This week, we dispense with the news and cut to the chase to bring you two huge new gift sets timed perfectly for this summer’s Bat-mania. What will earn you more geek cred: whipping out the Batman flash drive or watching the Dark Knight prologue in high definition, awash in the glory of Blu-ray?
The Batman Begins Gift Set: It’s Christmas In July!
July 18 is right around the corner, which means you’ll soon see plenty of Batman merchandise coming your way (look for the animated Batman: Gotham Knight to hit shelves this week). But if you want a sneak peek at the upcoming sequel The Dark Knight, you can have it with the Batman Begins Limited Edition. Both the 2-Disc Standard and Single-disc Blu-ray releases feature the main attraction: a sneak peek at Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight! (Edit: The six-minute opening prologue originally screened in front of I Am Legend IMAX is only available on Blu-ray; a two-minute sneak peek accompanies the standard release.)
As a refresher, said prologue opens The Dark Knight with one of many sequences shot in IMAX: a full bank heist scene. We won’t spoil it here, but there are robbers with clown masks, plenty of double-crosses, and your first extended look at Heath Ledger‘s critically acclaimed performance as the Joker.
Each version also comes with its own set of goodies, so you have a choice to make. In the standard disc release, find five collectible postcards, printed key art, $7.50 towards seeing TDK in theaters, and a 128MB branded Batman flash drive. In the Blu-ray release, you’ll get lenticular 3-D art, a comic book adaptation of the TDK prologue, and a booklet detailing the making of the TDK prologue. Our advice: given the choice, opt for Blu-ray — if only to watch the TDK prologue in as close to its intended IMAX glory as possible.
Bat-alternatives: Make it a Mummy Week
But Batman’s not the only superhero making a push on DVD this week to build buzz for his summer adventure. Get a sneak peek at The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor before it hits theaters this August by picking up the newly restored The Mummy and its sequel, The Mummy Returns. (Those cheeky folks at Universal are also releasing a special edition of Boris Karloff‘s 1932 classic, The Mummy, with a handful of commentaries and featurettes by the likes of Rick Baker, a documentary on the legacy of the Mummy, and another doc about Universal monster movies narrated by Kenneth Branagh.)
In addition to their own respective bonus materials (a combination of previously released cast and crew commentaries, plus new storyboard-to-film comparisons and features) both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns include the three-minute Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Sneak Peek.
Here glimpse finished footage (seen in the trailer) and unfinished wire work and fight choreography from behind-the-scenes, as well as on-set snippets with director Rob Cohen, producer Stephen Sommers, and stars Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, and Michelle Yeoh. Both Mummys, the Boris Karloff version, and a new Collector’s Edition of Van Helsing also come with a free movie coupon to see The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in theaters.
Horror fans with green thumbs might be doubly delighted by this tale of four American coeds terrorized by — yup — killer plants high atop an ancient Mayan temple. With all the tired ghost stories, J-horror remakes, and psychopaths-with-knives in recent memory, homicidal vines and makeshift amputations in a gory R-rated flick like this are almost a breath of fresh air! But while The Ruins scored surprisingly high considering its genre, anyone but true horror mavens are likely to be turned off.
If The Ruins even remotely appeals to you, then opt for the Unrated Edition for gorier scares and an alternate ending (Duh duh duhhhhn!). Featurettes on the handsomely constructed ruins set, the killer vines effects, and a feature-length commentary provide insights into the making of a modern day horror film, and a taste of the classic exploitation films that influenced the filmmakers.
(Watch a deleted scene from The Ruins here.)
Director Kimberly Peirce made her feature debut with the Oscar-winning Boys Don’t Cry; nine years later, her long-awaited sophomore effort focuses on another hot-button issue: the military practice of returning soldiers to duty after their contract has ended. Theatrically, Stop-Loss made less than half of its $25 million budget, but critics agree that the film and its controversial topic deserve further discussion, one likely to be had in a second life on DVD.
In addition to a making-of featurette and a peek into the boot camp experience of star Ryan Phillippe and his fellow cast members, Peirce lends her thoughts to 11 deleted scenes and a feature commentary (with co-writer Mark Richard) that offers further insights into why she made Stop-Loss.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s another spoof movie, from the mind behind such previous spoofs as Scary Movie 4 and Scary Movie 3. This time, writer-director Craig Mazin serves up an unfunny cocktail of the expected lame pop culture jokes and genre gags that we all see coming as soon as each “Fill in the Blank” Movie is announced. Shockingly, even the participation of producer David Zucker (Airplane!) can’t make the sight of Leslie Nielsen dry-humping a corpse hilarious.
