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DISCussion: What’s New on DVD/Blu-ray (6.5.12)

Fans of gangster movies and Martin Scorsese will pleased with our Recommendation of the Week: the Blu-ray rerelease of the 1995 hit Casino, which beat a lot of stiff competition including rereleases of Hoosiers, The Grapes of Wrath, Scent of a Woman and Best Picture winner The Sting.

First Release
John Carter (DVD and Blu-ray)
Safe House (DVD and Blu-ray)
Act of Valor (DVD and Blu-ray)
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (DVD and Blu-ray)
Machine Gun Preacher (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Release
The Sting (1973) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Yellow Submarine (1968) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Erin Brockovich (2000) (Blu-ray)
King Kong (2005) (Blu-ray)
Casino (1995) (Blu-ray)
Ransom (1996) (Blu-ray)
Scent of a Woman (1992) (Blu-ray)
Hoosiers (1986) (Blu-ray)
The Color of Money (1986) (Blu-ray)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940) (Blu-ray)
Hondo (1940) (Blu-ray)
Zorba the Greek (1964) (Blu-ray)
The Big Lebowski (1998) (Blu-ray)
Spartacus (1960) (Blu-ray)
United 93 (2006) (Blu-ray)

Casino (1995) (Blu-ray) *Recommendation of the Week*

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese (screenplay), Nicholas Pileggi (book)
Starring: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone

What’s the Deal?
Sometimes dismissed as “Goodfellas 2,” Casino was Scorsese’s follow up gangster project, but it is a excellent movie in its own right as Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein (Robert De Niro) runs the Mafia’s Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas during the ’70s and ’80s.

Vegas is changing with brutal mob enforcer Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) becomes the city’s first gangster and brings violence to the home of gambling. Ace’s personal life is not much better with his wife Ginger (Sharon Stone) being continually drawn to her scumbag of an ex-boyfriend (James Woods).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 80% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 9.2/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Feature Audio Commentary – Moments with Martin Scorsese, Sharon Stone, Nicholas Pileggi and More; Deleted Scenes; Vegas and the Mob; History Alive: True Crime Authors: Casino With Nicholas Pileggi (The History Channel); U Control Turtorial Static Images; U Control Picture In Picture; My Scenes

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

It truly is a massive week of DVD and Blu-ray releases that should please all tastes from Disney’s ambitious flop John Carter, military propaganda in the form of Act of Valor and a handful of rereleases including The Sting, Erin Brockovich and Peter Jackson’s King Kong.

John Carter (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Andrew Stanton
Written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon (screenplay), Edgar Rice Burroughs (novel)
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong, Dominic West

What’s the Deal?
John Carter recently became notorious for being one of the biggest flops in cinematic history. It caused Disney a loss of $161 million and resulting in Rich Ross’ resignation at Walt Disney Studios. It is also one of two North Ameircan flops that Taylor Kitsch starred in, the other being Battleship.

Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars — the precursor for most modern sci fi — John Carter (Kitsch) is a Civil War veteran who ends up transported to the dying planet of Barsoom, or Mars as we know it. The planet is dominated by the 12-foot Tharks, but on Barsoom John Carter has super strength and super jumping abilities and is seen as the survivor of the planet who can unite the warring factions.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 52% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 6.5/10 (read our review)

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Disney Second Screen; 360 Degrees of John Carter; Deleted Scene with Option Commentary by Director Andrew Stanton;  Barsoom Bloopers; 100 Years in the Making; Audio Commentary with Film Makers

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray), $24.99 (3D Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 1.5 stars, Video 5 stars, Audio 5 stars, Extras 3 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Skip It.

Safe House (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Daniel Espinosa
Written by David Guggenheim
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson

What’s the Deal?
Serving as the first Hollywood movie for Daniel Espinosa (Easy Money) the spy thriller Safe House was a solid hit worldwide. Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a rookie CIA agent in charge of a safe house in Cape Town when the CIA’s most wanted rogue agent, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) drops in. During the interrogation the safe house is attacked, forcing Weston and Frost to work together in the South African city.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 54% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 6.5/10 (read our review)

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 3 stars, Video 4.5 stars, Audio 3 stars, Extras 3 stars, Replay 2 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

Act of Valor (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh
Written by Kurt Johnstad
Starring: Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano, Emilio Rivera, U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Navy Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen

What’s the Deal?
Act of Valor was marketed as the most authentic action movie ever made, starring active-duty Navy SEALs, using live fire and having unprecedented access to the U.S. military. But it has been dismissed by many as being no more then a glorified recruitment film. Directed by military recruitment film directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh, Act of Valor tells how a unit of Navy SEALs have to stop a terrorist cell importing bomb vests into America.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 25% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 5.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 2.5 stars, Video 0 stars, Audio 0 stars, Extras 1.5 stars, Replay 2 stars (out of 5). Rent It.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Brad Peyton
Written by Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn (screenplay), Richard Outten, Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn (story)
Starring: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Michael Caine, Luis Guzmán

What’s the Deal?
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is the sequel to Brendan Fraser vehicle Journey to the Center of the Earth. This movie sees Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson replacing him in the lead role.

