More of this summer’s films come to DVD this week, led by the extras-packed fantasy The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. If bullet-bending is more your style, you’ll want to pick up Timur Bekmambetov’s super-charged actioner, Wanted; for raunchy, man-child laughs check out Will Ferrell’s Step Brothers. And if your leanings are a tad more sophisticated, see the latest from the revamped Criterion Collection and a special set from the greatest cinematic romance of all time: Casablanca.
If the prospect of watching the director of Russia’s impressive sci-fi films Night Watch and Day Watch make his Hollywood debut wasn’t enough to make you watch Wanted, perhaps it was the idea of seeing Angelina Jolie as a tattooed, deadly assassin; either way, Timur Bekmambetov’s bullet-bending action film exceeded expectations in theaters last summer and, accordingly, will be looking for a place on your DVD shelf this week.
Adapted from Mark Millar’s comics of the same name, Wanted follows the young, bookish Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) as he learns from a mysterious woman named Fox (Jolie) that his father belonged to a secret society of assassins and he’s next in line to join. Packed with visually-stunning set pieces and silly-but-fun action, Wanted won over critics; Universal Home Entertainment aims to do the same with fans by offering a plethora of bonus features on its 2-Disc DVD (a cast and character guide, plus featurettes on the film’s stunts, special effects, graphic novel roots, and more) as well as picture-in-picture interviews, trivia, and extra angles on its Blu-ray release. In another unique BD-Live feature, record and share your own commentary track during key scenes from the film.
Below, watch an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from the Wanted DVD in which the film’s visual effects team explains how they created the impressive train sequence — entirely in CG.
Next: Return to Narnia with Prince Caspian
The Pevensie kids get get geared up for battle in this sequel to Disney’s popular Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, although at 66 percent on the Tomatometer critics found Prince Caspian slightly less thrilling than its predecessor. With more action, a smidge of romance, and a new, dreamy hero (the Orlando Bloom-ish Ben Barnes), Prince Caspian still serves up the same level of high-class effects that distinguished this franchise from the get-go — and more importantly, the folks who put together this DVD release have collected tons of behind-the-scenes goodies for fans.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian arrives this week on DVD in one of the most complete, fan-pleasing packages of the year; pick up the three-disc release for a commentary track by director Andrew Adamson and his young cast, bloopers, deleted scenes, and a host of featurettes on topics like the sets, production, concept art, and CGI-enhanced animals of Narnia. A digital copy of the film is also included.
Meanwhile, Blu-ray owners will find that Disney has put the format’s capabilities to good use, resulting in a truly immersive experience. In addition to all of the above standard edition features, the Blu-ray title includes BD-Live functionality and the specially-designed “Circle-Vision,” an interactive tour of the Prince Caspian sets with trivia, behind-the-scenes video, and more to be discovered.
Next: Will Ferrell’s Step Brothers shenanigans
Will Ferrell + John C. Reilly = Comic gold, right? According to the Tomatometer, maybe not. With a theoretically hilarious premise, Step Brothers could have been another instant Ferrell classic, a la Ron Burgundy; instead, it fell a few shades below fresh.
In Step Brothers, two immature, overindulged man-children (Ferrell and Reilly) are forced to room together when their parents marry; their initial hatred for each other leads naturally to shenanigans, until a family crisis forces them to band together. Upon its theatrical release, at least one pair of prosthetic genitals made a brief appearance. We recommend picking up the 2-disc Unrated DVD for even raunchier offerings, a music video entitled “Boats ‘n Hoes,” making-of featurettes, deleted scenes, and a commentary track by Ferrell, Reilly, director Adam McKay, and NBA star-cum-filmmaker Baron Davis. Go Boom Dizzle.
Next: The X-Files: I Want(ed) To Believe
Let’s just call it The X-Files: I Want(ed) to Believe. The long-awaited return of FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully had X-Files fans excited, agitated, and — most importantly — hopeful that the once-great franchise could be revived after nine seasons on the air and one decent 1998 feature film. Sadly, those hopes went the way of the Chupacabra, and the result was a standalone, non legacy film that more closely resembled a Sci Fi Channel creature feature than any episode of the X-Files. The Single-Disc DVD contains special features only a fan will love, including concept art, a commentary track, comments on “green” film production, and for some reason, a music video by co-star and rapper Xzibit.
Next: Sam Fuller’s White Dog and the new and improved Criterion Collection
Director Sam Fuller (The Naked Kiss) was no stranger to controversy; this week, the folks at the Criterion Collection release one of the most controversial films of his career. Adapted loosely from a nonfiction book by French writer Romain Gary based on an experience he shared with his then-wife, actress Jean Seberg, White Dog explores the nature and reality of American race relations with a story of a young woman (Kristy McNichol) who takes in a stray dog that’s already been well trained — trained to attack black people, that is. An animal trainer (Paul Winfield) attempts to re-train the dog as a personal challenge, with dangerous results.
The film, completed in 1981, was shelved by Paramount Pictures on the advice of the NAACP and has never been officially released on home video until now. In grand Criterion fashion, a host of hard-to-find extras accompany the newly-restored film, including production photos, video interviews with producer Jon Davison, co-writer Curtis Hanson, and Fuller’s widow Christa Lang-Fuller, essays by critics J. Hoberman and Armond White, and a “rare 1982 interview in which Fuller interviews the canine star of the film.”
And while we’re on the subject, check out the new and improved Criterion website, where you can read Hoberman’s White Dog essay and join the Beta version of The Auteurs, a new “online movie theater” and social networking site.
Next: A kinder, gentler Metalocalypse: Season Two
Season Two of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim staple Metalocalypse comes to DVD this week, with all 18 episodes of metal-rocking goodness included. Watch as Skwisgaar, William Murderface, Nathan Explosion, Pickles the Drummer and Toki Wartooth continue their streak of world domination as the world’s most powerful and violent metal band, designing their own clothing line, experimenting with Amazonian hallucinogens, and encountering more rampant death and destruction as they attempt to record their new studio album.
Next: The perfect movie lover’s holiday gift: Casablanca The Ultimate Collector’s Edition
One of the greatest films ever made is re-released this week in an Ultimate Collector’s Edition perfect for your favorite movie lover this holiday season: Casablanca. A classic tale for movie lovers (and lovers of all kinds), the 1942 war drama took home Oscars for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture and comes housed in a beautiful box that packs in not only movie memorabilia but collectible items and special features related to the Golden Era of Hollywood.
In addition to production-related extras like outtakes, deleted scenes, and galleries, the set includes an audio commentary by Roger Ebert and an introduction by Lauren Bacall and her 1988 TCM tribute to her late husband, Casablanca star Humphrey Bogart — and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. An audio accompaniment includes alternate takes of the film’s most iconic songs, including “As Time Goes By,” while the set’s many collectible items include a replica of Victor Lazlo’s Letter of Transit, internal studio memos, and branded luggage tags.
Next: The wild and crazy fourth season of Saturday Night Live
Relive the magical early days of Saturday Night Live with Season Four, out this week on DVD. The 1978-1979 season includes the last regular appearances of cast members John Belushi and Dan Akroyd, with plenty of laughs from the likes of Gilda Radner and Bill Murray and the debut of Father Guido Sarducci. Also witness the comic chops of special hosts Milton Berle, Kate Jackson, Monty Python’s Michael Palin, Carrie Fisher, Walter Matthau, Steve Martin, Gary Busey and Margot Kidder, with musical guests like Devo, The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, Kate Bush, and the Talking Heads.
Until next week, happy renting!