Avatar: Collector’s Extended Edition (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment): James Cameron’s sci-fi blockbuster finally gets the special edition treatment after a barebones release back in the Spring.
The major selling point for this package is that it contains three different cuts: the original theatrical release, the special edition re-release, and the exclusive extended cut not shown in theaters, along with eight hours of bonus features that exhaustively detail the production of the film. [Buy it on Blu-ray or DVD]
City Lights (Park Circus): The 1931 silent comedy-drama from Charlie Chaplin sees The Tramp fall in love with a beautiful, blind flower girl and form an unlikely friendship with a wealthy man.
Still one of the landmark films of the 1930s, this restoration on Blu-ray comes with some nice features including a documentary and outtakes. [But it on Blu-ray]
The Last Boy Scout (Warner Home Video): Although it criticised at the time, this 1991 action thriller directed by Tony Scott and written by Shane Black is wonderfully slick entertainment.
Starring Bruce Willis as a private eye caught up in the world of illegal sports, it is a surprisingly edgy mainstream film with some hilariously cynical humour and world weary performances. The studio were reportedly upset with the film but the Blu-ray release is a chance to appreciate Scott’s visual tricks in all their widescreen glory. [Buy it on Blu-ray]
An Idiot Abroad (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / DVD] Charlie Chaplin: The Circus (Park Circus) [Blu-ray with DVD] Fast and Furious/Gladiator/Wanted (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray] How to Train Your Dragon (DreamWorks Animation) [Blu-ray / DVD] Lethal Weapon Collection (Warner Home Video) [Blu-ray] Spirits of the Dead (Arrow Films) [Blu-ray] Star Wars – The Clone Wars: Season 2 (Warner Home Video) The Karate Kid (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray with DVD] White Christmas (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray]
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (Universal): This live action adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic series is the story of a Toronto bass playing geek (Michael Cera) who falls in love with a delivery girl named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), only to realise he must fight her ‘seven evil exes’.
What follows is an action-comedy hybrid in which director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) throws a barrage of visual artillery at the screen in order to recreate the look of comics and computer games.
Although it will have a devoted fan base, a question mark remains over the mainstream appeal of the material and the hyperactive way in which unfolds.
Grown Ups (Sony Pictures): Adam Sandler’s latest goofy comedy is about five friends (Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider) who reunite after thirty years to celebrate a Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Despite a torrent of negative reviews this has actually made a decent chunk of money worldwide, although it will probably be swiftly forgotten in the coming months. [Nationwide / 12A]
The Girl Who Played With Fire (Momentum Pictures): The second film adapted from the enormously successful Stieg Larsson trilogy of novels sees Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) return to Sweden after a year abroad only to fall under suspicion for murdering a journalist and his wife.
Although the Hollywood version of Larsson’s Millennium trilogy is under way with David Fincher at the helm, these native versions have done excellent business in Europe and with the novels still selling at a rapid pace, the second film is also likely to prove an art house hit. [Key Cities / 15]
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid (20th Century Fox): A live action (and partly animated) comedy film based on the illustrated books by Jeff Kinney. It stars Zachary Gordon as a kid having a tough time at school and also features Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn, Devon Bostick and Chloë Moretz.
Strictly aimed at family audiences, it arrives with little buzz and seems like it will find a bigger audience on DVD. [Nationwide / PG]
Avatar: Special Edition (20th Century Fox): James Cameron’s futuristic sci-fi blockbuster about an injured marine (Sam Worthington) who goes native on an alien planet gets a full re-release despite already being the most successful film of all time at the global box office.
This version will feature around 10 minutes of extra footage but it will be interesting to see how it does. The target audience appears to be those who didn’t see it first time around in 3D and those who want to see it again. [Nationwide / 12A]
Dog Pound (Optimum Releasing): Based on Alan Clarke’s Scum, this prison drama focusing on youthful delinquents in the US (although actually shot in Canada) by French director Kim Chapiron. [Key Cities / 18]
The Last Seven (Metrodome Distribution): A low budget British thriller which features Danny Dyer and Tamer Hassan. [Key Cities / 18]
The Maid (Artificial Eye): A Chilean drama from director Sebastián Silva about a maid (Catalina Saavedra) who serves an upper-middle-class family. [Key Cities / 15]
Wah Do Dem (Picturehouse): A US indie film about a twenty-something drifter (Sean Bones) who ends up travelling to Jamaica. [Key Cities / 15]
The Leopard (bfi Distribution): A re-release for Luscio Visconti’s epic 1963 film about the upheavals in 1860s Sicily, starring Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon.
