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.

Please don’t take the commentary on the movies and TV shows too seriously, as they’re meant not to be reviews but rather previews that include the general thoughts and ramblings of a twice-committed DVD addict. The categories represent solely the author’s intentions towards the films at hand, and are in no way meant to be a reflection on what he thinks other people should rent or buy. So if he ends up putting a movie you like in the “Skip it” section without having seen it, please keep in mind that the time you could spend leaving a spiteful but ultimately futile comment could instead be used for more pleasant things in life. Like buying DVDs.

Buy It

WATCHMEN
(Available as single-disc Theatrical Cut and 2-Disc Director’s Cut)
For the longest time the Watchmen graphic novel was said to be “unfilmable”. Obviously, that’s a nonsensical notion. If we’ve learned anything from the Super Mario Bros. movie, it’s that any property can be adapted into a film, regardless of story (or lack thereof). The real question is whether or not it can be done well. And in the case of Watchmen, director Zack Synder found himself in a lose-lose situation. The problem with adapting any comic or novel for the big screen is that, more often than not, what worked in its original medium just doesn’t translate that well to film. Thus, the only solution is to make concessions by changing various aspects of the source material. In many instances, this process has yielded positive results (V for Vendetta, the latest Harry Potter films), regardless of what the frothing hostility of certain fanboys might suggest. Watchmen though, would only suffer from these types of changes. To significantly alter the source material would be to defeat the purpose of adapting it at all. Zack Snyder was clearly aware of this, and decided (with one notable exception) to remain as faithful to Alan Moore‘s classic graphic novel as possible. While I strongly believe Snyder made the right choice, there’s no denying that the resulting film suffers from all the expected flaws that come with going down this route. The pacing is all over the place, certain twists and turns don’t carry the same weight as they do in the graphic novel, and uninitiated viewers may find themselves at a total loss as to what in the hell they’re watching. Simply put: As a movie meant to stand on its own, Watchmen is a failure. It succeeds, however, as a fascinating experiment and companion piece for those who have already read and loved the graphic novel. Likely not what the studio was hoping for, admittedly, but for people like me, it’s just about the best Watchmen film we could’ve asked for… even if, frankly, it probably shouldn’t have been made in the first place.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – Single-disc includes the theatrical cut of the film. 2-Disc includes the director’s cut with 25 minutes of additional footage, a “The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics” featurette, 30 minutes of Video Journals, a My Chemical Romance Desolation Row music video, and a digital copy of the theatrical version. Blu-ray – Includes all of the 2-Disc DVD extras, along with 2 additional featurettes (“Real Super Heroes, Real Vigilantes”, “Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World”), 30 minutes of Watchmen Focus Points, and a Warner Bros. Maximum Movie Mode.
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Movie Trailer: The Great Buck Howard

After a series of schlocky small films, some of which went straight-to-DVD, it looks like writer/director Sean McGinly is ready for the big time. McGinly’s The Great Buck Howard debuted almost a year ago at Sundance 2008 and got fairly positive reviews (see Peter’s mini-review of the film here and some more reviews here). The film carries some pretty impressive star power, with John Malkovich playing Buck Howard, a mentalist who is just on this side of washed up, and Colin Hanks as Troy Gable, Howard’s road manager. Tom Hanks will play Gable’s father, a role that he’s spent 31 years preparing for.

With the movie finally gearing up for release, Magnolia has released a new trailer for the film, courtesy of Yahoo!. The trailer seems to suffer from “Show too much of the movie” syndrome, but it does have John Malkovich appearing to have a blast in his role, which is always fun to watch. As for Hanks, I’m still recovering from his performance in Orange County, so I remain unconvinced that he has as much skill as the elder Hanks, but maybe this film will prove me wrong? Hit the jump for the trailer.
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Sundance Movie Review: The Great Buck Howard

The Great Buck Howard

The Great Buck Howard should probably be called The Pretty Good Buck Howard, The Okay Colin Hanks or The Brilliant John Malkovich. Hanks stars as a young man who quits law school, moves to Los Angeles, and gets a job as the travel manager for the Great Buck Howard, a down-and-out mentalist (read: not magician) who once appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 61 times. His fame still gets him half sold out shows in little towns around the United States. Arrogant and demanding, Howard is the worst kind of boss to work for (think Meryl Streep from Devil Wears Prada without the success), but at least it’s better than law school. Emily Blunt plays a publicist, hired to help relaunch the performer’s fading career.

