Watch @ Home: December 4, 2012

A scene fron 'The Dark Knight Rises'. Courtesy Warner Bros.

The Dark Knight Rises (Blu-ray) – When Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins arrived in 2005 it changed the superhero genre forever. It was dark, it was geared towards adults, and it blended a great story with great effects and acting. No one expected Nolan to top Batman Begins, but he did, and The Dark Knight went down in the history books as one of the greatest superhero films ever made. With The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan has tightly wrapped up his Batman trilogy and has left a huge legacy behind that will be tough to beat when they inevitably reboot the franchise in a few years. Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star. No doubt, The Dark Knight Rises needs to be seen at home on Blu-ray. It is one of the nicest 1080p transfers I’ve ever laid eyes on and the 5.1 DTS-HD surround sound shook my house it’s so powerful. Special features include a history of the Batmobile, making-of featurettes, a second screen app, and much more. A regular DVD of the film is also included. Film **** Blu-ray ***** (out of 5 stars).

ParaNorman (Blu-ray) - If you took The Goonies and Ghostbusters and combined them into one movie you’d get something similar to ParaNorman. While not so much for young children, the vibe the film has feels so much like a PG-13 film from the ‘80s that I got giddy during it like I would if I was actually watching it as a 12-year-old in the ‘80s. The stop-motion animation is far from perfect, but it works well in this context. And it’s the story that sells ParaNorman so well anyway. Norman is an odd kid who can see ghosts. He’s bullied at school over his ‘weirdness’ and yet overcomes all the taunting and eventually saves the day. Watch it, buy it, pick it up for someone on your Christmas list — you won’t regret it. The Blu-ray is definitely the way to go with ParaNorman as the high-def picture and 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix helps enhance the animation and makes the film just that much better. Special features include making-of featurettes, audio commentary with writer-director Chris Butler, and director Sam Fell, and more. A regular DVD and digital copy of the film are included as well. Film **** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).

A scene from 'ParaNorman'. Courtesy Alliance Films.
Finding Nemo (Blu-ray) – I have loved Finding Nemo since the day it was released and think it’s one of Pixar’s greatest achievements. From the eye-popping animation, to the great father-son storyline, to some of the best voice casting in an animated feature ever, it has it all and then some. All of that is even better now that it’s on Blu-ray. This is a film that was made to be seen in crystal clear high-def and Disney has gone above and beyond with the 1080p transfer here. The film is so clear and sharp it looks like you could just jump right into your television and swim away. The 7.1 DTS-HD surround sound mix is also something to marvel over and is pure audible joy. Special features spread across two Blu-ray discs and include a deleted scene, a discussion with the filmmakers, the short film Knick Knack, and much more. A regular DVD of the film is included as well. Film **** Blu-ray ***** (out of 5 stars).

The Expendables 2 (Blu-ray) – Did you get a kick out of The Expendables? If so, you’ll love The Expendables 2 as it reunites the all-star action cast of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Randy Couture and Terry Crews, while adding even more adrenaline in the mix with the likes of Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Liam Hemsworth. It’s a perfect sequel, delivering double the action, double the laughs, and double the fun. The Blu-ray highlights the action with a wonderful 1080p transfer and a very sweet 7.1 DTS-HD surround mix. Special features include audio commentary with director Simon West, deleted scenes, a gag reel, and more. A digital copy of the film is also included. Film *** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).

A scene from 'The Expendables 2'. Courtesy Alliance Films.
Lawless (Blu-ray) – Directed by John Hillcoat (The Road), Lawless tells the true story of the Bondurant brothers; a gang of bootleggers in Virginia during prohibition. When a corrupt deputy from the city was brought in to get a cut of their earnings or shut them down, they stood their ground and fought the law. Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jason Clarke all deliver fine performances as the brothers, but it’s Guy Pearce who really knocks it out of the park as the psychotic deputy, Charlie Rakes. Pearce could very well get a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his work here he’s so good. Sadly, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska are both only used as fodder and don’t add much to the film. The Blu-ray has a sharp, clean 1080p image transfer and a wonderful 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix. Special features include audio commentary with director John Hillcoat, deleted scenes, and more. A digital copy of the film is included as well. Film *** Blu-ray *** (out of 5 stars).

The Apparition (Blu-ray) – Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan) are a sad-looking couple living in a new house in an empty subdivision in the middle of nowhere. They live on take-out food, shop at Costco and say stupid, irritating things to each other (watching them interact was a chore to sit through). When weird things begin to happen in the house, such as doors opening and mold growing all over place, we find out that Ben used to dabble in witchcraft and released something during a seance once that is now coming for him. The Apparition is not just one of the worst films of the year, it is one of the worst films ever made. To put it into perspective, it makes The Devil Inside look like the The Exorcist. It doesn’t matter what I think of the quality of the Blu-ray as I don’t recommend this film on any format. Special features include making-of featurettes, and more. A regular DVD and digital copy are also included. Film * Blu-ray * (out of 5 stars).

Also available to Watch @ Home this week is Men in Black 3, Laurence Anyways, Hope Springs, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Day, and the remake of Silent Night.

Brian McKechnie

About Brian McKechnie

Brian McKechnie is the founder and editor of Criticize This! Email him at brian@criticizethis.ca.