If you’re a fan of outer space-themed entertainment, then you’ll find plenty to love in this week’s rundown of new releases in home video. First and foremost, we’ve got the J.J. Abrams reboot of the beloved Star Trek franchise, which came out in May of this year. Then, we’ve also got the complete series of the Sci-Fi (now SyFy) Channel’s original show, Farscape, and hitting Blu-Ray for the first time is the somewhat “spoofy” comedy Galaxy Quest. If aliens and laser guns aren’t your thing, however, there’s also an ultimate edition of one of cinema’s greats (Gone with the Wind), several other first-time releases, and a cheaper version of one of television’s most influential shows in recent memory (The Sopranos). Check the full list to see what’s worth picking up this week.
Fans were skeptical when J.J. Abrams decided to tackle the challenge of updating the Star Trek universe for modern audiences, especially when it was revealed the new film would be a prequel to the original series and that the iconic roles of the crew members would be given to an all new cast. Could Chris Pine be an effective Kirk? Would Zachary Quinto play a convincing Spock? All of that was laid to rest when the film opened to widespread critical acclaim and huge box office numbers. Consensus all around was that, while the film mainly served as an introduction to the “new” crew of the USS Enterprise, it was a fun, action-packed blockbuster that reminded us how entertaining Summer movies could be. Now’s your chance to pick it up on DVD and Blu-Ray, and both editions come packed with extras.
After the runaway success of Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen plumbed another of his characters from Da Ali G Show: the flamboyant, irrepressible fashionista Brüno. This time, out, however, critics found Cohen’s satirical edge slightly duller, even if more than a couple moments in this gonzo mockmentary hit their targets. The Brüno DVD features even more madcap mayhem, including a number of extended and deleted scenes not included in the theatrical release.
If you thought The Notebook was a tearjerker for the ages, then its director (Nick Cassavetes) would like to have a word with you. In June, Cassavetes premiered his next Kleenex-filler, My Sister’s Keeper, starring Abigail Breslin and Cameron Diaz and based on a novel of the same name by Jodi Picoult. The story centers around Breslin’s character, Anna, who was conceived by her parents as an organ donor to her older sister, who is sick from leukemia. Anna chooses to hire an attorney and sue her parents for control of her own body when the time comes for her to give up a kidney for her sister. The critics praised the performances of the film’s lead actors, but also felt that Cassavetes’ direction was a bit too heavy-handed. Still, if you’re looking for some intense family drama, this is the latest of them to hit home video.
Though he achieved some notoriety with his debut, 2002’s Joint Security Area (JSA), South Korean director Chan Wook Park really made people sit up and take notice with his “Revenge Trilogy,” the most notable of which, 2005’s Oldboy, has become somewhat of a modern cult classic. Earlier this year, Park unleashed his contribution to the recent repopularization of vampire-themed cinema, Thirst, the story of a kindhearted priest who contracts a mysterious blood disease that, in effect, turns him into a vampire. The priest reconnects with a childhood friend and falls in love with his wife; complications ensue, and he must learn how to reconcile his faith with his newfound carnal desires. Critics largely applauded the film, earning it Certified Fresh status at 83% on the Tomatometer, and since it only saw a very limited release, here’s your chance to pick up the stylish, bloody, and darkly comic thriller from one of Korea’s up-and-coming talents.
Built upon a fairly ludicrous premise, Humpday is a small indie comedy from writer/producer/director Lynn Shelton and starring Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard, and Alycia Delmore. Duplass and Leonard play buddies Ben and Andrew, respectively, who reconnect after a decade out of touch and end up daring each other to create a gay porn film. The only problem is, both of them are straight (and Ben’s married to Anna, played by Delmore). Humpday debuted at Sundance this year and earned praises for its insightful wit, as well as its twisted, alternate take on the “bromance” film. If you missed this little seen Certified Fresh (76%) gem, now would be your chance to pick it up.
If you’re shopping for a sci-fi nerd, you can probably assume that visions of Farscape: The Complete Series will likely be dancing in his or her head. The Sci-Fi or (SyFy) Network cult favorite ran for four seasons (plus a critically-acclaimed miniseries) before the plug was pulled, but it still retains a dedicated fan base. Farscape tells the tale of a present-day astronaut who finds himself in a distant part of the universe and joins forces with a diverse assortment of outlaw humans and aliens (the Jim Henson Company supplying the interstellar beings). The DVD box comes loaded with special features, including commentaries for all the episodes, over 90 minutes of deleted scenes, featurettes, production stills, and behind-the-scenes interviews.
David Fincher started off directing music videos for the likes of Madonna, Paula Abdul, and Aerosmith before he made his feature debut with Alien 3, and after 1995’s Seven and 1997’s The Game, his slick, stylish technique was fully applied to Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, Fight Club. Arguably the film that cemented Fincher’s name into the mainstream, Fight Club was a nihilistic and gritty but polished slice of pulp about a lonely, humble man who, by chance, befriends a rebellious loudmouth and becomes embroiled in his life of mayhem. Well crafted and convincingly acted, the film has earned a large fanbase since its 1999 release, and this week, it gets the high definition treatment. Released for the first time on Blu-Ray, Fight Club comes with a slew of extra features, including four commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and two new interactive featurettes, among other things.
Let’s get it out of the way upfront: Gone with the Wind is soapy, melodramatic, and politically incorrect. It’s also arguably the most popular movie of all time, for reasons that aren’t hard to fathom: it’s big, bold, sweeping, and romantic, and its cast — which includes Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, and Hattie McDaniel — is as iconic as they come. The Gone with the Wind (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition) is perfect for anyone who’s obsessed with the golden age of Hollywood; loaded with bonus material, including making-ofs, cast bio documentaries, archive footage of the film’s premiere, trailers, and two books, you’ll never go hungry for this masterpiece again.
Though it’s a 30 disc, book-bound set containing the entire 8 years of the series, it’s smaller and less expensive (by $100) than the comprehensive edition put out by HBO last year. Word has it the only media missing are a few soundtrack discs, but with so much on offer, and at such a discount, who’s arguing? The “working-man’s” look at the world of the Mafia made its splash back in 1999, when the thought of a Mafioso attending a therapist was all too much contradiction to take. We all want to know: How does Tony Soprano go from killing a man with his bare hands (and maybe a kitchen utensil) to dispensing affectionate familial advice – typically in the same scene? But in nearly a decade, with the invasive assistance of a psychiatrist and plenty of examples to help us figure him out, Tony stays a mystery. If you haven’t seen the final episode, it’s one to start arguments (preferably ones that don’t involve kitchen implements).
With the recent reboot of the Star Trek franchise coming to home video this week, it seems only appropriate that a spoof of Trek-ian sci-fi also be released. Galaxy Quest could have easily been one giant cheap shot against Trekkies (and Trekkers — some of us here are still a bit unclear as to the difference between the two), but instead the film comes off as a loving tribute to the lifestyle. Tim Allen plays Jason Nesmith, the lead actor on a television show about space exploration, who inadvertently becomes swept up into some genuine intergalactic intrigue when members of a dimwitted alien race witness a broadcast of his show and mistake him and his crew for true rocketeers. Featuring a stellar supporting cast that includes Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, and Sam Rockwell, Galaxy Quest is an entertaining and hilarious take on sci-fi geekdom that earned an 89% Tomatometer score. The new Blu-Ray features a hi-def transfer of the film and all of the existing special features, with one new extra: the Galactopedia, an interactive text commentary track.