The Heat Blu-ray Combo Pack
The Heat offers fans an uproarious 117 minutes comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock, who plays Ashburn, an FBI agent, opposite McCarthy’s Mullins, a detective, in the film. The two team up to take down a drug cartel in Boston, leading to crazy hijinks and plenty of infighting. But when Mullins’ family becomes involved, the women get serious and decide to bring “the heat.”
Mostly, The Heat offers Bullock and McCarthy the chance to improvise and play two outside-the-box female characters in an inside-the-box buddy cop format. It’s exciting to see a buddy female cop comedy work, just as it’s exciting to see a couple of women play weirdo characters with no romance involved. Bullock’s more of the straight woman in the equation, while McCarthy gets most of the no-holds barred lines. McCarthy can occasionally border on the obnoxious, but her character thrives with this type of subject matter.
Director Paul Feig recently spoke to us about how he tried to edit the film to feature all of his preferred takes. This sometimes meant splicing a part of a wide shot with a close-up. Occasionally that leads to background continuity problems, which is a small critique and fortunately, one many viewers likely won't even notice.
At it’s heart, if it is anything, The Heat is enjoyable, and it’s the type of film that remains as funny upon rewatch. For a comedy, that's pretty high praise.
You can order The Heat over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: There is just an overload of extras available with The Heat set. I think there are more extras with this disc than I have ever seen with a comedy, and they actually don’t suck. Bloopers and deleted scenes are always good with a comedy, but they even have a cool name on this disc (see: “All The Stuff We Had To Take Out But Still Think Is Funny”). Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of audio commentaries, but there are multiple on this disc and they are all worth a listen. One features Feig, another features the ridiculous Mullins family, another features other cast members from the flick, and a fourth was even put together by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys and features amusing lines like, “How much did the FBI pay for product placement in this movie?”
Typically comedy sets are amusing, but Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s The Heat is majorly enjoyable and is actually worth spending some time with to get through the extras.
Other Special Features:
“Mullins Family Fun”
“Let’s Get Physical”
Acting Master Class
Supporting Cast Calvacade
Over and Out
“All The Stuff We Had To Take Out But Still Think Is Funny”
“How The Heat was Made”
“Attend the Premiere of The Heat”
Pacific Rim Blu-ray Combo Pack
At the outset, Pacific Rim offers fans everything a big budget summer movie should have, plus some. The film is big, bold, and full of fight choreography. It’s made up entirely of massive and CGI-necessary concepts, and it even sounds loud and explosive at home, thanks to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s incredible DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 and 5.1 surround tracks that keep battle noise at a maximum while still making the dialogue audible. As a bonus, the film is built around an entirely unique concept that nods at both monster and robot films. It falls a little short in a few areas, but mostly Giullermo del Toro’s film comes through in all of the best ways.
The film is set in 2025, during a time period when humanity is waging a war against alien creatures known as the Kaijus, who reached Earth via an interdimensional portal in the Pacific Ocean. To combat against these large monsters, humanity creates large robots manned by two connected pilots known as Jaegers. The events in the film largely follow a small crew of pilots attempting one last reckless plan to cut the Kaijus off from Earth for good.
The focus in this crew is on Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunman), a retired pilot who is asked by his former commander Pentacost (Idris Elba) to return to the front. There, he is joined by Majo Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), Herc Hanson (Max Martini), Chuck Hansen (Robert Kazinsky) and more to command the few remaining Jaeger machines as part of Earth’s last big defense. The whole premise of the plot is very serious, but luckily fans have Charlie Day’s scientist character Dr. Newton Geiszler and Ron Perlman’s Hannibal Chau to fall back on for comedy in the film.
Del Toro’s not immune from giving us some bland pep talks and longwinded scientific explanations. However, there’s no insipid but attractive female, there’s no ridiculous romance, and honestly, del Toro does so many things right with Pacific Rim that its few issues become less glaring. It’s a lengthy but enjoyable summer film, and it still holds up as fall rolls around.
You can order Pacific Rim over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: The Pacific Rim set is nicely put together and the regular Blu-ray even features some cool 3D cover art. There are several bonus features with the set, but the coolest is the interactive featurette “The Director’s Notebook,” which features plenty of sketches and notes del Toro created before the movie went into production. The segment is lengthy and it takes a while to peruse through, but if you navigate the set correctly you’ll get comprehensive notes along with video segments from the director explaining which portions of his original ideas did or did not make the film.
Other Special Features:
“The Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim”
Defiance: Season 1 Blu-ray
Syfy’s Defiance, in many ways, has become known for its multi-platform video game probably more the accompanying television program. Regardless, Season One of the science fiction drama introduced us to a brand new Earth offering plenty of culture clash coupled with a frontier mentality. The city of Defiance is located in the remains of St. Louis. The community as a whole is largely unstable and, throughout the first season, infights between the alien communities that have flocked to Earth are as common as fights with populations attempting to take over the city.
When Defiance first hit the schedule, it was largely a show following Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his adopted daughter, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). The cast quickly expanded out to include Mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) and her brotherl-owning sister, Kenya (Mia Kirshner), ambitious Castithans Datak and Stahma Starr (Tony Curran and Jaime Murray), mine owner Rafe (Graham Greene), and Indogene doctor Doc Yewll (Trenna Keating).
