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White House Down Blu-ray Combo Pack
Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx should have opened up one of this summer’s biggest movies. Both actors are big names in the business, and they had The Amazing Spider-Man’s James Vanderbilt and big budget guru Roland Emmerich to put together the film, as well. While the movie didn’t manage to dominate the box office, it’s still a fun but frilly movie that's short on surprises but long on fun.
The set-up is fairly simple, which helps to usher audiences into the dramatic White House takeover as quickly as possible. Cale (Channing Tatum) pulls some strings to get an interview at the famed DC home, hoping to earn a position within the current President’s (Jamie Foxx) Secret Service detail. He brings along his daughter, Emily (Joey King), a White House freak who has never been inside the prestigious building before. Once they are in, all chaos breaks loose thanks to terrorists, mercenaries and corrupt politicians. Jason Clarke, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jimmi Simpson, James Woods, and Richard Jenkins also have prime roles in the flick.
White House Down shouldn’t be treated as if it is a realistic terrorist movie. It’s basic premise is as wild and unlikely as the Die Hard franchise or even Independence Day, but unlike those movies, it doesn’t really recognize its ludicrousness. Its biggest problem is that it occasionally tries to take itself a little too seriously, with a bunch of political rhetoric tripe thrown in among the fun action sequences. Luckily, there is also a scene where President Sawyer and Cale do donuts on the White House Lawn with a rocket launcher, so there is enough humor in the film to keep the movie from ever becoming too boring.
We'll probably never know exactly why White House Down didn't breakout as a huge hit. Maybe it was bad timing because of the stocked summer schedule. Maybe it was the similarities with Olympus Has Fallen. Either way, I really wish audiences would have given the film a chance. It's a fun, circular movie with likeable characters. It may not inspire the imagination to work overtime, but it isn't a waste of time either.
You can order White House Down over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: It seems as if there are quite a few bonus features with the set, but once you start watching them, you’ll probably realize that most of them could have been mashed together into one longer making of segment. Still, I give Sony Pictures Home Entertainment some credit for giving each of the segments clever names and making most of them a reasonable length. I’ve seen a lot of bonus features with other films explaining the special effects and the action, and the ones on this disc weren’t that exciting. However, I did love the bonus feature "The Beast," which explains how workers on the show were able to custom build a vehicle they used in the film during the epic car chase scene that looks similar to the real limousine used by the president.
Other Special Features:
"A Dynamic Duo"
"Men of Action"
"The Full Arsenal"
"VFX Boundaries Down"
"The Inside Story"
"Lights, Camera, Heart-Pumping Action"
"Roland Emmerich – Upping the Ante"
"Crashing the Oval Office"
"Drowning the Beast"
"Recreating the White House"
"Meet the Insiders"
Twilight Forever Blu-ray
The Twilight Saga has been a box office Cinderella story, beginning with Catherine Hardwicke’s 2008 film, Twilight, which was made on a paltry $37 million budget and ended up grossing nearly $400 million worldwide. The subsequent films accrued even more financial success, enjoying a following many other teen franchises never manage to attain. Last winter, the saga was completed, and this week Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate have released the definitive collective for the series. It’s called Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga, and it comes with over two hours of brand new bonus features.
The saga follows the adventures and misadventures of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a young woman looking for friends in a brand new town. Eventually, she finds more than she bargained for in a complicated love triangle with vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and shape-shifter Jacob Black (Tayler Lautner). Eventually, Swan makes a choice, but just as she does, an underhanded war begins to rage in the supernatural community she holds most dear.
The Twilight Forever set highlights the key players in the films and the convoluted love triangle at the heart of the series. You can see the cover art, above, but what it doesn’t reveal is the heavy, full-color book that houses each of the five movies in the series, as well as the bonus discs. The packaging is sturdy and is one of the nicest we’ve seen this year.
The Twilight Forever set offers a special bonus disc that is filled with new features. We’ve already brought you some snippets from these extras, including the creepy "Chuckesmee" doll. As a whole, the extras provide the most in-depth information about the making of the five films available in one location, and while some of the information may not be new to the most avid of Twilight fans, the social media mentions and the constant nods to the fans should give purchasers the feeling they are part of a club.
The disc starts with "Twilight Fanomenon," an extra that discusses how people were on hand when the first movie began filming, but that they began showing up in droves by the time the film reached Comic-Con. Additionally, nods to many of the fansites related to the series and their owners are also spotlighted. A lengthy "Cast Retrospective" featuring even many of the smaller players in the cast helps to give this sort of feeling that those involved with the films became a sort of family. I watched this stuff for hours, and a lot of it explains little anecdotal stories and feelings each of the cast members had while they were shooting specific scenes. There is tons of information there, from the pains of shooting the final battle on green screen to most of the cast’s love of Jacob throwing a hotdog at Rosalie’s head. Jacob and Edward both get their own extras, which flash forward through each of their moments spent with Bella. If you don’t feel like watching all of the movies, this is a great way to catch up on some key moments in the evolution of the characters and the main love triangle involved with the film.
