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DVD/Blu-ray DISCussion (New for 2.28.11)

Hugo is considered the best 3D movie to be made since Avatar, and it won five Academy Awards on Sunday. Despite a light weak of DVDs and Blu-rays, Hugo most likely would have been our Recommendation of the Week in any company. If you are starting a 3D Blu-ray collection, then this is a good place to start.

First Releases
- Hugo (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Johnny English Reborn (DVD and Blu-ray)
- I Melt With You (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Beneath the Darkness (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Mandrill (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Justice League: Doom (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Answers to Nothing (DVD)

- Vanya on 42nd Street (1994) (DVD and Blu-ray)
- Runaway Jury (2003) (Blu-ray)
- Johnny English (2003) (Blu-ray)

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

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by John Logan (screenplay), Brian Selznick (novel)
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law

What’s the Deal?
After a long career making classic, violent movies such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, movie fans were surprised to hear Martin Scorsese was going to make a 3D family movie. There were even scoffs of indignation when people saw the first trailer. Then people finally saw the movie.

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas), is a 12-year-old year old oprhan living in a 1930s Paris train station. He maintains the clocks and avoids the police officer Inspector Gustavo (Sacha Baron Cohen). His father (Jude Law) had left him only one thing, a automaton machine, not knowing what it does. But one day he befriends a young girl, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz) who happens to have the key for the machine, leading them to a bigger mystery involving Isabelle’s godfather’s (Ben Kingsley) past.
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 93% (excellent)
Player Affinity Score: 8.6/10 (Read our review)


DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $15.49 (DVD), $21.99 (Blu-ray), $27.99 (3D Blu-ray)

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

Other First Release highlights are the spy-comedy Johnny English Reborn and Warner Premier’s latest release Justice League: Doom. There are only three re-releases that are worthy of comment, Vanya on 42nd Street, Runaway Jury and Johnny English.

Johnny English Reborn (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Oliver Parker
Written by Hamish McColl (screenplay), William Davies (story)
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West, Daniel Kaluuya, Gillian Anderson

What’s the Deal?
It had been eight years since the last Johnny English, a spy spoof met with a lukewarm reception. But still, some bright spark thought it would get a good idea to make a sequel. Rowan Atkinson returns to his role as the incompetent British spy.

MI7 demands that Johnny English return to duty from his self-imposed exile in a Tibetan monastery after a failed mission in Mozambique. MI7 has discovered a plot to assassinate the Chinese Premier and the source will only talk to English. English also discovers a secret organization called Vortex, which plans to get the three pieces for a key to a secret weapon. English has to somehow stop their plot.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 37% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 3.5/10


DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $22.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

I Melt With You (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Mark Pellington
Written by Glenn Porter
Starring: Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino, Arielle Kebbel

What’s the Deal?
Premiering at Sundance, I Melt With You failed to impress critics and after appearing on Video on Demand is now getting a DVD and Blu-ray release. This thriller sees four college friends in their 40s, Richard (Thomas Jane), Ron (Jeremy Piven), Jonathan (Rob Lowe) and Tim (Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles), reunite for a weekend of partying fueled by sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. But as the weekend progresses, they are forced to looked at themselves and the choices they have made in their lives.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 13% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A


DVD Special Features: Commentary with Director, Lowe and Piven; Commentary with Director, Co-Writer and Director of Photography; Director’s Statement; Deleted Scenes; Behind the Scenes; HDNet: A Look at; Interview with Piven; Piven Mood Piece; Thomas Jane Teaser; Director's Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery; Alternate Theatrical Poster Gallery; Redband Trailer; Greenband Trailer; International Trailer

Additional Blu-ray Special Features: Interview with Director

Amazon Price: $16.99 (DVD), $18.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 0 stars, Video 2 stars, Audio 4 stars, Extras 4 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Skip It.

Beneath the Darkness (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Martin Guigui
Written by Bruce Wilkinson
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Tony Oller, Aimee Teegarden, Devon Werkheiser

What’s the Deal?
The horror thriller Beneath the Darkness holds the dubious honor of having 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Ely (Dennis Quaid) is a local high school football legend and now a mortician. He also murdered the friend of a group of high students who struggle to expose him as the killer he is.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 0% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A


DVD Special Features: Behind the scenes; Trailer

Amazon Price: $10.99 (DVD), $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): Content 0.5 stars, Video 1 stars, Audio 2 stars, Extras 0.5 stars, Replay 0 stars (out of 5). Skip It.

