RT on DVD: Speed Racer Zooms to Blu-ray!

Plus Blu-ray news, Diane Lane's punk past, and a controversial free DVD.

by | September 15, 2008 | Comments

Get the pop rocks and Coke ready — Speed Racer is out this week! We’ll tell you what new releases to skip over, when Death Proof and Planet Terror are headed to Blu-ray, and what new retro flicks you should catch on DVD this week. (Diane Lane as a punk rocker? A must-see.) Plus, read about the free DVD some critics are calling propaganda…

1. Speed Racer – 36%

If you’re a regular reader here at RT, you may have noticed my fondness for the live-action adaptation Speed Racer — a textbook “love it or hate it” movie from the Wachowski brothers that split critics and audiences alike this summer. Well, the time has come, friends. That’s right…Speed Racer is on Blu-ray!

Warner Bros. is releasing the fizzy-pop CG extravaganza on DVD and Blu-ray this week, and we couldn’t be more excited. (It would be an understatement to recommend you watch it in high definition.) The best part about snagging Speed Racer on DVD or Blu-ray: repeat viewings, so that your eyeballs and your senses can soak in every bit of digital wonder without being completely overwhelmed.

Emile Hirsch stars as Speed, the hotshot titular racer who takes on the corrupt world of professional racing with his family (John Goodman, Susan Sarandon), his girlfriend (Christina Ricci), and his car (the Mach 5) by his side. Only a pair of extra features appear on the release: a set tour by young cast member Paulie Litt (sans monkey) and a faux documentary about the stars and technology within Speed Racer‘s fictional racing circuit. But we’ve got a sneak peek behind the scenes featuring producer Joel Silver and a look at Speed Racer’s journey from computer-to-screen. Watch it below!

For internet-fast access, download Speed Racer directly from iTunes and Amazon Unbox, or watch it On Demand beginning September 30.

Next: What Not To Watch This Week…

2. What Not To Watch This Week

We’re going to go ahead and get this week’s DVD duds out of the way, in one fell swoop. That’s what they get for falling so low on the Tomatometer!

The Love Guru — 14%

Mike Myers has been in a career funk lately, and his turn as a caftan-wearing self-help guru didn’t help him escape his unfunny malaise. With featurettes on a mechanical elephant, the cast’s hockey training, outtakes, bloopers and five minutes of Jim Gaffigan and Steven Colbert extending their commentator schtick, this bonus menu might actually give you more laughs than the movie itself. Opt for the single-disc DVD, if you must; all it lacks is a digital copy of the film (available on a 2-disc Special Edition and Blu-ray) and we’re guessing one viewing will be more than enough.

Made of Honor — 12%

If fourteen percent on the Tomatometer is too fresh for you, check out Made of Honor, which scored 12 percent when it debuted last May. Four words: McDreamy in a kilt.

88 Minutes — 6%

Before helping Al Pacino and Robert De Niro along the path to ruin in last weekend’s theatrical release, Righteous Kill, director Jon Avnet gave Pacino the worst-reviewed movie of his career last April. 88 Minutes is that movie. Pacino himself shares the secrets of his craft on one of the disc’s featurettes; listen carefully and hear the soft splash of shark-jumping in progress.

Next: A Blu-ray Bonanza! Mark Your Calendars for…

3. A Blu-ray Bonanza! Mark Your Calendars for…

Geez, it seems like everything’s making its way to Blu-ray these days. (Except for, sadly, Ghostbusters. Sorry, Venkmanites.) Here’s a sampling of the recently announced titles coming to Blu that we’re most looking forward to this winter:

On November 18, watch the train wreck that is Southland Tales unfold in high definition. Richard Kelly’s sophomore effort still has the dubious honor of making less sense than his cult debut, Donnie Darko, although we loved Justin Timberlake’s impromptu mid-film music video. In addition to the two features released with its initial DVD (a making-of and an animated short), Southland Tales on Blu-ray will feature one nifty new extra: a commentary with Kelly.

On December 2, pick up the Blu-ray release of many people’s favorite movie of all time: The Shawshank Redemption. The release comes with a collectible booklet but most, if not all, extra features have previously been released.

And just in time for Christmas, get a double dose of grindhouse fun when Planet Terror and Death Proof hit Blu-ray (December 16). Unfortunately, just like last week’s twin releases of Kill Bill Vol. 1. And 2, they’ll be released separately. (Give us The Whole Bloody Affair already, Quentin!!)

Next: New on DVD: Pushing Daisies

4. New on DVD: Pushing Daisies – The Complete First Season

ABC’s quirky, morbid fairy tale is up for a whopping twelve Emmys and its second season begins in less than two weeks. So it’s time to pick up the first season of Pushing Daisies on DVD and get ready for October 1!

Pushing Daisies earned a devoted following with its abbreviated first season, cut from 22 episodes to just nine by the Writers’ Strike, but fans should love this set. Lee Pace stars as Ned, a pie-maker who inhabits a vivid, hyper-realistic alternate reality in which he discovers the power to bring dead things to life. (But only once. After that, things get messy.) Like a Tim Burton flick set in Stars Hollow, Pushing Daisies is a rare, eccentric and sweet show that you just don’t seem to see anymore on network television…

Forty-odd minutes of extras accompany the three-disc set, including select episode commentaries with Pace and writer-creator Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls). Pick up Pushing Daisies — The Complete First Season for MSRP $29.98/Blu-ray $39.98.

