Three notable releases for September 4, 2012
What is it?
An action-thriller starring Jason Statham.
Why should I care?
Because it is Jason Statham fighting both the Russian mob and Chinese Triads. When he reluctantly saves Mei, a 10-year-old math whiz, who has memorized a complex safe combination, Statham learns that the contents are valued by both parties. Now it’s a race to the finish as both nefarious groups track the girl while also matching punches, kicks and the occasional shoot out with her newfound bodyguard. Also getting involved is Chris Sarandon. Yes, the guy who once played Prince Humperdink in The Princess Bride has found himself relevant once again. As Scott Sawitz noted in his theatrical review of Safe, the film is “fairly perfunctory…a pure genre film that doesn’t really reach above being slightly above average.” Which means that if you held off seeing this in theaters and are a fan of Jason Statham, this is best enjoyed as a rental.
Other than the movie what special features can I expect?
Audio commentary and three featurettes (“Cracking Safe,” “Criminal Battleground,” and “The Art of the Gunfight”).
(Lionsgate, Blu-ray $39.99, DVD $29.95)
What is it?
The fourth season of Fox’s science-fiction series Fringe.
Never heard of it.
Stop reading now and either pick up the first three seasons on DVD/BD or watch the episodes online.
What’s the show about?
How much time do you have? After a big season three cliffhanger, which saw Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) erased from time in order to reunite two rival universes (Huh? – Yeah, watch the previous seasons, Jack), the first part of season four seems out of touch. The chemistry between the characters is aloof and whatever tension exists between Earths One and Earth Two isn’t very dramatic. But later in the season sees the reemergence of a classic villain and yet another colossal cliffhanger leading to the fifth and final season.
Other than 22 Episodes of commercial-free entertainment what else does the season set offer?
Beyond the Fringe comic book, two featurettes (“A World Without Peter,” “The Observers”), gag reel, Peter Bishop audition tapes, deleted scenes; the Blu-ray release also includes the featurettes “The Scientist Roundtable” and “Fringe Decoded.
(Warner Bros., Blu-ray $69.97, DVD $59.98)
What is it?
The third (and final) season to the HBO comedy series.
Will I be bored to death watching this show?
If you have a penchant for amateur private detectives, still have a fondness for Rushmore, or love a scene-stealing Ted Danson, you should enjoy Bored to Death.
The success of BtD has always been about this three-headed monster of an ensemble cast. Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman), George Christopher (Ted Danson), and Ray Hueston (Zach Galifianakis) have always been the glue to hold this comedy together. For its third and sadly final season, Jonathan has quirkier mysteries to be solved (I didn’t think that possible after the first two seasons). Outside of the mysteries, the three have their own personal problems to deal with. Be it reconnecting with family members, setting off AMBER alerts, or Jonathan having to rescue his sperm-bank father (former Mike Hammer Stacy Keach). Shooting on-location in New York again provides a nice travelogue, and the final season has a barrage of guest spots including Oliver Platt, Isla Fisher, and Mary Steenburgen.
The season is only eight episodes!
Don’t worry, you’ll still laugh. And in addition to watching the episodes, the discs also come with audio commentaries, deleted scenes, outtakes, and an “Inside the Episodes” feature.
(HBO, Blu-ray $49.99, DVD $39.98)
Other notable titles this week: Piranha 3DD (DVD / BD), Person of Interest: The Complete First Season (DVD / BD), Re-Animator (BD), The Five-Year Engagement (DVD / BD), Hocus Pocus (BD), 2 Broke Girls: The Complete First Season (DVD / BD), Airport (BD), The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (BD), Mad Monster Party (BD)
Four notable releases from August 28, 2012
Is this the long-awaited sequel to Walk Like a Man starring Howie Mandel and Christopher Lloyd?
While it will likely be grouped with Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve as yet another massive ensemble romantic comedy, Think Like a Man at least doesn’t concern itself as trying to be just a star-wattage movie. The story revolves around four couples’ relationships and the women who use Steve Harvey’s book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, to tip the balance of power in their favor when dealing with their men. Of course, men being dogs and all, sniff out their playbook and go on the offensive.
I heard this movie made a good bit of money over the summer, why didn’t I see it?
Getting a two-week head start on The Avengers, the romantic comedy was able to stay relevant in the top ten for a surprisingly good six-week stint. And while its cast list (which included Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Scary Movie‘s Regina Hall, Michael Ealy, Romany Malco and Entourage‘s Jerry Ferrara) gave the impression that the comedy was strictly for an African-American audience, its themes (ahem, Battle of the Sexes), were universal. So the comedy was able to succeed beyond just its targeted viewers.
I thought Kevin Hart was in this.
Kevin Hart is in this and he has a star-making turn. When coupled with his comedy documentary Laugh at My Pain from last year, Hart is a talent on the rise, and the upcoming film The Impossible Dream, where he goes against type and plays former Olympian Precious McKenzie, could groom him for a future where he isn’t just the comic relief.
Will Tyler Perry fans like it?
Actually, there’s a joke at Tyler Perry’s expense, so…
What about extras?
The DVD comes with the traditional deleted scenes and bloopers. The Blu-ray release has four exclusive featurettes (“The Guy Code,” “Men vs. Women,” “He Said, She Said,” “Comedy Behind the Scenes”)
(Sony Pictures Blu-ray $35.99, DVD $30.99)
What is it?
The fourth season of FX’s Sons of Anarchy.
Why should I care about a biker show?
