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Thor: The Dark World Blu-rayThe latest Marvel movie, Thor: The Dark World, is a sequel to the 2011 flick Thor. It’s a movie that somehow manages to recapture the entertaining aspects of humans interacting with Asgardians, as well as pull in all the fan favorite characters, without telling the same fish out of water story this time around.
The flick is set two years after the Rainbow Bridge fell on Asgard. On Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her merry band of scientists (Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard) have encountered portals linking worlds. On Asgard, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is in prison following the events of The Avengers, but a Dark Elf named Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) has come across a powerful weapon known as the aether and is hoping to wreak havoc on Asgard, with only Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his fellow fighters to protect the realm.
Thor’s fish out of water story brought a lot of interest and comedy to the story the first time around. Regardless, what’s most interesting about Marvel’s latest is the relationship between Thor and Loki, which has been tried and tested over the course of two prior films. This time around, the two brothers are forced to work together to defeat a common enemy, but Loki’s motives are always as convoluted as a winter storm, and the fast-paced narrative should keep fans on the edge of their seats throughout the film’s nearly 2-hour runtime.
If you already caught Alan Taylor’s film in theaters, there are still plenty of reasons to nab a copy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment’s film for yourself. "Marvel One-Shot: All Hail The King" was clearly the most anticipated bonus feature prior to the Blu-ray release of the flick, and it’s also the most exciting extra on the disc, catching Marvel fans up on what Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) has been up to ever since he was captured during Iron Man 3. It’s a reasonably funny and telling extra and it sits nicely amongst the other bonus fodder the flick has to offer, including a slew of Deleted and Extended Scenes and an excellent featurette highlighting Thor & Loki’s ever-changing relationship (including footage from Hiddleston’s audition to play Thor).
You can order Thor: The Dark World over at Amazon.
Other Bonus Features:
"A Brother’s Journey: Thor & Loki"
"Exclusive Look- Captain America: The Winter Soldier"
"Scoring Thor: The Dark World with Brian Tyler"
Deleted & Extended Scenes
Audio Commentary with director Alan Taylor, producer Kevin Feige, actor Tom Hiddleston and cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau
Gravity Blu-raySpace may be the final frontier, but it’s not always the most compelling premise for a theatrical release. Alfonso Cuarón’s decision to tell a story in space with Gravity, and to tell a story that was neither space opera nor heady vision of reality, is a gutsy one, and gives viewers plenty of reasons to watch.
The versatile Sandra Bullock and the glitzy George Clooney may not have been the most apparent choices for two brilliant astronauts floating through space, but they work in Gravity, with Bullock playing a Ph.D. winner and mission specialist named Dr. Ryan Stone. Clooney’s on board as Lieutenant Matt Kowalski, a fun-loving astronaut who is just shy of nabbing a spacewalking record. The team is in space to service a telescope when a debris field begins orbiting Earth and heading into the team’s path. Stone and the rest of the team strive to survive on this landscape as the debris path takes down anything in its path.
I was expecting a high-stakes thriller with Gravity, but over and over again the film proves to also be a horror movie, filling the audience’s heads with imagery that is not subtle and is often very unsettling. Luckily, the horror elements in the film are very well-drawn and relevant to the narrative, and help to engage viewers even further into a story that basically amounts to a series of very unfortunate events.
If you haven’t caught Gravity, yet, I highly suggest watching it on a big TV, and maybe even a 3D TV, if you have that capacity. Even if you aren’t a fan of the thriller aspects of the critically acclaimed flick, there’s no doubt it’s a visual stunner, and on Blu-ray even the space debris pops. Not to mention there are numerous shots of Bullock’s character looking out over a glorious version of Earth from a perspective most of us will never get to see in our lifetimes: space. There are plenty of reasons to tune in to give Gravity a shot, but tuning in for the visual spectacle is probably the best reason.
You can order Gravity over at The WB Shop.
Best Bonus Features: Gravity offers fans a ton of extra content relating to the flick. Among the bonus features is a short film called "Aningaaq," which follows the other end of the conversation Dr. Ryan Stone has with an Inuit fisherman during Gravity. The short film is directed by Alfonso Cuarón’s son Jonás Cuarón. While the sentimental short offers plenty of reasons to watch, science fans might be more excited by "Collission Point: The Race to Clean Up Space," a documentary narrated by Ed Harris that takes a look at Donald J. Kesslers theory, The Kessler Syndrome. This theory explains how objects in space might find themselves on a collision path and also explains scientific ideas for cleaning up space. The documentary should help anyone unfamiliar with the science in the film gain an understanding of how Cuarón and son were able to put together the script for the film.
Other Bonus Features:
"Gravity: Mission Control- It Began with a Story"
"Gravity: Mission Control- Initial Challenges"
"Gravity: Mission Control- Previsualizing Gravity"
"Gravity: Mission Control- The Hues of Space"
"Gravity: Mission Control- Physical Weightlessness"
"Gravity: Mission Control- Space Tech"
"Gravity: Mission Control- Sandra and George"
"Gravity: Mission Control- Final Animation"
"Gravity: Mission Control- Complete Silence"
Nebraska Blu-rayThere’s been a proliferation of road trip comedies over the last few years, with The Guilt Trip and Identity Thief coming to mind as the most recent efforts. While Alexander Payne’s latest, Nebraska, does have many of those same elements, it’s also an intimate portrayal of a dysfunctional family, as well as small town life. Plus, it was filmed in black and white, so it’s quite a bit different than its aforementioned bigger budget predecessors.
Nebraska stars Will Forte as David, a young man with empathy who agrees to take his father, Woody (Bruce Dern), to Nebraska on a foolhardy mission to collect winnings from a sweepstakes he mistakenly believes his has won. On the way, the two men stop over in Woody’s hometown and David learns a lot about his alcoholic father that was kept hidden from him over the years. It sounds like a serious film, but there is plenty of comedy involved, especially thanks to performances by June Squibb, who plays Woody’s wife Kate, Bob Odenkirk, who plays David’s brother, and a couple of family goons played by Tim Driscoll and Devin Raytray.
Will Forte may not be the first actor viewers will think of when they consider a comedy that is tinged with sadness and plenty of hurt feelings related to confronting the past. However unlikely Forte’s portrayal of the straight man in a comedy may be, he’s also a gem in this film, a strong man who sees a softer, kinder side to his father for the first time. Nebraska is a story that’s told as slow as molasses, but offers an emotional payoff that’s also very sweet.
You can order Nebraska over at Amazon. Barnes and Noble also has a killer sale going on.
Best Special Feature:
The best special feature has to go to "The Making of Nebraska", as it is the only bonus feature available with the set. In the extra, behind-the-scenes footage is juxtaposed with actual film footage and interviews. If you want to know how Bruce Dern and June Squibb nabbed the roles, or if you want to know how the film came into existence, the "Making of" segment is worth a watch. Additionally, if you ever wonder where a film’s budget goes, there’s a pretty telling story on the disc from the costume designer explaining how she came across "the jacket" Woody wears during the film and how a correct-sized double had to be made that cost the production like $2,000. A drop in the bucket, folks.
You can check out some more of this week’s releases, below. Unless otherwise noted, the films and TV sets are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Other February 25 Releases
Adventure Time: The Complete Third Season
Adventures of the Penguin King Blu-ray 3D
Amber Alert DVD
You Will Be My Son Blu-ray
Twice Born DVD