This Week in DVD: Wall-E, Tropic Thunder, and More

This Week in DVD is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, 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 DVDs 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

WALL-E
(Available as single-disc and 3-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy)
The last five Pixar films in a row have either won or been nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, and just about every single one of their productions has earned near universal praise amongst critics and audiences. At this point, what else is there possibly left to laud when it comes to the latest Pixar film? You already know the movie’s amazing, and in all likelihood, you’re probably planning on buying it. Wall-E is one of their best yet, creating one of the most lovable characters in cinema and placing him in a gorgeously animated world filled with fun, magic, excitement, and just about every other word that might make fellow males stare blankly at me and question my sexuality.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: The 1-disc will include commentary with director Andrew Stanton, deleted scenes, featurettes (‘Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds from the Sound Up’, ‘Sneak Peek: WALL-E’s Tour of the Universe’), and a new Burn-E animated short. The 3-disc will add to this additional deleted scenes, 3 featurettes (‘The Pixar Story by Leslie Iwerks’, ‘BnL Shorts’, ‘Wall-E’s Treasures and Trinkets’), a Lots of Bots storybook, additional “making of” featurettes, Bot Files and a digital copy of the film.

BEST PRICE*
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
$15.99 $14.99
Amazon – $14.99

*Does not include 3-Disc Edition, which costs $29.99 at Target and Best Buy, $27.99 at Circuit City, and $22.99 at Amazon.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? Standard, deluxe and Blu-ray editions include free code. Enter code online and a free tree seedling will be delivered to your home. [Editor's Note: WTF]
Where? Target.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? Free Wall-E Puzzle Cube.
Where? Best Buy.

TROPIC THUNDER
(Available as single-disc and 2-Disc Unrated Director’s Cut)
Hate on the guy all you want, Ben Stiller clearly has talent. Maybe this is evident more so behind the camera than in front of it, but either way, he managed to make one of 2008′s best comedies, and he was even funny in it. Of course, Robert Downey Jr. was above and beyond the main highlight of the film, followed in close second by the hilarious self-parodying performances by Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey. Really, the only person who ends up being mostly wasted is Jack Black. The rest of the movie more than makes up for him though, unloading scene after scene of gut-busting satire and subversive gags. The movie’s ridiculous, no doubt, but it’s also downright hysterical, and easily worthy of a purchase.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: 2-Disc extras include commentary with Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr., featurettes (‘Blowing Shit Up’, ‘The Hot LZ’, ’7 Cast of Tropic Thunder’), a make-up test with Tom Cruise, Full Mags, MTV Movie Awards – Tropic Thunder, a Rain of Mandess trailer, and a DreamWorks Public Service Announcement.

BEST PRICE*
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
$16.99 $14.99 $15.99 $14.99
Amazon – $14.99

*Does not include 2-Disc Edition, which costs $22.99 at each of the listed stores (including Amazon).

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? Exclusive Patch.
Where? Target.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? Free exclusive T-shirt with purchase of Blu-ray version.
Where? Best Buy.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? Exclusive behind-the-scenes material on the 2-disc or Blu-ray.
Where? Circuit City.

Rent It

GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON
As someone who’s a fan of Hunter S. Thompson’s work on a very basic level (i.e., I’ve read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), I’m definitely looking forward to finding out more about his contributions to literature/journalism, and hopefully getting some insight into what exactly made this bizarre individual tick. I’ve heard this documentary acts more as an introduction to the writer than an extensive psychological evaluation (which is apparently something many fans of his were hoping for), but for what I’m looking for, I’m sure this will do just fine; particularly when you have as talented a filmmaker as Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side) helming the project.
Blu-ray? No.
Notable Extras: Director commentary, deleted scenes, extended interviews, The Gonzo Tapes – Audio Excerpts, Wayward And Weary: A Tribute To Hunter S. Thompson, Live Acoustic Performance by Tift Merritt, Drawings By Ralph Steadman, and Hunter’s Guns.

BEST PRICE
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
N/A $22.99 $19.99 $24.99
Amazon – $18.99

ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Exploring the beauty both above and below the ice in Antarctica (as well as the dedicated people who work there), acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog (Rescue Dawn, Grizzly Man) has made a documentary that, if nothing else, is certain to provide a solid hours worth of breathtakingly beautiful real-world visuals. I’m sure it has a lot more to offer than just that though, as the reviews have been extremely positive, and c’mon, this is Werner Herzog we’re talking about here.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: Commentary by director Werner Herzog, featurettes (‘Under the Ice’, ‘Over the Ice’, ‘South Pole Exorcism’, ‘Seals and Men’), Dive Locker Interview: Herzog talks with Rob Robbins and Henry Kaiser, and a Werner Herzog interview by Jonathan Demme.

BEST PRICE
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
$19.99 N/A
Amazon – $19.99

PRICELESS
Since Amélie, I haven’t really seen the lovely Audrey Tatou in anything that impressed me too much. Dirty Pretty Things was fairly interesting, and Russian Dolls was entertaining enough, but as of now I still find myself trying to recover from her personality-less role in The Da Vinci Code. Priceless looks to be a remedy to this, allowing her to shine as an excitement-hungry high class gal who hooks up with a low-paid hotel employee after mistaking him for a wealthy guest. Think of it as a classic French farce version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: None.

