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Monday, Nov. 8, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

For the week of 11/02/10 - 11/08/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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TOY STORY 3

(2010)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by Lee Unkrich

Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, John Morris, Laurie Metcalf, Timothy Dalton, Jodi Benson, Wallace Shawn

Disney//Rated G//Animation//103 minutes

Andy's toys stick together when deprived of human companionship, but like dogs, they happily abandon one another when human society returns. As Andy (John Morris) readies himself for college, his toys must consider life without him. Favorite toy, Woody (Tom Hanks) the cowboy, is gratified to learn he will go with Andy. The other toys -- marked for safe haven in the attic—express misgivings that turn out to be well-founded. The most human toys—Woody (Tom Hanks), Jessie the cowgirl (Joan Cusack) and Buzz Lightyear the astronaut (Tim Allen)— serve as de facto leaders of Andy's toy box. Indeed, Pixar's CGI animation makes their plasticine smooth faces virtually undistinguishable from ours. This ploy persuades us to invest in the trio, and it pays off when a mix-up lands Jesse, Buzz, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Rex the dinosaur (Wallace Shawn), Hamm the pig (John Ratzenberger), and Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), along with Barbie (Jodi Benson), at the Sunnyside Daycare Center. Here Barbie meets her Ken (Michael Keaton) and everyone is made to feel safe by the Daycare's wise Teddy Bear Lotso (Ned Beatty). However, after spending a few days being abused in the toddler section, Andy's toys realize they must escape, but their efforts to do so are hindered by security measures similar to those of a prison. The film skillfully juggles light and dark themes that are organic to the toys' situation. A cohesive, poignant tale, Toy Story 3, is humorous and disturbing, and promises more of the same as it sets up the what promises to be a fourquel.

V: Season One

(2009-2010)

* *1/2 (B-) (Rating based on the Pilot Episode)

Created by Kenneth Johnson

Starring Morris Chestnut, Elizabeth Mitchell, Joel Gretsch, Lourdes Benedicto, Logan Huffman, Morena Baccarin, Scott Wolf, Laura Vandervoort

Warner//Not Rated//Sci-Fi//520 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

The 1980s series is reimagined with eye-catching production values and snazzy special effects. In casting Joel Gretsch, Morena Baccarin and Scott Wolf, the series snagged actors proven by their turns in other science-fiction dramas. The pilot establishes an alien invasion that appears to fulfill every alien-hugger's dream. Huge ships arrive simultaneously in 29 major cities, offering advanced health care and other new technologies in exchange for water and other basic resources. Most humans happily buy the party line, but as the pilot reveals, these visitors have much to hide. Though somewhat melodramatic, "V" attacks the social opportunities offered by science fiction with gusto. This collection contains 12 one-hour episodes that will soon double since ABC has renewed a second season to air beginning in January. 3-Disc DVD or 2-Disc Blu-ray features: Commentary with executive producers Scott Rosenbaum and Steve Pearlman, the Actor's Journey from Human to V Featurette - Featuring the principal cast of V discussing the techniques, challenges and rewards they faced in terms of bringing V alive for a new generation, featurettes: The Makeup FX, The World of V, The Visual FX, Bloopers, Deleted Scenes, English language tracks, Portuguese language tracks on Blu-ray only, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

HIGHLANDER

(1986)

* * * (B)

Directed by Russell Mulcahy

Starring Sean Connery, Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown, Celia Imrie, Roxanne Hart, Billy Hartman, Edward Wiley

Lionsgate//Rating R//Fantasy//116 minutes

Director's Cut, Available on: Blu-ray

Everyone knows there can only be one, and the best one, is this first Highlander movie. Lambert plays Connor MacLeod (Lambert), a young Scotsman discovering he belongs to a legion of immortals. He outlives the woman he loves, and learns "there can only be one," one immortal, that is. He is mentored in using his sword to behead other immortals, by a more experienced immortal, mysterious Ramirez (Connery). Along with dozens of others, Ramirez must eventually come for MacLeod's head. The journey spans centuries before landing in modern day New York. Filmed stylishly, the story romanticizes love, friendship and combat through soaring panoramic vistas, tracking shots and an all-important soundtrack by Queen. In addition to this film, Lionsgate is also releasing a director's cut of Highlander 2: The Quickening, on Blu-ray. Blu-ray features: director commentary, deleted scenes, English or Spanish language tracks, French subtitles, widescreen.

