Subscribe To This Week In Home Entertainment: Epic And Boardwalk Empire Season 3 Updates
“Boardwalk
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray
Boardwalk Empire has largely been a show about bootlegging liquor in Atlantic City during the time of Prohibition in the United States. In Season 3, much of the actual bootlegging is sidelined as veteran gangster Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) deals with familial problems and an agressive gangster encroaching on his territory.

The aggressive gangster is played by Bobby Cannavale, whose character, Gyp Rosetti, is an Italian man with an angry streak. After Nucky gets the idea to sell to only one distributor, leaving his other guys to forage for themselves, Rosetti decides it’s time to take the King of Atlantic City down. He strikes some deals, as gangsters are wont to do, and Thompson finds himself with a problem on his hands.

Boardwalk Empire has always been violent and there’s not a lot of shock value related to that violence for viewers by the time they reach Season 3, but that doesn’t mean the show has scaled back on blood spilled in the new season, either. A war between gangsters doesn’t come without a price, and while there are plenty of lives lost, the price for Nucky may also mean his family, as throughout the season his relationship with Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) begins to crumble and then deteriorate. One episode featuring a concussion is both comedic and heartbreaking and tells you everything you need to know about their relationship. It also happens to be one of the best episodes of television I’ve ever seen.

The way the story unfolds in Season 3 is not always the most innovative, but there are enough outside-the-box moments and smart under the table deals to keep audiences invested throughout the 12 episodes. Cannavale’s Rosetti is the loose cannon that keeps things interesting, while many of the characters we’ve come to know and love over the first few seasons either grow or shrink in estimation.

Boardwalk Empire has always been a series with ups and downs in terms of its audiences’ interest in episodes, but Season 3 offers a consistency in quality that prior seasons have lacked. Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season may not be HBO’s best Blu-ray offering, but it’s a damn fine season of TV, packaged in a nice box with plenty of bells and whistles.

You can order Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season over at Amazon.

Best Special Feature: HBO is still trying to exploit the fact that Martin Scorsese is loosely involved with the Boardwalk Empire production in Season 3. There’s an entire bonus feature devoted to his thoughts, but I say skip it and check out the interactive feature “Boardwalk Chronicle” or the newsreel segment, which features introductions from showrunner Terence Winter.

By the third season of a series, it becomes hard to find ways to explain historical stories related to a period drama like Boardwalk Empire, but the newsreels segment explains a lot about characters like the female aviatrix and the Egyptologist Howard Carter who have minor roles in Season 3. It’s clever to use the newsreels to tell a historical narrative, and if you like history at all, the extra should be worth a watch.

Other Special Features:
Boardwalk Chronicle
Distilling Season 2
American Empires
Audio Commentaries
“New Characters”
Scorsese on Season 3
“Epic
Epic Blu-ray
Making the world feel miniaturized has always been able to instill a sense of wonderment in children. From Honey, I Shrunk the Kids to A Bugs Life, giving children a perspective of the world that is very different from what they see from their own height is both educational and exciting. Disney has sections of parks devoted to this concept, and Blue Sky Studios recently got into the miniature perspective with Epic, a story of small leaf men living in the woods and trying to protect the forest from rot and decay.

The queen of the forest (Beyonce Knowles) is set to choose her successor, causing unease across the woods and meadows. It the perfect opportunity for bad guy Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) to make a bid to take over, using decay as weaponry. When the succession ceremony goes awry, a regular-sized teenager named M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) must become tiny in order to fight with a group of leaf men to protect the forest. Along the way, she also finds love and friendship, and learns about herself.

The film doesn’t break the bank with new story or character ideas, the journey that M.K. goes on is more incredible than epic, and Knowles really, really should never have been given the chance to do voicework. While these things are largely noticeable to adult audiences, the kiddies shouldn’t mind. They’ll be too busy laughing at a snail and a slug (played by Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Anzari), and thinking about inhabiting the world from a much smaller perspective.

Where kids and adults can get on the same page is the animation. The perfection and attention to detail in Blue Sky Studios’ work is staggering. If anything has the right to be called epic in this film, it’s the animation craft. The perfection of the animated sequences struck me the most during a shot in the film where a deer is crashing through a forest, running past M.K.’s father, Bomba (Jason Sudeikis). The movement of the plants and the deer and the startled reaction of Bomba in the sequence in what is basically a throwaway shot explains why Blue Sky Studios offers some of the—if not the—best animation being put together right now. I didn’t see the film in 3D in theaters, but I can imagine the scenescapes are even more impressive in that format.

Given the right story, the studio should be capable of putting together an instant classic that is worth returning to again and again. I’m not sure that Epic is that movie, but it’s at least worth watching once.

You can order Epic over at Amazon.

Best Special Feature: The entire disc is geared towards younger kids. In fact, the slugs in the movie pop up onscreen when you first pop in the disc to sell all of the bonus features to kids. Interestingly, most of the segments on the disc are informational, and include facts about the animals and the bugs in the film, how rot actually helps the forest and more.

My favorite bonus feature was probably “Bugs of Camouflage,” which features a long-haired bug dude who explains how bugs camouflage and how those covers have evolved over time. If you have kids that are fascinated by different bugs, this is one to watch, for sure.

Other Special Features:
“Birds, Bugs and Slugs: Forest Explorer”
“Rot Rocks”
“The Epic Life at 2 Inches”
“Mysteries of Moonhaven Revealed”
Enhanced Coloring Book App Features.
“Rapture-Palooza
Other August 20 Releases
Hollywood keeps churning out comedies about the end of the world. Last year, Steve Carell and Kiera Knightley starred in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. This summer, we got got This is the End and Rapture-Palooza. The latter was a smaller release, but it features Craig Robinson and Anna Kendrick, and if you are a fan of either actors’ body of work, it’s an amusing and weird adventure comedy about living next door to the anti-christ.

There are a few smaller film releases this week like Rapture-palooza, but mostly there’s plenty of TV for fans to nab just before this fall’s releases hit the schedule. Boardwalk Empire is one big example, but this week ABC Studios is also putting out the second season of Revenge, which will offer plenty of murder and intrigue, as well as bonus features. ABC’s drama went off the rails a little in Season 2, but it seems as if Emily will be back on track to exact her revenge when the show returns for another round this fall. Beyond the Revenge: The Complete Second Season set, there are a lot of network television releases this week about families and crime and you can read more about the releases, below.

Unless otherwise noted, sets are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.

Revenge: The Complete Second Season DVD
NCIS: The Complete Tenth Season DVD
The Good Wife: The Fourth Season DVD
Parenthood:Season 4 DVD
NCIS: Los Angeles—The Fourth Season DVD
Mike & Molly: The Complete Third Season DVD
Amour
Killing Season
Scary Movie 5
Being Human Season 5 DVD
Peter Pan Return to Neverland
The Best of American Pickers: Mike & Franks Picks DVD
The Best of Pawn Stars: The Greatest Stories Ever Sold DVD
The Best of Storage Wars: Life in the Locker DVD
Free Angela & All Political Prisoners DVD

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