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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 3.22.11)

It is a disappointing week for new releases, all being either critical or commercial failures or even both. Luckily there are a number of top re-releases, with Stand by Me being the pick of the bunch. The Times of Harvey Milk, Our Hospitality and The Sandlot are also major highlights this week.

First Release
The Tourist (DVD and Blu-ray)
Yogi Bear (DVD and Blu-ray)
How Do You Know (DVD and Blu-ray)
Skyline (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Release
The Times of Harvey Milk (DVD and Blu-ray)
Our Hospitality (DVD and Blu-ray)
Stand by Me (Blu-ray)
Awakenings (Blu-ray)
The Sandlot (Blu-ray)
– Robots (Blu-ray)
Anastasia (Blu-ray)

The Tourist (DVD and Blu-ray) 

What’s the Deal?
The Tourist should have had everything going for it: Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie starring in it with Paul Bettany in support, directed by a top European director in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others) and a script by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park). But it was met with a bad critical reception and poor domestic box-office numbers (but did better on the international market).

Frank (Depp) is an American math teacher on a train from Paris to Venice where he meets a beautiful thief, Elise (Jolie). Elise sets Frank up which forces him into a world of international crime and espionage, with Interpol agent John Acheson (Bettany) after him.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 20% (very bad)
Player Affinty Score: 4.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Outtake reel ; Alternate animated title sequence ; Director commentary ; A Gala Affair; Bringing Glamour Back

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Action in Venice; Tourist Destination; Canal Chats; movieIQ + Sync

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray), $22.99 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

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

Yogi Bear (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Hollywood does love to make live-action films of popular childhood characters: Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo and the upcoming “Smurfs” film. Yogi Bear was a popular Hanna-Barbera cartoon in the ’60s. Eric Brevig (Journey to the Center of the World 3D) took on the project and Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake provided the voices for Yogi and Boo Boo. Anna Faris, Tom Cavanagh (Ed) and T.J. Miller (Cloverfield) play the “humans.“

Yellowstone Park is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary, but the park has been losing money for years. The mayor is willing to sell the land to logging company and forces Yogi, Boo Boo and Ranger Smith (Cavanagh) to find a way to save the park. Surely the easiest way to do that would be to advertise that the park has two talking bears.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 14% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: 2.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Jellystone Park Jewels: Litterbug and Yogi’s Secret Hiding Spot: Tips from Ranger Jones (T.J. Miller) on Park Visitor Etiquette and an Particular Bear’s Favorite Park Hideaway; ; Yogi Bear Mashup: Fun Yogi and Boo Boo Moments – Then and Now – from the Classic Animated Series to Their New Movie

Amazon Price: $15.49 (DVD), $24.99 (Blu-ray), $29.99 (3D Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 3 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 2.5 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

How Do You Know (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
If you are looking for an example of a box-office flop, look no further then How Do You Know: it had a $120-million budget and only made $42 million at box office. Written and directed by the once-legendary James L. Brooks (Broadcast News), How Do You Know stars Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson, and even has a Hans Zimmer score and Steven Spielberg’s longtime cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. Well, now you can see where the money went other than Witherspoon’s paycheck.

This rom-com sets out to sympathise with rich people. Lisa (Witherspoon) is a softball player on the US team, who was dropped when she turned 30. She is dating Matty (Owen Wilson), a Major League pitcher who lives in Washington D.C.. George (Rudd) is a man who works for his father (Nicholson) and has an instant spark with Lisa, but obviously can not date her because her relationship.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 30% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 1.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Blooper Reel; Deleted Scenes; “Extra Innings”; Making-Of; Commentary with Filmmakers

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Exclusives; Over 19 Minutes of Additional Deleted Scenes; A Conversation with James L. Brooks and Hans Zimmer

Amazon Price: $15.99 (DVD), $18.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 1 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 2.5 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Skip It.

Skyline (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Brothers Strause where famous for being special effects wizards, working blockbusters from Titanic to X-Men: The Last Stand. But their directorial debut Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem was critically derided and disliked by film fans. The Brothers Strause blame Fox for interfering and set to make a big sci-fi film outside the Hollywood system. With a low budget of no more then $20 million, Skyline stars Eric Balfour (24), Scottie Thompson (NCIS) and Donald Faison (Turk from Scrubs) and excellent special effects.

Mysterious blue lights appear in the night sky and a group of friends in an Los Angeles apartment see alien spacecraft hovering not just over LA but all over the world. Seeing that people are being sucked up into the ships, the friends debate on whether they should stay and wait for help or try and run away from the city.

Controversy arose when Sony threatened to sue Strauses because their company worked on Battle: Los Angeles and that they used special effects from the for Skyline.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 16% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: 4.2/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Deleted and Extended Scenes; Alternate Scenes; Pre-Visualization; Feature Commentary with Directors Greg and Colin Strause; Feature Commentary with Co-Writer/Producer Liam O’Donnell and Co-Writer Joshua Cordes

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Deleted and Extended Scenes; Alternate Scenes; Pre-Visualization; D-Box Enabled

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 1.5 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 3.5 stars, Replay 1 stars (out of 5). Rent It.