As if we needed more Superhero Movie, the DVD comes in an Extended Edition that also proclaims itself “Longer, Funnier, and More Outrageous.” We’re sure it’s longer; it may be even more outrageous. Just don’t count on it being funnier.
Before she melted geek hearts the world over with her pregnant teenage one-liners, Ellen Page filmed this experimental Canadian indie by film and television vet (and sometimes-Degrassi director) Bruce McDonald. Watch her wander the streets of Toronto wearing a shower curtain, losing her mind and manipulating yours in the twisty, non-linear psychological drama.
Watch the making-of featurette (a film-school lesson in itself, considering McDonald combines non-linear storytelling, flashbacks, and literal fragments on the screen) and interviews with MacDonald and Page, plus entries from the Tracey Re:fragmented contest, where contestants could download and remix footage from the film with their own, or re-edit the film itself.
Jet Li‘s “last” martial arts epic opened to modest success in 2006 and may already occupy a spot in your video collection, but there’s a new reason to seek it out this week on DVD: the Director’s Cut features 30 more minutes of footage, including scenes with Michelle Yeoh that were deleted from the original release cut. Li plays Huo Yuanjia, the real-life martial arts master who took on the world’s best fighters, helped revive the practice of wushu in turn-of-the-century China, and whose life gained mythological status long after his death.
Three versions of Ronny Yu‘s film come in the new release: the original U.S. theatrical cut (104 minutes), an internationally-released version (110 minutes), and the full director’s cut featuring scenes with Yeoh and Thai fighter Somluck Kansing (140 minutes).
If you were watching television in 2002, then you might remember the series Fastlane. If not, here’s the premise: two hotshot cops (Peter Facinelli and Bill Bellamy) are recruited to bring down bad guys in L.A. with the help of a smokin’ supervisor (Tiffani Thiessen) and a “candy store” of impounded cars, guns, and cash — Miami Vice meets The Fast and the Furious. With creator McG (Charlie’s Angels) to guide it, how could this show go wrong? (Cut to the end of Season One, when the show was cancelled. I guess huge car chases, elaborate sets, and over $2 million an episode was too rich for WB and Fox’s blood.)
The fact that Fastlane is available for the first time since airing is a bonus in itself. Watch all 22 episodes for their mix of hot bodies, fast rides, and pure adrenaline, plus see guest stars like Jay Mohr, Krista Allen, Ali Landry, Robert Forster, Bill Duke, Naomi Campbell, and Mischa Barton. Featurettes and bloopers are also included in the six-disc release.
‘Til next week, happy viewing!
Canadian actress Ellen Page is an anomaly in Hollywood. The 20-year-old star
of this week’s Juno
has been in movies since the age of 10, has the face of a 14-year-old and the
pop culture-savvy soul of a Gen-Xer. Although you might know her best as the
mutant superhero Kitty Pryde in
Last Stand, or from her breakout role as a seemingly innocuous young
girl in 2005’s independent thriller
Hard Candy, Page
truly balances the mainstream and art house sets with her latest role in Juno.
Arguably this year’s
Sunshine (albeit with a healthy injection of razor-sharp wit and
references that fly faster and more furious than in an episode of
Gilmore Girls), the
flick, scripted by firebrand newbie scribe
Cody, is a sweet ‘n sassy film about teenage pregnancy that has earned
overwhelming praise from critics since its debut at the Telluride Film Festival
As the titular teen — a Patti Smith-worshipping, lingo-slinging,
socially-rebellious tomboy accidentally impregnated by her best friend — Page
is utterly believable as a 15-year-old old soul, not completely unlike how she
seems in real life. RT slipped into a booth with her at Fox Searchlight’s
Toronto Film Festival bash for a great chat about movies, Canadian boys, and
music that we both love.
So, critics love Juno (to the tune of a 92 percent Certified Fresh
Tomatometer rating)! It’s got quirky characters, but they’re all grounded in
reality and relatable.
Ellen Page: I think it’s from a variety of things — I think it’s from an
amazing script, and a wonderful director, Jason Reitman, who creates such a good
tone. He doesn’t want it to be contrived and over-the-top. When you have such a
good script, you don’t want to force it. You just want to sit with it, and
figure out where the hearts of the characters are and just dive into that, you
know? Just be easy with it.
Did you know immediately when you read the script that you wanted to play
EP: I read the script a couple years ago — it was one of those things
that takes time [to get off the ground] — and I fell in love then, but it kind
of just dwindled away, didn’t have money, so on and so forth. And then it came
back around again, and I got excited all over again, and the next thing I knew
— here I am! It’s insane!
Juno herself is a bit of a pop culture junkie. What kinds of movies do you
EP: All kinds…I love everything.