Mad Men Season 3 (Lionsgate): One of the best Blu-ray releases of the year also happens to be the third season of the best show currently on television. Depicting the professional and personal lives of those who work at fictional New York ad agency Sterling Cooper, this series is set during 1963 and explores tensions with the new British owners, the ongoing personal conflicts (and infidelities) in the office and the gradual changes in US society.
Avatar (20th Century Fox Home Ent.): James Cameron’s futuristic sci-fi epic about a paraplegic marine (Sam Worthington) who ventures to another planet and becomes one of the alien natives through a host body (or ‘avatar’) was a box office phenomenon that surpassed expectations to become the highest grossing film of all time. After a 12 year absence from feature films Cameron utilised ground breaking visual effects to craft a tale that was a dazzling 3D experience at cinemas and one that resonated with cultures around the globe.
Although some of the dialogue didn’t match the eye-popping visuals, there was something pleasing about the way in which vast technological resources of the Hollywood machine were used to create a film with a simple anti-war, pro-environmental message. Because the Blu-ray release is so hotly anticipated, it is worth stating that there are no extras at all on this version. Cameron said he didn’t have the time to do them right and there will be a fuller package later this year with extended extras. Also, for this release Cameron has opted to use go for the 1.78:1 version (that was screened in IMAX cinemas) and not the 2.35:1 version that most people saw in 3D at the cinema. Despite that, the Blu-ray transfer is stunning and the visuals (including the live action sequences) are rendered with stunning detail and depth. [Blu-ray / DVD]
The Kreutzer Sonata (Axiom Films): Based on a story written by Leo Tolstoy in response to Beethoven’s eponymous composition, director Bernard Rose dissects a modern marriage between a wealthy philanthropist (Danny Huston) who becomes possessive of his pianist wife (Elisabeth Rohm). Following up his superb drama Ivansxtc, Rose continues his reworking of the great Russian novelist’s work, and this is the second part of a planned trilogy.
Danny Huston, who was outstanding in Ivansxtc, returns with another excellent performance, and the film is an interesting exploration of fairly juicy themes including love, sex and obsession. Whilst not quite as good as its predecessor, it represents another interesting chapter in Rose’s career outside the Hollywood mainstream. [DVD]
Prince Valiant (Eureka) [Blu-ray / DVD] Saving Private Ryan (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray] Smokin’ Aces (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray] Sword of the Stranger (Beez Entertainment) [Blu-ray] The Girlfriend Experience (Revolver Entertainment) [Blu-ray / DVD] Mad Men: Seasons 1-3 (Lionsgate UK) [Blu-ray / DVD] Carriers (Paramount Home Entertainment) [DVD] Dillinger (Icon Home Entertainment) [DVD]
At a press event for the home entertainment launch of Avatar in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Cameron let rip when asked about Beck:
“Glenn Beck is a f***ing a**hole. I’ve met him. He called me the anti-Christ, and not about Avatar. He hadn’t even seen Avatar yet. I don’t know if he has seen it.”
The Hollywood Reporter has noted that Cameron’s beef with Beck goes back to 2007 when the talk show host was working for CNN and criticised the Cameron-produced documentary ‘The Lost Tomb of Jesus‘ by saying:
“Many people believe James Cameron officially has tossed his hat in the ring today and is officially running for anti-Christ.”
Cameron was less than thrilled with Beck’s comments:
“He’s dangerous because his ideas are poisonous. I couldn’t believe when he was on CNN. I thought, what happened to CNN? Who is this guy? Who is this madman? And then of course he wound up on Fox News, which is where he belongs, I guess.”
He later backtracked a little saying:
“You know what, he may or may not be an a**hole, but he certainly is dangerous, and I’d love to have a dialogue with him.”
Interestingly, both men have made a lot of money for Rupert Murdoch as Avatar was mostly funded and released by 20th Century Fox whilst Beck is one of the stars of Fox News.
In the same session Cameron also attacked climate change deniers:
“Anybody that is a global warming denier at this point in time has got their head so deeply up their ass I’m not sure they could hear me.”
The environmental themes of Avatar are forming a big part of its home video release, a point which Cameron was keen to emphasise:
“Look, at this point I’m less interested in making money for the movie and more interested in saving the world that my children are going to inhabit. How about that? I mean, look, I didn’t make this movie with these strong environmental anti-war themes in it to make friends on the right, you know.”
The DVD and Blu-ray release date for Avatar is April 22nd, which is also Earth Day.