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Iron Man Blu-ray
Oftentimes, I’m not a fan of voiceovers and flashback narratives at the beginning of a film. Iron Man 3 offers both, as well as a reminder that Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee)" was a popular song at the turn of the century. Regardless, a flashback to a New Year’s Eve party is a great way to show audiences how Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has evolved over the past several years and it also sets us up for a narrative explaining the origins of a bad guy.

The Stark we're given in Iron Man 3 is going through a tough time. He’s still shaken up about the New York incident and is suffering from the occasional panic attack. He’s also become a workaholic who is spending more time tinkering with new suits than working on his marriage to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). He’s busy dealing with these personal problems when a mysterious bad guy known as “The Mandarin” enters the picture.

Iron Man 3 is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie set after the events in The Avengers. Its ties to that film are undeniable, with Stark still suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (although he adamantly denies it to Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins), a kid he meets on his journey). He may be toughing it through some mental issues, but his tongue is sharper than ever, thanks to a screenplay written by Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s Shane Black, who also directed the film. There’s no person more 'suited' to the sort of banter Black loves than Mr. Stark, and it makes for an engaging film.

Iron Man 3 is a complicated tale, and while it’s told well, there is sometimes a lot of space between action sequences. Additionally, the cast features the aforementioned names, as well as Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, Don Cheadle, and Ben Kingsley. That’s a talent overload, and you’ll leave getting the feeling that nearly no one got enough screen time. Still, the movie is never boring and it will leave you hankering for a fourth film in the franchise, which is always a good sign.

You can purchase Iron Man 3 over at Amazon.

Best Special Feature: There’s an extra taking a look at Thor: The Dark World and how all of the tables will be turned around in the new film. Instead of Thor heading to earth, Jane Foster will be heading to other worlds, and so audiences will still get that humor and feeling of being in a new element in the film. The segment’s short and it’s not as involved as I would have like to have seen, but it does feature interviews from the cast and crew.

Like the Thor segment, a lot of bonus features feel like straight-up Marvel advertising, including a “One-Shot” bonus feature following Captain America character Peggy Carter. Fans of the franchise will probably enjoy these, but if you are more of an Iron Man-only sort of person, I’d stick with the more traditional extras, like the deleted and extended scenes, which flesh out the plot and the comedy a little more.

Other Special Features:
“Marvel One –Shot: Agent Carter”
Deleted and Extended Scenes
Gag Reel
Audio Commentary
Iron Man 3 Unmasked”
“Deconstructing the Scene: Attack on Air Force One”
“Exclusive Behind The Scenes Look- Thor: The Dark World
”Hannibal
Hannibal Blu-ray
Hannibal is a violent narrative that’s smartly written, looks great onscreen and offers well-written side characters that help to keep the show’s procedural scenes fresh and surprising. There’s a lot of great build-up throughout the first few episodes of the drama, leading into a psychological thriller with horror elements hinging on the relationship of Special Agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and his psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelson).

Anyone who saw David Slade’s pilot for NBC’s short-lived series Awake should have expected great visuals in Hannibal, but what is unexpected is the sharp dialogue, which gels well with the often dark and tormented bent of the narrative. A great example of this is found in the second episode when two doctors are talking about a murderer giving doses of sugar to his victims, forcing them to crave it, much like recovering alcoholics. The scientist who is talking addresses his colleague, saying “No offense” as he wraps up. His colleague responds, “Oh, I’m not recovering.” That sort of dark humor is wholly surprising and is a credit to executive producer Bryan Fuller and the writers on the drama.

We might appreciate a bit of comic relief throughout the series, but it’s also a heavy hitting drama, filled with gruesome portrayals of death and different perceptions of reality. A good chunk of the Season 1 narrative is told through Graham’s perception, which allows him to empathize with serial killers, but also makes it difficult for the young man to understand what is real and what is a hallucination. Anyone familiar with the character of Hannibal Lector knows he is a man not to be trifled with, but the Hannibal characters are not familiar, and watching Lector and Graham’s careful game of cat and mouse unfold is wholly compelling. There are only thirteen episodes in Season 1, but by the time you reach the end, you’ll be wiped out emotionally.

