Monday, December 6, 2010

Blu-ray Releases: The Week of Dec. 6th, 2010 - Inception is Here

As the holiday season approaches, so do the Blu-ray release dates for some of the major blockbusters of this year. In the coming weeks, we'll be seeing releases like "Salt," "Despicable Me," "The Town" and "The A-Team" remake. But let's just take it one week at a time, shall we?

One of the best movie of 2010 gets an eagerly-awaited release this week (hint: Leo's back!), together with an old animated green friend who has more than overstayed his welcome and a few minor interesting tidbits. So here are the highlights of this week's releases:

Inception (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)Shrek Forever After (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)Shrek: The Whole Story Boxed Set (Shrek / Shrek 2 / Shrek the Third / Shrek Forever After) [Blu-ray]Alice In Wonderland (Four-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy)Restrepo [Blu-ray]Cronos: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray]Videodrome (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]24: Season Eight - The Complete Final Season [Blu-ray]

Before I begin talking about this week's releases, I should also point out that The Twilight Saga: Eclipse was released a few days ago, on December 4th. Apparently, it is so special, it needs a special Saturday release day all by itself. Here is my review of the Blu-ray disc.If you are in the market for this movie, there are a few versions for you to consider:
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Single-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Single-Disc Edition) [Blu-ray]
In general, there are two versions that are available everywhere, a Blu-ray/DVD Combo and a Single-Disc Edition. Now, if you want to get something more exclusive, look towards retailers like Target and Best Buy. From Target, you get the Blu-ray/DVD combo in an exclusive package plus six collectible photo cards.
From Best Buy, there is exclusive Steelbook packaging that also houses the Blu-ray/DVD combo disc.


Despite Inception's seemingly complicated plot and premise, it managed to attract a large audience over the summer and grossed close to $300 million in box office receipts. And it should do very well on Blu-ray as well. The mind-blowing special effects, a genuinely mind-bending story plus an all-star cast, all put together in the capable hands of director Christopher Nolan (MementoThe PrestigeThe Dark Knight) equals one of the most unique movies to hit theaters in a long time. Already one of the most highly anticipated releases this year, "Inception" comes to Blu-ray in several incarnations (depending on where you buy it from). The first is a Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy version (only $17.99 on Amazon). It comes with the requisite 1080p video and lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack that should please a lot of people. Reviews have been highly positive for audio and video quality and for such a high-profile release, we shouldn't expect any less.

The next version is a Best Buy exclusive and it come with an exclusive cover plus a script book.
Finally--and I saved the best for last--is a very exclusive and very cool briefcase packaging that is only available online at WBShop.com. Too bad that this item is already sold out as fewer than 2000 units were made available. You would most probably see this show up on EBay pretty soon (at a marked up price, of course). Here is what you could have gotten for $49.99:


Next up is Shrek Forever After, the Mike Myers/Eddie Murphy animated vehicle that stopped being funny after the second installment, Shrek 2. Dreamworks intends to milk this cash ogre until it is absolutely dry of original ideas and gags. Fairy tale clichés only go that far, you know. This fourth film comes full circle in the Shrek story as the green ogre ponders the what-ifs of life. Can this film franchise finally finish with the inevitable "Happily Ever After" ending? You'll have to find out for yourself as most critics are divided right down the middle. "Shrek Forever After" comes in a Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo set with 1080p video and a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack. Like all of the Shrek releases that came before it, this one boasts some nice special features as well. Oh, and if you are looking to own the entire Shrek anthology on Blu-ray, there is Shrek: The Whole Story box set that features all four movies in a single package. Before this, the first two movies were not available on Blu-ray. Now you can but the only way to own them on high-def disc in through this set as you can't purchase them individually.

For the handful of you who just purchased a brand spanking new 3-D TV, here's another reason to justify your big investment to your wife: Johnny Depp's mug in your face! Disney is re-releasing Alice In Wonderland, this time in Blu-ray 3-D. This is a 4-disc set that contains the Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy of the movie.

Next is Restrepo, a no-holds-barred fly-on-the-wall documentary focusing on a platoon of soldiers stationed in the remote Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, considered one of the most dangerous outpost in the warring country. Journalists Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger were embedded with these soldiers and chronicled the highs and lows of their 15-month tour of duty. A very emotional and extremely honest and brutal look at the daily lives of our soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. Apart from the requisite 1080p video, I can't find any other info on the audio or special features specs. But this is a documentary worth watching at least once just to get a taste of the incredible job these guys do and the perils they go through everyday.

Up next, we have a pair of excellent horror releases from Criterion, Cronos from Mexican director Guillermo del Toro and Videodrome from the warped mind of David Cronenberg. Winner of the Best Feature Film Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Cronos is del Toro's 1993 debut feature film and a redefining labor of love. The film immediately established him as one of the premier Mexican filmmakers. While del Toro went on to direct such classics as The Devil's BackbonePan's Labyrinth and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, it is Cronos that has actually struck me as raw, highly imaginative and unconventional. Cronos tells the story of an antiques dealer who comes across an ancient scarab that can grant eternal life. With a wealthy but ill Mexican industrialist also after the scarab for its immortal powers, things begin to run out of control in ways that you can't imagine.
Also from Criterion is Videodrome, David Cronenberg's dark ode to the destructive and decaying powers of television. James Woods plays Max Renn, a sleazy television programmer looking for the next big thing in television sensationalism. When he comes across a pirated signal that depicts people being killed on camera (snuff TV), Renn becomes obsessed with discovering the nature of that channel that you just know would lead to nothing good. This film also stars singer Debbie Harry as a sadomasochistic psychiatrist. For both of these films, expect the best quality audio and video presentations and detailed special features, elements that have become synonymous with all films culled from The Criterion Collection.

Jack Bauer is about to face his final bad day. Seriously, how many bad (I mean, really bad) days can one person endure? The first episode of 24 first appeared in 2001 and for eight seasons, Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has stopped assassination plots, a nuclear explosion in L.A., biological attacks, been betrayed countless times and saw his wife killed by a traitor. All in separate 24-hour time spans. Now you can own Jack's final adventure on Blu-ray in this 24: Season Eight - The Complete Final Season 6-disc set. Time to bid adieu to one of television's flawed heroes.

And that's it for this week. Have a great time shopping!

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