17-year-old Sean Anderson (John Hutcherson, The Hunger Games) receives a distress signal from his grandfather (Michael Caine). Unable to stop Sean from going, his stepfather Hank (Johnson) joins him on his adventure with helicopter pilot Gabato (Luis Guzmán) and his daughter Kalian (Vanessa Hudgens). What they discover is a fantastical island filled with strange creatures and the ruins to a lost civilization.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 42% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 5.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Gag Reel; Deleted Scenes

Additional Blu-ray/DVD Combo Special Features: Interactive Adventure guided by Josh Hutcherson: Discover the skills it takes to ride Giant Bees, outsmart a Hungry Mama Lizard, and ultimately prove you have what it takes to survive on the Mysterious Island! Can be experienced as an interactive adventure or a passive linear piece.; Introduction with Josh Hutcherson; Alexander’s Treehouse; Lost City of Atlantis; The Giant Flowers; The Mushroom Forest; The Golden Volcano; The Lizard’s Nest; The Gigantic Bumble Bee; Nemo’s Tomb; Nemo’s Cave; Nemo’s Submarine; Map Payoff

Amazon Price: $14.96 (DVD), $17.99 (Blu-ray), $22.99 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo), $27.99 (3D Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 3 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4.5 stars, Extras 1.5 stars, Replay 1.5 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

Machine Gun Preacher (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Marc Forster
Written by Jason Keller
Starring: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon

What’s the Deal?
Based on the true story of biker Sam Childers, Machine Gun Preacher tells how biker Childers (Gerard Butler) leaves behind his life of violence, converts to Christianity and serves as an missionary in South Sudan. But as he builds an orphanage for the victims of war, Childers falls into conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 29% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 3 stars, Video 0 stars, Audio 0 stars, Extras 1.5 stars, Replay 2.5 stars (out of 5). Rent It.

The Sting (1973) (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by George Roy Hill
Written by David S. Ward
Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

What’s the Deal?
After working so well together in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, actors Paul Newman and Robert Redford and director George Roy Hill decided to work together again in The Sting, a highly regarded movie in its own right, winning seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

This 1930s crime caper sees two conmen, Henry Gondorff (Newman) and Johnny Hooker (Redford) plan to get their revenge for the death of their friend by pulling a big con against a major mob boss, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), with many twists and turns along the way.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 91% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 10/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $11.93 (DVD), $11.99 (Blu-ray), $24.96 (Blu-ray/DVD/Book Combo)

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

Yellow Submarine (1968) (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by George Dunning
Written by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn, Erich Seagl (screenplay), Lee Minoff (story)
Starring: Paul Angelis, John Clive, Dick Emery, Geoff Hughes, Lance Percival, Peter Batten, The Beatles

What’s the Deal?
“We’re all living in a Yellow Submarine, a Yellow Submarine, a Yellow Submarine.” Yes, the psychedelic musical cartoon featuring involving everyone’s favorite Liverpudlians follows The Beatles as they try to save a fantasy world from the Blue Meanies.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 95% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 6.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Fully restored in 4K and presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1; Mod Odyssey documentary [TRT: 7:30]; Original theatrical trailer [TRT: 3:30]; Storyboard sequences:; Sea of Monsters (split screen footage) [TRT: 4:20]; Battle of the Monsters [118 images]; Pepperland [64 images]; Interviews:; Paul Angelis (voice of Ringo and Chief Blue Meanie) [TRT: 1:39]; John Clive (voice of John) [TRT: 2:03]; David Livesey (key animator) [TRT: 1:11]; Millicent McMillan (Heinz Edelmann’s assistant) [TRT: 1:12]; Jack Stokes (animation director) [TRT: 3:42] ; Erich Segal (co-writer) [TRT: 1:38]; Original pencil drawings [29 images]; Behind-the-scenes photos [30 images]

Amazon Price: $13.99 (DVD), $22.19 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Erin Brockovich (2000) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Susannah Grant
Starring: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart

What’s the Deal?
Based on the true story of Erin Brockovich, this biographical movie is one of the highlights of Julia Roberts’ career, winning 12 awards, including an Academy Award, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe.

Erin Brockovich (Roberts) is a struggling single mother on a losing streak, including losing a law suit. She pressures her lawyer Ed Masry (Albert Finney) into giving her a job, but as she starts, she discovers a case involving the Pacific Gas & Electric Company contaminating the water supply in the town of Hinkley, California. Her work on the case leads to one of the biggest law suits in American legal history.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 83% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.8/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $13.99 (Blu-ray)

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

King Kong (2005) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Peter Jackson
Written by Fran Walsh, Phillippa Boyens, Peter Jackson (screenplay), Merian C. Copper, Edgar Wallace (1933 movie)
Starring: Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Jack Black, Andy Serkis

