Last week saw the release of Alexander Payne’s Oscar-winning The Descendants and Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, and this week brings to our shelves the other big winner at the Academy Awards three months ago, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist, alongside (as ever) a slew of other brilliant films.
In tandem with the Universal 100th Anniversary Editions that have already started rolling out, Play begin releasing their exclusive Blu-ray Steelbooks of some of the films this week, and if you’re a fan of Universal’s recent and classic catalogue, you’ll definitely want to invest in more than a few of these, priced at a very reasonable £9.99. There’ll be more of these in the weeks and months to come, as well as non-100th Anniversary Steelbook re-releases, so keep your eyes peeled.
My personal picks of the week:
Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy & Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene
And because I’m a huge fan of the anime, Noriyuke Abe’s Bleach: Fade to Black
Drake Doremus’ return behind the camera won him the Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic section at Sundance last year, and it had only a short-lived run in UK cinemas a few months back, facing somewhat tough competition against The Descendants.
Starring the lovely Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, and Jennifer Lawrence, the film is one of the finest romantic dramas you’ll see this year, and certainly is worthy of your attention now that it’s making its debut on DVD here. (I wish it were available on Blu-ray in the UK, but alas I’ll have to import that from America instead.)
“Like Crazy beautifully illustrates how your first real love is as thrilling and blissful as it is fragile. When a British college student (Felicity Jones, National Board of Review Best Actress) falls for her American classmate (Anton Yelchin, Star Trek), they embark on a passionate and life-changing journey – only to be separated by circumstances beyond their control. Crazily inventive and totally irresistible, Like Crazy explores how a couple faces the real challenges of being together and of being apart.”
DVD and Blu-ray
Josh Trank’s Chronicle entered cinemas back in February to astounding success and critical praise, marking a new subgenre in the found-footage film market by putting a superhero spin on it. Turning a $15m. budget into more than $120m. at the international box office, the film has been a huge success and talks are already underway for the film’s writer, Max Landis, to pen a sequel.
“Chronicle is an unconventional and slightly darker take on the superhero genre where three ordinary teenagers suddenly gain super powers and are able to do things they never imagined possible. Initially they have fun, but their pranks become ever more dangerous and they must face the inevitable question of whether they can handle the responsibility that comes with extraordinary powers.”
Martha Marcy May Marlene
DVD and Blu-ray
Elizabeth Olsen made her big-screen debut in Martha Marcy May Marlene, along with her writer-director Sean Durkin, and the film gained substantial critical acclaim coming out of 2011’s Sundance Film Festival a year and a half ago, with a lot of buzz surrounding the film heading into the Oscar season at the end of last year.
Though it ultimately didn’t make the nominees list – noted by many for not getting a nod it deserved – it’s available for your viewing pleasure at home now on both formats, giving you a chance to see Olsen at the start of what is promising to be a diverse, impressive, and hopefully long career.
“Martha Marcy May Marlene is a powerful psychological thriller starring Elizabeth Olsen as Martha, a young woman rapidly unravelling amidst her attempt to reclaim a normal life after fleeing from a cult and its charismatic leader (John Hawkes). Seeking help from her estranged older sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and brother-in-law (Hugh Dancy), Martha is unable and unwilling to reveal the truth about her disappearance. When her memories trigger a chilling paranoia that her former cult could still be pursuing her, the line between Martha’s reality and delusion begins to blur.”
DVD and Blu-ray
Little introduction is of course needed for Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist. Winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Score, and Best Costume Design at the Oscars three months ago, the film was a resounding success (apart from the few people in the States who somewhat ridiculously demanded a refund because they hadn’t realised it was a silent film) that was the talk of cinemagoers and Oscar predictors late last and early this year.
Hollywood 1927. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent movie superstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his career and see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), it seems the sky’s the limit major movie stardom awaits. The Artist tells the story of their interlinked destinies.
DVD and Blu-ray (inc. Digital Copy)
Cult success-in-the-making, Iron Sky enters the home entertainment market after a limited one-day release in UK cinemas last week – and you can read our review of its theatrical release here – taking as its basic premise the idea that Nazis abandoned earth at the end of WWII to set up shop on the dark side of the moon.
“The Worldwide Box Office Phenomenon Is Here!
In the last moments of World War II, a secret Nazi space programme evaded destruction by the Allies and made a daring escape to the Moon. In the intervening 70 years they have re-colonised, re-armed with devastating new weapons and silently plotted their revenge.
When an American astronaut stumbles upon their secret Moon lair, the Führer (Udo Kier, Blade) decides to unleash their alien armada upon the unprepared Earth, to be led by ruthless army leader Klaus Alder (Gotz Otto, Schindler’s List, Downfall). Now every man, woman and child must unite to repel the UFO Nazi invasion and save humanity!”
DVD and Blu-ray
Starring Bruce Willis, Malin Åkerman, Forest Whitaker, and Nikki Reed, Catch .44 skipped a theatrical release here in the UK and has come straight to the DVD and Blu-ray market instead. The action-drama didn’t get much attention in the US, but if you’re a Willis fan – and aren’t we all, to a certain degree? – then it could well be worth picking up now.
At the very least, the cast is impressive, and Åkerman is definitely a rising young star that should be one to watch in the years to come.
Bruce Willis, Malin Akerman (Watchmen), Nikki Reed (The Twilight Saga), Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood) and Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) star in the tough, sexy story of three hit women sent to rural Louisiana to intercept a big money dope deal. But when they get to the near-empty roadside café, bullets blast apart what was supposed to be a simple transaction. It could be a huge, bloody misunderstanding but it might also be a deadly double-cross. Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) and Academy Award® nominee Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) co-star in this intense crime thriller with a killer twist.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 3D
DVD, Blu-ray Triple Play, and Blu-ray 3D Triply Play (inc. Ultraviolet Digital Copy)
Josh Hutcherson returns in the sequel to 2008’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, with Dwayne Johnson doing what he now does best – reinvigorating the franchise, with this sequel outperforming its original for a $325m. international box office take.
