As ever, we have not just the brand new films and TV shows making their way to shelves for the first time, but also single-disc Blu-ray editions (which we’re increasingly seeing within a few months of the Double / Triple Play versions), and a host of films getting the HD treatment, released on Blu-ray for the first time, with Disney releasing a handful of old titles in the visually beautiful format.
Stay tuned for next week (and be sure to get your pre-orders in early), which will see Chornicle, Coriolanus, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and a huge number of Blu-ray re-releases from Play coming to a living room near you.
My personal picks of the week:
It’s another tie for me this week, this time in the form of,
Alexander Payne’s The Descenedants & Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire.
Both are films I was sadly too busy to see on the big screen, but now they’re here for viewing in my own time, and I can’t wait to see them both.
DVD and Blu-ray (both inc. Digital Copy)
Alexander Payne’s first film behind the camera since 2004’s Sideways earned him his second Oscar, adapting the screenplay with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash from Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel of the same name.
As you no doubt remember, The Descendants was going head-to-head with The Artist at this year’s Academy Awards, and while the latter took home five statues, The Descendants was equally wonderfully praised in critics’ reviews, and I’m really looking forward to finally getting a chance to see George Clooney in the lead.
“Alexander Payne’s seriocomic THE DESCENDANTS, an adaptation of the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, stars George Clooney as Matt King, a middle age Hawaiian who runs a trust responsible for millions of dollars worth of untouched real estate that has been passed down to him and various cousins. He is preparing to sell the area, and make millions for everyone in the trust, when his wife suffers a severe head trauma during a boat race. As he attempts to get her affairs in order, he learns that she had been having an affair. With his two daughters in tow, along with his oldest daughter’s doofus boyfriend, Matt sets off to confront the man who made him a cuckold. Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, and Robert Forster co-star.”
DVD and Blu-ray
With Steven Soderbergh’s retirement on the horizon, and just three films left in his career (including this summer’s upcoming Magic Mike), Haywire is the fourth-final film we may ever see from the writer-director.
Gina Carano’s lead performance was very highly praised in the explosive female lead, with a list of brilliant supporting actors as long as your arm – Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas.
“This dynamic action-thriller directed by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh boasts a talented cast including Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender and Gina Carano.
Mallory Kane (Carano) is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who knew her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.”
DVD and Blu-ray
Liam Neeson returns to lead the Alaska-set action-thriller that pits a lone group of men against a pack of ferocious wolves. With Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces) behind the camera, Ridley Scott producing, and a supporting cast including Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, and James Badge Dale (who just joined Iron Man 3), The Grey turned its $25m. budget into a healthy $76m. at the box office, which will no doubt push much further as it comes to DVD and Blu-ray this week.
“In The Grey, Liam Neeson leads an unruly group of oil-rig roughnecks when their plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Battling mortal injuries and merciless weather, the survivors have only a few days to escape the icy elements and a vicious pack of rogue wolves on the hunt before their time runs out.”
The Darkest Hour
DVD (inc. Digital Copy) and Blu-ray 3D (inc. Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy)
Though somewhat panned by critics, Chris Gorak’s The Darkest Hour looked very impressive with the visuals and special effects (as you can see in the trailer above), and managed to do fairly solid business at the box office, more than doubling its $30m. budget.
The brilliant Olivia Thirlby (Juno, the upcoming Dredd) and Emile Hirsch (Alpha Dog, The Girl Next Door) take the lead, with Timur Bekmambetov (the upcoming Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) producing, in this apocalyptic Moscow-set sci-fi action film.
“Director Chris Gorak (RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR) teams with producer Timur Bekmambetov for this tense apocalyptic thriller centring on the fight for survival waged by five youths who find themselves stranded in Moscow during an alien invasion. As the invisible extraterrestrials absorb all of Earth’s energy and life forms, finding a means of escaping the unstoppable attackers becomes a seemingly impossible task. Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, and Max Minghella star.”
DVD and Blu-ray
Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) takes the helm for this English- and Spanish-language horror, in which the Oscar-nominated (and BAFTA-winning) Clive Owen (Children of Men) stars as one of the two families with children plagued by horrifying nightmares.
“Intruders tells parallel stories of two families whose lives are disrupted by menacing apparitions: in Spain, a mother tries to protect her son from a faceless stranger, while in Britain, a young girl has terrifying dreams of a demon (Hollowface) who becomes a real danger to her and her family.”
I didn’t get a chance to see it on the big screen during its brief run in one of the cinemas near me, but the trailer makes it look like it has some potential for fans of the genre.
DVD and Blu-ray
Based on the original ’70s Japanese anime, Takashi Miike (13 Assassins) brought a feature adaptation to the Japanese big screen back in 2009 that is getting its release here on DVD and Blu-ray this week. The action-comedy (as you can see in the trailer above) looks to be a bit different to Miike’s more violent work, but it found success in Japan! So if you’re a fan of all of Miike’s work, it’s no doubt a must-see making its way to our shores.
