As the entire combined forces of North American geek culture descend on San Diego’s Comic-Con this week, fear not; geekiness galore is to be found in this week’s new releases! First up, pick up the eagerly anticipated extended version of a superhero fan favorite (Watchmen: Director’s Cut), and watch as Henry Selick brings a Neil Gaiman fairytale to life — in three dimensions (Coraline)! Sci-fi nerds should like the recut, feature-length pilot of a long-running series (Stargate SG-1: Children of the Gods), while French New Wave enthusiasts have a Jean-Luc Godard double feature, courtesy of Criterion (Made in USA, Two or Three Things I Know About Her). Finally, hearken back to the ’80s with a hearty, “Yo, Joe!” (GI Joe: Season 1.1).
Updated: So, you think you can dance? Watch an exclusive clip from the DVD release of So You Think You Can Dance Get Fit in this week’s column!
With Comic-Con just around the corner (follow our daily updates from San Diego starting Thursday!) you’ll get a few chances to geek out with this week’s new DVD releases. The biggest of them all? Zack Snyder‘s superhero opus, Watchmen, which arrives in its full three-hour-plus glory. (186 minutes, to be exact.)
Watchmen the Director’s Cut features 25 extra minutes of footage, primarily consisting of extended dialogue that was missing from the theatrical cut, and the extension of Hollis Mason’s (AKA the original Nite Owl) storyline. Additionally, the 2-disc DVD contains a handful of new bonus features, including the 11 online making-of journals used in promotion before Watchmen‘s debut, a “Phenomenon” featurette, a digital copy of the theatrical cut, and a My Chemical Romance music video. Blu-ray fans get all that and more, including the ability to watch Watchmen in “Maximum Movie Mode,” which inserts fun tidbits, Snyder commentary, page-to-screen comparisons, interviews, and more. A third Blu-ray disc contains additional featurettes, including a fascinating look at the “real” physics of the Watchmen world (“Why is Dr. Manhattan blue?”).
Finally, Warner Bros. knows that it will suck to double dip when the massive 5-disc Ultimate Edition hits shelves in December (which will feature the mini story Tales of the Black Freighter into the film, pretty much all previously released supplements such as the Under the Hood “documentary” and motion comic, and commentary by Dave Gibbons and Zack Snyder). Pop open your copy of Watchmen: the Director’s Cut and find a $10 off coupon for the Ultimate Edition. You know you’ll want it.
Next: Henry Selick does Neil Gaiman’s Coraline
If you missed Coraline in theaters, then you missed out on the best possible way to watch this intricately detailed, dark fairytale based on the book by Neil Gaiman. However, you’re in luck; pick it up on DVD and Blu-ray this week, and watch Coraline in 3D in your own home! While home theater 3D is usually more a novelty than an optimal watching experience, Coraline offers a dazzling visual smorgasbord, a rare case in which it’s obvious that the filmmakers planned for a three-dimensional viewing experience. Young Coraline (Dakota Fanning) voices the precocious titular girl who discovers an alternate world in the walls of her family’s new house; will she choose to stay with her “Other” Mother and Father, whose button eyes are just the first indication that things are a bit off, or will she decide that her real home is exactly where she wants to be?
Next: John Malkovich is The Great Buck Howard
John Malkovich puts his natural eccentricity to good use in The Great Buck Howard as a washed up “mentalist,” wrapped in a fog of his own delusions of grandeur, who hires a young law school dropout (Colin Hanks) as his road manager. Buddy-road comedy hijinks ensue in this winning, if sleight, comedy boosted by solid performances, including that of the winsome Emily Blunt as a publicist and love interest. Deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and a commentary track by director Sean McGinley and star Hanks also appear on the release.
Next: Zach Galafianakis is a “tunt” in the black comedy Visioneers
Fans of subdued comedian Zach Galafianakis (whose star has risen recently thanks to his summer comedy hit, The Hangover) will be delighted to find this black comedy hitting shelves after making the festival rounds. The bearded one stars as George Washington Winsterhammerman, a middle-management “tunt” in a dystopian alternate reality where the Jeffers Corporation owns everything and people are medicated via drugs and mind-numbing media to remain complacent. Those who dare to have hopes and dreams might find themselves spontaneously combusting, and George — who’s also become more and more restless at home with his wife (Judy Greer) — fears he might be next. Visioneers doesn’t tread completely new ground, but this take from director brothers Jared and Brandon Drake is a welcome addition to a subgenre of corporate resistance comedies. Learn how to host your own Visioneers screening at the film’s official site.
