This is one of those busy weeks when th, ere seem to be more science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies released on DVD and Blu-ray than you can count. Actually, there are not that many, but when new titles come out in three iterations (e.g., single-disc, double disc, and Blu-ray), the number of releases can seem overwhelming. Below we try to perform the valuable public service of separating the cream from the crop…
The Day the Earth Stood Still(Fox DVD & Blu-Ray)
Even though this presented a rare example of Keanu Reeves casting being spot-on, not many critics felt all warm and fuzzy about Fox’s spectacle-sized update of Robert Wise’s classic science fiction film of cold war paranoia and religious symbolism. Cinefantastique Online even went so far as to trash it twice, once in a review by Steve Biodrowski and once in a review by Dan Persons (who complained of “brainless storytelling “). Par for the course these days, DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL arrives in three versions: a two-disc widescreen DVD, a three-disc widescreen DVD, and a three-disc Blu-ray set (thank god the HD-DVD format is gone, or there would be one or two of those, as well). One thing we especially like about the Blu-ray set is Fox’s decision to include Wise’s original film (also available separately) as the third Blu-Ray disc; in other words – it’s the best extra of 2009!
Bedtime Stories (Blu-ray & DVD)
This Adam Sandler film (about an uncle telling bedtime stories that come through) was a hit in theatres last year. It arrives on home video in three different versions: a single-disc DVD, a two-disc DVD (+Disneyfile); and a three-disc Blu-ray & DVD combo (including a digital copy). DVD bonus features include a blooper reel, deleted scenes, and two featurettes. The Blu-ray ports these over, adding BD-Live asthe only exclusive Blu-ray bonus feature. (NOTE: Amazon announced this title for last week; currently, they list a release date of April 5 for the Blu-ray and April 7 for the DVDs.)
2010: The Year We Make Contact(Warner Bros Blu-Ray)
What should have been the silliest sequel ever produced actually turned into a relatively interesting Sci-Fi think-piece in the hands of cinematographer-director Peter Hyams. In 2010(“The Year We Make Contact” is just a promotional title), Roy Scheider picks up the reigns of Dr. Heywood Floyd (following William Sylvester’s turn in Kubrick’s 2001), who has been made a scapegoat of sorts after the HAL incident and the deaths of the astronauts aboard the Discovery spacecraft. Without notable career prospects and with nuclear conflict between America and the U.S.S.R. seemingly drawing closer (remember, the movie may have taken place in 2010, but it was filmed in 1984), Floyd jumps at the chance to hitch a ride aboard a Russian ship to investigate what actually happened on Discovery’s mission. He’s joined by fellow Americans John Lithgow and Bob Balaban and Russian Helen Mirren before arriving at the derelict Discovery still in orbit around Jupiter. While in orbit, Balaban, the designer of the HAL 9000, manages to reactivate the long-dead supercomputer (still voiced by Douglas Rain, without whom the producers would probably have had to junk the idea of revisiting HAL at all) and Scheiderreceives a most unexpected visitation – Dave Bowman himself (a returning Keir Dullea).
Based on a novel by Arthur C Clarke, 2010 wisely dispenses with a visual or intellectual approach that might seem to echo Kubrick’s style in 2001, and instead fashion a sturdy adventure tale of the sort that Hyams can excel at when given the right equipment (see his superior Narrow Marginfor an additional example). We’ve enjoyed the film on cable and look forward to viewing Hyams’ carefully designed photography on Blu-Ray (like the work of the great British cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, Hyams’ smoky, filtered style can look awful when transferred to video without care). The only extras are the trailer (which is actually quite good) and a vintage featurette.
Final Destination(New Line Blu-Ray)
Forget about the 17 sequels that we’veseen birthed by the studio in the nearly 10 years since Final Destination was released, the original film is still the same effectivelittle shocker that gave us the giddy thrills that all grade ‘B’ horror films are supposed to. Even Tony Todd, who has sleepwalked through more of these movies that any 20 of you have seen, seems engaged in the material. New Line’s Blu-ray offers the same special features as the previous editions (back when seeing an “alternate ending” as an extra on a DVD was actually exciting!)
Those are the top-tier science fiction, fantasy and horror home video releases for this week, but there are many more DVDs and Blu-rays for eager fans looking for subject matter as diverse as animation or cult horror.
- House is a new direct-to-video thriller starring Bill Mosely and Michael Madsen. The DVD is reviewed here.
- Dog Soldiers arrives again, this time in a DVD with Steelbook Packaging. Read a review of the film here.
- Tales of Desperaux, an animated family fantasy about a talking mouse arrives on DVD and Blu-ray.
- The Boys from Brazil, an early cloning thriller, starring Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier, gets another DVD release.
- Nosferatu (1922) proves the dangers of being in the public domain, with yet another DVD release. This one includes a t-shirt with poster art, in case that’s enough to get you to purchase the film again.
- The Giant Spider Invasion arrives in a Director’s Cut DVD (something we never expected) and a Two-disc Director’s Cut DVD (something we really never expected).
- And also, a bunch of DTV titles you probably never heard of.
Check them out below or in the Cinefantastique Online Store.