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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 11.16.10)

This week’s releases are a real mix of the sublime, the ridiculous and the cash-ins. We get the release of a critically acclaimed indie film, the extended version of the world’s highest grossing film and the continuing tragic decline of a once-promising filmmaker. On the re-release front there is a wide range of classic films and some animated features (which also see the rise of 3D Blu-ray releases).

First Release
The Last Airbender (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Kids are All Right (DVD and Blu-ray)
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (DVD and Blu-ray)
Lottery Ticket (DVD and Blu-ray)
A Christmas Carol 3D (DVD and Blu-ray)
Avatar Extended Edition (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Release
Modern Times (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Night of the Hunter (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Complete Metropolis (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Polar Express 3D (Blu-ray)
Open Season 3D (Blu-ray)
Mutiny on the Bounty (Blu-ray)
Spider-man (Blu-ray)
Spider-man 2 (Blu-ray)

The Last Airbender (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?

What happened to M. Night Shyamalan? This was the man who made The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs but know he seems to be on a mission to torch what little respect his has left. After making two massive flops in a row, Lady in the Water and The Happening, Shyamalan was some how able to convince Paramount Studios to allow him to write and direct an adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, one of Nickelodeon’s most popular cartoons.A young cast was recruited, with newcomer Noah Ringer starring as Aang, Nicola Peltz (Deck the Halls) and Jackson Rathbone (Jasper from the Twilight series), with Dev Patel coming in from the back of the success of Slumdog Millionaire. The Last Airbender was met with accusations of racism, with white actors being cast as Asian characters and the bad guys being played by actors from Indian heritage.

The Last Airbender
is set in a world where people are split into four countries: Water, Earth, Air and Fire and people can control those elements. Only one person can control all four elements at a time, the Avatar, and they keep the world in balance. But the Avatar has been missing for 100-years and the Fire nation has been on the warpath ever seen. When the Avatar, Aang, is found, the Fire nation, lead by Prince Zuko (Patel) attacks the Water tribe. Aang has to use his powers to help defence these people.

In Britain the term bender is a schoolyard, derogatory term for someone who is gay, so you can imagination someone saying a line like “you are a bender” had a very different meaning to British audiences.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 6% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: 3.2/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Closed Caption; Origins of the avatar; Deleted scenes; Outtakes

Additional Blu-ray Features: Disc 1: Blu-ray Feature Film + Special Features; Discovering The Last Airbender HD; Siege Of The North HD ; Origins of the Avatar HD; Katara for a Day HD; Deleted Scenes HD; Outtakes HD; Select Scene Commentary; ; Disc 2: DVD Feature + Digital Copy

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $22.99 (Blu-ray), $26.99 (Blu-ray/DVD combo)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Kids are All Right (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
With the near-universal praise for The Kids are All Right, it is already seen as an early contender for this award season. Lisa Cholodenko (Laurel Canyon) helms a film which she co-wrote with Stuart Blumberg (The Girl Next Door). This independent film was able to attach an impressive cast, Julianne Moore, Annette Bening (American Beauty), Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), Josh Hutcherson (Bridge to Terabithia) and Mark Ruffalo.

Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore) are a Californian lesbian couple who had two children through artificial insemination, Joni (Waskiowska) and Laser (Hutceherson). When Joni turns 18 the children decide to find out who their biological father is, which results in comedy and drama for the family.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 96% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 9.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: The Journey to Forming a Family; The Making of The Kids Are All Right; The Writer’s Process; Feature Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Lisa Cholodenko

Amazon Price: $19.99 (DVD), $27.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
When a sequel to Cats & Dogs was commissioned many people asked one question: why did we need another one? It took nine years for a sequel to be made so most of the fans of the original film would have been too old for this film. Nevertheless a group of top actors offered their voices, including James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Christina Applegate and Bette Midler, with minor roles for Roger Moore, Neil Patrick Harris, J.K. Simmons and Michael Clarke Duncan. Chris O’Donnell was the major human character: his career has gone down really downhill. For director Brad Peyton, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore was his feature debut.

