There are really only two huge releases this week, and those could both be classified as niche releases, since one hails from a subscription cable network and one didn’t do well domestically at the box office. Showtime’s Dexter is busy gearing for its final season on the subscription cable network, and to pump fans up for Season 8, CBS Broadcasting has released Dexter: the Seventh Season on to Blu-ray and DVD so that fans can relive Season 7’s most heightened moments. Additionally, Warner Home Video has put together a Blu-ray and DVD release for Cloud Atlas, an ambitious film with numerous characters that features numerous time periods and with multiple tones. Read on to learn about some of April 30th's best releases, and maybe even a few that may have slipped under your radar.
Cloud Atlas Blu-ray
Cloud Atlas, like other films based on books, walks a fine line between being faithful to the novel it spawned from and creating a vision that is wholly its own. Over the lengthy span of 172 minutes, we meet Zachry (Tom Hanks), a Valleymen tribesman who is living a life of violence some time in the future, Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent), who lives in the present and plots to escape an old person’s home, and Luisa (Halle Berry), a journalist in the 1970s who stumbles on a corrupt company. There are stories about sailing ships and stories of spaceships, stories about love, and stories about the “Cloud Atlas Sextet,” a beautiful piece of music that is the films’ namesake.
The film is told in six vignettes that are intermixed throughout so that audiences only get each story one puzzle piece at a time. The story crosses genres and timelines, but it’s sort of like a fun mystery, too, with each story connecting at various points. Actors like Hanks, Berry, and Broadbent, as well as Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Doona Bae, Keith David, Hugo Weaving, and Jim Sturgess play characters in nearly all of the vignettes and the makeup jobs in the film are almost as impressive as the way the story arcs are laced together for the film. Cloud Atlas offers an ambitious vision and plot, but it asks for something simple from its audience: that we don’t get bogged down in the film’s ambition, and that we get wrapped up in its moments of comic or duplicitous behaviors, in its beauty, its grotesqueness, and its realest instants.
You can order Cloud Atlas over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Instead of bonus features, the extras on the Cloud Atlas disc are called “focus points.” This makes the extras a little bit difficult to find on the menu page if you don’t know what you are looking for. Each of the “focus points” is a small section of a larger “Making of” documentary that looks into the background of putting together the film, as well as practical concerns from the set.
Of the “focus points,” the segment that was particularly enjoyable was “The Impossible Adaptation” The segment looks into adapting David Mitchell’s famous novel of the same name and creating a blueprint that would work for the purposes of onscreen storytelling and still maintain the connectivity between the six separate stories that are present in the book. Mitchell himself pops up and talks about how he wrote each story separately, before splitting them in roughly twenty minutes, in a process that took Twyker and the two Wachowskis months and months. Cast members and crew members pop up all over each of the extras on the disc, and if you liked the movie, the extras are worth a watch. Some deleted scenes would have been nice, though.
Other Special Features:
“A Film Like No Other”
“Everything is Connected”
“The Essence of Acting”
“Slaves & Sextets”
“The Bold Science Fiction of Cloud Atlas”
“Eternal Recurrence: Love, Life and Longing in Cloud Atlas”
Dexter: The Seventh Season Blu-ray
Showtime’s Dexter is one of the few shows that hasn’t really outlived its shelf life. After seven seasons, plotlines have gotten a little larger than life and quite a bit more sordid, but they are just as compelling as they were when they hooked us in at the beginning of Season 1. Prior to the release of Season 7, this seemed as if this would be a difficult feat to achieve. How could the writers top Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) finally getting an eyeful of Dexter's (Michael C. Hall) other side?
Season 7 starts with a series of intricate lies between Dexter and Deb. It’s difficult to keep a secret from someone as questioning and intelligent as Deb and things start unraveling fairly quickly. Season 7’s new sort-of team up between Dexter and his sister is a brand new dynamic for the series and how Deb deals with it not only opens up the storyline for her character, it adds a depth to the two characters’ sibling dynamics, as well.
Season 7 may not be chock full of bonus features, but it does offer plenty of suspense. Even if you’ve caught the episodes on Showtime, they are full of intricate details, which make them good for repeat viewings, although the shock factor of the first watch will be lost. The set looks great on Blu-ray and can be purchased right now for the reasonable price of $29.99 over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Showtime’s not particularly big on making extras available with their TV sets. Instead, they offer fans extra episodes of other programs, hoping to earn extra viewers for some of the network’s other shows. Interestingly, on this disc, they do make the pilot episode for Ray Donovan available, which is pretty awesome, since it doesn’t officially premiere until June 30, 2013.
Other Special Features:
“First Two Episodes of the Second Season of The Borgias”
“First Two Episodes of the First Season of House of Lies”
Other May 14 Releases
There are plenty of other releases this week for fans of horror, famous children’s programs that are hitting their 30th anniversary, complete series’ of television, and Ron Perlman playing a transgendered character. That’s a pretty wild grab bag of random releases, and if any of those quick descriptors pique your interest, you can check out tons of the other May 14 releases, below.
Unless otherwise noted, all of the below titles are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Tomorrow You’re Gone
The Bletchley Circle: Cracking a Killer’s Code
Roseanne: The Complete Series DVD
3rd Rock From The Sun: The Complete Series DVD
Liz & Dick DVD
Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.
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