This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Sept. 25
This week: The big one arrives - cue the Blu for Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Also: A big Bond boxed set that'll leave you stirred; DC's animated take on The Dark Knight Returns; and the creepy cool of American Horror Story.
► To the surprise of no one, THE AVENGERS assembled enough moolah to become the biggest hit of the year. To the surprise of some, it was better than expected: Director Joss Whedon took a half century of established characters, the set-up of five previous movies, and the pressure to not screw everything up … and made a superhero flick for the ages. Once past the awe of seeing all these icons together, the movie functioned as both a straight-forward action flick, and an all-in-one sequel to every previous movie. Outstanding fun, and likely to be the year’s biggest selling Blu-ray as well. Loads of bonus stuff includes alternate opening and closing scenes, Whedon commentary, and – with the four-disc edition – a digital album download.
► The nine remaining James Bond flicks not yet on Blu-ray (including ‘Goldeneye’) make the jump for BOND 50: THE COMPLETE 22 FILM COLLECTION. Not much different here from the previous Bond boxed sets, aside from one hour of new bonus content (one hour from 50 years worth of movies?). The flipside? The 130 hours of bonus stuff from previous releases are included. FYI, the David Niven ‘Casino Royale’ and Sean Connery ‘Never Say Never Again’ aren’t included because MGM doesn’t consider them officially part of the series.
► Coming from the director of the notorious ‘Martyrs,’ Pascal Laugier’s THE TALL MAN has to be one of the most disappointing movies of the year. Whereas ‘Martyrs’ was oddly moving despite its graphic content, this one is watered down and annoyingly preachy by the end. And contrary to the marketing, it’s assuredly NOT a horror film. Jessica Biel plays a widowed nurse whose son is apparently taken by an urban legend known around town as The Tall Man. Of course, nothing is as it seems … in the worst way possible. Going soft isn’t Laugier’s style.
► What an embarrassment of riches for Batman fans this year. Nolan’s trilogy ended spectacularly, the comics are kicking ass again, and now an animated take on Frank Miller’s classic THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. This legendary story – which single-handedly revived interest in the character back in 1986 – finds Batman as an aging warrior pulled out of retirement by a mutant gang terrorizing Gotham (though it’s really about so much more). So many incredible sequences, but the biggest – the Superman/Batman battle – will have to wait for Part 2, coming next year.
► What a puzzle you are, Ryan Murphy: You stain the world with ‘Glee,’ but then deliver the goods with AMERICAN HORROR STORY. Last year’s most intriguing new show followed ‘The Walking Dead’s lead to restore some dignity to TV horror, as it follows a troubled family dealing with the spirits of murder victims in their new L.A mansion. Surprises galore, not the least of which is an all-new story and characters comprising Season 2, which starts Oct. 17.
► Mock me if you must, but here are three reasons I’m going to miss DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: 1.) At its best, the show was a sharp send-up of nighttime soaps even if it strayed off course some seasons. 2.) It took all the clichés of a typical ‘series finale’ episode and actually delivered a touching, funny, satisfying series finale. 3.) Eva Longoria … Sunday nights won’t be the same without you. The eighth and final season falls short of the show’s hey day, but there’s still solid stuff here as the ladies cover up a dead body, two major characters die, and everyone’s story has a somewhat surprising ending. Only complaint: Nicolette Sheridan and producer Marc Cherry couldn’t bury the hatchet to include her in the final moments.
► The further GOSSIP GIRL gets away from its high school roots, the worse it gets. We’re now at the point Blair is planning for a Royal Wedding, and Nate is hooking up with Hall-of-Fame MILF Elizabeth Hurley. Actually, that’s a huge win for Nate, but still. All the while, Blake Lively still has that ‘I can’t wait for this show to end’ look on her face, so she can make baby Green Lanterns. Haters take note, next season is the last.
► ‘Seven’ put David Fincher on the map, but it was his follow-up, THE GAME, which truly hinted at the greatness to come. A box office flop at the time, it has grown in stature over the years and is now regarded as the hidden gem in his filmography. Despite a wonky ending where things get a bit too convenient, it’s a brain-tugging thriller with one of Michael Douglas’ great lost performances from the ‘90s. It now gets the Criterion treatment with a restored digital transfer, commentary by Fincher and an alternate ending.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!