Spaced, the UK cult hit series, is finally headed to the States this summer – but guess what’s here now? A 3-disc Indiana Jones DVD collection and Narnia in Blu-ray! (Plus, we hear there’s a bit of a virus going around overseas…) Read on for more news and releases.
America Gets Spaced!
Region 1 denizens should mark their calendars for July 22 (and set aside about five Alexander Hamiltons) for the North American debut of the UK smash sitcom Spaced. Created by Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes (nee Stevenson) — and directed by Edgar Wright — the surreal pop culture-referencing television show will finally make it to our shores in a 3-disc edition. Bonus material will include a 2007 cast reunion, an Homage-O-Meter that tracks each pop culture reference as it happens, and a commentary by Wright, Pegg, Hynes, and celeb-hipster buddies Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Bill Hader, Matt Stone, Patton Oswalt, and Diablo Cody.
Meanwhile, McG Gets De-Spaced…
…and if you’re a fan of Spaced, Edgar Wright, and Simon Pegg, then perhaps you’ll be happy to hear that the planned American remake of the show is now D.O.A., according to industry pundit Nikki Finke. Why is that good, you ask? Mostly because the folks behind the re-do, first announced last October, were plotting the series without any involvement by its creators. Also, it had Charlie’s Angels/Terminator 4 director McG at the helm — leading Wright to blog-dub the project McSpaced. Death to McSpaced!
Criterion Goes Blu-Ray
In more highbrow news, the cineastes at the Criterion Collection announced last week that Criterion will be going Blu-ray this fall! They promise “glorious high-definition picture and sound, all the supplemental content of the DVD releases” — and best of all — “they will be priced to match our standard-def editions.” Because it’s not like standard Criterion releases come on the cheap. The first batch of Blu-ray Criterion releases will include Bottle Rocket, Chungking Express, The Last Emperor, Gimme Shelter, Contempt, and The 400 Blows. Click for full titles.
Also announced this week
— Early box art reveals that a sneak peek of the teenage vampire romance Twilight will appear on Summit Entertainment’s DVD release of Penelope, starring Christina Ricci. A fable about a pig-nosed girl who finds romance and a first look at the star-crossed love between a high schooler and a handsome bloodsucker? Guys, try to contain yourselves. On shelves July 15.
— Could the National Lampoon brand thrive again, after years of being licensed out to drastically unfunny films like Dorm Daze and Golf Punks? We shall see this summer, when the first National Lampoon movie to be produced by National Lampoon in 19 years comes to DVD: National Lampoon’s Bag Boy. (It’s about competitive grocery bagging. Which reminds us of a funny episode of 10 Items or Less…wonder when that will hit DVD?) Also on shelves July 15.
–Lastly, the Washington Post calls a quietly brewing problem to attention regarding our troops overseas and home video entertainment. Remember to pick up legit adult videos when sending your care packages!
Click for this week’s new releases!
The ladies of fellow new release Mad Money are in good company as Diane Lane‘s stab at girl power — the gruesome thriller Untraceable, which pits Lane as a female cop on the trail of a modem-empowered killer — also makes its way to DVD this week.
Director Gregory Hoblit (Fracture, Frequency, Primal Fear) provides some insight into what he was thinking in a commentary track; watch picture-in-picture interviews, storyboards, and clips during the feature in Blu-ray.
Denzel Washington directs his way to Certified Fresh territory for the second time (after 2002’s celebrated Antwone Fisher) and stars in a true story about a debate coach (Washington) leading his all-black college team to the national championships.
Genius Products and The Weinstein Co. are releasing a single-disc version with no extra features, but we say go for the 2-disc package for a commentary, documentary, and informative bonus materials about the actual events and figures that inspired the Oprah Winfrey-produced film.
Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and the Cruise-bot formerly known as Katie Holmes seemingly cashed in for this all-female heist movie, which earned dismal ratings from critics.
Fun fact: Mad Money is directed by Callie Khouri, the same woman who made one of the best female empowerment flicks of all time: Thelma and Louise.
Who really watches extras like “Behind the Scenes of Mad Money??”
Francis Ford Coppola‘s pet project about a man (Tim Roth) supernaturally touched by youth was, to put it mildly, not quite a success. Is it still worth a shot, considering it’s Coppola’s first film in a decade?
Again, Coppola the Auteur is what’s appealing about Youth Without Youth, sprawling failure or no. Check out his commentary track and three making-of featurettes for insight into the mind of a modern legend.
It’s Criterion time! Delight in not one, but two Louis Malle releases this week: The Lovers, Malle’s second film about an adulterous woman (Jeanne Moreau) and The Fire Within, about a suicidal writer.
Criterion serves up a newly restored, unedited version of The Lovers, which caused quite a stir when it censored upon debut in 1958 and sparked a Supreme Court obscenity case. But with more new material like video interviews with cast members and a 2005 documentary featuring Mathieu Almaric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Quantum of Solace) Criterion’s The Fire Within has a smidge more to offer. Who are we kidding — get them both!
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – Blu-ray
With Prince Caspian gearing up for a big opening this Friday, Disney and Walden Media are releasing the first film of the franchise, 2005’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, on Blu-ray for the first time — which means you’ll be able to see every hair on Aslan’s furry frame in inscrutable detail. Woot!
Use Blu-ray’s picture-in-picture element to watch extras like pop-up trivia. A second disc full of features should provide all that you ever wanted to know about the making of the hugely popular adventure.
Indiana Jones – The Adventure Collection
The best collection of the week has arrived! Compiling all three Indiana Jones adventures — Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, and the misnamed Last Crusade — this three-disc release is all you need to get ready for Indy’s return on May 22. We made a marathon out of all three discs in one weekend, and you’ll want to do the same.
The notoriously press-shy Steven Spielberg and George Lucas make appearances “introducing” each film, sharing memories of casting and filming the series while simultaneously offering glimpses of the forthcoming sequel, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Each disc has its own bonus menu of related materials, including features on the ladies and sidekicks of the series and the famous “melting face” effect.
Fun fact: George Lucas tells us he wasn’t so keen on casting his Han Solo, Harrison Ford, as Indiana Jones. He also reveals he thought Sean Connery wouldn’t work as the elder Dr. Jones. (Good thing Spielberg convinced him otherwise.)
‘Til next week, happy viewing!