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG: Special Edition

(1968)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Ken Hughes

Starring Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Adrian Hall

MGM//Rated G//Family//150 minutes

Dick Van Dyke portrays Caratacus Potts, an unsuccessful inventor strip-mining his home for parts to complete his wild creations. Doting on his two young children, the widower indulges their whims by rescuing a wrecked car, and restoring it to its former splendor. Potts amuses the kiddies with a harrowing tale that stars the car they've named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Half the film occurs in Potts's imaginary story while the other half documents the children's efforts to marry-off papa to sassy Truly Scrumptious (played by Julie Andrews look and sing-alike, Sally Ann Howes). This strategy causes the film to become stranded between competing realities, both inadequate. Adrian Hall appears in an underwritten role as Potts's nutty father. Several song and dance numbers confirm Van Dyke's comic appeal, but the film's preschool audience may wander during the film's more pretentious numbers. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: remastered feature film on both Blu-ray and DVD, Newly upgraded 7.1 audio, All-new Toot Sweet Symphony melody maker, All-new Chitty's Bang Bang Driving Game, Remembering with Dick Van Dyke, A Fantasmagorical Motorcar featurette, Sherman Brothers' Rare Demos of the film's most popular songs, Vintage Featurettes: The Ditchling Tinkerer, Dick Van Dyke Press Interview, The Potts Children, Photo Gallery, Vintage Advertising Gallery, English and French versions of the theatrical trailer and television spots.

THE PACIFIC

(2010)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by Graham Yost, Carl Franklin, David Nutter, Timothy Van Patten, Jeremy Podeswa, Tony To

HBO//Not Rated//Drama//530 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg as a sort of companion piece to "Band of Brothers," WWII buffs will be overjoyed by the release of this 10-hour miniseries based on the books With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge and Helmet For My Pillow by Robert Leckie. The series delivers a realistic portrait of WWII's Pacific Theatre as seen through the intertwined odysseys of three U.S. Marines - Robert Leckie, John Basilone and Eugene Sledge. The episodes follow the Marines from a jungle clash in Guadalcanal with the Japanese, through the impenetrable rain forests of Cape Gloucester, across the coral strongholds of Peleliu, up the black sand terraces of Iwo Jima, through the killing fields of Okinawa, to the triumphant, yet difficult, return home after V-J Day. Combat is seen at close quarters and from the intimate perspective of men pushed beyond their limits. The series garnered eight Emmy awards including Outstanding Miniseries. 6-Disc DVD features: The real marines featured in The Pacific, Making of 30-minute feature, Anatomy of the pacific war - historical documentary, English, French or Spanish language tracks, Korean or Thai subtitles, widescreen. 6-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: enhanced viewing mode, The pacific field guide, English, French, Spanish or Polish language tracks, Danish, Dutch, Finnish or Norwegian subtitles, widescreen.

DEADLIEST CATCH: Season Six

(2010)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Written by Larry Law

Starring Mike Rowe, Sig Hansen, Phil Harris, Keith Colburn, Jonathan Hillstrand

Discovery Channel//Not Rated//Reality TV//688 Minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

All 15 episodes are included in this set, mostly filmed prior to the death of beloved crab boat captain, Phil Harris. Old friendships are tested by stress and competition for the best crabbing spots in the Bering sea -- some men even come to blows. The two young Jakes switch boats in order to expand their knowledge, while even the most seasoned pros suffer death and injury while practicing the world's most dangerous trade. Million-dollar spoils keep them in the game, but as these hard-living men are frequently reminded, only hard work, disappointment, and loss are guaranteed. 4-Disc DVD features: Deleted Scenes, English language tracks, widescreen.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

(1965)

