How to Train Your Dragon – My 3-year-old’s favorite movie soars to a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, which breathes potent special-features fire in the form of filmmaker commentary, a dragon-drawing tutorial and behind-the-scenes peeks.
The animation glimmers in HD and loses little from the absence of 3D. The story is a surprisingly heartstring-tugging affair in which a clan of warlike Vikings learns to make nice with the flying reptilian beasts who have always tormented them.
Apocalypse Now Blu-ray Full Disclosure Edition – The 1979 Vietnam War film is an incoherent mess, which is one of the reasons it’s perfectly in tune with the conflict it explores. A stunning cast includes Martin Sheen, Dennis Hopper, Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford and Lawrence Fishburne, and the eye-popping cinematography comes to life in HD. Extras include new interviews with Sheen and director Francis Ford Coppola, as well as a 1938 Orson Welles production of Hearts of Darkness, which inspired the film. Also in the set is the 1991 documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, the brilliant behind-the-scenes look at the turbulent making of the movie.
Caprica: Season 1.0 – Battlestar Galactica’s prequel examines a near-future society losing its soul in a rush to push technology forward and lose itself in virtual reality in the years before a race of super robots rings in the apocalypse. The heavy subject matter isn’t afraid to take on political and cultural issues, and while it lacks the dazzling space combat of Galactica, this quieter, more meditative take on sci-fi holds its own. Deleted scenes, episode commentaries and podcasts from the cast and crew complete the package.
Ghost Whisperer: The Final Season – Jennifer Love Hewitt closes out her half-decade as a spiritual medium who solves Sixth Sense-style problems of the departed within an hour. Bonus features include a web series that elaborated on the show’s storylines and a look at the turning points in the season’s storyline.
Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection – An ideal gift for your grandpa, the massive box bulges with 24 Humphrey Bogart classics, from legends such as The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and The Big Sleep to obscure fare such as Invisible Stripes. Many of the movies include bonus features, and the set serves as a master class on one of the enduring screen icons of the 20th century.
In Treatment: Season 2 – HBO’s chronically overlooked but immensely addictive soap opera features a psychiatrist (Gabriel Byrne) who juggles clients while dealing with his own demons. The improv-heavy acting is remarkable, managing to boil down dense drama to its basics while relying almost entirely on dialogue.
Jonah Hex – Another DC comics character bites the dust hard in this tepid Western, starring Josh Brolin as a gunslinger who clears his name by hunting down an enemy of the U.S. government (John Malkovich) while romancing a femme fatale (Megan Fox). The movie is made up of “are you kidding me?” moments, with sloppy storytelling and bland performances from a seemingly capable cast. The B-ray includes a DVD and digital copy, as well as deleted scenes.
Please Give – Teaming with go-to lead actress Catherine Keener, director Nicole Holofcener spins a darkly humorous tale of a New York couple who take over the apartment of their late elderly neighbor and deal with the woman’s contentious granddaughters (Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet). Outtakes and a Holofcener interview head up the extras.
Predators – A reboot of the horror franchise that started in 1987 gathers a surprisingly solid cast (Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Danny Trejo and Laurence Fishburne) but can’t recapture the bloody magic of its predecessor. Once again, an uneasy alliance of warriors bands together to fight their laser-firing, invisible-turning alien foes. At least the special effects look good, and the Blu-ray version includes a DVD and digital copy.
Psycho 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray – Alfred Hitchcock’s intentionally campy film about a murderous momma’s boy turned horror on its head, and the fabled film retains every bit of its suspense, thanks much to the incredible performance by Anthony Perkins. The Blu-ray is loaded with documentaries, interviews and behind-the-scenes trivia.
Robocop Trilogy Blu-ray – Robocop’s kneecap-busting pot-shots never looked so pretty. The humanoid robotic law enforcement officer blasts bad guys galore in the 1987-1993 series, which get increasingly awful by the film, radiate with cheeseball nostalgia. They don’t make action movies like this anymore. For good reason. The scant special features are disappointing.
The Tudors: The Final Season – Showtime’s lavish and sultry take on 16th century England during the tumultuous rule of Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) comes to an explosive close, with the egotistical monarch flailing to keep his slippery kingdom under his thumb. Superb acting, gorgeous cinematography and smart writing make the series one of the finest to air on the ever-improving premium channel. The special features are mostly advertisements for Showtime’s other series, with two episodes each of United States of Tara, Dexter and Californication.
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