There are clearly both defenders and haters of the franchise, and the Twilight Forever set is for the avid fans only. It’s rare that I would suggest avid fans repurchase a series if they already own one or more copies, but the Twilight Forever set is beautifully executed and worthy of any fan’s collection.
You can order Twilight Forever: the Complete Saga over at Amazon.
Other Special Features:
All of the Twilight Blu-ray Extras
All of The Twilight Saga: New Moon Blu-ray Extras
All of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Blu-ray Extras
All of The Twilight Saga: Beaking Dawn, Part 1 Blu-ray Extras
All of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 Blu-ray Extras
Lovelace Blu-ray Combo Pack
For a brief period in the 1970s, porn star Linda Lovelace was a household name, one that divisively claimed her as a star of the sexual revolution while simultaneously asserting her as reprehensible in a society that was trying desperately to hold on to family values and a religious code. The porn star turned housewife would later spend much of her career denouncing her years in porn, but that’s not really the story audiences will encounter in Lovelace. In fact, much of the plot in the movie is taken directly from Lovelace’s popular book, Ordeal.
Lovelace is most famous for the 1972 film Deep Throat, but her story in Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Lovelace begins much earlier, focusing on a youngish Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried) and her early moral code. All of this changes when she meets Chuck Traynor (Peter Scaarsgard), an older dude who reveals himself to be interested in making home pornographic films. Lovelace seems to enjoy the wild sexual romp for a while, but then her reality takes a dark turn.
Traynor and Lovelace’s relationship becomes a volatile one, full of threats, beatings, and even forced prostitution. It’s harrowing to watch Lovelace get through the ordeal that seems to be her pornographic career, and while the story makes for somewhat compelling film, the truth of the biographical narrative is somewhat more wishy-washy. Andy Bellin’s script seems to take Lovelace’s word at face value, although her version of events has also provoked devisive criticism and support in the past.
Still the film is visually appealing and put together by masterful eyes. The color and flair of the seventies is constantly present, and the film frequently uses home movie reels to show action in the narrative—fitting, due to the context of the film. Additionally, a slew of big names are on hand to play small roles through the film. These actors include James Franco as the too-young playboy savant Hugh Hefner. Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Bobby Cannavale, Juno Temple, and Chris Noth all have moderately meaty roles. Other big names, like Adam Brody and Chloe Sevigny, appear, as well. It’s Seyfried who is really great onscreen, though. At one point she talks about her character in Deep Throat being like a budding flower that is on the cusp of flourishing. What her character doesn’t discuss is what happens to the flower as it slowly stops opening up and begins the slow and painful process of dying on the inside. Eventually, Seyfried shows us this process through her character, and although it’s anticlimactic, the film is still worth a perusal based on this performance, and the care taken with the production of the film as a whole.
You can order Lovelace over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: As we noted in our initial news story, the only extra with the disc is an extensive making of featurette called "Behind Lovelace." There’s a lot of background information about the film in the extra, but I actually enjoyed just hearing Seyfried discuss how she saw the character and the journey of the character through the film. It’s not the best making of segment I’ve ever encountered, but if you liked the film, you will probably find the extra to be informative.
Boy Meets World: The Complete Collection DVD
Boy Meets World ran as part of ABC’s TGIF lineup between 1993 and 2000, making its way into millions of homes and featuring protagonists that grew up as many members of its audience were simultaneously growing and changing as young adults. Over the course of its seven seasons and its subsequent syndication, the show has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon, and now it is available in a complete series set.
In some ways, the Boy Meets World: The Complete Collection set is a little disappointing. It is still in DVD form, albeit repackaged, and it still uses the same photos that are available with some of the single season sets. It isn’t sturdy nor does it come with an extensive list of new bonus features. In other ways, though, the set works really well. The timing of Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s set is perfect, with the show’s spinoff series, Girl Meets World, hitting the Disney Channel’s schedule in just a few months. Additionally, there may not be a ton of new extras, but there are a few new featurettes for fans that touch on important moments and reminiscing from the show’s characters.
While the seasons of Boy Meets World have been available on DVD before, this is actually a set offering the series in its entirety, and it should prove to be the definitive collection for fans. While the set does run rather expensively, it is available at a cheaper price over at Amazon, which may help out the fans of the show who are on a budget. Check out the special features, below, and decide for yourself.
