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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 8.3.10)

It is a massive week of DVD and Blu-ray releases, with four new releases and nine re-releases, including two new films featuring the most in-demand child actress Chloe Moretz, a number of respected films (such as Blood Simple, The Breakfast Club and Road to Perdition) and three adaptations of novels.

First Release
Kick-Ass (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Ghost Writer (DVD and Blu-ray)
A Prophet (DVD and Blu-ray)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Release
James and the Giant Peach (DVD and Blu-ray)
Blood Simple (Blu-ray)
– Road to Perdition 
(Blu-ray)
– Kalifornia (Blu-ray)
– Escape from New York (Blu-ray)
– Piranha (Blu-ray)
– The Breakfast Club (Blu-ray)
– Never Say Never Again (Blu-ray)
– Charlie’s Angel (2000) (Blu-ray)


Kick-Ass (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Based on the popular comic book series by Mark Millar (Wanted, Ultimate X-Men), Kick-Ass became an instant fanboy favorite, even though it sadly disappointed at the box office. Produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, it was directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) and written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman (Stardust). Kick-Ass is a unashamedly violent parody of superhero films, particularly Spider-Man. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a typical geeky New York teenager who plans to be a real-life superhero despite having no powers or training. His alter-ego Kick-Ass becomes an Internet sensation, but he ends up in over his head, running into the middle of a conflict between costumed vigilantes Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) with crime-lord Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong). It’s Moretz who really steals the show as the foul-mouthed pre-teen assassin.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 75% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 8.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Matthew Vaughn; “It’s On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass” featurette; “The Art of Kick-Ass” gallery; Marketing Archive

Additional Blu-ray Features: Ass-Kicking Bonus View Mode (Blu-ray Disc Exclusive) – Synchronous with the feature film, this innovative multi-media presentation incorporates video and audio commentary, behind-the-scenes clips and illustrative graphics with Co-Writer/Producer/Director Matthew Vaughn, plus cast and crew providing an all-access perspective on Kick-Ass; “A New Kind of Superhero: The Making of Kick-Ass ” documentary (Blu-ray Disc Exclusive); “It’s On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass” featurette; Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Matthew Vaughn; “The Art of Kick-Ass” gallery; Marketing Archive; BD Touch and Metamenu Remote; Lionsgate Live enabled, featuring extra content for Internet-connected players; Enhanced for D-Box Motion Control Systems

Amazon Price:
$17.99 (DVD), $22.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 3 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 3.5 stars, Extras 4.5 stars, Replay 2.5 stars (out of 5). Recommended

The Ghost Writer (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Ghost Writer is an adaptation of the Richard Harris novel The Ghost. The Ghost Writer is also the first of Harris’ novels where he was involved with the screenwriting process, working closely with writer/director Roman Polanski (The Pianist). The Ghost Writer features an excellent cast including Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting), Pierce Brosnan (Goldeneye) and Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense, An Education) with Brosnan and Williams having to play a thinly disguised Tony and Cherie Blair. The film also won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival.

An unnamed ghost writer (McGregor) is given the plum contract to help finish the upcoming memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Brosnan) and must go to America to complete the book. But while in the States, the International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant on Lang for war crimes. Yet the ghost writer slowly discovers a wider conspiracy beyond that.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes):
84% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: 
An Interview with Roman Polanski; The Ghost Writer: Fiction or Reality?; The Cast of The Ghost Writer

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $26.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

A Prophet (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
A Prophet won 9 Cesers (the French version of the Oscars), the Cannes Grand Prix, BAFTA for Best Film not in the English Language and nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, so has a lot to live up to. Celebrated filmmaker Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) writes and directs and Tahar Rahim stars, with A Prophet being his first major role.