You can order Hannibal: Season 1 over at Amazon.

Best Special Feature: Hannibal is a show that probably would have thrived better on cable than on network television. Case in point: the extra “The FX of Murder” explains how the show had a money shot of a corpse that involved a bare bum. The network wasn’t cool with the amount of crack shown, and the show had to use special effects to go back in and “cover the crack with blood” to satisfy the network executives. And that’s why that show gets the 10 p.m. slot.

We’ve already given you a brief look at part of the special effects-based bonus feature, but the segment is actually extraordinarily lengthy and goes into detail about the main special effects used during the first season of the series. Everything from creating fungi to creepy stag and raven dream creatures is explained, and if you like behind-the-scenes looks at TV shows, it’s worth a perusal. It’s probably among the more exciting network TV show bonus features I’ve seen.

As a side note, the bonus features are spread across several discs and sometimes are laid out in the best way, but the menu is awesome and every time you click on a feature a creepy noise that almost sounds like a heartbeat goes off. Love it.

Other Special Features:
Audio Commentaries for specific episodes
“Hannibal Reborn”
“A Taste for Killing”
“A Symphony for the Slaughter”
Gag Reel
Deleted Scenes (across multiple discs)
”Halloween
Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray
Back in 1978, John Carpenter created Halloween on a low $325,000 budget. The film later blew up thanks to its small town tale of pure evil gone awry, grossing more than $70 million worldwide (a huge sum at the time) and giving birth to the slasher genre. Thirty-five years later, the movie still has a huge following, and the film’s impact has been explored in the Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray.

Fans of John Carpenter’s Halloween have seen re-releases of the film every five years, but the 35th Anniversary Edition is a little bit special. First, it’s a fine looking set. The film is encased in a Blu-ray book format, featuring a rambling narrative that tells a ton of stories about the cast and crew’s relationships as well as Carpenter’s intentions when making the film. The photo book abounds with pictures and the cover art for the set was even specially commissioned by the studio and created by Jay Shaw.

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment has been putting together Halloween sets for years. Apparently, there’s been some drama in the past regarding revamping the film on to DVD and Blu-ray. Anchor Bay Home Entertainment made a specific point to note that this set has been given an all-new HD transfer and that it was Dean Cundey who supervised the transfer.

Overall, the set’s pretty cool, but it may not be cool enough to be worth re-purchasing if you already own a copy of the film. You can order the Halloween: 35th Anniversary Collection over at Amazon.

Best Special Feature: I happen to love watching trailers for old movies and seeing just how differently films were presented in different ages when compared to today. The trailer on the disc won’t disappoint, although if you purchased the Blu-ray, you probably want to give the brand new audio commentary a shot, which features comments from both Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis.

The other new extra is an extremely lengthy featurette called “The Night She Came Home.” It follows a horror festival event that Curtis decided to attend in Indianapolis, Indiana. The ins and outs of putting on a meet and greet are shown, but the only really exciting part of the segment is hearing what the fans think about the event and some of the travel arrangements people made to show up and see Curtis. The fandom related to Halloween is amazing, even 35 years later.

Other Special Features:
Brand New Audio Commentary
“On Location: 25 Years Later” featurette
TV & Radio Spots
TV Version Footage
”
Other September 24 releases
If you’ve been keeping tabs, the fall TV season is upon us, which means there are a lot of last year’s TV sets hitting Blu-ray and DVD this week, again. While there are a few cable favorites sprinkled in like new Doctor Who and South Park sets, a lot of these are network shows, ranging for Modern Family’s fourth season to The Neighbors’ first. You can check out some of the rest of September 17th’s releases, below. Unless otherwise noted, titles are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.

Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season
Family Guy: Volume Eleven
Doctor Who: The Complete Seventh Series
Hawaii Five-O: The Third Season DVD
Redemption
The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray
Room 237
2 Broke Girls: The Complete Second Season DVD
The Kings of Summer
Dear Mom, Love Cher
South Park: The Sixteenth Season
The Neighbors: The Complete First Season
3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman Criterion Collection
Barabbas
In the House Blu-ray

SPOILERS: Halloween Ending | What Happens, And What It Means

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