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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 1.31.11)

Many classic novels have been adapted into film over the years, some better then others. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is considered a classic movie in its own right. Now for its 50th Anniversary, the literary adaptation is coming onto DVD and Blu-ray for your enjoyment.

First Releases
Drive (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Thing (2011) (DVD and Blu-ray)
In Time (DVD and Blu-ray)
Dream House (DVD and Blu-ray)
Texas Killing Fields (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Double (DVD and Blu-ray)
Janie Jones (DVD)

Re-Releases
Transformers Trilogy: Limited Edition (Blu-ray)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D (2011) (3D Blu-ray)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Piano (1993) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Adaptation (2002) (Blu-ray)
Malcolm X (1992) (Blu-ray)
Shakespeare in Love (1998) (Blu-ray)
The English Patient (1996) (Blu-ray)
Cold Mountain (2003) (Blu-ray)
Frida (2002) (Blu-ray)

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Robert Mulligan
Written by Horton Foote (screenplay), Harper Lee (novel)
Starring: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford

What’s the Deal?
Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is a piece of American literature considered essential reading, a novel tackling racism in the Deep South in the 1930s. It was adapted into a excellent movie that won three Academy Awards and often tops the American Film Institute list.

Jean Louise “Scout” Finch (Mary Badham) and her brother Jem (Phillip Alford) are two young children living a playful and happy existence in a small Alabama town. Their father Atticus (Gregory Peck) is a local lawyer and a respected figure in the town. But their lives are shaken when Atticus defends a black man accused of rape and the racism rears its ugly head.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 94% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 9.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (DVD), $17.99 (Blu-ray)

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

The big First Release of the week is Drive, a movie that movie that was popular with film fans and here and was very close to being Recommendation of the Week. Everything else is a series of disappointments, The Thing (2011), In Time and Dream House being the big ones. Since the Oscars are coming soon many of this week’s Re-releases were Oscar challenging or winning movies and many of them are period dramas.

Drive (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by Hossein Amini (screenplay), James Sallis (novel)
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Ron Pearlman, Albert Brooks

What’s the Deal?
The neo-noir movie Drive is fast becoming a cult classic, though fans were dismayed when the Academy ignored Albert Brooks for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Drive was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson) won the best director. It was also part of a banner year for Ryan Gosling who also starred in The Ides of March and Crazy Stupid Love.

Gosling plays a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for the criminal underworld. But he soon becomes a target of a criminal boss when he agrees to help his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan) whose husband is in prison.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 93% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.8/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: I Drive; Under The Hood; Driver and Irene; Cut To The Chase; Drive Without A Driver: Interview With Nicolas Winding Refn

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

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

The Thing (2011) (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Written by Eric Heisserer (screenplay), John W. Campbell (novel)
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

What’s the Deal?
John Carpenter’s The Thing is easily considered a horror classic, and Hollywood rules dictate a good horror movie has to be remade, or in this case, get a prequel. Of course Carpenter’s The Thing was a remake itself.

Set in a Norwegian research outpost, palaeontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is asked to examine a strange discovery. But it turns out that this discovery can take the form of any living being it comes in contact with. Kate, pilot Carter (Joel Edgerton, Warrior) and a load of cannon fodder have to fight for survival and deal with a whole lot of paranoia.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 35% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 5.0/10 (read our review)

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $17.99 (DVD), $23.99 (Blu-ray)

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

In Time (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed and written by Andrew Niccol
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde

What’s the Deal?
New Zealander Andrew Niccol has shown himself to be a very talented writer/director with Gattaca and Lord of War being a part of his filmography. But sadly for him, In Time will be considered one of his lesser movies.

In the future, people stop aging at 25 and time has been become the new currency. The poor literally live day by day and the rich can live forever. Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is a lowly factory worker who is given a chunk of time from a wealthy but deprssed man. Having upset the powers that be, Will goes on the run and is accused of murder.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 37% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

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

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

Dream House (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Jim Sheridan
Written by David Loucka
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts

What’s the Deal?
During the filming of Dream House, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz fell in love. That was the only positive to come from this movie. Craig and Weisz were so unhappy of the final cut that they refused to promote the movie and director Jim Sheridan (Brothers) tried to get his name removed from the credits because of what the studio did.

Will Arterton (Craig) is a successful New York publisher who quits his high-paying job to move to a small New England town with his family. But it turns out the home they brought was the scene of a brutal murder. As Will investigates, it turns out that he might actually be in a psychiatric hospital after the death of his wife and children.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 7% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: 3.3/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 1.5 stars, Video 4 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 2 stars, Replay 1 stars (out of 5). Skip It.

