ON DVD TODAY: October 14, 2008

ON

Today I have a TON of new titles to tell you about. Most would best be left as a rental, some you will be inclined to buy (but should you?) and others will be a question of whether you believe it is worth upgrading to high-definition Blu-ray. I can only recommend what you should do, you have to decide which way you will go with it.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2-Disc Special Edition)
Most of us realize this isn’t a good movie. Some enjoy the Indiana Jones franchise so much they are willing to look beyond all the problems this film has and have fun with it. I can respect that, after all, your enjoyment is what’s important not what others think. Admittedly, watching this flick a second time on Blu-ray I was able to enjoy it more than I did in theaters, but that’s only because there was no real investment. I was able to get up, do some work, make some dinner, whatever it may be. The fact is I didn’t have to sit in one spot and pay attention, had I tried to I wouldn’t have been able to. Indiana Jones 4 is not an Indiana Jones film in the traditional sense and in a few years more and more people will admit to that.

As for this DVD/Blu-ray release, Sara already reviewed the 2-Disc DVD right here and she loved it (she’ll come around). I was going to review the Blu-ray but there isn’t much to say because the features are only good on the first disc as they actually give you some background on the story, but disc two is just a bunch of making-of mumbo jumbo that you see on the majority of special effects driven flicks. If you feel you must add this to your collection then click “Buy Now” below, it links to all the DVD versions as well as the Blu-ray. Otherwise, just forget about it, the original trilogy works on its own.

Buy Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2-Disc Special Edition)
The Ultimate Matrix Collection [Blu-ray]
I am only adding this here in case you somehow managed to miss the article as well as the three new reviews for each film I added today. If you did miss those here are the links again:
Buy The Ultimate Matrix Collection [Blu-ray]
Universal Gangsters on Blu-ray
Eastern Promises / Casino / American Gangster
I have had the chance to watch all three of these recently on Blu-ray and while all three look fantastic I only think Eastern Promises is worth buying. I was surprised to see how much Casino doesn’t live up to repeated viewings, after the first hour or so you just begin to feel as if you are just waiting for it all to end. Casino is a good film, but I can’t see the need to own it. I also don’t think American Gangster holds up that well. I enjoyed it enough in the theater, but after receiving the DVD edition, the HD DVD edition and now the Blu-ray edition I just don’t see people watching this one over and over. Eastern Promises however, is just fantastic and I love having it now on Blu-ray, this is a film I can see myself coming back to year after year. There is an atmosphere and an emotion to this film that fits a specific mood and at the right time it fits perfectly.

In terms of the Blu-ray quality, all three live up and each comes with a DTS track and Casino and American Gangster each come with a Blu-ray picture-in-picture U-Control feature and they all have all the special features you have seen on their respective DVD special editions.

Constantine
This is a film probably best left for the “Even More” section below, but I really love this movie and it is one I would love for them to somehow get things together and make a sequel for but I have pretty much written that idea off completely. Nevertheless, the ultimate version of the film is now available and I didn’t receive a review copy to tell you about, but I can only assume it looks just as good as did the HD DVD version, which was fantastic.
Buy Constantine
The New World (Extended Cut)
I was offered a review copy of this one, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I did enjoy this film more than most reviewers when I saw it in the theater but I just don’t think I want to watch it again… at least not yet and not in an extended form especially since the longer versions of the film received even worse reviews than the edited.
Buy The New World (Extended Cut)
Notorious
I can’t remember if I asked for a review copy of Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection MGM Home Entertainment is releasing today, but the one thing to take notice of is the inclusion of Notorious, a film I have not seen myself but now that it is on DVD along with some lesser talked about Hitchcock films such as Spellbound, Rebecca and The Lodger is worth mentioning. I believe all of these have been on DVD before and I know Notorious was once on Criterion (out of print now), but now they can all be bought individually or separately. Single editions are running around $14.99 at Amazon while the complete set of eight films is $83.99.
Buy Notorious
Romancing the Stone / The Jewel of the Nile (Blu-ray)
As a kid I loved these films, but as it stands now I have no interest. They are fine for passing the time, but I have such a large list of films that also fill that bill I don’t really need either of these, especially in high-definition.
Mongol
I am surprised Mongol has an 88% Rotten Tomatoes rating. This film is okay, but far from spectacular and definitely not worth buying if you ask me. The story told in this film feels so simplified and blasé. In my theatrical review I said the film “feels like the guts of this movie were ripped out and we are only left with the outer shell of what made Genghis Khan such a formidable and historic individual.” I think it works as a rental, but certainly not worth buying.
Buy Mongol
Poltergeist
Here’s a tossup. Personally I think a DVD copy of Poltergeist has got you covered. However, if you don’t already own it and wish you did, buying it on Blu-ray is your best option. This film is certainly good enough to own, but I see no real reason to upgrade.
Buy Poltergeist
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
I have said it so many times before, but this is probably the best made film I have ever seen. Don’t confuse this with best film overall, I am talking specifically about the filmmaking and decisions made to tell a story of an illegal late term abortion taking place in Romania. This film is a nightmare to watch, but director Cristian Mungiu’s ability to tap directly into what an audience member is thinking and would do in the instances shown in the film is uncanny.

There is one shot where the camera plays the “I don’t wanna look” role to such perfection that once it finally does pan down it reacts just as a human would in an “I can’t look away” mode. Perfection. That said, I would never recommend anyone actually watch this film if entertainment is your goal. This film is entertaining only as a study of filmmaking, but anyone that watches it more than once is a glutton for punishment.

Buy 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
The Edge of Heaven
I listed The Edge of Heaven as one of my Top Ten Movies Midway Through 2008 and I stick to that assessment. The circular narrative is fractured in the sense that each character is operating on the same plain, but the majority of them never manage to quite realize the place they play in the lives of others. It really is a fantastic and subtle story, but the language barrier does get in the way a little and having it on DVD at home may actually be a benefit since you will be able to rewind some parts you may not quite get the first time around.
Buy The Edge of Heaven
Standard Operating Procedure
I already reviewed the Blu-ray version of Standard Operating Procedure (read here) and the fact a nightmare documentary like this is even getting a high-definition release is baffling to me. Do you really need to see the tragedy at Abu Ghraid in HD?
Buy Standard Operating Procedure
C.S.I. – The Complete Eighth Season
My review of this one also just went up and I enjoyed it quite a bit. You can get my full report right here.
Buy C.S.I. - The Complete Eighth Season
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