BEST PRICE
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
N/A $14.99 $19.99
Amazon – $25.99

Skip It

300 (LIMITED COLLECTOR’S EDITION)
As slick and beautiful as this set is, there’s really no reason to buy it if you already own the 2-Disc Special Edition of the film. If you’re considering the upgrade, I’d recommend waiting until the Blu-ray version comes out in 2009. I’m also confused as to why they didn’t think to include the original graphic novel, since that seems like an essential part of any 300 set. What it does come with though is a 52-page hardcover art book with a personal message from director Zack Snyder, a lucite display with motion film image, six collectible photo cards, and a digital copy of the film. All nice stuff to look at, but there’s practically nothing here of substance. Some could argue that also goes for the film itself.
Blu-ray? No.
Notable Extras: A third disc with a new documentary (‘Legend Filtered Through History, Graphic Novel and Film’), and the same extras as the 2-Disc Special Edition: Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, 300 Spartans – Fact or Fiction?, Who Were The Spartans: The Warriors of 300, Frank Miller Tapes, and Webisodes.

BEST PRICE
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
N/A $34.99 $49.98 $39.99
Amazon – $34.99

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? Free graphic novel on-pack. [Editor's Note: Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!]
Where? Best Buy.

Other noteworthy DVDs available this week…
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2Mister LonelyBones (Season 3)Doctor Who (Series Four)The Complete Monty Pythons Flying Circus (Collector’s Edition Megaset)Charmed (The Complete Series)Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special

Discuss: What are you planning to rent or buy this week?

The Specials
NOTE: Some deals may be in-store only.


Exclusive: Free $5 Target GiftCard with purchase of Bones (Season 3).

$14.98 – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Seasons 1 – 3), Nip/Tuck (Seasons 1 – 4)
$12.98 – The Simpsons (Seasons 1 – 9), Family Guy (Vol. 1 – 3), Friends (Seasons 1 – 10)


$14.99 – Venture Bros. (Seasons 1 – 2), Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Vol. 1 – 4), Robot Chicken (Seasons 1 – 2), Metalocalypse (Season 1), Smallville (Seasons 1 – 6), That ’70s Show (Seasons 1 – 8), Nip/Tuck (Seasons 1 – 4)

$6.99 – Batman Begins (Two-Disc Deluxe Edition), Troy (2-Disc Special Edition), Fight Club, Little Miss Sunshine, Pan’s Labyrinth, Letters from Iwo Jima, Memento, Old School, Green Street Hooligans, Before Sunset, Zoolander, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Nacho Libre, Closer, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, Stripes (Extended Cut), Underworld: Evolution, Chaplin, The Illusionist, and much more…


$6.49 – Airplane (“Don’t Call Me Shirley” Edition), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Bueller… Bueller… Edition), School of Rock, Zoolander, A Series of Unfortunate Events, South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut, Team America, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Super Troopers, The Girl Next Door, Varsity Blues, Clueless (“Whatever” Edition), Pretty in Pink (Everything’s Ducky Edition), and more…

.

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Paramount has made a surprise decision to move the Robert Downey Jr / Jamie Foxx film The Soloist back to March 13th 2009. The film was originally scheduled to hit theater in late November, just in time for Award consideration. Paramount was pressured by Viacom to cut costs for the fourth quarter of 2008, and The Soloist was cut. Apparently the film isn’t testing well anyways. [Variety, Wells]

As a result, the studio will now be pushing Robert Downey Jr. for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as “the dude playin’ the dude, disguised as another dude” in Tropic Thunder. But will the Academy seriously consider Downey Jr’s performance as a method actor who becomes black for a movie role? [Firstshowing]

The Weinstein Co has (not so) quietly shifted the Viggo Mortensen apocalyptic thriller The Road from it’s scheduled Novemeber 14th release date, back to at least December, if not 2009. Executives are scheduled to meet with the film’s producer’s on Thursday to discuss if the film will be released this year. [THR]

Paramount is also delaying the Paramount Vantage Edward Zwick-directed Daniel Craig-starrer WWII film Defiance until December 31st. The film was oriignally scheduled to hit theaters on December 12th. The new date will allow the film to qualify for award consideration. [deadline]

And Warner Bros has given Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes a release date: November 20th 2009. The studio has also shifted the Jaume Collet-Serra thriller The Orphan to July 24th 2009. [SHH and Shock]

Rain of Madness on iTunes


Paramount has released Rain of Madness, the entire 30-minute documentary about the movie within the movie (“ I’m the dude playin’ the dude, disguised as another dude! “), for free on iTunes.

“German born documentarian, Jan Jürgen blows the lid off Hollywood, exposing the frenzy, the insanity and the madness surrounding the filming of ” Tropic Thunder”. One of the most ambitious war films ever made.”