This sequel sees the eternal enemy of felines and k-9s take a new twist when M.E.O.W.S, Kitty Galore (Milder) best agent goes rogue. With this bald kitty becoming a threat to both four-legged animals, cats and dogs form an alliance, with new dog agent Diggs (Marsden) having to work with experienced cat agent Catherine (Applegate) to stop the thinly veiled Bond reference.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 13% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Closed Caption; Looney Tunes Coyote Falls: Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote Star in an All-New Cartoon; ; Sneak Peek at the All New Yogi Bear Theatrical Film

Additional Blu-ray Features: Dog Dishing: Tails from the Bark Side of Hollywood; The Best of the Best Cat vs Dog Animated Showdowns; Meow-Takes: Outtakes and Gag Reel

Amazon Price: $19.99 (DVD), $25.99 (Blu-ray), $30.99 (Blu-ray/DVD combo)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Lottery Ticket (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Ah, Lil Bow Wow, once he was an annoying little rapper, now he has grown up and become an actor (and dropped the “Lil”). After supporting roles in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Entourage, he has now got himself a leading film role. In a predominately African-American film, Bow Wow stars along side Brandon T. Jackson (Tropic Thunder), Naturi Naughton (Notorious), Loretta Devine (Crash) and Ice Cube. Music video director Erik White takes the reigns of this film.

This little comedy sees our hero Kevin Carson (Bow Wow), a typical young man from the Projects, winning $370 million in the lottery. With his new found fame, everyone wants to be Kevin’s friend: the sexy girl, the local gang and even his best friend Benny (Jackson) is suspected of using the young man.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 33% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Speical Features: Additional Scenes

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Lottery ticket: custom kicks; Junior’s guide to the corner store; Everybody’s in: casting for Lottery Ticket; The du-rag model

Amazon Price: $20.49 (DVD), $25.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

A Christmas Carol 3D (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
As stated in last week’s DISCussion, the classic Charles Dickens’ tale A Christmas Carol is one of the most adapted books ever. The most recent version is Robert Zemeckis’ motion capture CGI affair. This film was released last year and is being release now because of the hope of cashing in on the Christmas market. Jim Carrey takes on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts and he was joined by Robin Wright Penn, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Bob Hoskins. This film follows the original storyline of the book but with more action set pieces.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 53% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Capturing A Christmas Carol; On Set With Sammi; Deleted Scenes

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Mr. Scrooge’s Wild Ride (In 3D); Plus All Blu-ray & DVD Bonus Features; Behind The Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience; Digital Advent Calendar; Plus All DVD Bonus Features

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $23.99 (Blu-ray), $27.99 (4-Disc Blu-ray)

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

Avatar Extended Edition (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Fox really knows how to squeeze every penny out of a film’s fans and now it is Avatar’s fans turn to suffer the indignity. Despite Avatar being the most successful film in recent history, Fox thought there was still more money to be made from an Extended Edition that was released this summer in theatres. Now it has come to DVD and Blu-ray, offering 16 minutes more of action, set pieces and creatures in the world of Pandora. But be warned, there may be a full director’s cut, so it may be worth a wait to get a truly definitive version.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): N/A
Player Affinity Score: 8.6/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Original Theatrical Edition (includes family audio track with objectionable language removed); Special Edition Re-release (includes family audio track with objectionable language removed); Collector’s Extended Cut with 16 additional minutes, including alternate opening on earth; Continuation of the movies from the first disc A Message from Pandora; Over 45 minutes of never-before-seen deleted scenes Capturing Avatar documentary

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Disc 2:; Capturing AVATAR: An in-depth feature length documentary covering the filmmaker’s journey including all-new interviews with James Cameron, Jon Landau, cast and crew; Deleted Scenes: Over 45 minutes of never-before-seen deleted scenes and illustrative User’s Guide for viewing the scenes with filmmaker explanation; Production Materials: Behind the scenes and making of Avatar materials; A Message From Pandora; ; Disc 3:; Pandora’s Box: Go deeper into the filmmaking process with over 4 hours of Inside AVATAR materials and footage; Interactive Scene Deconstruction: Explore various stages of production through 3 different viewing modes; Production Featurettes: 17 featurettes covering the Performance Capture, Scoring, 3D fusion Camera, Stunts, and more; AVATAR Archives: Includes original scriptment, 300 page screenplay and extensive Pandorapedia; The Art of AVATAR with over 633 images and much more!; BD-Live Extras Portal: Crew Short: The Night Before Avatar and Raw Footage Production Elements