The 400 Blows is
one of my favorite movies, and when I think of new cinema I love
— I love Ratcatcher
and Morvern Callar.
I love all kinds of movies though. What did I see the other day that was
Summer of Love.
Do you tend to see movies that are more in line with the kind of movie you’d
like to make?
EP: It’s funny, sometimes I see movies and I get almost angry — because
I’m like, I can never make that movie. It stems from a jealousy, but from a good
kind of jealousy. Do you know what I mean? It’s inspirational.
But no, I love all kinds of movies! I love horror, to a certain extent. And
comedy — I saw Superbad
the other day! I thought it was awesome.
EP: Yeah, he’s great too. He came up and visited Michael when we were in
Vancouver. They are just so funny together. But I love Michael. Seriously, I
can’t say enough good things about the guy. He’s super sweet. He’s one of the
nicest people I’ve ever met. And he’s a teenage boy!
Is he nice because he’s Canadian?
EP: [Smiling] I’ve met some mean teenage boys that were from Canada.
You had more than one movie at Toronto.
EP: Well, there’s this, and there’s [The
Tracey Fragments] that I shot before Juno, which is, like, a
small, crazy Canadian movie directed by
who is an awesome Canadian director. It’s much more dark and edgy, and
heart-wrenching than Juno. And then the other film is Stone Angel,
that Ellen Burstyn stars in; I’m really not in that film much, it was just an
honor to be a part of — it’s a novel that’s been a Canadian legacy. And Kevin
Zegers from Transamerica and I kind of did a cameo thing.
Considering the independent films and dramatic roles you’ve chosen, was
X-Men a completely different experience?
EP: It is totally different, but it’s just a different kind of movie. You
can’t really compare it to this kind of filmmaking. It’s a lot of… you know,
and then you’re wearing leather suits and running through fire, which is super
cool, but there’s a lot of waiting around and it’s not really about the same
things. It’s about other things. It’s as simple as that.
Juno has a great soundtrack — Belle and Sebastian, Sonic Youth, The
Moldy Peaches, etc. Do you share Juno’s taste in music?
EP: I know this is going to sound annoying, but I love all kinds. Lately
I’ve been listening to CocoRosie’s new album. I just saw them live in Vienna,
which was amazing. New Young Pony Club, their new album…I don’t know what it
is about them, but it almost give me a sugar rush and I get really turned on, to
And I’m a huge Moldy Peaches fan; the second time Jason and I met, I was in his
office and he said, "What do you think Juno would listen to?" And I said, "Oh,
the Moldy Peaches!" I went on his computer, played him the Moldy Peaches, and
next thing you know — it’s in the film. Who should have a soundtrack credit?
I’m a Cat Power fan–
That Cat Power song in Juno, "Sea of Love," makes me cry!
EP: Have you heard her cover album? Oh my God. That is always in high
rotation! Oh, and I’m a massive Patti Smith fan.
So is Juno! Did that translate to her character from you?
I love Juno’s taste in music, and how it informs the dynamic between Jason
Bateman’s character and her in terms of the kind of music they like. It rings so
EP: Well, I’m really passionate about music — I get really emotionally
connected, probably in a weird way. But I’ll play characters and I’ll create a
playlist and now, certain songs are hard for me to listen to. Yeah, I think I
get way too emotionally connected to music…
Juno’s traveled around the festival circuit all year building this great
buzz. What’s your normal life like, compared to this?
EP: Completely different! I go, like, camping every weekend.
Juno is now in limited release and will be expanding December 14.
The mere fact that
The Tracey Fragments isn’t out in
American theaters or on DVD shouldn’t stop you from watching it. Or, say, stop
you from downloading it, taking it apart, and then reconstructing it into a new
form. Director Bruce McDonald
has uploaded the raw footage of The Tracey Fragments onto
the movie website and challenges all amateur
editors and mash-up artists to submit their own version of the stylistically bold indie.
Ellen Page as Tracey Berkowitz exploring the city
in search of her missing brother, The Tracey Fragments is essentially a moving Mondrian painting, with the screen cut up into small frames that capture the
scene from a multitude of angles. So, in other words, it’s like a comic book
come to life. Or maybe a pop-art, teen angsty episode of 24.
Naturally, a shoot like that will produce plenty of spare
footage. The Tracey Fragments
website hosts this footage into four separate 4.5
gig torrents (click on the "Re-Fragmented" link). There, you can find contest rules and how to submit your
disjointed masterpiece. The site also promises a link to the soundtrack by
Broken Social Scene, but that’s not yet available for download.
Even if you’re not planning on entering the contest, this
is a fascinating cinematic experiment. And, hey, your external hard drive could
use the company.