“Classic seventies anime series Yatterman flies to the silver screen in a brilliant crime-fighting explosion of candy-coloured camp, over-the-top adventure, and pure popcorn entertainment. Directed by legendary cult director Takashi Miike (13 Assassins, Ichi The Killer, Audition) and featuring a brand new plot and re-imaged characters, this live action debut of Yatterman will re-define the robot action adventure genre.
Gan, the only son of a toy shop owner, and his girlfriend Ai are just normal teens who like to tinker away with robotic inventions – that is, when they’re not out keeping the world safe from evil! Together with their giant robot dog Yatterwoof, and their small incompetent robot Toybotty, Gan & Ai transform into crime-fighting duo Yatterman to fight for world peace. Waging battle against perennial nemesis, the Doronbo gang. Formed by sexy villainess Doronjo and her lackeys Boyacky, and Tonzra, the Doronbo trio will stop at nothing to recover the powerful wish-granting Skull Stone, but they’ll have to get past Yatterman first!”
True Blood – Season 4 and Seasons 1 – 4 Box Set
DVD and Blu-ray
I’m still yet to delve into the world of True Blood, but I know (with its fifth season upcoming) it’s an incredibly popular programme, and with Alan Ball (American Beauty, Six Feet Under) being the brains behind the operation, and Anna Paquin in the female lead, it must make for addictive watching, and you generally can’t go wrong with HBO.
(To avoid too many spoilers, the synopsis is taken from the 1 – 4 box set.)
“Vampires have come “out of the coffin” and are now living among us. Surviving on synthetic blood, they no longer need human blood to survive. Or so it seems…
The small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, boasts a wide array of colourful locals. Meet Sookie Stackhouse (Academy Award winner Anna Paquin, a sweet and innocent waitress who hides her powerful ability to read minds; Bill Compton (British actor Stephen Moyer), a 173-year-old vampire who’s just moved back to town; Sookie’s brother Jason (Aussie hearthrob Ryan Kwanten – Vinnie Patterson from Home And Away), a ladies’ man who can’t seem to stay out of trouble; tough-as-nails Tara, Sookie’s loyal best friend; Sam, the owner of Merlotte’s who tries to keep his feelings for Sookie to himself; Lafayette, a man about town who’s always cooking up something illicit and “off the menu”, and a quirky cast of characters who each hide their dark secrets in the shadows of night in this series that’s like no other.”
Psych – Season 5
Again, like True Blood, Psych is a programme that I know a little about but have never seen myself, so I’ll let the synopsis do the talking. It does have Charlie (Dulé Hill) from The West Wing as co-lead, so it’s definitely got that working in its favour.
“He’s got an eye for details and a knack for saying the wrong thing… Fortunately for impulsive fake “psychic detective” Shawn Spencer (James Roday), his best friend, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill), is there to make sense of it all in 16 peculiar and witty Season Five episodes of Psych. Based out of their quirky PI office, the unlikely duo are “psyched” this season to consult on some of the most bizarre police cases to-date: from infiltrating a ring of street thugs to ghost hunting to advocating for a polar bear. But, will rival profilers and old enemies put a stop to their rogue investigative style? Be there for all the mysterious mayhem and pineapple-hunting fun in the series that keeps… more » audiences following the clues from one season to the next.”
Disney Blu-ray Re-Releases!
Every once in a while, as we well know, Disney like to release special editions of their back catalogue, with each release typically limited in number so that they can sell out the stock and ensure more future editions will always be bought! It’s an immensely clever distribution strategy (credit where credit’s due), and the development of Blu-ray has given them a great reason(/excuse) to go back and give all of our favourite childhood films the HD treatment.
The Lion King, Lady and the Tramp, Beauty and the Beast, and many more classics have already been released on Blu-ray, and this week sees the release of Pocahontas, Tarzan, and The Fox and the Hound, as well as The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride and The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata, now individually available outside of The Lion King Blu-ray Trilogy.
I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of those films in full, I seem to have missed more than I’d have liked to growing up, so I may well have to delve into this new selection and enjoy them in High Definition.
(Regular) Blu-ray Re-Releases
As always, the new weekly releases include a number of other old (and new) films getting the HD treatment, and after getting the likes of Malcolm X and Frida last week, this week’s re-releases are headed up by Andrew Niccol’s brilliant In Time, starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, and Olivia Wilde. Released earlier this year on DVD and Triple Play, the film is released this week in a single disc edition (for some reason, it’s currently more expensive than the Triple Play, but perhaps not for long). The music in the film is amazing, and if you missed it on the big screen, I highly recommend buying it now.
Also released this week is (my namesake) Kenji Kamiyama’s Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society, in a special edition Double Play, including both Blu-ray and DVD, and a host of special features, as well as Ari Taub’s 2004 war film, The Fallen, which took a handful of Audience Awards at the film festivals it travelled to before its release.