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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 8.2.11)

Player Affinity’s Recommendation of the Week is the independent vampire movie Stake Land, a thrilling combination of horror and the apocalypse that promises gritty action and violence.

First Releases
Rio (DVD and Blu-ray)
Soul Surfer (DVD and Blu-ray)
Stake Land (DVD and Blu-ray)
Outside the Law (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Music Never Stopped (DVD)

Re-Releases
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Blu-ray)
Sleepers (Blu-ray)
Better Off Dead (Blu-ray)
Conan the Barbarian (Blu-ray)
Conan the Destroyer (Blu-ray)
The Name of the Rose (Blu-ray)
Copycat (Blu-ray)

Stake Land (DVD and Blu-ray) *Recommendation of the Week*

What’s the Deal?
Vampires are in vogue at the moment thanks to the “Twilight” saga. Stake Land aims to make vampires cooler. A gritty, violent movie that mixes horror and post-apocalyptical fiction, this low-budget flick is helmed by Jim Mickle and stars Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl), Nick Damici (World Trade Center), Danielle Harris (Halloween, 2007) and Kelly McGillis (Top Gun). Stake Land won the Midnight Madness Award at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.

Vampires have taken over America. Martin (Paolo) is a young man in search of New Eden, a safe place. Martin has to avoid the vampires and his only form of protector is the mysterious vampire hunter, Mister (Damici).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 78% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: 2 Feature-Length Cast and Crew Commentaries – Jim Mickle, Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Larry Fessenden, Brent Kunkle; Jim Mickle, Peter Phok, Adam Folk, Ryan Samul, Graham Reznick, Jeff Grace; ; Going For The Throat: The Making of Stake Land by Eric Stanze; ; Character Prequels: 7 Short Films from Directors Larry Fessenden, Danielle Harris, Glenn McQuaid, JT Petty, Graham Reznick; ; Video Diaries by Jim Mickle: Pre-Production-Storyboards-Visual FX-Post Production; Toronto International Film Festival Premiere And Q&A

Amazon Price: $10.99 (DVD), $13.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The other first releases of the week are mostly smaller, lower budget, with the exception of the animated hit Rio. The majority of Blu-ray re-releases are from the 1980s (thanks to 30th anniversary editions and the like), including comedy hits Ferries Bueller’s Day OffBetter Off Dead and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Conan” movies. 

Rio (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Rio was the first of two April releases set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Rio was directed by Carlos Salanha (the “Ice Age” trilogy) and animated by 20th Century Fox’s  Blue Sky Studio with voice stars Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), Jamie Fox, will.i.am and Rodrigo Santoro (300).

Blu (Eisenberg) is a Spix’s Macaw who was taken from the wilds of the Amazon Rainforest and brought to the snowy climes of Moose Lake, Minn. He is adopted and loved by his owner, Linda (Leslie Mann). A Brazilian ornithologist named Tulio (Santoro) finds them and tells Linda Blu is the last male of his specie and wants to bring them to Brazil so he could breed with Jewel (Hathaway), the last female. In Rio de Janeiro, however, a gangster wants to sell both birds. Blu and Jewel end up lost in the city with a psychopathic cockatoo, Nigel (Clement) chasing them.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 72% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 6.7/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Deleted Scenes; Welcome to Rio Music Video; Rio de JAM-eiro Jukebox; Taio Cruz – Telling the World Music Video

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Explore the World of Rio; Saving the Species: One Voice at a Time; The Making of Hot Wings; Boom-Boom Tish-Tish: The Sounds of Rio; Carnival Dance-O-Rama; Taio Cruz – Telling the World Music Video; Postcards from Rio; The Real Rio; Theatrical Trailer

Amazon Price: $14.99 (DVD), $25.99 (Blu-ray), $31.49 (2-Disc DVD)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 3 stars, Video 0 stars, Audio 0 stars, Extras 2.5 stars, Replay 2 stars (out of 5). Rent It.

Soul Surfer (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
From the director of Bratz: The Movie and Raise Your Voice, Sean McNamara finally makes a half-decent movie. Based on the autography by Bethany Hamilton, teenage actress AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia) plays the promising surfer who loses one of her arms from a shark bite. With support of her parents (Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt) and her Christian faith, she recovers from her injury and continues surfing.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 50% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Deleted Scenes; The Making of Soul Surfer; Surfing for the Screen: Inside the Action; Becoming Bethany; Heart of a Soul Surfer; Documentary; Bethany Hamilton On Professional Surfing

Amazon Price: $15.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Outside the Law (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Directed by Rachid Bouchareb (Days of Glory), Outside the Law premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in Algeria. Outside the Law is about three brothers from the 1945 Setif Massacre who seek Algeria’s independence. Messaoud (Roschdy Zem) joins the French army and ends up serving in Indochina, Said (Jamel Debbouze) becomes a leader of the Algerian Independence movement and Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) enters into the French criminal underworld.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 76% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Feature: N/A

Amazon Price: $22.49 (DVD), $24.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Music Never Spotted (DVD)

What’s the Deal?
J.K. Simmons truly is a great actor, whether playing a neo-Nazi in Oz, J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy or appearing in movies Juno and Burn After Reading. The independent movie The Music Never Stopped is based on an essay by Oliver Sacks, the author of Awakenings, and helmed by first time director Jim Kohlberg. Also featured are Julia Ormond (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Mia Maestro (Frida) and Lou Taylor Pucci (Carriers).