What’s the Deal?
After the success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson had Carte Blanche to make any project he wanted. He decided to make his dream project, a remake of King Kong. His version sees director Carl Denham (Jack Black), starving actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) and writer Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) traveling to the mysterious Skull Island to film their latest adventure movie, but the island is dominated by savage natives, dinosaurs, giant lizards, insects and worst of all, a 25-foot gorilla (Andy Serkis) who falls in love with Ann.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 84% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 8.8/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $12.48 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Ransom (1996) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Ron Howard
Written by Richard Price, Alexander Ignon (screenplay), Cyril Hume, Richard Maibaum (story)
Starring: Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise

What’s the Deal?
Made as a loose remake of the 1956 movie of the same name, Ron Howard’s version of Ransom sees self-made millionaire Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson) suffer the worst thing imaginable: his son Sean (Brawley Nolte) is kidnapped. But instead of paying the ransom, Tom turns the tables on the kidnappers, offering the ransom money as a bounty, but his wife (Rene Russo) and FBI negotiator, Agent Lonnie Hawkins (Delroy Lindo, The Cider House Rules) think the risk is too great.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 71% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.24 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Scent of a Woman (1992) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Martin Brest
Written by Bo Goldman (screenplay), Giovanni Arpino (novel)
Starring: Al Pacino, Chris O’Donnell, James Rebhorn, Gabrielle Anwar, Philip Seymour Hoffman

What’s the Deal?
Despite his reputation for being one of the greatest actors ever, Al Pacino has only won one Academy Award and it was for his role in the remake of the Italian movie Profumo di donna.

Charlie (Chris O’Donnell) is a prep school student who takes the job of looking after a blind former Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade (Pacino), who is notoriously difficult to get along with.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 88% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.95 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Hoosiers (1986) (Blu-ray)

Directed by David Anspaugh
Written by Angelo Pizzo
Starring: Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, Dennis Hopper

What’s the Deal?
Loosely based on the true story of the Milan High School Basketball team that won the 1954 Indiana state championship, Gene Hackman plays Norman Dale, a coach with a chequered past who leads a small town basketball team to the victory.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 88% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $13.85 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Color of Money (1986) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Richard Price (screenplay), Walter Tevis (novel)
Starring: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Helen Shaver

What’s the Deal?
Made as a sequel to the 1961 movie The Hustler, Paul Newman reprises his role as Fast Eddie Felson, now older and wiser. In a pool hall he sees a potential protégé, Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise), a man who Felson sees as younger version of himself. But Vincent has a tendency to show off, leading to conflict between the two men.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 91% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $12.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Grapes of Wrath (1940) (Blu-ray)

Directed by John Ford
Written by Nunnally Johnson (screenplay), John Steinbeck (novel)
Starring: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Shirley Mills, John Qualen, Eddie Quillan

What’s the Deal?
John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Grapes of Wrath is considered a great American novel. John Ford’s movie adaptation is also highly regarded, winning Oscars for Best Director and Best Supporting Actress for Jane Darwell.

At the height of the Depression and the Dustbowl years, farmers from the Midwest migrate to California looking for a better life. One family that makes the trip are the Joads, who have to suffer the trials and tribulations of making the journey.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 100% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Hondo (1953) (Blu-ray)

Directed by John Farrow
Written by James Edward Grant (screenplay), Louis L’Amour (short story)
Starring: John Wayne, Geraldine Page, Ward Bond, Michael Pate, James Arness, Leo Gordon

What’s the Deal?
In the Western Hondo, Hondo Lane (John Wayne) is an army dispatch rider who finds Angie Lowe (Geraldine Page) and her young son living deep in the heart of hostile Apache territory. But Hondo ends up having to protect Angie when the Apaches plan to force her into a marriage.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 83% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $12.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Zorba the Greek (1964) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Michael Cacoyannis
Written by Michael Cacoyannis (screenplay), Nikos Kazantzakis (novel)
Starring: Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates, Irene Papas

What’s the Deal?
Based on Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel, Basil (Alan Bates) is an aimless upper middle class Greek-British man who finds out he has an inheritance on a Greek island. But his life is disturbed when he meets a middle-aged Greek man, Alexis Zorba (Anthony Quinn), who has a real lust for life.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 86% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $20.95 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Universal Pictures is currently celebrating its 100th Anniversary and many of its most highly regarded films have earned Blu-ray special editions, including movies that have been previously covered on DISCussion. Here is a quick rundown of some of the significant offerings.

The Big Lebowski (1998) (Blu-ray)
Written and directed by The Coen Brothers
Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 80% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 8.9/10
Amazon Price: $14.49 (Blu-ray)

Spartacus (1960) (Blu-ray)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Dalton Trumbo (screenplay), Howard Fast (novel)
Starring: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, Jean Simmons
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 96% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.5/10
Amazon Price: $14.49 (Blu-ray)

United 93 (2006) (Blu-ray)
Written and directed by Paul Greengrass
Starring: Khalid Abdalla, Christian Clemenson, Cheyenne Jackson, J.J. Johnson, Sarmed al-Samarrai, David Alan Basche
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 91% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.3/10
Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

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