This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Prometheus, E.T., Rock of Ages, The Raven ...
This week: The underwhelming Prometheus tries to make it up to you on Blu-ray. Also: E.T. turns 30 in style; some vintage crazy Bette; and which is the worse musical - Magical Mystery Tour or Rock of Ages?
► Amongst another summer of big disappointments, I never figured PROMETHEUS would be one of them. But Ridley Scott's jumbled 'Alien' prequel could never find its groove, denying fans what they wanted (mainly, anything related to 'Alien') while tripping over itself with a frustratingly vague story about explorers sent to investigate the possible origins of humanity on an alien planet. It's one of those elusive movies which raises ten questions for every one it answers. If it wasn't for the already classic 'squid baby' scene, this movie would already be forgotten. Yes, it's an obvious attempt by Scott to out-gross 'Alien's chestburster scene, but it's one of the few moments 'Prometheus' lives up to its insanely high expectations. The four-disc Blu-ray comes with seven hours of bonus stuff, including alternate opening and closing scenes.
► Ten years ago, Steven Spielberg briefly lost his mind and made alterations to E.T., one of the most perfect movies ever made. Unlike George Lucas, he came to his senses and realized you shouldn't screw with a classic, so the version we get on Blu-ray this week is the glorious, original 1982 masterpiece. So yes, the walkie talkie is now a gun again, which seems trifling until you ask why Spielberg changed it to begin with: We were ecstatic when that bike started flying precisely because the police had guns and the situation seemed bleak. But enough griping - like the best of Spielberg, this one has aged incredibly well and the meticulous digital transfer here is truly the best it has ever looked (until it's inevitably released in 3D). All the great special features from the previous DVD are back, including the 20th anniversary cast reunion. New is ‘The E.T. Journals,’ a 54-minute archive of footage from the set.
► I was convinced ROCK OF AGES would be one of the summer's biggest hits. To which I say to my dumb ass from five months ago: "Tom Cruise singing Bon Jovi songs? Ya, how could that miss." Based on the Broadway musical guys had to be dragged to, 'Hairspray' director Adam Shankman cranks up the camp and gives the floor to stars who have no business singing (Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand). The '80s nostalgia is fun for awhile – and Cruise brings his A game to C- material – but this is way too much fluff for two hours. The bonus features on ‘80s hair metal are more interesting.
► The legend goes, on the night before his death Edgar Allan Poe kept calling out the name “Reynolds.” He was a bit loony by that point, but THE RAVEN turns this little side note into a full-fledged mystery. A series of murders in Baltimore appear to resemble some of the grisly deaths in Poe’s stories, leading police to enlist him to find the killer. Poe purists will have great geeky fun nitpicking the details.
► Even hardcore Beatles fans struggle to get through MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR - the height of their druggy, anything-we-do-is-deep phase. Don’t get me wrong, the music is phenomenal. The movie … not so much. Originally aired on British TV in 1967 and has rarely been seen since, aside from bootlegs. A pretentious mess about a bus driver (Ringo) and his passengers going on one gigantic acid trip. I think. I don’t know, not a single second of it makes sense, but fans can finally fill that gaping hole on their shelf.
► LCD Soundsystem goes all Last Waltz with SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS, a documentary on their final concert held last year at Madison Square Garden. It follows frontman James Murphy in the 48 hours leading up to the show, sharing insights with pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman. But for most fans, the three-and-a-half concert is the main event, shown in its entirety with walk-ons by Arcade Fire and Reggie Watts. An awesome goodbye to fans.
► By 1962, people were forgetting just how great Bette Davis was. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? was a killer reminder – one of the great, unhinged performances of the ‘60s. Letting her real-life hatred of co-star Joan Crawford fuel her, she plays a former child star who torments her crippled sister when she catches wind she intends to sell their house. Crawford was so pissed Davis got an Oscar nomination she lobbied against her winning. A deranged little classic. Blu-ray offers three documentaries, including ‘All About Bette’ hosted by Jodie Foster.
► Here’s a legit question to any parents reading this – do your kids even bother with traditional animation any more, or is it all CG? Because the Oscar-nominated A CAT IN PARIS puts most every animated movie of 2012 to shame. It follows a French feline who keeps a traumatized six-year-old girl company by day, then works with a cat burgler by night. Dark, jazzy and beautifully drawn. Voices by Marcia Gay Harden and Anjelica Huston.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!