* * * * (A)Directed by Robert Wise

Starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker

Fox//Rated G//Drama//

Available on: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

Based on a true story, we meet novitiate nun, Maria (Andrews), when she is sent to be governess for seven children belonging to Austrian widower Von Trapp (Plummer). After some initial head-bumping -- over whether a strict military regime, or one that includes singing, dancing and play -- is the correct way to raise kids, Von Trapp persuades Maria to marry him. However, the couple's happiness is short-lived as the reality of the advancing Nazi invasion hits home. Splendid songs team with nailbiting adventure to yield unbeatable family entertainment. 3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack features: film on Both DVD and Blu-ray, Immersive Viewing Experience with Behind-the-Scenes Images, On-screen Lyrics, Trivia Track and Location Quiz, Music Machine Sing-Along, Commentaries with Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and Director Robert Wise, Creating The Sound of Music including an Interactive Backlot Tour with In-depth featurettes on the Songs, the Stage Show & Movie, the Film and Sound Restoration and the Real-life Von Trapp Family, Virtual Map of Filming Locations, Vintage Rodgers & Hammerstein and The Sound Of Music Programs, Screen Test, Rare Treasures, Interviews, Photo Galleries, Optional Sing-Along Track, The Sound of Music Tour - A Living Story, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

NOVA: TRAPPED IN AN ELEVATOR

(2010)

* * * (B)

PBS Video//Not Rated//Documentary//56 minutes

Available on: DVD

Worldwide, elevators move 10 billion passengers per year. But what do we really know about this magic boxes? NOVA's cameras climb aboard the world's fastest elevators to examine the machines at work, and innovations to the technology that moves us. Once considered death traps, elevators are now the safest mode of travel, thanks in large measure to the Otis Elevator Company's fail safe inventions. Although dense cities could not function without elevators, our reliance on them comes at a price -- we must hand over control to plummeting closets, something elephobes can't do. DVD features: English language tracks, widescreen.

Also Out This Week

CENTURION

(2010)

Directed by Neil Marshall

Starring Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, David Morrissey, Noel Clarke, Riz Ahmed, J.J. Field, Liam Cunningham, Imogen Poots

Magnolia//Rated R//Action, Drama//98 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

In this feature-length chase, a tribe of Celtic Picts hunts a small band of Roman soldiers. Writer-director Neil Marshall shoots the carnage in jittery Strobo-Vision to cartoonish effect. We meet centurion Quintus Dias (Fassbender), as he flees unseen predators in the remote Roman Empire of mountainous Northern Britain. He's in this mess because the Ninth Legion, led by Gen. Titus Flavius Virilus (West), was surprised and beset by Pictish fireballs. Warning. It's difficult to become attached to the frequently bloodied, but largely wooden characters, even though the film contains several scenes of torture. DVD features: Commentary with Neil Marshall (Writer/Director) and Crew, Deleted Scenes w/commentary, Blood, Fire & Fury: Behind the Scenes of Centurion, Outtakes, Interviews with Cast and Crew, Behind the Scenes Footage, Photo Galleries, HDNet: A Look at Centurion, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: Digital Copy.

VAN GOGH: A BRUSH WITH GENIUS

(2008)

Directed by Francois Bertrand, Peter Knapp

Narrated by Jacques Gamblin

Image//Not Rated//Documentary//40 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

This intimate look at the tormented creator of some of the art world's most exquisite works, showcases Van Gogh's remarkable canvases in the IMAX format. Jacques Gamblin narrates in the painter's own words, reliving Van Gogh's journey through his letters, discoveries and tragedies. DVD and Blu-ray features: Making of documentary, Van Gogh Art Slide Show, English, French, Spanish or Japanese language tracks, widescreen.

LET'S SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER

(1984)

Directed by Hal Ashby

Starring Mick Jagger, Keith Richards

Lionsgate//Documentary//87 minutes

Available on: DVD

Filmmaker Hal Ashby was given a backstage pass to make this epic rockumentary—featuring the Rolling Stones—on tour in 1981. Now on DVD for the first time, the film was shot with 20 cameras that followed the rockers both on and off stage over the course of two performances, one on East Coast, the other on the West Coast. Always a showman, Jagger's taboo choreography can be seen on "You Can't Always Get What You Want," "Start Me Up," "Under My Thumb," and many other hits from their first 20 years. DVD features: Theatrical trailer, Stills gallery, English language tracks, widescreen.

BING CROSBY COLLECTION

(1933-1947)

Universal//Not Rated//Comedy, Drama -- in B & W//506 minutes

Available on: DVD

The six early Bing Crosby films included in this set are: "College Humor," 1933, "We're Not Dressing," 1934, "Here Is My Heart," 1934, "Mississippi," 1935, "Sing You Sinners," 1938, and "Welcome Stranger," 1947. Songs include: "June in January," "Swanee River" and "I've Got a Pocketful of Dreams." 3-Disc DVD features: English language tracks, widescreen.

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