The Times of Harvey Milk (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Harvey Milk was famous for being the first openly gay man to be elected into a major political office and his story was expertly dramatized by Gus van Sant and Sean Penn. But before Milk was released there was the Oscar- and Sundance-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk. This documentary tells both the political career of Harvey Milk and the political and social climate his was working in.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 100% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Disc one:; Audio commentary featuring director Robert Epstein, coeditor Deborah Hoffmann, and photographer Daniel Nicoletta ; Interview clips not used in the film; Original theatrical trailer; Disc two:; New interview with documentary filmmaker Jon Else; New program about The Times of Harvey Milk and Gus Van Sant’s Milk, featuring Epstein, Van Sant, actor James Franco, and Milk friends Cleve Jones, Anne Kronenberg, and Nicoletta ; Rare collection of audio and video recordings of Milk ; Excerpts from Epstein’s research tapes, featuring Milk partner Scott Smith; Footage from the film’s Castro Theatre premiere and the 1984 academy awards ; Panel discussion on supervisor Dan White’s trial; Excerpts from the twenty-fifth anniversary commemoration of Milk’s and Mayor George Moscone’s assassinations

Amazon Price: $21.99 (DVD), $27.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Our Hospitality (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Buster Keaton was recognized as one of the great stars of the silent era and Our Hospitality is one his best-known films. Now the Ultimate Edition is coming onto DVD and Blu-ray. Our Hospitality is a historical comedy, where Willie McKay (Keaton) discovers he has a family inheritance, but disappointed when he finds out it is only a shack. It gets worst for Willie when he falls for a local woman (Keaton’s wife Natalie Talmadge) and ends up in the middle of a family feud.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 100% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $26.99 (DVD), $25.99 (Blu-ray)

Stand By Me (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Many of Stephen King’s stories have been made into great films, The Shining, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and Carrie. Stand By Me is a classic coming-of-age story that was Rob Reiner’s first adaptation of a King story (the other one being Misery, which I recommend). Stand By Me featured a cast of child actors featuring Will Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation), River Phoenix, Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys), Jerry O’Connell (Piranha 3D) and Kiefer Sutherland.

Based on the novella The Body, Stand By Me is the story about four boys on the edge of adolescence in the 1950s. They go on a journey into the woods, looking for adventure, but end up finding more about each other and themselves than they imagined.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 94% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 9.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: 25 Years Later: A Picture-In-Picture Commentary Retrospective With Director Rob Reiner and Actors Wil Wheaton & Corey Feldman; Walking The Tracks: The Summer Of Stand By Me; Audio Commentary with Director Ron Reiner; Stand By Me Music Video

Amazon Price: $17.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Awakenings (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Remember the days when Robert De Niro was good? They were magical and the late ’80s and ’90s saw him in films like Midnight Run, Goodfellas and Cape Fear. Awakenings is part of this period in his career and he stars along side Robin Williams in serious mode (I personally wish he did more serious roles). Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, American Gangster) adapted the non-fiction book Awakenings by Oliver Sacks and Penny Marshall (Big) directed the film which was nominated for three Academy Awards.

Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Williams) is a neurologist who creates a new drug to wake patients suffering from a mysterious sleeping illness. Leonard (De Niro) the first patient to receive the drug after being a coma for 30 years. The relationship between the men is not just doctor and patient but also as friends.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 90% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $13.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Sandlot (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
David M. Evans has a terrible record as a writer/director, making films like Beethoven’s 3rd, Beethoven 4th and Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective. But Evans is also an example that every hack does has some potential, with The Sandlot scoring 7.5 out of 10 on IMDB.

Tom Guiry (Mystic River) plays Scotty Smalls, a kid who has just moved into a new neighbourhood. He tries to join a local baseball team but is laughed at by them. Luckily the team’s best player Benny (Mike Vitar, D2: The Mighty Ducks, D3: The Mighty Ducks) teaches Scotty to improve his ability and their friendship begins.

Critic Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 63% (good)
Player Affinity: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Featurette; Theatrical Trailer; TV Spots

Amazon Price: $17.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Robots (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Fox animated features have not been as memorable as Pixar or Dreamworks features, but they have been financially successful and rarely been terrible. The directors of Ice Age, Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha, made this colourful animated adventure with a big-name voice cast: Ewan McGregor, Robin Williams, Greg Kinnear, Halle Berry, Mel Brooks and Amanda Bynes.

Rodney Copperbottom (McGregor) is a young robot with ambitions to be an inventor. When he finds out his father (Stanley Tucci) is sick, Rodney goes to Robot City to sell his inventions to his idol, Bigweld (Brooks). But all is not well with a robot (Kinnear) planning a boardroom coup and making a cartel to sell expensive upgrades.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 64% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 6.7/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Audio Commentary by Blue Sky; Aunt Fanny’s Tour of Booty; The Voices of Robots; Music Video; Three Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary

Amazon Price: $17.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Anastasia (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Don Bluth is recognized for making some excellent animated films like The Secret of NIMH and An American Tale, but by the ’90s his talents started to wane. The 1997 Anastasia was considered a return to form for Bluth and his partner Gary Goldman. In fact, many of your friends will still be convinced this is a Disney film. Anastasia features a top voice cast: Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd and Hank Azaria.

Anastasia (Ryan) is the last surviving member of the Romanov ruling family after the October Revolution and she’s suffering from amnesia. Two men, Dimitri (Cusack) and Vladimir (Grammer) find the teen and plan to take her to Paris for a reward from her grandmother. But the evil magician Rasputin (Lloyd) wants to stop her as the final part of his revenge against the Romanovs.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 86% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Audio Commentary by Directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman; Sing-A-Longs Anastasia’s Music Box; Favorites Russian Stacking Doll Game; Anastasia’s Seek and Find Bartok the Magnificent; How to Draw with Don Bluth; The Making of Anastasia; Anastasia: A Magical Journey; Making of “Journey to the Past” Music Video; Music Video: “Journey to the Past” by Aaliyah; Trailers and TV Spots

Amazon Price: $21.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

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