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Monday, Oct. 25, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

Releases for the Week of 10/19/10 - 10/28/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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PREDATORS

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Nimrod Antal

Starring Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Danny Trejo, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Louis Ozawa Changchien

Fox//Rated R//Sci-Fi, Action//107 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Robert Rodriguez penned the Predators script in 1995 at Fox Studio's request, as the sequel to John McTiernan's 1987 Predator. That film, budgeted at $18 million, made an $80 million-plus profit. After filming two lower budget sequels, Fox execs remembered Rodriguez's script, and decided to exercise the studio's option. The film's opening shot depicts a man awakening as he plummets from the sky, his parachute opening just moments before he careens into a forest canopy. Following a rough landing, he's attacked by others arrived before him. He's one of eight bad-asses dropped onto an alien planet that serves as the predator hunting grounds. Black-ops mercenary Royce (Adrien Brody) is a natural leader, although the others are not natural followers. They include a serial killer (Walton Goggins), a clean-cut physician Edwin (Topher Grace), a hatchet man (Danny Trejo), a Sierra Leone death squad member (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a Russian soldier (Oleg Taktarov), a Japanese Yakuza (Ozawa Changchien), and an Israeli sniper (Alice Braga). The opening sequence is never equaled during the film's first half, but eventually the appearance of a longtime survivor, played by Laurence Fishburne, reinvigorates the action. Several imaginative twists show that an older franchise can be given new life. DVD features: Commentary by Robert Rodriguez and director, Nimrod Antal, Alien Terrain, Motion Comics, Robert Rodriguez presents exclusive prequel vignettes voiced by the cast, Isabelle, Mombasa, Crucified, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: Noland Intro (part 1), Hanzo, Mombasa, Noland Ending (part 2), Predators Reborn, Bloodline, Alien Terrain, The Hunting Camp, Predators as Prey, Yuatja Transformed, Rite of Passage, The Chosen Featurette, Fox Movie Channel presents Making a Scene, Deleted and Extended Scenes, Dead Man's Parachute, Cuchillo and Isabelle, Team Orientated Group, Third Most Wanted, Cuchillo Unleashes, Why Are You Here?, They're Smarter Than That, Stans and Isabelle Naked, They're Still Coming, BD-Live Extras Powered by IMDB, Digital Copy, Cantonese or Mandarin subtitles.

CRIMSON WING: MYSTERY OF THE FLAMINGOS

(2010)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by Matthew Aeberhard, Leander Ward

Disney//Rated G//Documentary//78 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack

The remarkable life cycle of the crimson flamingo, a bird tinted red due to consuming red algae growing in Tanzania's Lake Natron, is beautifully captured in this documentary. The lake is highly saline and ringed by an active volcano, and once each year, it forms a temporary salt island. Here the flamingos build nests of dirt and salt in which females raise one chick or a red liquid regurgitated into the young one's beak. The slow-motion style of the narration pulls us out of the documentary. Tragically, a few chicks are left behind and we see some chicks attacked by predators. The camera takes in these deaths briefly in a manner suitable for viewing by the entire family. DVD features: Lake Natron diaries: Behind the Crimson Wing, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: film on both DVD and Blu-Ray, Living planet interactive exploration, Filmmaker Annotations, Screensaver.

OCEANS

(2009)

* * * (A)

Directed by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud

Narrated by Pierce Brosnan

Disneynature//Rated G//Documentary//84 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack

Directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud visit both familiar ocean creatures and those rarely seen. They find unique ways to film a variety of events, including leaping spinner dolphins, breaching whales, and starfish creeping along the sea floor on tiny tube-like feet. Though largely a celebration of our blue world, the filmmakers capture ocean-dwelling mammals entangled in fisherman's nets and an island of garbage floating in the Pacific. Over the final credits, we see camera crews filming a 100-foot blue whale, and other marvelous sights, enlarging our perspective of this vast, yet vulnerable cradle of life. DVD features: interviews with the filmmakers, crew and industry experts, behind-the-scenes footage, "Make A Wave" music video starring Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato, Disney Company's conservation efforts, Deeper in the ocean bonus video, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: Filmmaker Annotations, Film on both DVD and Blu-Ray, exclusive BD-Live allowing Blu-ray Disc owners to explore the oceans through an interactive globe.

