RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Plus, a cinematic epic, a classic 1980s flick, and an eeries silent movie in HD.

by | September 27, 2011 | Comments

The home video gods have yet again seen fit only to throw us a few crumbs this week, but, as usual, we’ll make the best of it. There are a few notable releases we won’t be writing about, like the new Blu-ray of the pitch black high school comedy Heathers (basically the HD version of the 20th High School Reunion edition that came out a couple years ago), and a 3-movie collection of the more recent Gamera films, but not a whole lot else, unless, again, you’re into TV. But first off, we’ve got the latest installment from Michael Bay and his giant robot franchise, which was, at the very least, a little better than the last one. Then, we’ve got classic Charlton Heston in one of the greatest Hollywood epics of all time, and Kevin Bacon dancing his little tooshie off in a popular ’80s teen flick. We round out the week’s selections with an earlier Guillermo del Toro thriller and an eerie silent film on Criterion. See below for the full list!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

35%

Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise is one of those puzzling cinematic anomalies that occur every so often when critical backlash does little to circumvent a film’s success. The first film, despite poorly fleshed out characters and somewhat inscrutable action sequences, took home hundreds of millions of dollars, and the second film, which many considered far worse a film, made even more money. How, then, would the third one fare? Pretty damn well, as its worldwide box office gross (over $1 billion) would tell you. The plot again centers on Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, friend to the Autobots, and his monstrous robotic pals, who must fend off a new threat that emerges from, well, the dark side of the moon. The reviews were predictably harsh, with critics calling the film loud and bloated with a thin, indifferent script; its minor saving grace was that some of its special effects were indeed impressive. That said, its 36% Tomatometer score did nothing to discourage hordes of fans from seeing Dark of the Moon, so by all means, don’t take our word for it. If the franchise has satisfied you thus far, there’s no reason you won’t like this one.

Ben-Hur – 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray

85%

Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ has been adapted for the big screen several times, but the definitive version is most certainly William Wyler’s 1959 film, one of the greatest cinematic epics ever. Starring Charlton Heston in the title role, Ben-Hur recounts the tale of a wealthy Jewish merchant during the time of Jesus Christ who, due to political strife, is exiled from Jerusalem as a galley slave. When Ben-Hur shows moxie aboard his vessel and saves the life of its commander, he regains his freedom and reenters society, only to face his old nemesis in a thrilling chariot race and ultimately reunite with his lost mother and sister. Ben-Hur won a record 11 Academy Awards, and for good reason; there are few films that can match its epic scope and grand spectacle. This week, Warner Bros. releases a 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray of the film, which comes piled high with extras that include commentary tracks, a feature-length restrospective, the 1925 silent film adaptation, screen tests, and even a reproduction of the diary Charlton Heston kept during production. The film by itself is worth seeing in high definition, but the wealth of bonus material make this a great pickup for any fan of influential cinema.

Footloose – Deluxe Edition Blu-ray

52%

Craig Brewer’s remake of the 1984 film Footloose is due out in theaters in mid-October, and seemingly in anticipation of its upcoming release, Paramount is bringing the original home on Blu-ray in a Deluxe Edition. Despite a lukewarm critical reception, the film performed well at the box office, and more than a few “children of the ’80s” will readily tell you about their affection for the film. Set in a small rural town called Bomont, Footloose stars Kevin Bacon as Ren McCormack, the new kid from Chicago, who attempts to understand the rather harsh rules imposed by the town’s conservative leadership. These rules prohibit such things as loud music and public dancing, two things Ren happens to enjoy. As Ren inches closer to the local reverend’s daughter Ariel (Lori Singer), secrets about the town’s past are revealed, and he takes it upon himself to help Bomont overcome its tragic past for the sake of its children. Critics felt the film was a tad uneven, but a good number of them enjoyed the enthusiastic performances and catchy music, however dated they may be now. The new Blu-ray comes with a commentary track by director Craig Zadan and screenwriter Dean Pitchford, as well as one featuring Kevin Bacon, and several HD extras like Bacon’s screen test and an interview with co-star Sarah Jessica Parker.

Mimic – Director’s Cut Blu-ray

64%

Guillermo del Toro has become one of this generation’s foremost purveyors of cinematic fantasy, whether it be of the gothic fairy tale variety (Pan’s Labyrinth), the comic book variety (the Hellboy films), or, as with 1997’s Mimic, the horror variety. Though it’s not one of the director’s more stellar efforts, Mimic nevertheless exhibits some of the finesse he would later put on full display in other films, helping to set the movie apart from other run-of-the-mill shockers. Mira Sorvino plays Susan Tyler, a New York entomologist who, along with her husband (Jeremy Northam) helps genetically engineer a new insect species to help mitigate the growing cockroach problem in the city. Despite enforcing what they believe to be strict controls, however, the new species evolves rapidly and becomes a real threat to humans, and Susan ventures into the city’s subway system to eradicate them. Though the film plays with some horror flick clichés, a good number of critics were able to appreciate some of Mimic‘s finer qualities, and it sits at a just-shy-of-Fresh 59%. The new Director’s Cut Blu-ray comes with bonus features like a typically informative Guillermo del Toro commentary track, deleted scenes (including an alternate ending), and a few making-of featurettes.

The Phantom Carriage – Criterion Collection

100%

As with many horror films of the silent era, The Phantom Carriage might not seem all that scary to moviegoers raised on the jolts and shocks of slasher cinema — instead, it’s creepier than a graveyard at midnight. Directed by the legendary Victor Sjöström, the movie begins with three drunks sharing stories on New Year’s Eve; one tells of a legend that the last person to die in a given year — if that person has been sinful — must spend the next year driving Death’s carriage and collecting the souls of the deceased. (No points for guessing whether one of them expires that night.) The Phantom Carriage was one of Ingmar Bergman’s favorite films, and its influence is particularly evident on The Seventh Seal, with its haunting images of Death walking the countryside. A new Criterion edition features a fresh digital transfer of the film, plus a 1981 interview with Bergman, audio commentary, two different scores, and footage of the film’s reconstruction.