Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Blu-ray Releases: The Week of Dec. 20th, 2010 - The Town

Aaaah, the final week before Christmas. Yes, time sure flies and for all you procrastinators out there, there is still enough time to get your shopping done (well, barely). But maybe waiting until now wasn't such a bad thing after all, as this week there are a few more great Blu-ray choices to add to your shopping list. So, without wasting anymore time, let's get to them, shall we?

The Town (Extended Cut Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)Salt (Deluxe Unrated Edition) [Blu-ray]Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)Easy A [Blu-ray]Devil [Blu-ray]Laugh It Up Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy (It's A Trap / Something Something Something Dark Side / Blue Harvest) [Blu-ray]Family Guy: It's A Trap! [Blu-ray]Futurama: Volume 5 [Blu-ray]

The Town was pretty well received when it hit the theaters back in September. It is a well made movie and also Ben Affleck's sophomore effort as a director. So far, Ben is batting two-for-two, after receiving glowing reviews for his directorial debut on Gone Baby Gone. The only connections between these two films is that they are both based in Massachusetts and they feature some local talents (hey, at least they try to get the Boston accent right!). While Gone Baby Gone is more of a simmering crime thriller, The Town is an actioner right from the get go. It stars Affleck himself in the lead, with Mad Men's Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner (from last year's Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker) backing him up with supporting roles. This Blu-ray release of The Town, in addition to the theatrical cut, also contains an extended cut of the film that balloons the runtime from 125 to 153 minutes. This is a pretty significant addition and helps flesh out some of the subplots and relationships between the characters. The Town comes in a Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy combo pack and boasts great 1080p video (2.40:1 aspect ratio) and a masterful DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. As fort he special features, try listening to Affleck's audio commentary as he meticulously dissects each scene and offers some great insights into the moviemaking magic. Highly Recommended!

Dark, sultry and sizzling hot, Angelina Jolie is probably the only good thing going for the somewhat ludicrously far-fetched spy thriller, Salt. From the director of Tom Clancy's Clear and Present Danger, Phillip Noyce, comes a tale of implausibility that casts Jolie as Evelyn Salt, a secret double agent who is suddenly exposed and has to face the wrath of both the CIA and the Russians. Who is really on her side? No one knows and frankly, do we really care? Just sit back, relax and watching Ms. Jolie kick some secret agent butt is somewhat enough to entertain us. Seriously, watching Salt is akin to watching Mission Impossible, whereby the audience has to suspend the notion of whatever that is possible and just go with the flow. They call it "movie logic," which is actually an oxymoron. Go figure! Salt comes in a single Blu-ray disc Deluxe Unrated Edition, with 1080p video and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. Salt is a slick, action-packed spy thriller that defies all logic in its plot. A great entertaining movie but I don't think it is good enough to be in your collection, unless you can pick it up at below $10. Recommendation: Rent or wait for price drop.

Money truly never sleeps, as long as there is some to be made. The great Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) is finally out of prison and he is, well, out of his element. This sequel to 1987's Wall Street, ridiculously titled Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps pairs Gecko with his pregnant daughter's fiance, Jake Moore (Shia LeBeouf) to......wait for it.....save the financial world from impending doom! Douglas won as Oscar for his previous role as ruthless Wall Street raider, Gecko, who swill stop at nothing to get what he wants. Here, the new Gecko is old and tired and has lost most of his edge. He is no more the vicious villain we know and that is a real shame. Shall we say, lost opportunity? This is a single Blu-ray disc release with 1080p video and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio. Recommendation: A rental.

As crazy as this might sound, Easy A is quite a good movie. At first glance, a story about a clean-cut high school student who takes advantage of the school's rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing may sound quite lame and ineffectual but this teen comedy may be the best of its generation since Clueless and Mean Girls. Emma Stone, who plays the film's protagonist Olive Penderghast, is superbly funny and should be considered one of the top comedy actress today. With 1080p video and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio, this single Blu-ray disc release is an easy recommendation. If you are still skeptical, rent it first.

Claustrophobic and tension-filled, the horror movie Devil may seem like an easy sell but unfortunately, nothing comes easy. Let me elaborate. Devil is the first film in "The Night Chronicles" trilogy. They are based on stories written by M. Night Shyamalan but the films are directed by other people. Now, as you know, Shyamalan has probably lost any of his cachet within the Hollywood community with one bomb after another (remember The Happening and The Last Airbender?). It is probably a smart move for him to step back from the director's chair and his stupid cameos (does he really equate himself to Hitchcock?) in his own films and just concentrate on writing good stories. Let someone else (better) direct. So, Devil has a promising premise about a group of people who are stuck in an elevator with one catch: one of them is the Devil. Yes, the big bad kahuna him- or her-self. Interesting, no? Yes, but the execution comes up a little wanting. It received just semi-lukewarm responses from critics and never lived up to its promise. But you know what, it is definitely better than the recent junk Shyamalan has shoveled into our faces. So maybe this is a sign of better things to come. One can only hope, right? The devil, unfortunately, is in the details. Devil comes to Blu-ray in a single disc release (you can get the Digital Copy via download) with the usual 1080p video and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. Recommendation: Rent it.

Good things come in threes, they say. The Lord of the RingsStar Wars (2 trilogies), etc. Well, how about Family Guy parodies? They too come in threes! All you Jedi fanboys must've loved the previously released Star Wars parodies from Family Guy and now they have compiled all three parodies in one great Blu-ray package: Laugh It Up Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy. It consists of Family Guy: It's A Trap! (the latest release), Family Guy Presents: Something Something Something Dark Side and Family Guy - Blue Harvest (only previously available on DVD). Although the parodies are not the rolling-on-the-aisle funny that we expected but they do elicit a good chuckle, especially if you know your "Star Wars" movies. Also, this trilogy package comes in 2 covers, one is the Dark Side (with Darth Stewie) and the other represents the Light (with the rest of the characters). Recommendation: Buy it!

Courtesy of The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, comes an animated comedy that was probably light years ahead of its time. After 4 seasons on Fox, Futurama was cancelled (the final episode aired in 2003), despite critical acclaim and a loyal fanbase. Of course, we all know that you can't keep a good comedy down for long, so the show came back with 4 straight-to-DVD films: Bender's Big ScoreThe Beast with a Billion BacksBender's Game and Into the Wild Green Yonder. Then Comedy Central ordered a new batch of episodes and they premiered in June of this year, leading to the best ratings for the network. Now those new episodes (13 of them) are released on Blu-ray as Futurama: Volume 5 in a 2-disc set. Recommendation: Buy it.

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