The Music Never Stopped
is a father and son drama about Henry Sawyer (Simmons), who struggles to bond with his estranged son, Gabriel (Pucci), who later suffers from a brain tumor that prevents him from making new memories. The only way they can connect is through music.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 65% (good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Audio Commentary with Director Jim Kohlberg; ; Interviews with Author Oliver Sacks; Cast Interviews; Deleted Scenes; Trailers

Amazon Price: $19.99 (DVD)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
One of John Hughes’ best-known movies is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off starring Mattew Broderick, Alan Ruck (Spin City), Jennifer Gray (Dirty Dancing) and Mia Sara (Timecop).

Ferris Bueller is a Chicago high school teenager who skips school with his best friends Cameron (Ruck) and Sloane (Sara). They enjoy the day off together. Dean of Students (Jeffrey Jones) is determined to catch them.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 83% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Getting the class together: the cast of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; The making of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Who is Ferris Bueller?; The world according to Ben Stein; Vintage Ferris Bueller: the lost tapes; Class album

Amazon Price: $13.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Sleepers (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Barry Levinson made good movies like Good Morning Vietnam and Rain Man, but also made some weak ones like Toys and Sphere. Sleepers is one of Levinson’s best movie. Based on a controversial book by Lorenzo Carcaterra, Sleepers stars Kevin Bacon, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Brad Pitt, Minnie Driver, Jason Patric (The Losers) and Brad Renfro (Apt Pupil).

Starting the mid ’60s, Lorenzo “Shakes” (Joesph Perrino), Michael (Renfro), Tommy (Jonathan Tucker) and John (Geoffrey Wigdor) are four friends who live in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, an area dominated by organized crime and Catholicism. After nearly killing a hot dog vendor, the boys are sent to a youth correctional facility where they are abused and raped by some of the guards. Fast forward 14 years later, these men have the chance to get revenge and humiliate them through the courts.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 73% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Better Off Dead (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The other comedy movie of 1985 this week is Better Off Dead. Starring John Cusack, Better Off Dead was the directorial debut for TV director Savage Steve Holland (Lizzie McGuire) about a suburbia high school student named Lane Meyer who is rejected from his school’s ski team, his girlfriend dumps him for the team captain and his best friend is hooked on drugs. Lane plans to end it all but has a change of heart when French beauty Monique (Diane Franklin) enters the picture.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 81% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 5.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $16.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Conan the Barbarian (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
With the new Conan the Barbarian movie about to enter theaters, Fox knows there is no better way to cash in on the existing movies by issuing Blu-ray re-releases. Loosely based on the fantasy stories of Robert E. Howard, Conan the Barbarian was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s breakout role prior to The Terminator. Directed by John Milius (Red Dawn), Conan the Barbarian had an interesting combination of writers: Milius, a right-wing nut who believes in expanded gun rights, the military and was a staunch anti-Communist and Oliver Stone, a left-wing conspiracy theorist who thinks the Industrial-Military complex controls America, resulting in the assassination of JFK and the Vietnam War.

Conan was a boy who was forced into slavery after his village is attacked by a snake cult lead by Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones). When Conan becomes a strong man and a successful gladiator, he is able to buy his freedom. He investigates the snake cult and King Osric of Ophic (Max von Sydow) asks him to free his daughter from them. But what Conan wants most of all is revenge for his family and village.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes):
77% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Deleted Scenes; Conan Unchained: The Making of Conan the Barbarian; Special Effects; The Conan Archives; Feature Commentary with Director John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Amazon Price: $17.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Conan the Destroyer (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Despite Conan the Barbarian being a moderate success, many members of middle America and family groups were upset that this seemingly fun fantasy movie was a very violent affair. For Conan the Destroyer the studio wanted a more family friendly movie and John Milius was booted off the series. Richard Fleischer (Superman II) replaced him and joining Schwarzenegger was Grace Jones (A View to a Kill) and Olivia d’Abo (Star Wars: The Clone Wars).

This sequel sees Conan lead a group of warriors, magical folk and thieves to escort a virgin princess (d’Aro) and on the way have to battle wizards, monsters, evil armies and the evil Queen Taramis (Sarah Douglas).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 29% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 5.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Theatrical Trailer; D-Box Motion Enabled

Amazon Price: $18.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 3 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 0.5 stars, Replay 2.5 stars (out of 5). Rent It.

The Name of the Rose (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Based on a Italian novel by Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose is a truly international affair produced by Germans, the French and Italians including Bernd Eichinger (Downfall), director Jean-Jacques Annaud (Quest for Fire, Seven Years in Tibet) and written by English and French writers. It stars a Scotsman and an young American actor, Sean Connery and Christian Slater.

The Name of the Rose is a historical film and mystery set in 14th Century Italy. In a Benedictine Abbey there is a mysterious death and the monks believe it is a sign of the apocalypse. Luckily, a Franciscan monk and talented investigator, William of Baskerville (Connery) and his young assistant Adso (Slater), believe there is a more logical explanation. But as they investigate, more deaths begin to occur.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 74% (good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Vintage making-of documentary The Abbey of Crime: Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose; Commentary by director Jean-Jacques Annaud in both English and French with subtitles; Photo video journey with Jean-Jacques Annaud; Theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $13.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Copycat (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Se7en was the big serial killer movie of 1995, but it was not the only one. Jon Amiel’s (Creation) Copycat is also a decent movie with the likes of Holly Hunter, Sigourney Weaver and Dermot Mulroney (Zodiac) as they hunt a serial killer who copies the methods of famous serial killers like The Hillside Strangler and Ted Bundy. Hunter and Mulroney play the investigating officers whiles Weaver is Dr. Helen Hudson, an agoraphobic criminal profiler who was attacked by another killer. God, San Francisco is a tough place to live.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 75% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Commentary by director Jon Amiel; Theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

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