This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1
(Releases on Friday, April 15 — Blu-ray available as single-disc and Blu-ray+DVD+digital copy)
I’m still not convinced that the final installment of the Harry Potter franchise needed to be separated into two films, but perhaps that’s a discussion better reserved for Part 2. Is it fair to judge this as a standalone film, or should it be taken as only half of a whole (which in itself is only one seventh of an even greater whole)? Director David Yates seems to want it both ways, while also attempting to appease both hardcore fans of the books and more casual viewers of the movies. The effort is admirably ambitious, though not always successful, often servicing fans at the cost of narrative flow. I’ll hold off on casting any judgments on how the film fits into the grander story at play — something that could very easily make or break the film in retrospect — but as a continuation of what’s essentially evolved into a serialized big screen mini-series, this entry is as problematic as it is utterly compelling. As a devoted fan of the films, it’s fascinating to see how these characters (and actors) have grown and matured, and Yates does a tremendous job portraying the toll that these inherited responsibilities have taken on their relationships. Where the film falters is finding a satisfying way to properly set up and condense subplots from the book, leading to many awkward moments where characters and MacGuffins appear at random. I’m also terribly conflicted about the ending, because as much as I recognize the need to offer some sort of emotional climax, it doesn’t register as an organic progression, and is treated with such gravitas that it inadvertently undercuts a far more significant occurrence at the end of The Half-Blood Prince. Criticisms aside, I have to respect Yates for endeavoring a near impossible task and not losing sight of the characters and their journey amidst the commotion. There lies the strength of the film, and that’s exactly the way it should be.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: Blu-ray – Includes a copy of the DVD and a digital copy of the film, as well as a sneak peek of an opening scene from the final film, a Maximum Movie Mode, Focus Points (“The Last Days of Privet Drive”, “Hagrid’s Motorbike”, “Amazing (or) Magical Tents!”, “Deatheaters attack Cafe”, “Creating Dobby and Kreacher”, “Godric’s Hollow”, “The Harry And Nagini Battle”, “The Frozen Lake”, “The Return of Griphook”), featurettes (“On the Green with Rupert, Tom, Oliver and James”, “The Seven Harry’s”, “Dan, Rupert, and Emma’s Running Competition”, “Behind The Soundtrack”), and additional scenes.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$14.99 $13.99 N/A
Amazon – $14.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE*
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$22.99 $22.99 $22.99
Amazon – $22.99

*Does not include single disc edition, which costs $16.99 at Best Buy and Amazon.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS
I Love You Phillip Morris is a rare breed. When it comes to true story tales of brilliant-minded men against the law, there are only so many forms we can expect to see those stories take on the big screen — as a historical crime drama perhaps, or an upbeat caper thriller — but Bad Santa writers Glenn Ficarra & John Requa saw the potential for something different for their directorial debut, and opted for a campy romantic comedy instead. Their decision paid off wonders. The film still suffers a tad from formula fatigue, but by finding the humor in the absurd, the predictably of the proceedings is effortlessly overcome by the pic’s sheer good-natured charm. Much of that credit is owed to Jim Carrey and the bright-eyed Ewan McGregor, who are a perfect fit for the film’s playfully innocent tone. The true highlight of the film though is the subversive, darkly comedic edge that its directors inject during opportune moments to offset the saccharine sweetness, providing the film an underlying notion of reality that’s both hilarious and smartly demonstrative of how our circumstances in life are all about the outlook with which we choose to perceive them.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Audio commentary with producer Andrew Lazar and writers/directors John Requa & Glenn Ficarra, and a “The Making of I Love You Phillip Morris” featurette.

BEST DVD PRICE
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N/A $16.99 N/A
Amazon – $13.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
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N/A $22.99 N/A
Amazon – $19.99

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Pictured above: Sexual predator.

Last week I took a shot at dissecting the allegorical significance of Sucker Punch, in which a troubled girl fights to take back control of her sexuality at the hands of depraved men everywhere, and does so through elaborate song-and-dance action sequences. Where others seemed to get wrapped up in the potentially disconcerting message that the literal text was selling, I sought to examine what the subtext had intended to sell. And it’s with a similar goal in mind that I’ll now be ruining Labyrinth for you forever.

