New On DVD is sponsored by the Toronto-based video store Eyesore Cinema, located at 801 Queen St. West (above Rotate This!). They specialize in rare, out of print, hard to find, and import titles, and will take special orders if you’re nice. They also sell magazines, posters, books, and more. If you’re in Toronto, pop in and show your support (and make sure to tell them we sent you). You can also visit them online for more info.
Red (Special Edition Blu-ray) Criticize This! Pick of the Week – What a pleasant surprise Red was. Based on the Warren Ellis/Cully Hamner graphic novel, the film follows a group of retired CIA super agents forced back into duty when someone tries to take one of them out. Starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, and Karl Urban, the film is not only action-packed, it’s also extremely hilarious. And it’s the comedy that made the film so damn good, especially the scenes with Malkovich, who totally steals the thunder from the rest of the seasoned cast.
The Blu-ray release is very impressive, with a great 1080p transfer and 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix. Special features include interviews with the cast, audio commentary with a retired CIA Field Officer, animated documentary shorts, deleted and extended scenes, and more. Film **** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Blu-ray) – The third and final film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s excellent book series “The Millenium Trilogy” starts right where The Girl Who Played with Fire ended, and continues Lisbeth Salander’s (Noomi Rapace) story as she recovers from her near-death experience and is put on trial for the attempted murder of her father. Of course hot shot journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is still on the case, doing his own background investigation into the politicians, doctors, and many other corrupt people trying to shut Lisbeth up.
I’m a huge fan of the series but found The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest introduced too many new characters that only complicated the story even further, in turn dropping characters from the previous films without properly concluding their storylines. It’s also extremely long and painstakingly boring for a majority of it, and unlike the first two, I found myself struggling trying to get through a second viewing of it.
The Blu-ray release is features a very clean and crisp image and a great 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix. Special features include interviews with actors Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, and the theatrical trailer. A regular DVD of the film is also included. Film ** Blu-ray *** (out of 5 stars).
Secretariat (Blu-ray) – Do you like horses? Do you like movies about horses? Did you like Seabiscuit? Then you’ll love Secretariat. Based on the true story of a racing horse, its owner (played by Diane Lane), French-Canadian trainer (played by John Malkovich), and the rest of the people who believed in it enough to make it a champion during the early ‘70s, the film is a beautifully shot work of art directed by Randall Wallace. Sure, it’s a little too sentimental at times (this is a Disney production after all), but the cinematography and performances (again, Malkovich steals the show) make it a worthwhile watch.
The Blu-ray release definitely shows off the cinematography, especially during the racing scenes, and the 1080p picture quality is stunning and vibrant. The surround sound is also top notch, and when the horse is racing it feels like you’re right there with him. Special features include audio commentary with Randall Wallace, deleted scenes, a featurette with Secretariat’s real owner, Penny Chesney, a featurette on how they shot the race scenes, and more. A regular DVD of the film is also included. Film *** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).
Enter the Void – Writer-director Gaspar Noé really knows how to aggravate his audience. On the surface, Enter the Void is a stylish and artistic ghost story, but when you get into it, it falls apart and becomes a pointless excuse for graphic imagery. With a near three-hour run time it’s also hard to sit and watch from beginning to end. If you’ve never seen Noé’s 2002 film Irreversible, I’d recommend checking it out instead (it too is graphic and grim, but is a much better movie experience). Special features on the DVD include deleted scenes, trailers, and more. Also available on Blu-ray. Film ** DVD ** (out of 5 stars).
Also available this week on DVD and Blu-ray:
Nowhere Boy (DVD/Blu-ray)
Saw: The Final Chapter (DVD/Blu-ray)
Dead Space: Aftermath (DVD/Blu-ray)
Broadcast News (Criterion Blu-ray)
The Color Purple (Blu-ray)
Quiet Days in Clichy (Blu-ray)
Justified Season 1 (DVD/Blu-ray)
Glee Season 2: Vol. 1 (DVD)