HERO COMPLEX

I have to admit that I’m starting to burn out on the superhero/superhuman action hero trend in Hollywood, but that being said, there have been some great films in that genre coming out.

Superior to its predecessor, The Wolverine finds Hugh Jackman comfortably returning to the role of the favorite X-Men character even as he discovers his powers ebbing thanks to the sinister machinations of an aging Japanese tycoon who seeks the secret of immortality. This film’s more character driven but still has some wild sequences, including a fight atop the roof of a speeding bullet train. Check out the 3D Unleashed Extended Edition. If you’re jonesing for a big X-Men fix and have not yet collected all the movies on Blu-ray, the giant Adamantium Collection includes all four X-Men and two Wolverine movies housed with a giant replica Wolvie claw. There’s also an extra slot for next year’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past installment. An exclusive bonus disc features a new, hour-long documentary about bringing the X-Men to the silver screen.

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy (Ultimate Collector’s Edition) is one of the best superhero series ever, embracing a violent ballet between good and evil. The three movies have been collected in a beautiful limited edition box set that includes all the Blu-rays and bonus features along with a 48-page photo book, five arty color prints from Mondo, plus toy reproductions of The Tumbler, Bat-Pod, and Bat vehicles. There are also 90 minutes of new bonus features, including a chat between Nolan and original Superman movie director Richard Donner. That’s a cool extra.

Nolan was also involved in co-writing Man Of Steel with David S. Goyer for director Zack Snyder. I know a lot of people loved it, but I was supremely disappointed by this overwrought cinematic video game that was too gloomy for its own good. But I know superhero fans want to know that it’s out on Blu-ray as a special edition with four hours of souped up special features. The 3D Collector’s Edition comes in Superman logo-shaped packaging. I guess I’ll have to give it another go sometime.

Martial arts legend Bruce Lee helped popularize karate and kung fu across America and opened the door for future stars in that genre. His first four movies before the epic Enter The Dragon are collected in the handsomely packaged Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection, which includes The Big Boss, Fist Of Fury, The Way Of The Dragon, and Game Of Death on Blu-ray along with audio commentaries, featurettes and interviews, and outtakes, not to mention three full-length documentaries on DVD including I Am Bruce Lee. It’s all encased in a hardcover edition bound with a 64-page full color book that features vintage photos, poster art, and modest liner notes. The down side to this impressive set is that each disc is so tightly packaged in the sleeves that you have to pull them out hard. The Blu-rays can handle that friction, but the DVDs might get scratched, so just be aware of that fact.

Offering a comedic twist on testosterone-fueled action antics, The Heat teams up Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as an FBI agent and Boston cop who become unlikely buddies while trying to take down a drug lord. The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack includes the theatrical and unrated cuts, bloopers, deleted scenes, and no less than five commentaries!

 

 

CREEP FESTS

While the original Amityville Horror Trilogy has not necessarily held up as well as some other ’80s horror franchises, it has its moments. In the first one, the best part is the ghost pig and Margot Kidder half-nude in leg warmers. The second film, which ruins the continuity but features a better demonic possession storyline and creepy incest subplot, is the best. The third film, included in its 2D and 3D formats here, is just goofy fun and features young Meg Ryan, Tess Harper, and Full House‘s Lori Loughlin. All three films have been nicely restored by Scream Factory and include great bonus featurettes.

Inspired by old school horror, James Wan’s The Conjuring is a fantastically creepy haunted house turned demonic possession film that does not need a lot of digital effects to make you squirm in or jump out of your seat. Great performances, an ominous score, and clever cinematography make this one click. Wan is a modern master of horror for sure.

On the flip side, the faux documentary approach of Frankenstein’s Army may induce headaches in some viewers (like me). But you may get sucked into this twisted tale of a small Russian troop that infiltrates a German village during WWII and discovers the infamous doctor reviving dead Nazis and sewing them into twisted machine bodies. This may be low budget, but the digitally enhanced creatures are pretty freaky.

 

CLASSICS

It’s been ages since I actually watched Mary Poppins (beyond the Broadway show), so the 50th Anniversary edition should be Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Or something like that. The special features from the last reissue will be included along with a “Mary-oke” karaoke game and look into Saving Mr Banks. And, of course, there is the hi-def restoration that many fans have been awaiting.

You might think it’s unnecessary to release The Wizard Of Oz 3D (75th Anniversary Edition), but I have to admit that when I saw it on the big screen it looked like it had been shot in that format originally. Even some of the elements in the painted backdrops have been separated out to give the landscapes more depth. On the regular special edition, a new two-hour documentary is included as a bonus rather than repackaging past Blu-ray and DVD features. Then there’s the Limited Collector’s Edition box set that repurposes the massive 70th anniversary edition with even more goodies. Just look at the photo!

The world of journalism has changed radically since the days of the Watergate scandal and the Washington Post reporters (Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein) who exposed Nixon’s follies to America and the world. That’s why films like All The President’s Men (40th Anniversary Edition) make for imperative viewing for those who don’t know or have forgotten. The new Blu-ray edition includes past bonus features along with the new documentary feature All The President’s Men Revisited, which is narrated by co-star Robert Redford.

James Dean only made three films during his tragically short life, but they live on, particularly Rebel Without A Cause, which secured his Hollywood legend. If you’re craving more Dean, dive right into the James Dean Ultimate Collector’s Edition. On top of HD transfers of East Of Eden, Rebel…, and Giant, the set includes a 40-page hardcover photo book, three mini posters, authentic production memos, commentaries, three full-length documentaries on DVD, screen tests, and more. This thing is jam packed with Dean.

Robotech was one of the most influential anime series to emerge from the ’80s, and if you haven’t had the chance to check it out, the 20-disc Robotech: The Complete Set should be all you need. The 85-episode series spans three Robotech Wars—oddly enough, edited together from unrelated Japanese series into a U.S. show, go figure—and then there are three other movies included along with alternate versions of some episodes, 12 hours of bonus features, and a bonus disc of documentaries and deleted scenes. Fans might not be thrilled with the discs being stacked on top of each other, however, so be careful how you handle them.

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