Maybe because the show’s creator, Kurt Sutter, also made a name for himself working on Shawn Ryan’s The Shield. Or it could be because Katey Sagal has made a sweeping transition from being Peg Bundy (on Married…with Children) in the early ’90s to an animated cyclops as Leela on Futurama to now playing the matriarch of the Teller-Morrow family, which just so happens to be members of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original (SAMCRO for short). But the best reason is because the series is essentially Shakespeare’s Hamlet with bikers. And this latest season is proof of that.
After switching back and forth from Charming, Cal. to Ireland in the third season, which was received negatively by some SoA fans, Sutter ups the ante this season with the introduction of a “new sheriff in town” (played by Prison Break‘s Rockmond Dunbar), who is also referred to as “Wild Black Hickcock.” And the feds are looking to take down the biker club and its allies, which stretches back to Ireland (ah-ha!). This season really delves into the main conflict involving Jax (Charlie Hunnam) wanting to leave the club and what it means to Clay (Ron Perlman) and Gemma (Sagal), not to mention Jax’s love, Tara (Maggie Siff), and their two sons.
Okay, you’ve convinced me, but I’ve only watched a few episodes in the past.
Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say jump in head first with season four. Do yourself a favor and watch the previous seasons so you can get up to speed with the characters and see how they start to evolve as the episodes progress.
I have seen all the episodes, what else can I experience besides watching the episodes again?
The home video release includes audio commentaries on selected episodes (the season finale is definitely worth a listen), deleted scenes, a gag reel and three short featurettes (“Farewell Piney,” “Fans of Anarchy,” and “Anarchy at House of Blues”).
(Fox, Blu-ray $69.99, DVD $59.98)
What is it?
An anthology of the Terminator films that have been released.
An anthology, that’s like a collection, right?
But I already have all four films. What’s so special about this release?
From a disc perspective the only noticeable difference is that it appears the Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Blu-ray has been corrected. Originally, the Blu-ray was released in 1080i as opposed to 1080p. Also, the digital copy that was included with the director’s cut of Terminator Salvation has not been included.
The Terminator Anthology is a Best Buy Blu-ray exclusive for a limited time. The packaging is quite good, with a slipcover and gateway foldout that features the four models of Terminators inside of T1, T2, T3, and T4 logos.
Is this the definitive Terminator set?
It is for now. James Cameron has let it be known that a remastered version of The Terminator (which saw its 2006 Blu-ray discontinued) is forthcoming. But with no definitive timetable of release, and the fact that Cameron is committed to shooting two Avatar sequels back to back, it is unclear when that disc may occur.
(Warner Bros., Blu-ray $49.99 – Only at Best Buy)
What is it?
A buried treasure from cinema’s silent-talkie era brought back to life thanks to Criterion.
Has it ever been on home video before?
No, this feature from Paul Fejos is a rarity. Yet leave it to the fine folks behind The Criterion Collection to know their cinema history. In a working relationship with Universal Pictures, a relationship that will finally allow Blu-ray enthusiasts to see David Fincher’s The Game later this month, Criterion has saw fit to give Fejos’s Lonesome the special treatment it richly deserves. The film had significant restoration done in the early 1990s, and this restoration premiered at the 1994 Telluride Film Festival. However, flash to 2008 and the goal to complete the restoration, both visually and audibly. It was a concerted effort between George Eastman House and the audio technicians at Chace Audio by Deluxe to clean the print and remove the snap, crackle and pops before a new 35mm negative was created at restoration lab Cinetech.
I mention this only because of the painstaking work it took to remove all the dirt, debris, hisses and hums in the video and the soundtrack.
Lonesome is a part-talkie, although it was originally completed as a silent feature before being pulled and retrofitted with three sequences featuring dialogue. Also special is the use of hand-stenciled color during the nighttime scenes at New York’s famed Coney Island.
That’s great, but what is the film about?
The story is a boy meets girl tale about two individuals who are alone but are in search of love. Mary (Barbara Kent), a telephone operator, and Jim (Glenn Tryon), who works a punch press at a factory, decide to be impulsive and go to Coney Island for Fourth of July weekend. Taking the same bus, Jim is taken aback by Mary’s beauty and insinuates flirtation with her on the beach. Day turns to night and the two are in tandem on the boardwalk, as the warmth between them grows fonder. That is until they become separated and lose each other. But the surprise that awaits is not that surprising and is actually well put together in its effort to promote sentimentality.
The simplicity of the story – giving the audience twenty-four hours of the lives of two loveless souls in a 70-minute timeframe – begets a wealth of moods and styles. While it may never be mentioned in the same breath as say the works of F. W. Murnau, Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Lonesome is an ingenious tale about love utilizing experimental techniques that would become commonplace as the years progress.
Should I stick around and watch the extras?
Most definitely. In addition to an audio commentary and flipping through the informative booklet that comes with the disc, Criterion has also included Fejos’s 1929 silent feature The Last Performance and a reconstructed sound version of his musical Broadway. There’s also a visual essay titled “Fejos Memorial,” and an audio interview excerpt on the camera crane used while filming Broadway. Yeah, so this disc is loaded.
(The Criterion Collection, Blu-ray $39.95, DVD $29.95)
Ranking the seven titles described above:
2. Fringe: The Complete Fourth Season
3. Sons of Anarchy: Season Four
4. Think Like a Man
5. Bored to Death: The Complete Third Season
7. Terminator Anthology
*You can order any of the seven titles on either Blu-ray or DVD by clicking on their corresponding MSRP links.
Tags: Fringe, Safe, Sons of Anarchy, Think Like A Man