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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 1.11.11)

It is a week of adaptations, including four novels, an autobiography, a biography and a horror remake. There is something for everyone, three true stories, a revisionist Western, a crime epic, a documentary, a foreign offering and some CGI wolves.

First Release
The Social Networks (DVD and Blu-ray)

Piranha 3D (DVD and Blu-ray)
Alpha and Omega (DVD and Blu-ray)

Re-Release
Dances with Wolves (DVD and Blu-ray)

Raging Bull (Blu-ray)
Once Upon a Time in America (Blu-ray)
Army of Shadows (Blu-ray)
– Robinson Crusoe on Mars (Blu-ray)

– The Endless Summer (Blu-ray)
– The Great Debaters (Blu-ray)

The Social Network (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The Social Network is one of the favorites to win Academy Awards this year and for good reason. The biopic of Mark Zuckerberg was adapted by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) with the great David Fincher as director. Both men were able to make a film with smart, witty dialogue that was also visually engaging. A young cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland), Andrew Garfield (the future Peter Parker), Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer in what was one of the best films of 2010.

The Social Network tells how Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg), an intelligent but arrogant young man founded Facebook. He lies, cheats, steals, is willing to betray his friends and lawsuits are issued against him by Eduardo Saverin (Garfield) and the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 97% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 9.1/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Disc 1: ; Audio commentary with David Fincher; Audio commentary with Aaron Sorkin & cast; ; Disc 2: ; How Did They Ever Make a Movie of Facebook? – a feature-length documentary in four parts; David Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth on the visuals; Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter and Ren Klyce on Post; Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and David Fincher on the Score; Ruby Skye VIP room: multi-angle scene breakdown; In the Hall of the Mountain King: Reznor’s first draft; Swarmatron

Amazon Price: $12.99 (DVD), $16.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Piranha 3D (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The original Piranha is a cult classic with a political edge against the American military-industrial complex. This remake took that element away but used 3D for its scares and blood-based entertainment. French director Alexandre Aja handles his second horror remake, the first being The Hills Have Eyes. Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas), Adam Scott (Step Brothers), Jerry O’Connell (Jerry Maguire), Ving Rhames (also staring in his second horror remake) and Christopher Lloyd stars in a film scripted by Josh Stolberg and Pete Gold finger (Sorority Row).

After a underwater tremor, a fresh-eating breed of piranha that was thought to be a extinct has been released. As they go to a lake filled with sex-mad college students a group of different people have to make sure that they are not their next meal.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 75% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.2/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Filmmakers Commentary; 5 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes

Additional Blu-ray Features: Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary; 10 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes; Deleted Storyboard Sequences

Additional 3D Blu-ray Features: Storyboard Gallery ; Piranha 3D Trailer & TV Spots

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray), $26.99 (3D Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Alpha and Omega (DVD and Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
2010 saw a number of 3-D animated films: Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, Megamind and Shrek Forever After, Despicable Me and others. Alpha and Omega is considered the worst animated feature of the year. Lionsgate’s first attempt into animation has helmed by TV director Anthony Bell (Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales For Every Child) and Ben Gluck (Brother Bear 2) and the voice cast includes Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci, Danny Glover and Dennis Hopper in his last film role.

Kate (Panettiere) and Humphery (Long) are two very different wolves: Kate is an alpha and the best hunter in the pack, whilst Humphery is a lowly, laid-back omega. Kate is way out of Humphery’s league. But when park rangers take Kate and Humphery away from Canada to a national park in Idaho, the two wolves have to work together to get back home.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 14% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Closed Caption; ; “Log Sliding” Interactive Game; “Wolves in the Wild” Featurette; The Alpha of Animation; ; Voicing the Wolves; From Alpha to Omega; Personality Test: Are You an Alpha or an Omega?; Animal Fun Facts Trivia; Deleted Scene; Trailer Gallery

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 1.5stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 3 stars, Replay 0.5 stars (out of 5). Rent it.

Dances with Wolves (DVD and Blu-ray)

What the Deal?
Old Western films and fiction have always cast Native Americans as villains, men willing to attack the hard working, pioneers that made America great: Kevin Costner planned to set the record straight. Costner stars and directs this film that was written by Michael Blake, adapting his own novel. Mary McDonnell (Independence Day), Graham Greene (The Green Mile) and Rodney A. Grant offer supporting roles in a film that won seven Academy Awards. Despite all the praise, they has been criticism that Dances with Wolves tells the plight of Native Americans through a white man’s viewpoint.

Lt. Dunbar (Costner) is a Civil War hero serving on the American frontier. He ends up befriending a tribe of Sioux Indians and learns about their ways and culture.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 77% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 8.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Closed Caption

Additional Blu-ray Features: Extended cut of film includes over 50 minutes of extra footage; Commentary by Kevin Costner and Producer Jim Wilson; Commentary by Director of Photography Dean Semler and Editor Neil Travis; New Interactive Special Features:; Military Rank and Social Hierarchy Guide (interactive); Real History or Movie Make Believe (interactive); A Day In The Life On The Frontier Featurette (*new*); The Creation of an Epic Retrospective Documentary; Original Making-Of Featurette; Original Music Video; Dances Photo Montage with Introduction by Ben Glass; Poster Gallery; TV Spots

Amazon Price: $14.99 (DVD), $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Raging Bull (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Based on the life and autobiography of boxer Jake LaMotta, Raging Bull is a classic film and my personal favourite Martin Scorsese film. Scorsese regulars Robert De Niro (winning an Academy for his role as LaMotta), Joe Pesci, and newcomer Cathy Moriarty (Cop Land) star in this classic. Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) and Mardik Martin (Mean Streets) adapted the book for screen.

