-old Chinese Catholic schoolgirl, Knives Chau (Wong). But when he falls for the girl of his dreams (literally), Ramona Flowers (Winstead), he is forced into an epic mission to defeat The League of Evil Exes to win her heart.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 80% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Deleted scenes; Scott Pilgrim Vs. the Bloopers; Feature commentaries with cast and crew

Additional Blu-ray Features: The making of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; You too can be sex bob-omb; Music featurette & music videos; Alternate footage; Visual effects; Adult Swim: Scott Pilgrim vs. the animation; Pre-production footage

Amzaon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $25.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Grown Ups (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
2010 has a seen a number of ensemble casts in films, with the likes of The Expandables, RED and Iron Man 2 generating buzz because of the actors involved (though Iron Man 2 was a major franchise film anyway). Comedy also got in on the act with Adam Sandler getting his comic friends together. Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider play five old school friends reunited for a weekend after their old basketball coach dies. Salma Hayek, Maria Bello and Maya Rudolph (Away We Go) play some of the women in the film which was a critically derided feat.

Sandler’s long time director Dennis Dugan (Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan) helms his fifth film with the funnyman. Sandler co-wrote the script with Fred Wolf who has a terrible record, producing screenplays for Black Sheep, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star and Without a Paddle. Despite the critical drubbing Grown Ups received, it still made $270 million and Sandler is going to continuing make more films like this and less films like Punch Drunk Love.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 9% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: 4.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Gag Reel, The Cast of Grown Ups

Additional Blu-ray Features: Laughing is Contagious – Blooper Reel; Gag Reel; The Cast of Grown Ups Featurette; ; Blu-ray; Deleted Scenes; Riff O-Rama; “Dennis Dugan: Hands on Director” Featurette

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $21.99 (Blu-ray), $24.99 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 1 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 2 stars, Replay 1.5 stars (out of 5). Skip it.

Charlie St. Cloud (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
After establishing himself as a superstar in the High School Musical trilogy and 17 Again, Zac Efron is hoping use his stardom to make more serious, independent films. Based on the novel The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood, Efron plays the title character and is joined by Kim Basinger, Ray Liotta, Amanda Crew (The Haunting in Connecticut) and Charlie Tahan (I Am Legend). Australian Craig Pearce (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rogue) wrote the script and it was his first piece of work without Baz Luhrmann. 17 Again director Burr Steers handles his second project with Efron.

Charlie St. Cloud is a intelligent 17-year-old student and sailor who has earned himself a scholarship to Stanford. He makes a promise to his younger brother Sam (Tahan) that he will play baseball everyday before he goes to university. But when his brother dies in an accident, Charlie works in a cemetery, playing with Sam’s ghost. When a girl, Tess (Crew) comes into Charlie’s life, he is forced to choose between her and his promise to his brother. British critics compared Charlie St. Cloud to the Twilight series, but if anything its plot is more closer to The Lovely Bones.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 27% (bad)
Player Affinity Score: 5.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Additional Blu-ray Features: Deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Burr Steers; On location with Zac Efron; Zac Efron, leading man; Feature commentary with director Burr Steers

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $24.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):  Content: 2 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 3 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Rent it.

Ramona and Beezus (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Ramona and Beezus is an adaptation of Beverly Cleary’s popular Ramona series of children’s novels. Made with a low budget, Ramona and Beezus faced up to Inception, Salt and Despicable Me and served as no challenge to that fare. Elizabeth Allen (Aquamarine) helms her second film, working with a screenplay by Laurie Craig (Paulie) and Nick Pustay. Joey King and Selena Gomez play the sisters.

Ramona and Beezus tells the story of Ramona (King), a 9-year-old girl with a big imagination which often gets her in trouble and her older sister Beezus (Gomez) who sets out to survive her first year of high school. Both girls go through the trials of growing up in a loving family and see the wonders of childhood.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 71% (good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Gag Reel; Deleted Scenes; My Ramona with Author Beverly Cleary; Show & Tell Film School – Tips and tricks on how kids can make their own movie

Additional Blu-ray Features: Show & Tell Film School; A Day in the Life of Joey King

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $27.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 2.5 stars, Video 0 stars, Audio 0 stars, Extras 2.5 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Rent it.

Antichrist (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Danish director Lars Von Trier is a very controversial figure, with films such as Dogville and Manderlay being loved and hated in equal measure. Von Trier has been criticized for being a misogynist and Antichrist was met with similar complaints. Only two actors appear in this film, Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg (21 Grams), with Gainsbourg winning the award for best actress in Cannes in 2009.

After their son dies a grief stricken couple go to a cabin deep in the woods. With the man (Dafoe) attempting psychotherapy on his wife, the two only find terror and violence when alone. 

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 48% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 3.5/10

DVD Special Features: New, restored high-definition digital transfer; Audio commentary by von Trier and professor Murray Smith; Video interviews with von Trier and actors Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg; A collection of video pieces delving into the production of Antichrist ;”Chaos Reigns at the Cannes Film Festival 2009,” a documentary; Three theatrical trailers; PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Ian Christie

Amazon Price: $23.49 (DVD), $29.49 (Blu-ray)

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

Love Ranch (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Love Ranch was a massive failure of a film that made only $91,716 and is getting a direct-to-DVD release in many parts of the world. Based on the lives of Joe and Sally Conforte, Taylor Hackford (Ray) directs his wife Helen Mirren in a tale of brothel ownership in the city of sin. Based on the story of the Mustang Ranch, the first legal brothel in Nevada, Joe Pesci returns to acting after a 12-year absence (with the exception for a cameo in The Good Shepherd) and is working with Bryan Cranston (Little Miss Sunshine), Gina Gershon (P.S. I Love You) and Scout Taylor-Compton (The Runaways). This film focuses on the married couple (Mirren and Pesci) who run the facility and the affair Grace Bontempo has with boxer Bruza (Sergio Peris-Mencheta).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 12% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Audio commentary with director Taylor Hackford; Introduction by Taylor Hackford and Helen Mirren; Deleted scenes with optional commentary

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

Score (DVDTalk.com):  Content: 2 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 3.5 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Rent It.

Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
DC Comics and Warner Brothers assault on the world of animation continues, this time giving us four shorts involving everyone’s favourite Kyptonian fighting with Captain Marvel against the powerful foe Black Adam. Television writer Michael Jelenic (Woman Woman) wrote the shorts with television director and artist Joaquim Dos Santos (Avatar: the Last Airbender, G.I. Joe: Resolute) adapting his work. George Newbern respires his role as Superman from Justice League, Jerry O’Connell (Piranha 3-D) playing Captain Marvel and Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy, 24, Blood Diamond) continues his career as a villain and voices Black Adam.

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Bruce Timm presents 4 bonus cartoons featuring Green Arrow, Jonah Hex, Shazam! and the Spectre

Additional Blu-ray Features: Commentary on all 4 shorts by executive producer and key creative team members

Amazon Price: $13.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Highlander II: The Quickening (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Highlander II: The Quickening is a remarkable film, for the all the wrong reasons. The original Highlander became a cult hit and therefore seemed ripe for a sequel. Russell Mulcahy returns as the director and Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery respire their roles. Virginia Madsen (Candyman) and Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers) join the cast in a film that has achieved a rare 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In the future, the world’s ozone layer has been depleted and disappears. Connor MacLeod (Lambert) creates a shield to protect Earth, but when an evil cartel takes control of the shield, Connor, along with Ramirez (Connery) and scientist Louise Marcus (Madsen) set out to destroy the cartel and save the Earth.

Besides from the rubbish story and the critical mauling, Highlander II – The Quickening suffered major production problems. It was filmed in Argentina at a time when that nation’s economy tanked and hatred amongst the British and Argentine crew (all part of the aftermath of the Falklands War). The bonding company had final cut and Mulcahy ended up walking out of the premier after 15 minutes.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 0% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: 2.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: “Highlander 2: Seduced by Argentina” documentaries ; “The Redemption of Highlander 2”; “The Music of Highlander 2” ; “The Fabric of Highlander 2” ; “Shadow & Darkness: The cinematography of Highlander 2”; Deleted scenes; Original Cannes festival promotional reel; Original theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $16.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 2.5 stars, Video 3 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 4 stars, Replay 2.5 stars (out of 5). Rent it.

Tremors (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The sci-fi horror comedy Tremors had become a cult classic over the years, spawning two sequels, a prequel and a TV series. This film serves as the directorial debut for Ron Underwood (City Slickers) and was the highlight of writing partners Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson’s careers. Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward (The Player), Finn Carter (Ghost of Mississippi), Reba McEintire and Michael Gross star.

A small isolated town in Nevada starts to suffer strange seismic activity caused by an underground monster.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 88% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 6.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: The making of Tremors; Outtakes; Featurette; Star profiles: Kevin Bacon, Michael Gross and Reba McEntire; D-box motion enabled; Blu-ray exclusive: Access the BD-Live center through your internet-connected Blu-ray player and get even more bonus content, the lastest trailers and more!

Amazon Price: $20.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Ocean’s 11 (1960) (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Ocean’s 11 was a popular film in 1960 and served as a vehicle for the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.) to star in. The 1960 version was directed by Lewis Milestone (All Quiet on the Western Front) near the end of his career. Peter Lawford (Exodus), Joey Bishop (Delta Force) and Angie Dickinson (Rio Bravo) join the singers in this heist film. Ocean’s 11 was of course remade by Steven Soderbergh and became a popular film series.

A gang of World War II veterans are recruited by Danny Ocean (Sinatra) and Jimmy Foster (Lawford) to rob five of Las Vegas’ biggest casinos in one night. They develop a complex plan but everything is put at risk after the robbery is over.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 48% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Commentary by Frank Sinatra Jr. and Angie Dickinson; Interactive Las Vegas then and now map; Casino vignettes; The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson excerpt featuring guest host Frank Sinatra and guest Angie Dickinson; Theatrical trailerAmazon Price: $19.99 (Blu-ray)

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

A Christmas Carol (1984) (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
A Christmas Carol is one of Charles Dickens’ famous stories and it has been adapted numerous times from live-action efforts to animated tales to stories within popular television shows. George C. Scott (Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) stars as Ebenezer Scrooge and is joined by Frank Finlay (The Three Musketeers series), David Warner (Tron), Angela Pleasence (The Six Wives of Henry VIII) and Susannah York (Superman). This American TV Movie was critically well received upon it’s first release and considered one of the best adaptations of the story, following the storyline of the original story very closely.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): N/A
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $20.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Robin-B-Hood (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Jackie Chan is in his 50s, but he is still going strong considering his career in the action-comedy genre. Jackie Chan reunites with his New Police Story director Benny Chan (no relation), Louis Koo (Election), Michael Hui, Charlene Choi and Gao Yuan Yuan (Beijing Bicycle).

Fong Ka Ho (Jackie Chan) is a compulsive gambler who is hounded by his debtors. His landlord (Hui) gets Ka Ho involved in a crazy heist and ends up kidnapping the grandson of a billionaire tycoon. Their crime is complicated when the criminal has to keep the baby for longer then he expects.

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Speical Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $16.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

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