Disc Deals and Steals: Red at $13, 24 at $20, and Beckinsale’s Leather Pants

Here at Inside Pulse Movies, we compile all the best deals for DVD and Blu-ray releases, as well as report on some that are so good they’re criminal. DISCLAIMER: Inside Pulse is an Amazon affiliate (therefore we make a small percentage of every sale). So just know that every dollar earned helps run the site.

But first the coming attractions.

Okay so the Oscar nominations went out yesterday. I’ve already given my commentary with my likes and dislikes, but something that struck me is that the frontrunners in the Best Picture race is a case of relevancy as it is now (The Social Network) vs. traditionalism (The King’s Speech). I enjoyed both pictures, though I find it interesting that as the weeks and months go by all the buzz around that Facebook movie has dissipated. After all, many were making pronouncements as far back as September that this will be the one to beat come Oscars. Yet when the announcements were made yesterday, David Fincher’s film was bypassed by both The King’s Speech and True Grit. (Did you know: Since the Oscars began only three westerns have been awarded Best Picture.)

In the case of The Social Network it is a dialogue-driven film with a few standout performances, but mostly future stars, whereas The King’s Speech has three exemplary performances – all Oscar nominees and winners – plus it’s the story about a man (who would be king) dealing with and overcoming a disability. The Academy loves those.

Looking at the major nominees for acting, direction and picture, the only sure thing right now is Christian Bale in The Fighter. It has come to be that these last few years the Supporting Actor category have been guaranteed locks with the likes of Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men and Chistoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds.

Last week, I indicated that I would be covering the likes of Red, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, so let’s get to it.

I’ll begin with Red since it is the biggest new release of the week. I reviewed it initially when it was released in theaters back in the fall, and went as far as to say that the action-comedy wouldn’t linger around in your head for an extended period of time. It’s all about the moment. Red became a hit, but I believe it will play better on home video. The content is easily digestible with a slice of pizza or your favorite snack. Plus, at home you can do strange double features with Red and another film featuring one of its stars. Just imagine Red followed by Making Mr. Right, a little film from the ’80s where John Malkovich plays a human and a robot.

A word of warning when you purchase Red on Blu-ray. For some unknown reason, Summit Entertainment has released two different Blu-rays, one that is movie-only and one that has added extras. But that isn’t the kicker. The kicker is that the movie-only BD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, while the feature-laden release comes with Loseless audio. So if you decide to go the cheaper route and purchase only the movie disc you are losing out on audio quality. Can’t say that I agree with Summit’s decision to go this route, because it sets a bad precedent. Why even have two releases to begin with? Oh, that’s right, greed.

The more and more I watch documentaries, the more I enjoy them. They’re like visual research papers that cover a wide array of subjects. Alex Gibney, who has directed such docs as Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Taxi to the Darkside, had quite a year last year. He released two documentaries and produced a segment for another. Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer focuses on former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and how he was handed the keys to the kingdom but ultimately lost it all because of liaisons with high-priced tail. Such a great doc. I knew little about Eliot Spitzer aside from his adultery and loss of governorship. Where it succeeds is being a time capsule before the economy imploded. Spitzer saw the writing far ahead of anybody else on Wall Street. He was a stock market cop, going after the likes of the American Insurance Group (AIG) and its CEO Hank Greenberg. Now, mind you, this was a democrat going against the heads of major financial institutions way before President Obama uttered the phrase “economic bailout.” It makes you wonder about what the state of the economy would be like today if Eliot Spitzer hadn’t been implicated in a prostitution ring. In early March, Sony Pictures Classics will release the doc Inside Job on home video. Definitely make a point to watch that doc as well to get an inside look at America’s economy before and after bailouts were offered.

The grand finale in the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest has finally made its way to home video. Though the trilogy didn’t hit U.S. shores until 2010, these Swedish imports were some of my favorite movie-watching experiences last year. And the reason is simple: Noomi Rapace as the titular heroine of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels, Lisbeth Salander. While the films took a noticeable dip in quality with each successive entry, taken as a whole the trilogy does have its strong points. What stuck out to me is that each film is representative of a particular type of mystery. The first is a police procedural; the second is mitigated by revenge; and the third is a legal thriller. Hornet’s Nest is cumbersome to sit through at times, because its most important character is restrained and unable to be an active participant. But it is a nice reversal from Dragon Tattoo where Lisbeth was a firecracker in helping journalist Mikael Blomkvist in his investigation. Now it is he who is intent on seeing that she gets out of this legal quagmire where she is on trial for the murder of her father, and he’s also investigating the medical treatment she received from Swedish medical authorities when she was young.

If you’ve never seen the Millennium Trilogy before, do start with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That is a film that can standalone whereas The Girl Who Played with Fire and Hornet’s Nest both have to be watched if you want to see the entire story. If you crave extras, Music Box Films is releasing all three films in a Blu-ray box set next month with an exclusive disc containing “Millennium: The Story,” a 53 minute documentary detailing the phenomenon of the trilogy and its author Stieg Larsson.

Also new this week: Broadcast News: Criterion Collection (BD / DVD), Secretariat (BD / DVD), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (BD), Enter the Void (BD / DVD), The Color Purple (BD), Nowhere Boy (BD / DVD), A Beautiful Mind (BD), and Saw: The Final Chapter (BD 3D / BD / DVD)

Two Best Deals of the Week

Format: DVD
Deal: $19.99 at Amazon

UNDERWORLD TRILOGY (Amazon’s Blu-ray Deal of the Week – Sale ends 01/29/11)
Format: Blu-ray
Deal: $26.99 at Amazon

A note for completists: A fourth Underworld movie is in the works with a returning Kate Beckinsale. So just know that this Underworld Trilogy is an incomplete set.

Over at Best Buy they are offering an exclusive for Red. Specially marked packages of the BD+DVD release will include a comic book. Also, each copy of Red on either Blu-ray or DVD comes with a free movie ticket to see Drive Angry starring Nicolas Cage.

Target is offering several DVDs at the low price of $4.75. Some include The Usual Suspects, The Strangers, and Sleepless in Seattle. Also, a number of Blu-rays are selling at $10 this week, like: Michael Jackson’s This Is It and The Crazies.

A good thing to remember is that Amazon routinely matches the sale prices of Best Buy and Target weekly, so if you want to avoid the crowds or pay tax, Amazon is always the way to go. And this week the online retailer has a number of good deals going on, especially if want to see what Kate Beckinsale in black leather looks like in HD. See for yourself below.

The Social Network (Two Discs) – $12.99
Red – $12.99
Archer: Season 1 – $13.49
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – $14.99
The King’s Speech (Pre-Order) – $18.99
Justified: The Complete First Season – $19.99
Glee: Season 2, Vol. 1 – $19.99

Bullitt – $7.95
Coming to America – $8.99
Enter the Dragon – $9.49
The Last Samurai – $9.91
Dumb & Dumber – $9.99
The Dark Knight – $9.99
L.A. Confidential – $9.99
Cool Hand Luke – $9.99
The Departed – $11.78
Bloodsport / Timecop – $12.99
Red (Movie-Only) – $12.99
Forrest Gump (Sapphire Series) – $14.49
Justified: The Complete First Season – $21.99

On tap for next week: Let Me In, Bad Boys, Pleasantville

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