Malik El Djebena (Rahim) is a 19-year-old French-Algerian sent to prison for 6 years. The Unione Corse (Corsican Mafia) force him to murder another Muslim prisoner and he ends up being distrusted by both the Corsican and Muslim prisoners. Yet Malik slowly rises up the ranks of crime in a motion picture that is more than simply a prison film, but is also a story about friendship and racial and religious identity.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes):
97% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features:
N/A

Amazon Price:
$19.99 (DVD), $28.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is an adaptation of Jeff Kinney’s novel of the same name, directed by Thor Freudenthal (Hotel for Dogs). Four writers wrote the screenplay, Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo (That 70’s Show), Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah (90210).  Zachary Gordon leads a young cast as Greg Heffley, a 12-year-old boy who has to go through the trials of middle school and trying to become a class favorite. But Greg’s best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) embarrasses him on the way, his teenage brother Roderick (Devon Bostick of Saw VI) tells him to keep his head down and school newspaper reporter Angie (Chloe Moretz) believes popularity is overrated.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes):
55% (average)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features:
N/A

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $24.99 (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.

James and the Giant Peach (DVD and Blu-ray)

Whats the Deal?
Tim Burton produces this live-action/stop-motion animation adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl children’s novel. Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline) directs with a stellar cast of voice actors, including Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, David Thewlis (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) and Jane Leeves (Frasier).
James (Paul Terry) is a young boy who escapes his two abusive aunts and finds a magic giant peach. With a group of insects, they plan to use the peach as a hot-air balloon to take them from England to somewhere better: New York City.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes):
96% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Production featurette – A look at the making of the film, “Good News” music video performed by Randy Newman, Original theatrical trailer

Additional Blu-ray Features: New BD exclusive: Spike the Aunts interactive game inspired by the game that plays after the end movie credits. Try your hand at spiking the evil aunts with the rhino and ring up major points

Amazon Price: $14.99 (DVD), $24.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):
Content: 4 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 2.5 stars, Replay 3.5 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

Blood Simple (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Coen Brothers are two of the most celebrated filmmakers in the world making classics such as Fargo, The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men. But their filmmaking career started with Blood Simple, an excellent gritty crime thriller. 

Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya) suspects his wife Abby (Frances McDormand) and his bar manager Ray (John Getz) are having an affair. He hires a sleazy private detective Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh) to kill them. But the PI kills Julian, pockets the money and plans to frame the lovers in a film that shows the Coen Brothers’ talents early on.

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $18.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Road to Perdition (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
With a successful theatre career and winning an Oscar for his brilliant debut feature American Beauty, Sam Mendes decided to direct Road to Perdition as his follow-up. Based on a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, David Self (Thirteen Days) adapts the property, and Mendes attracted a talented cast including Tom Hanks, Daniel Craig, Paul Newman and Jude Law.

Michael Sullivan Sr. (Hanks) is a mob enforcer for John Rooney (Newman), an Irish-American gangster in the ’30s. But when Michael’s son (Tyler Hoechlin) sees a brutal gang murder the father and son are forced on the run, with a psychopathic assassin (Law) on their trail. Road to Perdition is not just a gangster film but also a powerful father and son tale.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes):
82% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 9.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: 
Commentary by director Sam Mendes ; Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary by Sam Mendes) ; The Making of Road To Perdition; Sam Mendes Feature Introduction (HD) ; A Cinematic Life: The Art & Influence of Conrad Hall (HD) ; The Library: A Further Exploration of the World of Road To Perdition

Amazon Price: $21.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Kalifornia (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Kalifornia serves as Dominic Sena’s (Swordfish) feature debut, a man known for directing music videos before trying his hand at film. For this tale about serial killers, Sena was able to employ a fine cast including Brad Pitt, David Duchovny (The X-Files), Juliette Lewis (From Dusk til Dawn) and Michelle Forbes (True Blood). But Kalifornia was overshadowed a year later by Natural Born Killers, ironically also starring Lewis.

Brain Kessler (Duchovny) is a psychology graduate who is writing a book about serial killers. He plans to move with his girlfriend Carrie (Forbes) to California and ends up picking up Early Grayce (Pitt) and his girlfriend Adele (Lewis). But unknown to Brain and Carrie, one of their travelling companions is a serial killer.