Next: A modern dance romance in Carmen and Geoffrey
Modern dance legends Carmen De Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder met in 1954 on the production of Truman Capote’s Broadway musical House of Flowers; one month later they were married, and nearly fifty years later, their careers (and marriage) were documented in this critically acclaimed film. Directors Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob recount the couple’s individual accomplishments in a portrait of their lives together, during which both played parts in the shaping of modern dance and theatrical arts: she as a prima ballerina, Alvin Ailey collaborator, and actress (Carmen Jones), he as a painter, writer, actor (Annie, Live and Let Die), and Tony-winning director (The Wiz).
Next: Stargate goes back to the beginning
Fans of the long-running science fiction series Stargate have a new (and old) treat this week: the feature-length pilot episode that launched the show, based on the 1994 film, has been remastered and recut into a feature-length DVD release. Not only has co-creator Brad Wright re-edited the piece using original filmed footage, he’s also had it newly scored and sharpened up visual effects. A commentary track by Wright and star Richard Dean Anderson is included.
Next: Criterion’s Godard double bill
French new wave enthusiasts have two new Criterion releases to add to their Godard shelf: Made in USA (1966) and Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967). The former, a 1960s pop treatment of the noir The Big Sleep, stars Anna Karina as a detective (a la Bogart) investigating her lover’s death. The latter offers a layered text about a Parisian housewife taken to prostitution — but also examines the Vietnam war, cultural consumerism, and the nature of language and art in one of his most celebrated and socially radical films. Both films come in a newly restored transfer and include archival materials, cast interviews, and critical essays.
Next: So, you think you can dance?
No, we don’t think we can dance. But in giving this pair of fitness videos from our favorite reality show a whirl, we got just a little bit closer to six of So You Think You Can Dance’s most popular former contestants, and learned how to salsa in the process. In two new releases — Tone and Groove and Cardio Funk — dancers Twitch, Katee, Lauren, Travis, Courtney, and Dmitry (who recently earned an Emmy nomination for choreography) teach the home dancer a few basic routines; yes, you may want to make sure you’re home alone while doing this, unless you’re more than marginally coordinated. If you love the show, you’ll have fun with these DVDs — and get up close and personal with the dancers in the process.
Watch an exclusive DVD clip for a sample of the So You Think You Can Dance workout below!
Next: Pushing Daisies, the final season
If you were among those who shed a tear when ABC’s wonderfully whimsical series Pushing Daisies bit the big one, then celebrate this week by picking up the Complete Second Season, which capped the series. The quirky show about an unassuming pie maker who could bring the dead to life with a single touch was undeniably one of the most gorgeous shows on TV, and starred a colorful cast including Lee Pace (star of the visually-stunning The Fall), Anna Friel, and Kristin Chenowith. Get all 13 final episodes, plus behind-the-scenes looks, interviews, and plenty of making-of insights.
Next: Yo, Joe! Back to the ’80s with an animated classic
If you need proof that nostalgia is not always the most reliable arbiter of good taste, look no further than this reissue of the classic animated series, GI Joe: A Real American Hero. Released to coincide with the upcoming live-action adaptation starring Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller, the animated GI Joe series hits DVD in a four-disc collection of episodes from its inaugural season. (Look for the $145, 17-disc Complete Collector’s Set later this month.) Revisiting the 1980s action children’s show, one thing is painfully clear: this military-fetishizing series about a band of US Army do-gooders who continually do battle with the evil villains of Cobra Command does not hold up. Stories are painfully repetitive, violence is glorified, and the phrase “Yo, Joe!” doesn’t make any sense. Even the animation is inconsistent from episode to episode! Nevertheless, children of the ’80s might find some entertainment value in owning this set, which includes interviews with show creators and voice talent and a nifty collection of those GI Joe PSAs. Because knowing is half the battle.
Until next week, happy renting!