Mandrill (DVD and Blu-ray)

Written and directed by Ernesto Diaz Espinoza
Starring: Marko Zaror, Celine Reymond, Alejandro Castillo

What’s the Deal?
Mandrill is a Chilean action thriller about Antonio (Marko Zaror), a ruthless bounty hunter known as “Mandrill” who saw his parents murdered when he was a child. He is assigned the mission to kidnap a Mafioso casino owner and finds out he was the man he had been searching for all these years. But Antonio soon embarks on embarks on an impossible romance with the Mafioso’s daughter (Alejandro Castillo).

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


DVD Special Features: Behind the Scenes of Mandrill; Anatomy of a Fight Scene; Trailer

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

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Justice League: Doom (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Lauren Montgomery
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Susan Eisenberg, Nathan Fillion, Carl Lumbly, Michael Rosenbaum, Bumper Robinson

What’s the Deal?
Warner Premiere and DC Comics have released another straight-to-DVD animated adaptation of their popular superhero characters. Justice League: Doom is based on Mark Waid’s JLA: Tower of Babel story arc about super villain Vandal Savage (Phil Morris, Justice League, Smallville), stealing a confidential file compiled by Batman (Kevin Conroy) about the Justice League and all its weaknesses. Why Batman made this file is the real mystery.

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


DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $13.99 (DVD), $16.99 (DVD Special Edition), $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Answers to Nothing (DVD)

Directed by Matthew Leutwyler
Written by Matthew Leutwyler, Gillian Vigman
Starring: Dane Cook, Elizabeth Mitchell, Julie Benz, Barbara Hershey, Kali Hawk, Zach Gilford

What’s the Deal?
There is a near universal disdain for Dane Cook as a comedia,n and according to Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB he has not done much better as a serious actor. Answers to Nothing tells a series of interlinking stories over the course of fives days after an 11-year-old girl disappears from the streets of Los Angeles.

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 9% (awful)
Player Affinity Score: N/A


DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (DVD)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Vanya on 42nd Street (1994) (DVD and Blu-ray)

Directed by Louis Malle
Written by Andre Gregory (screenplay), David Mamet (play adaptation), Anton Chekhov (original play)
Starring: Wallace Shawn, Phoebe Brand, George Gaynes, Andre Gregory, Julianne Moore

What’s the Deal?
From the Criterion Collection this week is the art-house movie Vanya on 42nd Street, as a group of actors do an uninterrupted rehearsal of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in a rundown theater in New York.

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


DVD Special Features: New high-definition digital restoration; New documentary featuring interviews with Andre Gregory, and the cast; Trailer; PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Steven Vineberg and more

Amazon Price: $19.99 (DVD, $27.99 (Blu-ray)

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

Runaway Jury (2003) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Gary Fleder
Written by Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Rick Cleveland, Matthew Chapham (screenplay), John Grisham (novel)
Starring: Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Weisz, John Cusack

What’s the Deal?
Based on a John Grisham novel, the legal thriller Runaway Jury takes place in New Orleans. Wendell Rohr (Hoffman), is a lawyer leading a law suit against a firearms company after a shooting. Rankin Fitch (Hackman) is a jury consultant hired by the company to run a high tech operation to get as many sympathetic people on the jury and teach the defense how to play the jury. But a fly in the ointment appears when Marlee (Weisz) threatens to sway the jury for the highest bidder and has her own inside man, Nicholas (John Cusack), on the jury.

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


DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $12.49 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A

Johnny English (2003) (Blu-ray)

Directed by Peter Howitt
Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, William Davies
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, John Malkovich, Natalie Imbruglia

What’s the Deal?
Back in the 1990s, Rowan Atkinson starred in a series of commercials for Barclaycard as a spy. Somehow, someone thought this would be a good basis for a movie for Mr. Atkinson to star in. Even more surprising, long time Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade co-wrote the script for this spy comedy.

Johnny English (Atkinson) is a bumbling desk analyst for MI7 who gets promoted to field agent after all of their other agents get killed at a funeral. Quickly, English has to investigate Pascal Sauvage (John Malkovich), a Frenchman who plans to steal the British Crown Jewels and seize the throne of the United Kingdom. Luckily, English has his loyal assistant Angus (Ben Miller, on his side and Interpol agent Lorna Campbell (pop singer Natalie Imbruglia)

Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 33% (poor)
Player Affinity Score: 4.0/10


DVD Special Features: N/A

Amazon Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)

Score (DVDTalk.com): N/A


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