PLEASE GIVE

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed by Nicole Holofcener

Starring Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Sarah Steele, Ann Marie Guilbert, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Lois Smith

Sony//Rated R//Drama//90 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray

Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt portray a wealthy Manhattan couple whose plans to expand their apartment trigger a slew of emotions. Some time back, they purchased their elderly neighbor's (Guilbert) apartment, and signed a contract stipulating that the woman may live out her life there and now she is dying. The old woman's granddaughters (Peet and Hall) check on her frequently. One is a pretty, yet bitter young woman who catches the middle-aged husband's eye. Meanwhile, Keener's privileged wife frets over the feeling she ought to help the less fortunate, but she is repulsed by the needy. While the film was made with Manhattan dwellers in mind, we all appreciate Keener's fine performance and the intimate examination of her character. DVD and Blu-Ray features: Outtakes, Behind the scenes, Q&A with director, English, French or Thai language tracks, Spanish Korean or Mandarin subtitles, widescreen.

SHAUN THE SHEEP: Season One

(2007)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Created by Nick Park

Directed by Jean-Philippe Vine

Lionsgate//Not Rated//Animated//258 minutes

Available on: DVD

The barnyard antics of Shaun the Sheep and his friends are about fooling a clueless, shortsighted farmer, or besting a mean-spirited gang of piggies. The farmer's brainy dog, Bitzer, oversees the flock, though he is frequently obliged to become their coconspirator lest the boss discover their activities. The "Far Side" influence is evident when the flock eats pizza, watches TV and enjoys playing soccer, all beyond human view. Dialog free, these full-length episodes were originally 7 minutes each for broadcast on the BBC, but were cut into 5-minute segments for the Disney Channel. This release affords an opportunity to see what we've been missing. DVD features: Sing-Along With Shaun, featurettes: Building A Pig, Mini-Making of, Games: Sheep Shearing & Whack-A-Pig, Meet The Animals video, Sneak Peek: Timmy's Tune #1 music video, English language tracks, widescreen.

MOULIN ROUGE!

(2001)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Baz Luhrmann

Starring Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent

Fox//Rated PG-13//Musical//131 minutes

Available on: Blu-Ray

Set in 1899, the story receives short shrift in favor of its musical numbers. Ewan McGregor plays a writer lusting after Satine (Nicole Kidman), a Parisian can can dancer. Though dying of consumption, Satine bursts with tomboy energy that physically and emotionally dwarfs McGregor. 2-Disc Blu-Ray features: High Definition Transfer, Picture-in-Picture Mode with Commentary by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M. McAlpine and Craig Pearce, Behind-the-Scenes Footage and Stills, New featurette: A Creative Adventure w/director intro, A Word from Baz, Uncut Footage from the Bazmark Vault, an Alternate Opening, Nicole Kidman's First Vocal Test, Featurettes and Interviews: The Stars, The Writers, The Design, The Dance, The Music and The Cutting Room, Making of featurette, BD-LIVE: powered by IMDb, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

PSYCHO

(1960)

* * * * (A)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Martin Balsam, Simon Oakland, Vera Miles, John McIntire, John Gavin

Universal//Rated R//Horror//109 minutes

50th Anniversary Edition, Available on: Blu-Ray

An all-time great movie by an all-time great director, Psycho shocked audiences in 1960 with its freaky killer (Perkins) and a graphic murder that left women feeling violated. Perkins' depiction of a friendly, but meek motel owner dominated by his unseen mother, sends chills up the spine. After a pretty young girl (Lee) checks into the Bates Motel, we learn that someone is using the location to carry out a string of murders. So many masterful touches, from evil personified by the looming Bates' family home, to Bernard Herman's screeching score during the infamous shower scene, ratchet up the fear factor to unbearable heights. Oft-imitated, this classic is available on Blu-Ray for the first time. Blu-Ray features: commentary with Stephen Rebello, making of featurette, Psycho sound, Hitchcock's legacy, Hitchcock/Truffaut interview excerpts, Newsreel footage: the release of Psycho, The shower scene, The shower scene storyboards, Psycho archives, Posters and Psycho ads, Lobby cards, Behind-the-scenes and production photographs, English or French language tracks, widescreen.

Also Out This Week

AGORA

(2009)

Directed by Alejandro Amenabar

Starring Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac

Lionsgate//Rated R//Action//126 minutes

Available on: DVD

Set in 4th century Egypt, a violent religious battle in the city of Alexandria centers around Hypatia (Weisz), a brilliant female scientist and mathematician far ahead of her time. Falling under her spell are two disciples competing for her heart, and torn by the need to save their city and their own lives. Based on a true story, the film's theatrical release was brief and limited to few screens. DVD features: Director Commentary, "Journey To Alexandria" Documentary, Deleted Scenes, Storyboards: Production Design, Costume Design, Photo Gallery, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.