You thought the Sex and the City DVD collection was expensive? Start saving up for the ultimate Sopranos box set, coming this fall. Also look for a DVD spin-off from last weekend’s Get Smart, and find out what new robot character Pixar might have planned to keep WALL-E company! Plus, this week’s new releases after the jump.


A Sopranos Box Set To Die For…

HBO is already preparing for Christmas with a gift box that would melt any would-be mobster’s heart: the ultimate Sopranos DVD set. All six seasons will be spread across a whopping ten pound, 28-disc collection (which also includes three soundtrack CDs), and will include 16 “lost” scenes, cast and crew interviews, and an interview of creator David Chase by super fan Alec Baldwin. Learn behind-the-scenes stories, like how Anthony La Paglia almost appeared in a show-within-the-show as a fictionalized version of Tony Soprano in Season 1, that Edie Falco auditioned for the role of Carmela only days before shooting the pilot (and wearing in-line skates), and that several fake final scenes were actually filmed to conceal Tony’s controversially peaceful series exit. The price for reliving all this Sopranos glory? Four hundred bucks. Start saving those racketeering dollars now.

Third Futurama Movie To Be Fantasy-Themed

With the second Futurama DVD movie, The Beast with a Billion Backs, hitting shelves this week, co-creator David X. Cohen revealed just what breed of geek the forthcoming third Futurama movie will serve: the fantasy nerd.
“The third one is a big move into the world of fantasy, magic and dragons and castles and that kind of stuff,” he told Movie Web. “So you’ll get to see the fantasy versions of all of our characters and I think it will be the most visually spectacular of the four.” The fourth and final film, Cohen promises, will give fans yet another big finale in a more classic science-fiction style; read on for what Cohen calls their “best DVD extra ever” in this week’s new releases!

Smart Sidekicks Getting Their Own DVD Movie

$39 million worth of moviegoers went to see Get Smart last weekend; will those same fans put down cash for a DVD spin-off movie starring supporting CONTROL nerds Bruce and Lloyd? Warner Bros. is betting on it, giving CONTROL gadget guys Bruce (HeroesMasi Oka) and Lloyd (Nate Torrence) their own direct-to-video adventure, in stores July 1. The story of Get Smart’s Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control will run parallel to that of Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell), which is in theaters now; purchase the DVD and get $7 off admission to Get Smart in select theaters.

Pixar Planning a WALL-E Spin-off Character?

In other DVD spin-off news, it looks like Pixar will double the population of adorable on-screen robots when they introduce a second character to accompany WALL-E‘s eventual DVD and Blu-Ray release. Over at /Film, director Andrew Stanton had vaguely described a “sci-fi short that is very connected to WALL-E” that had been produced at the same time. Later, in an unconfirmed report from Upcoming Pixar, an orchestra scoring musician divulged that the DVD extra is in fact titled BURN-E, about a robot named BURN-E. While the report remains as yet unconfirmed, be on the lookout for clues and sightings of the rumored BURN-E when WALL-E hits theaters this Friday!

Click for this week’s new releases!

10,000 B.C.

Tomatometer: 9%

Roland Emmerich, king of the high concept film (Universal Soldier, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) strikes yet again with a big-budget spectacle of prehistoric mammoth hunts, giant killer chickens, and deadly tribal warfare. At nine percent on the Tomatometer, anyone with a taste for camp can’t afford to miss this. Everyone else, beware!

Bonus Features:

A handful of additional scenes and an alternate ending are the only extras here, although many of these feature unfinished digital effects; no doubt Warner Bros. is holding out for a buffer special edition release down the line. Rent it, if you must.

The Spiderwick Chronicles

Tomatometer: 80%

Well, it wasn’t the huge hit that Nickelodeon/Paramount were hoping it would be, especially given the instant megabucks that any children’s fantasy books-turned-film franchise rake in these days. But Mark WatersSpiderwick Chronicles, about a trio of siblings who discover a magical world of goblins literally in their backyard, got solid backing from critics, which means if you missed it in theaters you should definitely give it a chance on DVD.

Bonus Features:

Pick up the two-disc Field Guide Edition for tons of making-of featurettes with the cast and crew, concept art and character details, an interactive guide to the film’s characters while you watch, and deleted scenes.