/Filmcast Ep. 13: Tropic Thunder (GUESTS: Jake and Amir)

In this episode of the /Filmcast, Dave, Adam, and Devindra discuss whether Paz makes a good replacement for Javier Bardem, wonder about an Anchorman sequel in space, and review Tropic Thunder. Special guests Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld join us from Collegehumor and Jakeandamir.com.

Have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Want to advertise or sponsor the /Filmcast? Feel free to e-mail us at slashfilmcast@gmail.com or call us and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Tune in as we broadcast live on Monday night at 10 PM EST / 7 PM PST to review Death Race with Paul Scheer from Human Giant.

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Movie Review: Tropic Thunder

Caution: Spoilers everywhere.

Whatever. Tropic Thunder didn’t meet expectations. It’s not an abortion in a beard like Clone Wars, but it wimped out. For some reason—probably due to the red band trailer and months of exposure to incredibly positive buzz—many hoped Ben Stiller would redeem himself and categorically skewer the Ben Stiller who will soon make three more Night at the Museums, two more Fockers and four more Madagascars. And throw on another $100 million blockbuster where he plays the exfoliated clueless egomaniac who puckers and speaks fluent infant.

Read More »

Assessing the Themes of Tropic Thunder

[THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS FOR TROPIC THUNDER. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED]

One of my favorite films this summer is Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder. While it didn’t do as well at the box office as I might’ve hoped, I think the film is hilarious and pitch-perfect in the way it ridicules Hollywood excess. Furthermore, this movie is the Hot Fuzz of Hollywood war films; where the former was a parody of the best action films ever made, Tropic Thunder takes elements of war films and turns them on their head, from the grizzled veteran, to the skinny and green straight man, all the way to the brutal and revered enemy leader (in this case potrayed by the simultaneously adorable and terrifying Brandon Soo Hoo).

But underneath its sheen of light-hearted hilarity lies a biting message not just about the lengths to which actors will go for an Oscar, but about the ridiculousness of white cultural appropriation.
Read More »


As expected, The Dark Knight was dethroned at the Box Office this weekend, after five weeks on top. Tropic Thunder won the weekend with an estimated $26 million ($37 million 5-day total). But here is where the unexpected thing happened – The Dark Knight beat Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which was projected to take the #2 spot on the weekend charts. The latest Star Wars film only made $15.5 million over the three days, a million or two less than The Dark Knight. And what’s worse is, Steve Mason is saying that the animated adventure might not even reach $40 million domestically. This is the first big Star Wars theatrical failure. And by failure, I mean it was still profitable. With anything Star Wars, it’s hard to lost money after merchandising, dvd and tv sales. But it will definitely be considered a failure within the Industry.

But not only did The Clone Wars fall to the Cape Crusader, but also the original Lucas sci-fi film Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. The film overtook Jaws to become the highest grossing film of all time. Then E.T. came and knocked the movie off the top spot. Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump knocked the film further down the all-time list to #4. But in 1997, Lucas rereleased the movie as part of the Special Edition trilogy release, which put A New Hope back on top of the list. But not for long, Titanic came later that year and knocked Star Wars back to the #2 slot, where it has remained until now. That’s right, The Dark Knight has just overtaken Star Wars to become the second highest grossing film of all time (domestically). Of course, this doesn’t take inflation into account.

The Dark Knight will end the weekend with an estimated $16.8 million, bring the film’s domestic total to $471.5 million. Analysts project The Dark Knight to finish around $525 million, about $75 million short of Titanic‘s record. And Star Wars fanboys shouldn’t worry too much. When George Lucas eventually releases the original Star Wars trilogy in 3D, A New Hope will probably be back on top once again.

Iron Man just bitch slapped The Dark Knight for having a BA in philosophy. To be more precise, a non-blackface Robert Downey Jr. candidly discussed his rabid thoughts about the biggest fanboy movie of all time to MovieHole. Nice.

The Dark Knight. “My whole thing is that that I saw The Dark Knight. I feel like I’m dumb because I feel like I don’t get how many things that are so smart. It’s like a Ferrari engine of storytelling and script writing and I’m like, ‘That’s not my idea of what I want to see in a movie.’ I loved The Prestige but didn’t understand The Dark Knight. Didn’t get it, still can’t tell you what happened in the movie, what happened to the character and in the end they need him to be a bad guy. I’m like, ‘I get it. This is so high brow and so fucking smart, I clearly need a college education to understand this movie.’ You know what? Fuck DC comics. That’s all I have to say and that’s where I’m really coming from.”

It’s on the table like a fanboy buffet. What else needs to be said? RDJ gave a hat tip to Tropic Thunder and Iron Man 2 screenwriter Justin Theroux, expressing relaxed confidence in the Marvel sequel. Moreover, Theroux made an apples-and-oranges comparison to TDK and Iron Man 2 yesterday to Vulture. His take: TDK is Days of Thunder and Iron Man 2 is Talladega Nights. Yep, it’s war.

Discuss: Are Robert Downey Jr.’s criticisms worthy? In your opinion, how much better was TDK than Iron Man? Did anyone like Iron Man more?

Update: Hmm, there’s some TDK backlash in the comments. Is RDJ a cigar-chomping harbinger?

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