Many of the themes in Defiance are retreads. We’ve seen frontier communities in science fiction before, as well as different alien races attempting to live and work together. However, characters like Tarr and his wife, as well as Doc Yewll help to keep things interesting through Season 1. Datak’s an ambitious blowhard with a manipulative personality who has no idea he is a puppet compared to his wife Stahma and her own ambitions and manipulations. Yewll, on the other hand, is a smart and sarcastic doctor, with a slew of secrets in her past. It’s these characters and more that bring Defiance to life, and it’s these characters who have helped the drama to earn a second season.
You can order Defiance: Season 1 over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Some of the extras on the disc are pretty disappointing, including the Deleted Scenes and the segment “A Transmedia Revolution,” which is basically advertising for the series. The “Making of” segment features interviews with the show’s producers and actors explaining the show’s intentions and some of the challenges the production team faced regarding portraying different alien races. This includes a lot of information on the makeup and visual effects used on the film. If you are into the world of Defiance, there’s a ton of behind-the-scenes information available in this extra.
Other Special Features:
“Defiance: A Transmedia Revolution”
“Behind the Scenes with Jesse Rath”
Vikings: The Complete First Season Blu-ray
There are a lot of really nice sets out this week, but none really compares to the Vikings: The Complete First Season set, which was carefully designed to impress fans. The collectible outer packaging swoops down into a stylistic “v,” and opening the outer shell reveals a 3-disc Blu-ray set jam-packed with hours of extras. A&E Home video typically puts together the sets for The History Channel’s shows, but Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is behind the Vikings: The Complete First Season set, and it shows.
If the set is nice, the episodes are even better. There’s a lot of detail in Vikings, from the costumes to the weaponry, and it all looks spectacular in HD picture. Vikings is a drama that is unlike anything else on television. It has its own pace, its own rhythm, its own time period and setting. Creator Michael Hirst did a good job of placing Vikings in a unique world for television, and it’s no surprise that millions of viewers stuck with the drama through its first season run.
Season 1 largely focuses on a young Viking called Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), a dreamer and a schemer who wants more for his wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and his son, Bjorn (Nathan O’Toole). During the course of the first ten episodes, he puts in motion a set of events that will change his Viking community forever by building a set of longships with his friend Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) that leads to raids in a brand new territory. Clive Standen, Donal Logue, and Gabriel Byrne also star in the first season of the drama.
What is most enjoyable about Vikings is its storytelling, which intertwines moments of escalating violence and hardship with mystical premises and sharp dialogue. History’s new series is the full package, and if you give it a shot, it’s doubtful you’ll be disappointed.
You can order Vikings: The Complete First Season over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: I can’t say enough nice things about this set. During the extras, I felt as if I was halfway watching documentary material and halfway invested in a set that looks like the The Lord of the Rings. There are interactive maps and behind-the-scenes segments. There are videos featuring professors of history talking about the historical relevance of the series and cast members talking about their experiences. My favorite segment is “A Warrior Society: Viking Culture and Law,” which really goes into depth about what we know about the Vikings and how this information is used in History’s series.
If I have any complaints, it is that the audio commentaries and deleted scenes are spread across several of the discs and the menu isn’t extremely easy to navigate. Most of the time, sets have the pop-up menu feature available, but with this set I kept having to find the back button to return to the main page.
Other Special Features:
Audio Commentary on Select Episodes
“A Warrior Society: Viking Culture and Law”
“Birth of the Vikings”
“Forging the Viking Army: Warfare and Tactics”
“The Armory of the Vikings”
“Conquest and Discovery: Journeys of the Vikings”
Other October 15 Releases Blu-ray
Halloween hasn’t even happened yet, and we’re already at the first wave of huge release sets for the Holiday season. No, really. This week’s Hi Plains Drifter and The Untold History of the United States would look great in dad’s stocking. Besides, what woman wouldn’t want a Blu-ray copy of the 10th Anniversary Edition of Love Actually? That set comes complete with a heart-shaped ornament, just to prove it’s supposed to be a stocking stuffer. Lionsgate Home Entertainment even already put together a Holiday 4-Film Collection to make it clear it is time to start putting together lists of presents for those we love.
Of course, there are a few random releases in the batch. I’m not sure what Hart of Dixie: The Complete Second Season is doing out two weeks after Season 3 already premiered on the CW. Although Season 2 is only available on DVD, I will say that set is worth a purchase just to see Wade admit his love to Zoe Hart only to get rebuffed by her over and over again. That scene really gets to me, although the set itself lacks bonus features.
You can check out some more of October 15’s releases, below. Unless otherwise noted, the films and programs are available on both DVD and Blu-ray.
Love Actually 10th Anniversary Edition
Hi Plains Drifter: 40th Anniversary Edition
The Untold History of the United States
Holiday 4-Film Collection DVD
Hart of Dixie: The Complete Second Season
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain
Dracula: The Dark Prince DVD
Dirty Wars DVD
Notting Hill Blu-ray
Star Wars: The Clone Wars –The Complete Season 5
Shrek: The Musical