Amazon Price: $19.99 (DVD), $24.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Modern Times (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Charlie Chaplin is an early example of a filmmaking legend and has a fan base stretching from the 1910s to the modern age. He acted, wrote, directed and produced many of his films and he has a long filmography. Modern Times is one of his most well known films. Paulette Goddard (The Great Dictator) co-stars as the love interest in a satire of the Great Depression and the treatment of the working class. In this slapstick comedy Chaplin plays a factory worker who has fallen smitten for an orphan girl.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 100% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 9/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: New, restored 2K-resolution digital transfer, created in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; New audio commentary by Charlie Chaplin biographer David Robinson; Two new visual essays, by Chaplin historians John Bengtson and Jeffrey Vance; New program on the film’s visual and sound effects, with experts Craig Barron and Ben Burtt; Interview from 1992 with Modern Times music arranger David Raksin, plus a selection from the film’s original orchestral track; Two segments cut from the film; All at Sea (1933), a home movie by Alistair Cooke featuring Chaplin and actress Paulette Goddard, with a new score by Donald Sosin and new interview with Cooke’s daughter, Susan Cooke Kittredge; The Rink (1916), a Chaplin two-reeler; For the First Tim (1967), a short Cuban documentary about first-time moviegoers seeing Modern Times; Chaplin Today: “Modern Times” (2003), a program with filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne; Three theatrical trailers; Plus: a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Saul Austerlitz and a piece by film scholar Lisa Stein that includes excerpts from Chaplin’s writing about his 1930s world tour

Amazon Price: $21.99 (DVD), $29.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Night of the Hunter (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Another release from the Criterion Collection and this week it’s the thriller The Night of the Hunter. Based on a novel by Davis Grubb, actor Charles Laughton becomes a one-time director and co-writer, working with James Agee (The African Queen). Robert Mitchum (The Enemy Below) and Shelley Winters (Lolita, Alfie) star in a film that was only moderate success on its initial release, but now is considered as a model classic.

This dark feature sees Mitchum play Harry Powell, a travelling preacher who marries a fragile widow, Willa (Winters). But her young children find out his real motives.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 98% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Disc One: New Documentary featuring interviews with Producer Paul Gregory, Sanders, Feeney, Jones, and Author Jeffrey Couchman; New Video Interview with Laughton Biographer Simon Callow; Clip from The Ed Sullivan Show in which cast members perform a scene deleted from the film; Fifteen-Minute archival documentary about the film, featuring Robert Mitchum; Archival Interview with Cinematographer Stanley Cortez; Gallery of Sketches by Davis Grubb, author of the source novel; Original Theatrical Trailer; ; Disc Two: Charles Laughton Directs “The Night of the Hunter,” a two-and-half-hour treasure trove of outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage; New Video Conversation Gitt and Film Critic Leonard Maltin about Charles Laughton Directs; ; Plus a Booklet featuring essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Michael Sragow

Amazon Price: $29.99 (DVD), $36.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Complete Metropolis (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Metropolis is easily one of the greatest silent movies ever made and a fantastic piece of sci fi. But the original cut was disliked by critics and the Fritz Lang (M) film was cut for European and American markets. However, the South American distributors liked the original version and a copy of this cut was found in Argentina in 2008. Now it has been fully restored so we can get to enjoy this masterpiece in its full glory.

Set in 2026, a new large city has developed. It is split into two classes, the wealthy managers who run the city whom live in luxury and the downtrodden workers who live underground. With the workers wanting a revolution, their teacher and saint-like figure Maria (Brigitte Helm) tells them to wait for the Mediator to bring peace and unity for the classes. Freder (Gustav Frohlich), the son of the city leader, had fallen in love with Maria and pretends to be a worker to find her. But a mad scientist (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) want to start a revolution for his own ends.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 99% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 10/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Original 1927 score by Gottfried Huppertz, performed by the Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, Berlin, conducted by Frank Strobel, and presented in 5.1 stereo surround.; “Voyage to Metropolis,” a 50-minute documentary on the making and restoration of the film; Interview with Paula Felix-Didier, curator of the Museo del Cine, Buenos Aires, where the missing footage was discovered; 2010 re-release trailer