The family-friendly action-adventure has an impressive co-starring cast in the form of Vanessa Hudgens, Michael Caine, and Luis Guzman, and is available in every format imaginable for your home viewing.
“The worlds of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson combine in this sequel to the surprise 2008 3D hit JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH. Richard Outten provides the screenplay for the film that plans to bring the in-your-face action to the fabled island that became the basis for such books as Treasure Island and Gulliver’s Travels. Dwayne Johnson stars in the movie, with Josh Hutcherson returning to the franchise — something that original cast member Brendan Fraser opted out of due to scheduling conflicts. Michael Caine co-stars.”
Bleach: Fade To Black
DVD and Blu-ray
The ever-popular Japanese manga/anime, Bleach, has spawned three movies, and after its 2008 release in Japan, the third film – Fade to Black – is finally arriving on our shores, and not only that, but it’s being released in Blu-ray! In addition to that, the first two movies are being re-released have been given the HD treatment and being re-released on Blu-ray this week too, so if you’re a fan of the franchise, now is the perfect time to update your collection and watch these films in as high a resolution as possible.
“A mysterious figure has broken into Mayuri Kurotsuchi’s laboratory in the Seireitei. Rukia witnesses this catastrophe, and the intruders abduct Rukia as she feels something inside of her fade away.
Meanwhile, in the World of the Living, Ichigo and Kon experience a strange disturbance and head to Kisuke Urahara’s shop for some answers. When Kisuke informs them about the destruction of the Seireitei, the two set out for the Soul Society.
What awaits Ichigo in the devastated Seireitei, however, are Soul Reapers who seem to have lost all memory related to both him and Rukia. Ichigo must find out what happened to Rukia and try to save her before the two are forced to part ways forever!”
Grey’s Anatomy – Season 7
DVD (also available: Seasons 1 – 7 Box Set)
Grey’s Anatomy returns for a seventh season of America’s most popular medical drama that isn’t called House. I’ve still only up to season five, but if the latest season is anything like the first five, then you’ll know it’s incredibly addictive television that you will happily blitz through in a matter of days. Highly recommended viewing.
“Let the healing begin. Primetime television’s most beloved doctors return for an unprecedented season of emotional twists and turns. Relive every mesmerizing moment with ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy: Season 7. It’s a year of new beginnings for the medical team of Seattle Grace Hospital as they slowly recover from the tragedy that hit too close to home.
New relationships emerge and the strongest commitments are tested in this moving 6-disc set. From successes in the operating room to mistakes in the bedroom – and all the thrilling drama in between – the doctors find a way to survive as long as they lean on one another. Relive every heartbeat and get even more – including the extended version of the moving Musical Event and music videos featuring the doctors like you have never seen them before – only on DVD.”
Leverage – Season 3
I lucked onto Leverage a few years back by way of association – the show also stars Christian Kane of Joss Whedon’s Angel. I was so glad I did, because the show is one of the most entertaining crime-dramas I can remember in years. If you’re worried this is simply an American knock-off of Hustle, then don’t be; it’s an entirely different take on the con-artist genre, and very tightly and impressively executed.
“The expert con artists of the hit crime drama Leverage are back for an all-new season of complex heists and high-stakes action. With the team’s leader Nate Ford (Academy Award-winner Timothy Hutton) now behind bars and his nemesis working for Interpol, a beautiful but mysterious stranger steps in to call the shots for TVs hottest gang of master thieves. These tech-savvy grafters are highly skilled and ready to settle scores with the criminal underworld. It’s time to take things to the next level.”
Universal 100th Anniversary Edition – Play.com Exclusive Steelbooks
Blu-ray (kinda goes without saying)
If, like me, you’re a sucker for the special editions, then Play’s upcoming collection of Blu-ray Steelbook editions will almost definitely break the bank, but give you a brilliant new array of Steelbooks to add to your film collection to make the impending bankruptcy worth it.
This week sees the release of Kick-Ass, The Incredible Hulk, An American Werewolf in London, Hulk, Hellboy II, and Casino. Priced at £9.99 each, they’re a bit of a bargain for being Steelbooks, and we can look forward to many more in the months to come, with highlights including (but not limited to) Serenity, Man on Fire, Pitch Black, Taken, Fight Club, Predator, Braveheart, Total Recall, Children of Men, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
(Regular) Blu-ray Re-Releases
Along with those special edition re-releases, there are of course, as ever, a number of other classic and contemporary classic films that have been given the HD treatment for this week’s set of releases, and there are a number of brilliant films to choose from. Here’s a run-down of what you can add to your Blu-ray collection this week:
Ron Howard’s Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, and Ed Harris; David Evans’ Fever Pitch, starring Colin Firth and Mark Strong; James Ivory’s A Room with a View; Asif Kapadia’s The Warrior, starring Irrfan Khan (the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man); A Queen is Crowned, the 1953 documentary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, narrated by Laurence Olivier; Stephen Frears’ Oscar-winning The Queen (Diamond Jubilee Edition); Arthur Hiller’s Oscar-winning Love Story; Julien Temple’s Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten documentary; and James Hill’s 1971 adaptation of Black Beauty – not the 1994 adaptation, with Sean Bean and David Thewlis.
And as noted above, the excellent first two Bleach movies are also being given the HD treatment this week, so if you’re a fan of the franchise, you haven’t seen these movies yet, and you have a Blu-ray player, I’d definitely recommend picking up Bleach: Memories of Nobody and Bleach: Diamond Dust Rebellion.