[Editor's Note: This interpretation of the film is strictly that, and does not necessarily reflect the intended vision of the creator.] Read More »

This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

Buy It

BLACK SWAN
Darren Aronofsky doesn’t want you to experience joy or happiness. He wants to devastate you. He wants to punish you as he does his characters, fully immersing you in every dreary facet of their world as it collapses around them. And he is really, really good at it. Aronofsky has always shown a fascination with the degeneration of the body and mind, finding its limits when tested against paranoia, addiction, disease and giant planks of wood covered in nails and barbed wire. It’s amusing then, that his most horrifying exercise in body horror would be a wildly operatic melodrama about ballet. In Black Swan, you are not treated as an observer to Natalie Portman’s physical and psychological torment; you are made to experience it through her. There is never a moment of rest. The more Portman strives for perfection, the more she feels as though she could break at any moment — and Aronofsky makes damn sure you feel it too. His goal, I can only imagine, was to force the audience into a perpetual state of exhaustive madness. Well, mission accomplished.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – A “Metamorphosis: A Three-Part Series” feature. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as 3 additional features (“Behind the Curtain”, “Ten Years in the Making”, “Cast Profiles – Roles of a Lifetime”).

BEST DVD PRICE
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$16.99 $14.99 N/A
Amazon – $14.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
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$19.99 $22.99 $19.99
Amazon – $19.99

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[The following contains major spoilers for Sucker Punch]

Battle: Los Angeles. I Am Number Four. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Clash of the Titans. The Wolfman. Resident Evil: Afterlife. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

What is it that these tentpole action films have in common?

They all received better reviews than Sucker Punch.

Yes, once hailed as being among the more anticipated cinematic outings of the year, writer/director Zack Snyder‘s fantastical pop culture mash-up was unleashed in theaters this week only to be met with an overwhelming amount of sneering hostility and ridicule. And yet, amidst the critical excoriation of the film for its spastic overindulgence and numbing stupidity, as well as the outright repudiation of its girl power themes (even /Film’s own Angie Han has shared her thoughts on the failed feminism of the film), I stand alone to shamefully whisper: I kind of liked it. And I think it’s about time to give this film its due. Read More »

This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

Skip It

THE TOURIST
You’ve heard of crimes of passion. The Tourist is the opposite. It’s a film so deprived of spirit or spontaneity that it seems to vanish from existence the moment its credits roll — or at least it would were it not for the spectacularly inane surprise ending, carelessly followed by a wholly inappropriate song selection (by the nonetheless great MUSE, who were also weirdly featured in the film’s trailer). Both inclusions close an already inert romance caper on a final, “Fuck you, we really don’t care.” Which is fine, because I didn’t either. How could anyone? The movie devotes all of ten minutes to Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie engaging on any level that could be deemed romantic, and even then they share zero romantic chemistry. It didn’t bother me at first, because I was operating under the assumption that their relationship had yet to be developed. Little did I know that only moments later would Depp be declaring his resounding devotion to Jolie, indicating that perhaps I had missed a scene where the actors conveyed even the slightest hint of genuine affection for one another. I hadn’t.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – A director commentary, 2 featurettes (“A Gala Affair”, “Bringing Glamour Back”), and an outtake reel. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as 3 additional featurettes (“Canal Chats”, “Action in Venice”, “Tourist Destination – Travel the Canals of Venice”).

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$16.99 $16.99 $16.99
Amazon – $15.99
BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$19.99 $19.99 $19.99
Amazon – $22.99

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Not everyone was thrilled with the casting of Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, director Gary Ross‘ adaptation of the first in a trilogy of popular young adult novels written by Suzanne Collins. Despite her Oscar-nominated turn in Winter’s Bone catching the attention of many a filmmaker and studio, some couldn’t overlook the implications of her casting, and took the decision as yet another sign of Hollywood’s creative and moral bankruptcy. Read More »

It’s always upsetting to see major roles for animated characters go to high profile celebrities who have no business voice acting — or acting at all, in this case — when there so many more capable voice actors out there struggling to find consistent work. Such is the business of Hollywood. Audiences see a name they recognize, and they’re more likely to buy a ticket. That’s presumably the reason why Zac Efron was cast in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, and it’s almost definitely why singer Taylor Swift has been added to the voice roster as well.

Learn more about that, and the potential casting of Jude Law and Aaron Johnson in Atonement director Joe Wright‘s adaptation of Anna Karenina, after the break. Read More »

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