Next: The Dude abides, 10 years later…

5. New on DVD: Kabluey

If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary this week, check out Kabluey on DVD. Scott Prendergast, who first came to attention with a short called The Delicious, wrote, starred in, and directed this tale of an outsider named Salman (Prendergast) who moves in with his sister-in-law (Lisa Kudrow) and his two terrifying nephews while his brother is stationed in Iraq. When the inept Salman gets a job shilling for a corporation in a giant blue suit, it becomes both the bane of his existence and the glue that will hold his family together.

There are tons of sweet and sad laughs in Kabluey, especially when Prendergast is inside the suit. Look for even more in twenty additional minutes of deleted scenes. Christine Taylor, Chris Parnell, Teri Garr, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan co-star. Kabluey has been called “inventive,” “invigorating,” “twisted and surreal,” and “oddly endearing;” not bad for a feature film debut!

Next: Star Trek Alternate Realities Collective

6. New on DVD: Star Trek Alternate Realities Collective
Divx HD

Paramount’s Collective series are a nice way to revisit the central themes and characters of the entire Star Trek universe without buying every single season on DVD; this week they’re releasing the coolest one so far: “A collection featuring bizarre and strange episodes…see your favorite characters behaving contrary to type, in familiar but odd circumstances.”

The five-disc set combines episodes from Star Trek: The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise, all of which feature alternate reality/parallel universe storylines. That means you’ll get the bearded Spock of “Mirror, Mirror,” the evil Kira from “Crossover,” and more of the most beloved and mind-bending episodes in franchise history. Each episode is accompanied by its own special feature. The set is available for MSRP $42.99.

Next: Criterion Presents a Max Ophuls Trifecta

7. New on DVD: Criterion Presents a Max Ophuls Trifecta

A trio of Criterion releases elevates this week’s DVD slate for the discerning viewer. Three films by Max Ophuls have received the classy Criterion treatment (read: tons of extras, amazing remasterings): La Ronde, Le Plaisir, and The Earrings of Madame de… and not a one falls below 100 percent on the Tomatometer. Ophuls’ late-career trio of films told scandalous tales of sex and romance and also earned two Oscar nominations (Le Plaisir for Art Direction, La Ronde for Best Screenplay).

Get all three at the Criterion store at the discounted price of $31.96, or head to Amazon to nab them for just $27.99.

Next: Rock Out with Punk Grrrl…Diane Lane??

8. New on DVD: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

Two years before starring in The Outsiders, and many years before becoming Mrs. Josh Brolin, Diane Lane rocked her little heart out in this pre-riot grrrl power flick as a young girl named Corinne “Third Degree” Burns who starts an all-girl punk band. Unfortunately, the film played so poorly upon its initial release that it never got past the art-house circuit, but thrived in late-night viewings on cable TV. It wasn’t even available on VHS, let alone DVD. Until now!

Rhino Records is releasing Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains this week, which means any self-respecting cult cinema aficionado should put it at the top of their must-watch list. Besides starring the then-16-year-old Lane, it was directed by record mogul and Up in Smoke director Lou Adler and written by Oscar-winning writer Nancy Dowd (who reportedly had her name removed from the credits); co-starred Laura Dern and Christine Lahti; featured Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols and Paul Simonon of The Clash; and also starred a young Ray Winstone as Billy, the leather-clad lead singer of a punk band called The Looters.

All new commentary tracks by Lou Adler, Diane Lane, and Laura Dern and an extensive production gallery make this release really crackle; also look for a newly released soundtrack, courtesy of Rhino.

Next: It’s John Hughes, Home Skillet

9. New on DVD: High School Flashback Collection (The Breakfast Club/Sixteen Candles/Weird Science)

They’re three of the most iconic ’80s teen comedies; now The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Weird Science can be yours in one new set, boxed cleverly in an aluminum “locker.” But wait, you say! Why would I buy these admittedly classic movies now, when they’ve been released a zillion times before on DVD?

Two words: Diablo Cody. The Juno scribe is riding her Oscar win as far as the zeitgeist will carry her, and that includes popping up on all of the latest hipster commentary tracks — first Spaced, and now the High School Flashback Collection. Cody and Clueless director Amy Heckerling contribute new commentaries to each of these totally awesome movies, which have been repackaged as time capsules of major cultural importance, kind of like an episode of “I Love the ’80s.”

Also look for new extras featuring assorted trivia and most of the cast of The Breakfast Club and Weird Science (with the glaring absence of Molly Ringwald and John Hughes himself).

Next: A Propaganda DVD in the Mail?

10. Obsession: Radical Islam DVD Mailed to Millions

In the week’s most bizarre piece of news, a DVD is headed to millions of homes in America that has stirred the ire of journalists and activists: Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, a one-hour documentary arguing against the “threat of radical Islam” in America. Critics of the move call it “right wing propaganda” and claim that its backers, a group called the Clarion Fund, are working in support of John McCain’s Republican bid for Presidency this fall.

Indeed, the distribution pattern of the reported 28 million DVDs seems to emphasize the swing states, and have been delivered in select newspapers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, and North Carolina. Newspaper publishers such as the Raleigh News & Observer have come under fire for accepting such a controversial paid advertisement, a decision not helped by one paper’s ad exec comparison of the DVD insert to product samples for cereal or toothpaste.

Read more here.

To revisit past RT on DVD columns, peruse our archives here!

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