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $18.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Escape from New York (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
John Carpenter is a master of B-Movies, making films such as Halloween and Assault on Precinct 13. Escape from New York is one of his best known and most loved movies, giving us the character of Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) and an English President of the United States (Donald Pleasence of The Great Escape, You Only Live Twice).

Set in the then-future year of 1997, Manhattan has become a large prison island with the American military guarding against the prisoners. Air Force One crashes in New York and the President is trapped when he is meant to go to a conference with China and the Soviet Union. Only one man can save the President, special forces soldier-turned-criminal, Snake Plissken.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes):
81% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.3/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features:
N/A

Amazon Price:
$18.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):
N/A

The Breakfast Club (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Breakfast Club is the one of the most well-known films by the late John Hughes (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and has become a beloved ’80s classic. It is also considered one of the greatest high school films ever made and stars Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall (Edward Scissorhands), Ally Sheedy (War Games) and Judd Nelson (New Jack City) as the five different students.

The plot of The Breakfast Club is simple: five students from five different cliques (jocks, brains, basketcases, etc…) are made to serve a Saturday detention together where they explore beyond their stereotypes and talk about issues that affect teenagers in this coming of age story.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes):
90% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features:
N/A

Amazon Price: 
$17.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Piranha (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
With a 3-D remake about to be released, there is no better time to cash in on a Blu-ray release of the original film. Piranha was produced by Roger Corman, the King of the B-Movies, the man who gave directors James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese their big break. Piranha was directed by Joe Dante, who ended up directing Gremlins. Made as a parody of Jaws, Piranha replaces a giant great white shark with super-intelligent piranhas created by the American military. When the piranhas escape they become a big threat to a holiday camp and new waterfront theme park.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes):
67% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 5.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Audio Commentary With Director Joe Dante and Producer Jon Davison; Behind-the-Scenes Footage; “The Making of Piranha” Featurette with New Interviews From Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Dick Miller, Belinda Balaski; Bloopers and Outtakes; Piranha Trailer with Commentary by Producer Jon Davison- Courtesy of Trailers From Hell; Stills Gallery With Photos and Posters From Around the World; Behind-the-Scenes Stills Gallery Featuring Photos from Phil Tippett’s Personal Collection; Additional Scenes From the Network Television Version; Radio and TV Spots; New World Trailers

Amazon Price:
$18.99

Score (DVDTalk.com):
N/A

Never Say Never Again (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal
After making Diamonds Are Forever, Sean Connery retired the James Bond role and said he would never play him again. But in 1983, he was lured back for the “unofficial Bond film,” which competed against Octopussy. Irvin Kershner (Stars Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back) directs the film, with Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential), Klaus Maria Brandauer (Out of Africa) and Max von Sydow (The Seventh Seal) starring along side Connery.

An aging Bond is recalled to action for one last mission, when SPECTRE steals two American nuclear missiles and holds the world at ransom. Bond is sent to the Bahamas to stop Blofeld (Von Sydow) and millionaire Maximillian Largo (Brandauer). Never Say Never Again was basically a remake of Thunderball.

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price:
$19.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Charlie’s Angels (2000) (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The original ’70s TV series of Charlie’s Angels was a popular if rather cheesy program. In the ’90s, Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films bought the rights and made it into a blockbuster. Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu star as the Angels, with Bill Murray as Bosley and then-music video director McG (Terminator Salvation) given the directing duties.

With a grand total of eighteen different writers being involved, Charlie’s Angels was a mess with a director who is best directing four-minute segments, but to its credit there are some decent action sequences. The Angels are assigned a mission to find a software genius Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell) who is believed to be kidnapped by a rival industry who wants to steal his voice-recognition system.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes):
67% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 4.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features:
N/A

Amazon Prize:
$16.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com):
N/A

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