Best Special Feature: "Boy Meets World: Back to the Beginning" is a spotlight on the series featuring interviews from most of the main cast members. It’s fairly lengthy, but it should keep your attention, as it explains how most of the actors and actresses were cast, as well as is filled with stories about how certain episodes and actions from the characters came about. Additionally, the famous Halloween episode is touched on and some other fan favorite moments are discussed.
Other Special Features:
"Boy Meets…World Fandom"
"The World According To Boy"
Bonus Episode From Season 4
"Picture-in-Picture Video Commentary with Cast and Crew
Under the Dome Blu-ray
CBS’ summer series Under the Dome did so well over the summer that the limited event series was actually given an unprecedented second season. The show will return to the schedule for Season 2 in 2014, but in the meantime you can check out the Under the Dome Blu-ray, which features all thirteen episodes of the first season of the series, as well as a solid list of behind-the-scenes extras.
The show begins and ends with plenty of action. On a seemingly normal day in the town of Chester’s Mill, a group of residents find themselves trapped under a mysterious dome, a solid entity that causes houses and animals to split in half and is responsible for numerous car and airplane accidents. In the aftermath of the appearance of the dome, the town is in chaos and while some people are trying to keep the peace, others are trying to take control. There’s the dastardly Big Jim Rennie (Dean Norris) and his creepy son, Junior (Alexander Koch). There are the newcomers, Barbie (Mike Vogel) and Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz). There’s Sheriff Linda (Natalie Martinez), who must shoulder the brunt of the governing responsibility once the dome goes up. The cast is a true ensemble one, and its multitude of varied and complex characters that are tied together throughout the tenure of Season 1 is one of the reasons Under the Dome works so well.
Under the Dome is another set out this week that did not spare any expense with its packaging. CBS Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray set comes with an outer shell with two pieces that help to outline the nearly invisible dome against the night sky. The inner packaging is adorned with a bloody handprint and features four discs of content. If I have any complaint, it’s that the special features are spread across each of the discs, but as this is somewhat typical with seasons of TV, it’s a pretty small complaint.
You can order Under the Dome over at the CBS Store.
Best Special Feature: The special features are spread across each of the discs, although the majority can be found on Disc 4. It actually took me quite some time to figure out how to access the deleted scenes found on Disc 2 and 3. (You have to find the episodes that offer deleted scenes and access them by clicking on the episode and then the deleted scenes button, rather than using the special features button, which is how the other extras are accessed.) In truth, the deleted scenes were nothing much to write home about, but some of the behind-the-scenes segments were full of information.
CBS has been good about releasing videos from the cast and crew explaining many aspects about the show. I already gleaned a lot of the facts from the promotional interviews and behind-the-scenes segments the show put out on social media during the initial run, but if you haven’t caught any of those, the extras should be worth a watch. I always like hearing what Stephen King’s perspective is on the show, since he is heavily involved and wrote the book of the same name that provided the source material for Under the Dome. As far as the extras go, be sure to check out "Stephen King and Under the Dome."
Other Special Features:
"Under the Dome: From Novel to Series"
"The World of Under the Dome"
"Under the Dome: The First Season"
"Under the Dome: Filming the Pilot"
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-ray Combo Pack
Not so long ago, Peter Jackson fans were forced to wait until 2012 for the single extended edition Blu-rays for each of the films in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Technology has come a long way in the last decade and the transferral for Jackson’s first film in The Hobbit trilogy has been far less of an ordeal. Less than a year after the theatrical Blu-ray and DVD release of the film, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition onto Blu-ray and DVD.
The set comes with brand new cover art, but more importantly, it comes with 13 minutes of extra film footage and a whopping nine hours of bonus features. With the film’s sequel, Desolation of Smaug not yet out, it will still be a while before fans see a full-trilogy box set, but in the meantime, the Extended Edition doesn’t look too shabby. You can check out the list of new bonus features, here. Or, you can order The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition over at Amazon.
This week also sports several other fan favorite TV releases, including Mad Men’s sixth season and a Doctor Who gift set. In fact, a lot of this week’s releases would make for excellent holiday gifts, should you be able to match them with the right person. You can check out some of the rest of this week’s releases, below. Unless otherwise noted, sets are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Other October 29 Releases
Grown Ups 2
Mad Men: Season 6
Doctor Who: Series 1-7 Limited Edition Blu-ray Gift Set
Magic City: The Complete Second Season
Weeds: The Complete Collection
Girl Most Likely
Duck Dynasty: I Am Dreaming of a Redneck Christmas
The Right Stuff: 30th Anniversary Edition
Saved by the Bell: The Complete Collection
Scoot & Kassie’s Christmas Adventure DVD