Definitely, Maybe


Tomatometer: 73%

Earning 73 percent on the Tomatometer is darn impressive these days for a romantic comedy, so it’s with great happiness that this Ryan Reynolds vehicle comes to DVD. In a year of Fool’s Golds, 27 Dresses, and Mades of Honor, this romantic whodunit tale told by a single father (Reynolds) to his daughter (Abigail Breslin) surprised critics by being sophisticated, well-written, and clever. Check out our exclusive clip from the DVD release here.

Bonus Features:

Reynolds and writer-director Adam Brooks (French Kiss, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason) appear on a commentary track alongside a few behind-the-scenes features and deleted scenes. Download a coupon for $5 off the DVD at the film’s official site.

Charlie Bartlett

Tomatometer: 54%

Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog) stars as the titular teen, a privileged kid at a new public school who becomes a de facto shrink to his fellow classmates; Robert Downey Jr. and teen dream Tyler Hilton co-star. After numerous theatrical release date delays, Charlie Bartlett split the critics with mixed reviews, so now’s the time to check it out on DVD and see which camp was right.

Bonus Features:

First time director Jon Poll, Yelchin, and co-star Kat Dennings provide a commentary track, and a music video from the film finds its way onto the bonus menu.

Persepolis

Tomatometer: 95%

This coming-of-age story of an Iranian girl not only won over critics with its emotional and enthralling black and white animation, it went beyond its genre to win acclaim as a great film. Telling the story of her own life, co-director Marjane Satrapi (with Vincent Parannaud) earned an Oscar nomination for adapting their original graphic novel to the screen. Recently banned in Lebanon, Persepolis comes to DVD as one of the most acclaimed films of 2007.

Bonus Features:

The movie itself is worth purchasing the release alone, but it is bolstered by a full menu of bonus features. You can watch Persepolis either in its original French or in an English dubbed version; renowned actresses Catherine Deneuve and her daughter, Chiara Mastroianni, provide voices for both, while American stars Sean Penn, Gena Rowlands, and Iggy Pop join the English voice cast. Satrapi and Parannaud provide commentaries and appear in the making-of the French and English versions of their film. The 2007 Cannes press conference, scene comparisons, and more also appear.

Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs

Tomatometer: N/A

In the second of four planned DVD movies, the Futurama cast and crew is back with another madcap space adventure with the staff of the Planet Express. Directly after the events of Bender’s Big Score, a tear in the universe, an inter-dimensional monster comes to Earth and installs Fry as the new Pope; Brittany Murphy, David Cross, and Stephen Hawking guest star.

Bonus Features:

In an interview with Movie Web, David X. Cohen reveals what he calls the best Futurama DVD extra ever: a full-length “lost” episode previously only revealed in parts in the Futurama video game, animated completely in 3D CGI. Be on the lookout for a preview of the upcoming third movie, the fantasy-themed Bender’s Game.

Unnecessary Re-release of the Week: Xanadu: Magical Music Edition

Tomatometer: 35%

What do you get when you mix 1980s pop music, Greek mythology, roller disco, and Olivia Newton-John? You get Xanadu, one of the worst movie musicals ever made and the winner of the most unnecessary re-release of the week award. With re-mastered picture and sound and an all-new featurette, the so-called “Magical Music Edition” also comes with a full soundtrack CD of songs by Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra and retails for only $14.99. For anyone even thinking about buying this disc, consider the following: sure, Xanadu was adapted into a Tony-nominated Broadway show, but it was also the last feature appearance of song-and-dance legend Gene Kelly; do you really want to remember him this way?


‘Til next week, happy viewing!

Zack Snyder announces a second Watchmen movie (kinda) and Sly Stallone announces his director’s cut of Rambo — so should you pick up the theatrical cut on DVD this week? Find out more inside.


Who Watches the Watchmen Spin-off DVD?

Zack Snyder will direct a Watchmen spinoff DVD film based on the meta-story Tales of the Black Freighter, which will hit shelves the week after the comic adaptation is released in theaters next March. The story within a story, which appears in the original Watchmen comics, was originally planned as a 300-esque live-action movie, but will be shot as a more cost-effective animated film. According to the New York Times, the DVD, set for stores five days after Watchmen hits theaters, will also feature a character-focused “documentary-style film” — and even Snyder knows the movie, spinoff, and resulting multiple releases means big bucks (“The überfans of this property are going to go crazy for that”).

Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs

Special features and artwork have been released for the second Futurama DVD movie, The Beast with a Billion Backs. The feature length movie picks up after the events of Bender’s Big Score, when an interplanetary alien declares Fry the new Pope and seeks Leela for his bride. Will intergalactic snu-snu ensue? Britney Murphy, David Cross, and Stephen Hawking provide guest vocals; expect TONS of great bonus features like commentary tracks, “A Brief History of Deathball,” and a sneak peek at the next Futurama film, Bender’s Game.

The name is Rambo. John Rambo.

Sylvester Stallone‘s Rambo— the fourth onscreen bloodbath starring his iconic titular character — is out on DVD this week. But before you count your pennies and head to the video store, be warned; he’s already planning a director’s cut. He said as much to Jay Leno, so it must be true. We say give Rambo a rental, but wait to buy Sly’s cut (entitled John Rambo) from which all the proceeds might go to the people of Burma.

 

 

Click for this week’s new releases!

Rambo


Tomatometer: 33%

Wherever there is a need for ass kicking, there he shall be. Twenty years after ousting the Soviets from Afghanistan in Rambo III (the Taliban thanks you, John Rambo!) Sly Stallone’s best-known character finds himself in Burma. When American missionaries get captured by the bloodthirsty Burmese Army, a reluctant Rambo leaves peaceful retirement behind and goes back to his old ways — now, with an even higher body count (3.2 per minute)!

Bonus Features:

As if watching Rambo rip throats out with his bare hands in slo-mo wasn’t its own bonus feature, the two-disc release boasts tons of featurettes on the music, weapons, and making of Rambo’s fourth onscreen adventure. Stallone’s commentary track and a feature that contextualizes the real life political climate of Burma make it a well-rounded release.

Grace Is Gone



Tomatometer: 58%

This Sundance drama is unlike the glut of Iraq war films we’ve seen in the past year; instead of a soldier’s story, we see the tragedy of a fallen soldier’s family back home, as told through the heartbreaking eyes of a new widower and father of two (John Cusack).

Bonus Features:

A few sobering featurettes on the film and what inspired it, along with a profile of TAPS, a Tragedy Assistance Program for survivors of loved ones in the Armed Forces, accompany the film.


Cassandra’s Dream


Tomatometer: 50%

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. First the middling Melinda and Melinda. Then the Oscar-nominated Match Point. The abysmal Scoop followed shortly thereafter, and now we again have another stop on Woody Allen‘s roller coaster ride of a career. Cassandra’s Dream, about two brothers caught up in a tragic quandary of morality and greed, is out on DVD this week — will it be a breath of fresh air or strangely familiar territory from the man who keeps remaking his own Crimes and Misdemeanors?

Bonus Features:

No DVD extras? We’ll take that as an admission of mediocrity and cross our fingers for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.


The Walker

Tomatometer: 51%

Paul Schrader completes the “lonely man” trilogy he began with American Gigolo and Light Sleeper with this tale of a Washington, D.C. society escort (Woody Harrelson) embroiled in a murder scandal. Though the film came and went quickly in theaters, now may be a better chance for the character study/thriller to find an audience on DVD.

Bonus Features:

Well, you’re not going to buy this for the extras. Unless a single featurette and trailer floats your boat, the film alone is the main attraction on this release.


Phenomena

Tomatometer: 80%

Dario Argento fans have a lot to be excited about this week; in addition to a special edition of his horror classic Tenebre and a five-disc box set, Anchor Bay is releasing a special edition of Phenomena (also known as Creepers), Argento’s 1985 horror-thriller starring a young Jennifer Connelly as a bug-whispering schoolgirl on the hunt for a killer.

Bonus Features:

Feast your eyes on a commentary by Argento and his crewmembers, music videos by Bill Wyman and Claudio Simonetti, and more.


Come Drink With Me

Tomatometer: N/A

Also great for retro fans this week are all-new releases of a few of the most classic kung fu titles of all time. In addition to releasing Gordon Liu‘s Heroes of the East (AKA Shaolin Challenges Ninja), Dragon Dynasty bestows upon us the wonderment that is the digitally restored Come Drink With Me, the seminal 1966 Wuxia film starring Cheng Pei-pei as a lethal, cross-dressing heroine named Golden Swallow.

Bonus Features:

Interviews with stars Cheng and Man Yueh Hua, a commentary track with Cheng and scholar Bey Logan, featurettes and theatrical trailers make this a must-see for any fan of Shaw Brothers-era kung fu. Behold, the trailer:


‘Til next week, happy viewing!

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