Amazon Price: $20.99 (DVD), $29.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Polar Express 3D (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Polar Express was one of the first major IMAX releases and was a big experiment in motion capture technology. Based on the popular children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express was Robert Zemeckis’ first attempt at making a motion capture CGI film. His Forest Gump actor Tom Hanks has five roles, with Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids), Nona Gaye (The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions) and Jimmy Bennett (Star Trek) as the starring in children’s roles. The very least anyone can say about The Polar Express is it’s a beautifully animated film.

On Christmas Eve, a young boy (Sabara) stars to loose his faith and belief in Santa Claus. When he is woken up by a magical steam train, the boy is taken onto a magical adventure to the North Pole with other children and a range of strange characters.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 56% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Also Includes the 2-D Version, Playable on Your Standard Blu-ray Player; Special Features in 2-D:; Smokey and Steamer Song Not Seen in Theatres; You Look Familiar: The Many Polar Faces of Tom Hanks; A Genuine Ticket to Ride Documentary Gallery: 5 Featurettes; True Inspirations: An Authors Adventure: Profiling Chris Van Allsburg; Believe: Josh Groban Performs at the Greek Theatre; Behind the Scenes of Believe: Bringing a Hit Song to Magical Life in the Recording Studio; Flurry of Effects Gallery: 5 Motion-Capture Sessions; Snow Angels: The Moviemakers Christmas Memories; Theatrical Trailer

Amazon Price: $26.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

 Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Based on a novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, this version of the events on the real-life Bounty is considered the best version. Frank Lloyd (If I Were King) directs Charles Laughton (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and Clark Gable as Captain William Bligh and First Mater Fletcher Christian. In this version of events, Bligh (Laughton) is a cruel captain for the Royal Navy who abuses power to the extreme, resulting in a mutiny lead by the fine minded Christian (Gable). Mutiny on the Bounty was a popular film but it is not historically accurate.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 93% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: 1935 short Pitcairn Island Today; Academy Awards newsreel; Theatrical trailers of this and the 1962 version

Amazon Price: $25.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 4 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 1.5 stars, Replay 4 stars (out of 5). Highly Recommended.

Spider-man (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The first Spider-man film is a great example of a film going through development hell. It started in development in the 1980s, with a range of B-Movie directors attached it before the great and good of Hollywood wanted to make it, like James Cameron, David Fincher and Chris Columbus. After legal action held up the film, horror comedy specialist and Spider-man fan Sam Raimi directed the film, working with a script by David Koepp (Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds), Scott Rosenberg (Con Air) and veteran writer Alvin Sargent (Ordinary People). Raimi was able to cast respected actors Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe and Rosemary Harris with up-and-coming actors Kirsten Dunst and James Franco. And lest we forget J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson.

This origins story tells how Peter Parker (Maguire) became Spider-man. From being a high-school geek he is bitten by a radioactive spider. When he attempts to woo Mary-Jane Watson (Dunst) and earn money, his uncle is murdered and he vows to protect New York’s civilians. At the same time Norman Osborn (Dafoe) becomes the conflicted villain the Green Goblin.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 89% (excellent)
Player Affiniy Score: 8.5/10

DISC DETAILS

Amazon Price: $18.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Spider-man 2 (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Spider-man 2 is considered one of the greatest sequels made in recent years and a very successful blockbuster on both a commercial and critical level. This improvement on the original film sees all the main players i.e. Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire and Alvin Sargent, return and Alfred Molina joining them as Dr. Octo Octavius AKA Doctor Octopus. Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Miles Miller wrote the story with novelist Michael Chabon.

This sequel sees Peter Parker struggling in his life as a superhero, a working man and a university student. Having lost Mary-Jane Peter sets out to leave the heroics business. But Doctor Octopus has emerged as a new threat to New York, having no regard for human life.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 93% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.7/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Includes Spider-Man 2.1 with additional footage and extended fight sequences not seen in theaters

Amazon Price: $23.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

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