Texas Killing Fields (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Ami Canaan Mann
Written by Don Ferrarone
Starring: Sam Worthington, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Jessica Chastain, Chloe Grace Moretz

What’s the Deal?
Danny Boyle was originally set to direct Texas Killing Fields but left the project because he thought that it was so dark that it would never get made. Ami Canann Mann, daughter of Michael Mann, replaced Boyle and made her directorial debut.

Loosely based on true events, local police officer Detective Mike Sounder (Sam Worthington) and New York officer Brian Heigh (Jeffery Dean Morgan, Watchmen) investigate a series of brutal murders of women who are being butchered and dumped in a Texas swampland. Soon, the killer teases the officers by leaving clues about his next victim, a young girl played by Chloe Grace Moretz.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 34% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

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 4 stars, Extras 2.5 stars, Replay 1.5 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

The Big Year (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by David Frankel
Written by Howard Franklin (screenplay), Mark Obmascik (story and book)
Starring: Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson

What’s the Deal?
The bird-watching PG comedy The Big Year was a movie that did not set the box office alight nor had much interest from critics and audiences. Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson are three men who compete in the Big Year, a year-long tournament to find as many rare birds as possible in North America.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 39% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 4.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Theatrical Trailer

Amazon Price: $14.99 (DVD), $27.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Double (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Michael Brandt
Written by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas
Starring: Richard Gere, Topher Grace, Martin Sheen

What’s the Deal?
Richard Gere and Martin Sheen are both very respected actors and they somehow both end up getting caught in poor spy dramas. Serving as the debut for director Michael Brandt, senior CIA officer Paul Shepherdson (Gere) and a young FBI agent (Topher Grace) investigate the murder of a US Senator and the signs point to Soviet assassin. Turns out that assassin might be closer than realized.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 16% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Producer interviews; Trailer; Commentary with Michael Brandt (Director/Writer) and Derek Haas (Writer)

Amazon Price: $10.99 (DVD), $13.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Janie Jones (DVD)

Directed and Written by David M. Rosenthal
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Alessandro Nivola

What’s the Deal?
Hitting the direct-to-DVD bucket is Janie Jones, a drama about a 13-year-old girl (Abigail Breslin) who was abandoned by her mother (Elisabeth Shue) and must inform a fading rock star (Alessandro Nivola, Face/Off) that she is his daughter.

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Interview with JANIE JONES Team, presented by American Express; Audio Commentary with Director and Producers

Amazon Price: $24.49 (DVD)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Transformers Limited Edition Trilogy (Blu-ray)

Transformers (2007)
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Shia La Beouf, Megan Fox

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Shia La Beouf, Megan Fox

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Ehren Kruger
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Patrick Dempsey, Frances McDormand

What’s the Deal?
The “Transformers” trilogy has been a blockbuster juggernaut and the bane of critics the world over because of its levels of stupidity, poor humor, length, racism and being a big fat commercial for the American military. Steven Spielberg acted as executive producer of this series based on the popular ’80s cartoon and toy series. Action director Michael Bay helmed all three movies and is likely to direct a fourth entry.

Writing partners Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek) and Ehren Kruger (Scream 3, The Ring, 2002) have written for the series, which made Shia LaBeouf a star and put Megan Fox on the map. Luckily, the universe has been rebalanced. Peter Cullen reprises his role as the voice of the always-awesome Optimus Prime.

Follow Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) during his love and employment struggles—I mean with him in the middle of a battle between the Autobots and Decepticons.
 
Transformers (2007)
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 57% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 6.1/10

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 20% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: 3.8/10

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 35% (average)
Player Affinity Score: 5.3/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Loaded with over 10 hours of bonus features and packaged in exclusive trophy display packaging; Features a movie plaque signed by director Michael Bay with images from all three films; Limited quantity

Amazon Price: $89.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D (2011) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Ehren Kruger
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Patrick Dempsey, Frances McDormand

What’s the Deal?
Between the releases of Avatar and Hugo, Transformers: Dark of the Moon was the movie considered to have the best use of 3D. The third movie is considered much better then “Revenge of the Fallen,” but that’s not saying much. “Dark of the Moon” had a fair share of controversy: Megan Fox got herself fired for comparing Michael Bay to Hitler and extra Gabriela Cedillo was left permanently brain-damaged after a stunt gone wrong.

In the big struggle between Autobots and Deceptions, a lost weapon has been discovered as well as the Autobots’ old leader, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy). Both sides race against each other to get this weapon that has affected Cybertron and Earth’s past.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 35% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 5.3/10 (review our review)

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $29.99 (3D Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The Piano (1993) (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed and Written by Jane Campion
Starring: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Sam Neill

What’s the Deal?
Before Lord of the Rings, New Zealand cinema was made out mostly of smaller movies such as The Piano. The Piano was a highly praised movie back in 1993, winning the Palme d’Or and three Academy Awards: Best Actress for Holly Hunter, Best Supporting Actress for Anna Paquin (the second youngest actress to win the award) and Best Original Screenplay.

Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) is a mute Scotswoman who is sent to New Zealand in 1850 with her daughter (Anna Paquin) and her prized piano for an arranged marriage with a frontiersman (Sam Neill). In the remote location, Ada befriends her neighbor (Harvey Keitel) and sparks start to fly.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 90% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 7.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $11.99 (DVD), $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 4 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 3 stars, Extras 0.5 stars, Replay 4 stars (out of 5). Recommended.

Adaptation (2002) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Spike Jonze
Written by Charlie Kaufman, Donald Kaufman (screenplay), Susan Orlean (novel)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper

What’s the Deal?
Nicolas Cage was once a highly respected actor. Those were the days. Adaptation is the second collaboration between Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman, having worked together on Bring John Malkovich. Cage plays Charlie Kaufman and his twin Donald as they try to adapt Susan Orlean’s (Meryl Streep) novel The Orchid Thief. Charlie struggles with the adaptation that his brother writes with ease.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 91% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.6/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Malcolm X (1992) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Spike Lee
Written by Spike Lee and Arnold Perl (screenplay), Alex Haley and Malcolm X (book)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett

What’s the Deal?
Malcolm X is of course an important and controversial Civil Rights leader and the adaptation of his autography was a dream project for Spike Lee. Denzel Washington earned an Academy Award for his performance as Malcolm X. The film examines his life as a gangster, his time in prison, his conversion to the Nation of Islam and his role as a Black Nationalist leader.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 91% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: Commentary by Spike Lee, Director of Photography Ernest Dickerson, Editor Barry Alexander Brown and Costume Designer Ruth Carter; Deleted Scenes with introduction by Spike Lee; Featurette By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Malcolm X; Theatrical Trailer

Amazon Price: $29.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Shakespeare in Love (1998) (Blu-ray)

Directed by John Madden
Written by Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth
 
What’s the Deal?
Shakespeare in Love was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and won seven of them, including Best Picture, Best Actress (giving us one of the most infamous acceptance speeches) and Best Original Screenplay. Its win for Best Picture is particularly controversial because it beat Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line and Elizabeth.

Shakespeare in Love is a romance about the Bard (Joseph Fiennes), a struggling writer with theater owners on his back. He is looking for a muse and finds it in the form of Viola de Lesseps (Paltrow). But Viola has her own problems, one being she wants to be an actor, a profession only men can do, and she is engaged to Lord Wessex (Colin Firth)

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 93% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 7.5/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $9.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

The English Patient (1996) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Anthony Minghella
Written by Antony Minghella (screenplay), Michael Ondaatje (novel)
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Kristin Scott Thomas, Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth

What’s the Deal?
The English Patient was another movie that was clearly Oscar bait, and it worked because it won nine of the 12 Academy Awards it was nominated for including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress. The English Patient tells a duel narrative. The first is about a French-Canadian nurse, Hana (Juliette Binoche, Chocolat) caring for a severe burnt and disfigured man (Ralph Fiennes) in Italy at the end of World War II. The second tells the story of the man with his lover (Kristin Scott Thomas) in the 1930s just before the war.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 83% (very good)
Player Affinity Score: 7.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Cold Mountain (2003) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Anthony Minghella
Written by Anthony Minghella (screenplay), Charles Frazier (novel)
Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger

What’s the Deal?
Based on a novel by Charles Frazier that draws on The Odyssey by Homer, this American Civil War drama was a sleeper hit and earned seven Academy Award nominations, including a win for Renee Zellweger as Best Supporting Actress. In the dying day of the American Civil War, Inman (Jude Law) is a Confederate Solider who deserts the army to try and get back to his sweetheart (Nicole Kidman).

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 71% (good)
Player Affinity Score: 8.0/10

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $9.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Frida (2002) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Julie Taymor
Written by Clancy Sigal and Diane Lake, Gregory Nava & Anna Thomas (screenplay), Hayden Herrera (book)
Starring: Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Antonio Banderas

What’s the Deal?
Salma Hayek’s performance as the artist Frida Kahlo is considered one of the high points of her career, earning her a Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards. It also challenges as Julie Taymor’s best movie.

This movie looks at her career as an artist, her suffering from a permanent crippling pain, her troubled relationship with her mentor and husband (Alfred Molina) and her affair with Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush).

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

DISC DETAILS

DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 2 stars, Video 3.5 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 3 stars, Replay 2 stars (out of 5). Rent It.

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