Numerous science fiction, fantasy, and horror films of all shapes and sizes are arriving on DVD and Blu-ray this week. Most of them are repackagings of older titles hauled out of the vaults one more time, either to celebrate an anniversary (GALAXY QUEST) or to tie in with the release of a feature film (STAR TREK); fortunately, there are one or two new titles as well, including the latest installment of the UNDERWORLD franchise.
UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS is the third film in a trilogy as far as release dates, but in a sense it’s the first – being a prequel that tells the back story of the previous films. This was originally announced as a direct-to-video film but made its way into theatres earlier this year. Kate Beckinsale, who starred in UNDERWORLD and UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION, passed on reprising her role, but Rhona Mitra (DOOMSDAY) can do the sexy, sophisticated British act just as well. In any case, UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS is available in four different versions: a DVD, a UMD for PSP, a stand-alone Blu-ray disc,and a Blu-ray box set that combines it with the previous two UNDERWORLD titles. (Is it just me, or do you get the feeling that most of these Part 3 titles were begat simply to create the opportunity for a trilogy box set?) DVD bonus features on the are:
- Underworld Rise of the Lycans – From Script to Screen Featurette
- The Origin of the Feud Featurette
- Re-Creating the Dark Ages: The Look of Underworld Rise of the Lycans
- Filmmaker Audio Commentary
- Music Video
The Blu-ray disc duplicates all of the DVD bonus features and adds these extras:
- Digital Copy of the film for PC, PSP, Mac or iPod
- Cinechat: Send on-screen instant messages to yoru friends around the world while you watch the movie together
- Behind the Castle Walls: Picture in Picture
- Interactive Map of Werewolf Sightings around the World.
As all good Trekkies know, there is a new STAR TREK feature film currently with its phasers set on massive ticket sales; inevitably, this means that Paramount has dipped into the vault for old titles to reissue. This week sees several new box sets reassembling the films and television episodes into new permutations:
- A Blu-ray box set of “Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection” (containing all the feature films starring the original cast)
- Blu-ray and DVD box sets of “Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy” (containing STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK, and STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME)
- A DVD set of “The Best of Star Trek: The Original Series” (containing “City on the Edge of Forever,” “Amok Time,” “The Trouble with Tribbles,” and “Balance of Terror”)
- A DVD box set of “The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation” (containing “The Best of Both Worlds, Parts 1 and 2,” “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” and “The Measure of a Man.”
GALAXY QUEST returns to home video stores in honor of its 10th anniversary. In addition to the deleted scenes and other goodies from the old DVD release, the New DVD includes half a dozen new bonus features: Historical Documents: The Story of Galaxy Quest; Never Give Up, Never Surrender: The Intrepid Crew of the NSEA Protector; By Grabthar’s Hammer, What Amazing Effects; Alien School: Creating the Thermian Race; Actors in Space; Sigourney Weaver Raps. You can read the details here.
Speaking of trilogies (as I was a couple of paragraphs ago), this week sees the direct-to-video release of THE GRUDGE 3, an arrival that should surprise no one, as the disappointing THE GRUDGE 2seemed pretty much designed to take what could have been a successful theatrical franchise and grind it into the DTV dirt. Following from the conclusion of that sequel, which shifted the action from Japan to America, GRUDGE 3 was made with an American director replacing franchise creator Takashi Shimizu, who has hopefully moved on to better things. Also out today is a Blu-ray release of THE GRUDGE, which was previously released on DVD in two versions: the PG-13 theatrical cut and the unrated director’s cut (each containing different bonus features).
PASSENGERS is a direct-to-video title from writer-director that seems to have more than enough star power to have warranted a theatrical release: Oscar nominee Anne Hathaway and Oscar-winner Dianne Wiest. Hathaway stars as a counselor helping survivors of a plane crash cope with the trauma; her patients begin mysteriously disappearing, and one of them seems to have developed psychic abilities. It all sounds a bit like a high-class version of FINAL DESTINATION (not that the idea was original there). The film is available on DVD and Blu-ray. Bonus features include a director-and-cast audio commentary, deleted scenes, a making of featurette, and an “Anatomy of a Plane Crash” featurette.
Other DTV titles this week include PLAGUE TOWN (available on DVD and Blu-ray), B.T.K. (starring former Jason Voorhees, Kane Hodder), and S DARKO: A DONNIE DARKO TALE (available on DVD, Blu-ray, and in a 2-pack with the original DONNIE DARKO).
As for the rest:
- THE FOG (John Carpenter’s 1980 original) gets a Blu-ray release.
- A new DVD double bills two Bruce Campbell titles: MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN and ALIEN APOCALYPSE.
- THE ANATOMIST – a 1961 television take on real-life body-snatchers Burke and Hare, starring Alistair Sim (SCROOGE) – makes its debut on DVD.
- Paramount re-releases a few old titles as part of its “Paramount Valu” line: CORE, VIRTUOSITY, and D.A.R.Y.L.