Jake LaMotta is a middleweight boxer from the Bronx. Raging Bull tells his rise to being a world champion, his close relationship with his brother/manager, Joey (Pesci), his troubled relationship with Vicky (Moriarty) and his fall from grace in what is a powerful character piece.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 98% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: 3 commentaries: director Martin Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker, cast & crew, storytellers; 4 new featurettes: Marty & Bobby; Ragin Bull: Reflections on a Classic; Rememnering Jake; Marty on Film; Cathy Moriarty on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, march 27, 1981; Raging Bull: Fight Night – a 4 part feature-length documentary; The Bronx Bull – behind-the-scenes featurette; DeNiro vs. La Motta – shot-by-shot comparison in the ring; La Motta Defends Title – vintage newsreel footage

Amazon Price: $19.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Once Upon a Time in America (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
The second Robert De Niro film of the week is the gangster film Once Upon a Time in America. Based on Harry Grey’s book The Hoods, Once Upon a Time in America took 10 years to develop. After Sergio Leone regretted rejecting the chance to direct The Godfather, he set out to make a sweeping epic of a crime film. De Niro is joined by the likes of James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern (Ordinary People), Jennifer Connelly, James Hayden and William Forsythe and Scott Tiler plays the younger version of De Niro.

Once Upon a Time in America is a film set over a 50-year period, telling the story of a Jewish street gang from the 1920s started into the world of crime, becoming fully fledged gangsters in the prohibition era and to a period of reflection in the ’60s.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 93% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Speical Features: Commentary by critic/historian Richard Schickel; Excerpt from the documentary Once Upon a Time: Sergio Leone; Theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $18.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Army of Shadows (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Army of Shadows was only released in America in 2006, but was originally made in 1969 and is considered a French classic. Jean-Pierre Melville (The Samurai) wrote and directed the adaptation of Joseph Kessel 1943 novel and stars Lino Ventura, Simone Sigoret and Jean-Pierre Cassel.

Set in 1942, Army of Shadows is a tale about French Resistance, telling their day-to-day struggle against the Germans. This is not an action film, but a realistic take what it was like to fight an occupation.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 97% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Audio commentary featuring film historian Ginette Vincendeau; Interviews with Lhomme and editor Françoise Bonnot; On-set footage and excerpts from archival interviews with director Jean-Pierre Melville, cast members, writer Joseph Kessel, and real-life resistance fighters; Jean-Pierre Melville et “L’armée Des Ombres” (2005), a short program on the director and his film; Le Journal De La Résistance (1944). a rare short documentary shot on the front lines in France during the final days of the German occupation; Film restoration by Lhomme; Theatrical trailers

Amazon Price: $27.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe is renowned as a classic piece of literature. In 1964, a sci-fi version of his story was made. Sci-fi director Byron Haskin (The War of the Worlds) helms the project that stars Paul Mantee (Mission: Impossible), Victor Lundin and Adam West.

Mantee plays Commander “Kit” Draper, an astronaut whose spaceships crashes on Mars. With on his pet monkey for company the astronaut has to survive on in a hostile environment with limited food, water and oxygen.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 92% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Audio commentary featuring screenwriter Ib Melchior, actors Paul Mantee and Victor Lundin, production designer Al Nozaki, oscar-winning special effects designer and Robinson Crusoe On Mars historian Robert Skotak, and excerpts from a 1979 audio interview with director Byron Haskin; Destination: Mars, video featurette by filmmaker and space historian Michael Lennick detailing the science and dreams behind the film; Music video for Lundin’s song “Robindon Crusoe On Mars”; Stills gallery; Theatrical trailer

Amazon Price: $27.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Endless Summer (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Bruce Brown was a renowned documentary filmmaker and his crowning achieving was his film about surfing. Brown follows two surfers, Mike Hyson and Robert August as they travel to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, South Africa and many other country as their search for that perfect wave.

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Rejuvenated and Digitally Re-mastered with 5.1 Surround Sound. ; Digital copy – For Ipod, PSP, and other portable devices

Amazon Price: $21.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Great Debaters (Blu-ray)

What’s the Deal?
Denzel Washington is a famous actor, but he is also an occasional director. The Great Debaters is Washington’s second effort as a director and was well received by critics. Washington leads the cast that features Forest Whitaker, Nate Parker (The Secret Life of Bees), Jurnee Smollett (Friday Night Lights) and Denzel Whittaker (Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans).

Washington plays a real-life coach for the second time (the first being Remember the Titans). This time round he plays Melvin B. Tolson, a debate team coach at the historically black Wiley College in the 1930s. With racism and the Great Depression still affecting America in 1935, Tolson forms the college’s first debating team and gets them to compete in the National Championship at Harvard.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 79% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $18.99 (Blu-ray)

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

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