The film features a bunch of fun cameos from the likes of everyone from the sound effects guy from Police Academy, George Takei to even Tom Hanks, who makes an appearance as Colin’s father (who woulda thought?). Too bad Tom’s charisma didn’t get passed on to young Hanks, who isn’t a bad actor, just not a great one. The script could have used a few more polishes, as I’m not sure the romantic relationship between Hanks and Blunt and the father son relationship between Hanks and Hanks was well explored, or even required. Buck Howard is a cartoon character, but Malkovich brilliantly brings the caricature to life.

/Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Sundance 2008 Photo Preview: Part 1 – Premieres

Sundance 2008

The line-up for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival was announced earlier this week. I just got my hands on a boat load of photos from the films in this year’s festival. We actually have too many photos to feature in just one posting, so we have divided this feature into a few parts.

Our first segment in the series takes a look at the films in the Premiere category, which includes: Assassination of a High School President, Be Kind Rewind, CSNY Deja Vu, The Deal, Death In Love, Diminished Capacity, The Escapist, The Great Buck Howard, The Guitar, Henry Poole Is Here, In Bruges, Incendiary, The Merry Gentleman, A Raisin In The Sun, Savage Grace, Sleepwalking, Smart People, Towelhead, Transsiberian, U2 3D, The Visitor, What Just Happened?, The Year of Getting To Know Us, and The Yellow Handkerchief.

Also be sure to check out our Sundance 2008 Photo Previews for the Spectrum and U.S. Dramatic Competition.

Check out the photos after the jump. Click on the images to enlarge.

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Sundance 2008

Yesterday Sundance announced the competition films for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Today the Institute has released the rest of the line-up, which will play out-of-competition sections of Premieres, Spectrum, New Frontier, and Park City at Midnight. Highlights include:

  • The previously announced opening night film In Bruges starring Ralph Fiennes and Colin Farrell.
  • The Great Buck Howard starring Colin Hanks as a law school dropout who answers an advertisement to be a a washed up illusionist’s (played by John Malkovich) personal assistant. Emily Blunt and Tom Hanks also star.
  • Visionary director Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind, about a man (Jack Black) whose body accidentally becomes magnetized unintentionally erases every tape in his friend’s (Mos Def) video store. The pair set out to remake the lost films in a film about the magic of movies and filmmaking.
  • Bill Maher’s directorial debut, Sleepwalking, about a young man who is faced with the prospect of losing his abandoned young niece to a foster home. Nick Stahl, AnnaSophia Robb, Charlize Theron, Dennis Hopper, and Woody Harrelson, star.
  • Morgan Spurlock’s follow-up to 2004′s Super Size Me, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? follows Spurlock’s quest to fint the world’s most wanted man.
  • Smart People, a romantic dramedy about a a widowed professor who gets an unexpected visit from his adopted brother. Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, and Ellen Page star.
  • American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball’s directorial debut, an adaptation of Towel Head. The film follows the life of a 13-year-old Arab-American girl who is forced to live with her father. I saw this film at Toronto and it has the same underlying energy of American Beauty. Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Toni Collette, and Summer Bishil star.
  • U2 3D: A 3-D presentation of U2′s global “Vertigo” tour.
  • Barry Levinson’s adaptation of What Just Happened? stars Robert DeNiro, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, Kristen Stewart, and Robin Wright Penn. The movie follows two weeks in the life of a fading Hollywood producer (De Niro) who’s having a rough time trying to get his new picture made.
  • XX/XY director Austin Chick’s new film August, about two brothers fighting to keep their start-up company afloat on Wall Street during August 2001, a month before the 9/11 terrorist attack. Josh Hartnett and Adam Scott star.
  • The Duplass Brothers return to Sundance following their acclaimed 2005 low budget indie film The Puffy Chair. Baghead explores “the minutiae of relationship dynamics in this in-depth study of a group of desperate actor friends. And a bag. And a head.”
  • Cashback director Sean Ellis’s horror thriller The Brøken starring Lena Headey (300) as a woman who sees herself driving by in her own car on a busy London street. Stunned, she trails the mystery woman as events take an eerie turn into a living nightmare.
  • Michael Haneke’s American remake of Funny Games starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt..
  • Quentin Tarantino presents Larry Bishop’s Hell Ride, a “bloody, sexy tale of motorcycle revenge” starring Larry Bishop, Dennis Hopper, and Michael Madsen
  • Otto; or Up With Dead People, a movie about a lonely gay zombie searches for love and meaning in contemporary Berlin.
  • Spainish writer/director Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes follows a man accidentally travels back to the past, only to meet himself there and encounters a series of mysteries that all lead to an unthinkable crime. I’m a sucker for Time Travel.

Check out the full announcement/line-up after the jump.
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