HomeVideodrome: DVD Releases for July 5th, 2011

Listen, I know a lot of you out there love Wall-E. I know a lot of people squeal with delight when he chirps his name, or when he sighs the name of his true love, Eva, a floating robot that looks like something you would buy at the Apple Store. I know he’s cute when he looks at you with those big robo-puppy dog eyes and hangs with his cockroach pal who lives in a Twinkie. It’s so damn adorable. That said, I hate Wall-E.

Maybe “hate” is a strong word, my Mother always taught me that I shouldn’t say it. So, let me rephrase, I strongly dislike Wall-E. I want to kick the little bastard in his stupid garbage-hole. I want to strap him to a rocket and launch him into the sun. With a nuclear bomb attached. While he sits in a pod filled with rabid cyborg weasels that can rend metal as well as they can tear flesh. Okay, never mind, I DO hate Wall-E.

To be fair, the first thirty minutes of Wall-E is damn breathtaking cinema and a wonderful example of visual storytelling (something Pixar would do us one better with during the opening act of Up). I’m a sucker for last-man-on-the-planet movies, and the first act of Wall-E does it beautifully as we join the quirky robot in his daily routine on the barren landscape of a ruined Earth. Then Eva shows up, we get a sweet little robo-romance, and everything’s going swimmingly. Sadly they all had to go into space and the whole thing devolves into the idiotic brand of unfunny robo-slapstick George Lucas filled his awful Star Wars prequels with. While we’re subjected to this, we see the obese remainder of the human race hammer home a trendy green message and Fred Willard rants about how we should “stay the course.” Thanks, Pixar. Why don’t we make a movie about a polar bear stranded on an ice flow thanks to man-made global warming next, or how about a film featuring anthropomorphic cars desperately trying to escape the clutches of big oil? Oh wait…

Okay, rant over, if you like this movie, I’m not judging, I promise. Frankly, I wish I did, because it really looks fantastic on Blu-ray, if you’re a fan, and you haven’t seen Wall-E in high definition yet, you’re missing out. The movie is getting a re-release this week, and like most Disney releases these days, it’s a Blu-ray/DVD combo. However, if you already own the previous release on Blu-ray, fair warning, as there are no new features on this one, the only new thing you get is a DVD copy instead of the digital copy the previous one came with. So if you don’t own it, now’s the time to get it, but don’t bother upgrading otherwise.

Available on Blu-ray/DVD combo.

Takashi Miike was one of those crazy Japanese filmmakers I discovered in college and couldn’t get enough of. Audition was my gateway drug, a film that started out seemingly sweet that soon gets really weird, before pulling out a climax so terrifying it’ll be burned forever into your brain. Further down the rabbit hole I found Ichi the Killer, which was an another disturbing film in its use of over-the-top gore that pinballed from hilarious to horrifying at the drop of a hat. Soon I was watching anything I could find by him, including movies like his Dead or Alive trilogy, Visitor Q, and One Missed Call. I quickly discovered that watching a Miike film was a crapshoot in terms of quality, which is probably due to the man’s insanely prolific output. To illustrate this, allow me to direct you to his IMDb page, which includes eighty-five titles, three of which are in-production. Miike has only been making films since 1991, little wonder when asked how he finds the time, he told Eli Roth that he is “like a shark, always moving forward.” Of course, this isn’t a good thing, it just means he’s a workaholic director, as his movies range from masterpiece (Audition), to completely unwatchable (Izo). Thus, I became more discerning when checking out Miike’s work, only looking into what comes highly recommended. But it’s been awhile since he’s made something that knocked my socks off, even the much-heralded Sukiyaki Western Django only came off as lukewarm to me. However, word on the street is his latest, a samurai epic called 13 Assassins, is the real deal.

Already drawing comparisons to the work of Akira Kurosawa, 13 Assassins has a nice 96% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and I have yet to hear anyone speak ill of it. So if you’re jonesin’ for a quality samurai flick like I have been, this seems to be your latest fix. But here’s the problem, one bound to bug purists like me. The version we’re getting on DVD and Blu-ray this week is the “international cut,” which has fifteen minutes removed from it. The only reason I can think of to do this was to shorten the run time and possibly snag an R-rating. Magnet, the group releasing it, has a history of doing this, as they combined John Woo’s two-part Red Cliff into one feature film for the U.S. theatrically. Thankfully, they usually make good and release the full, uncut version on video, as they did with Red Cliff. So let the buyer beware this go-round, if you rush out and grab this, know that the longer, original cut may be coming soon. Regardless, I’ll be checking this version out (probably not purchasing just yet though), and reviewing it over at my site in the near future.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Other Noteworthy Releases

Ratatouille: Like this week’s Wall-E release, this one is no different, save for the inclusion of a DVD instead of a digital copy. If you own the Blu-ray already, there is little point in an upgrade.

Available on Blu-ray/DVD combo.

Up: See above.

Available on Blu-ray/DVD combo.

Das Boot: Wolfgang Petersen’s German classic gets a two-disc Blu-ray release.

Available on Blu-ray.

Of Gods and Men: A film that won the Grand Prix at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival that depicts monastic life in war-torn Algeria.

Available on Blu-ray/DVD combo.

Gettysburg/Gods and Generals: Being a Civil War buff growing up, seeing Gettysburg in the theater was an experience I’ll never forget. This week it gets a release in a lavish limited edition set, along with its follow-up, Gods and Generals. It includes extensive commentaries, featurettes, battlefield maps, as well as the extended director’s cuts for both films.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Overboard: My mom’s favorite movie, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn get into some serious amnesiac hijinks that would land Kurt’s character some serious time in prison in the real world.

Available on Blu-ray.

Hobo With a Shotgun: I am sick to death of this fake genre of so-called seventies grindhouse pastiches. This would have seemed novel five years ago, now it seems like a trendy party-goer showing up to get down after everyone is hungover on the couch, wondering what the Hell they were thinking.

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and a DVD collector’s edition.

Wake Wood: Christian Toto just reviewed this one over at his blog, I refer you there.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD.

BloodRayne – The Third Reich: Whether or not you decide to watch Uwe Boll’s third BloodRayne film depends on whether or not you enjoy punishing yourself.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Hannie Caulder: A western for Raquel Welch fans, also featuring the great Ernest Borgnine.

Available on Blu-ray.


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