I Want My DVD: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

by Ethan Alter October 9, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Maybe this crystal ball can answer all the questions I have about Prometheus."

With Prometheus, Ridley Scott returns to both the science fiction genre and the film series that put him on the map, the long-dormant Alien franchise. This new movie doesn't continue the adventures of Ellen Ripley (or her clone at any rate), though. Instead, Scott goes the prequel route, using this movie to set up how that pesky Xenomorph came to bedevil the crew of the deep space trawler, the Nostromo. Actually, the penis-headed aliens we know and love play a minor part in Prometheus, which primarily focuses on the crew of the titular spacecraft -- including Noomi Rapace's scientist, Charlize Theron's corporate liaison and Michael Fassbender's android -- as they venture to a distant planet where they expect to encounter an alien race that may hold the key to unlocking the mysteries of human existence. Working with Lost scribe Damon Lindelof, Scott crafts a marvelous first hour, filled with tantalizing mysteries and epic spectacle. But Prometheus comes crashing down in its back half, when the film plunges into several big logic gaps and arrives at a conclusion that's decidedly unsatisfying. In that way, it's exactly like Lost... in space. Here's hoping Scott's inevitable director's cut is the movie the theatrical version should have been.
Extras: Two commentary tracks, one with Scott and the other with Lindelof and his co-writer Jon Spaihts, deleted scenes and an alternate beginning and ending, screen tests, pre-visualization sequences and several making-of featurettes.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see our picks for Ridley Scott's best and worst movies

Rock of Ages
File this big-screen version of the hit Broadway musical under the category "Missed Opportunity." Nothing but a good time onstage, this jukebox collection of '70s and '80s heavy metal and power rock ballads (the set list includes such tunes as "Sister Christian," "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Paradise City") is blandly rendered onscreen by director Adam Shankman, who did a great job with the Hairspray musical movie a few years back. Chalk the movie's failure up to bad casting (Tom Cruise's locked and loaded turn as Stacee Jaxx notwithstanding) and a surprisingly tone-deaf approach to the musical numbers, which are marred by poor choreography and lackluster vocal performances. Worse still, the play's rough edges have been sanded off for this film, resulting in a more timid experience that lacks the hardcore spirit of rock 'n' roll. There's still a fun movie to be made here; maybe someone else can take another shot at it in a decade or so.
Extras: An extended edition of the film and a cavalcade of featurettes covering the movie's production, the era's music and the original Broadway show.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to see which other jukebox musicals we'd like to see on the big screen
Click here to see our picks for Tom Cruise's most memorable musical moments

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Little Shop of Horrors: The Director's Cut
The Great Mouse Detective
Here's a trio of nostalgic '80s favorites that are finally getting an overdue high-def release. On the list of great kids movies, Steven Spielberg's 1982 classic E.T. has to make the Top 5; 30 years on, it's still an emotional powerhouse, a simple story of friendship told with great sensitivity and feeling. (Though, it must be said, Dee Wallace's parenting skills could use a lot of work.) Thankfully, this is the original theatrical cut that has been remastered in beautiful Blu-ray, not the 20th anniversary version with a CGI-tweaked E.T. (blasphemy!) and unnecessary alterations, like the replacement of the cops' guns with walkie-talkies in the iconic bike-flying sequence. This is one of those cases where Spielberg's mile-wide sentimental streak feels earned, instead of forced. Live action musicals were largely out of vogue during the '80s, but Frank Oz thankfully didn't get the memo. Tasked with turning the cult movie-turned-cult stage musical Little Shop of Horrors into a feature film, the Muppets expert delivered a rollicking, toe-tapping good time filled with great song-and-dance numbers ("Skid Row," "Dentist!" and the Oscar-nominated "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space"), memorable performances (where is Rick Moranis these days anyway?) and a terrific villain in the form of man-eating plant Audrey II. At the time, Oz famously had to devise a new ending when test audiences rejected the play's finale where Audrey II triumphed. This new Blu-ray disc restores the original ending (which up until now has only been visible in black-and-white, unfinished form on YouTube) in an all-new Director's Cut. But fear not! For those who prefer the more vanilla ending, that version is included too. No matter which cut you watch, Little Shop of Horrors is a family-friendly delight. Finally, before The Little Mermaid ushered in the great Disney renaissance, the Mouse House spent much of the '80s producing animated adventures that were widely regarded as being second-tier at best -- think The Black Cauldron and Oliver & Company. This mouse-ified version of Sherlock Holmes merits at least B+ or A- status though; based on a series of kids' books by Eve Titus, the film is distinguished by an appealing hero, Basil of Baker Street (voiced by Barrie Ingham); a strong villain, Professor Ratigan (Vincent Price); and a terrific climax staged inside Big Ben. (A sequence that, it must be said, bears a strong resemblance to a clock-themed set-piece in Hayao Miyazaki's 1979 film The Castle of Cagliostro.) Of all of Disney's '80s efforts, The Great Mouse Detective is the film most deserving of re-discovery.
Extras: E.T. comes with an all-new interview with Spielberg as well as never-before-seen production footage, along with previously released bonus features like deleted scenes, retrospective featurettes, a cast reunion and footage from the 20th anniversary premiere. Little Shop makes room for a pair of commentary tracks (on both the theatrical version and the director's cut) with Oz, a featurette about the making of the new edition, outtakes, deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes documentary. Detective includes a making-of featurette, a sing-a-long function and an introductory guide to sleuthing for aspiring private eyes.

Magical Mystery Tour
My Demon Lover
Cult movies alert! For their third onscreen outing, which aired on British television in 1967, the Beatles boarded a big yellow bus for a bizarre jaunt around England, scored to tunes off the titular album, including "The Fool on the Hill," "I Am the Walrus" and "Blue Jay Way." Magical Mystery Tour has some of the same anything-can-go silliness as the group's previous movies, A Hard Day's Night and Help!, but it's ultimately too aggressively strange in that late '60s way. Without director Richard Lester keeping them on track, the Beatles get lost in the psychedelic wilderness. That said, the hour-long film does feature some enjoyably odd musical performances (like the rendition of "Walrus" with the Fab Four in animal outfits) and another chance for good ol' Ringo to be the star. If you randomly flipped on HBO or another movie channel in the late '80s, chances are you would have stumbled upon an odd movie that starred Family Ties's Scott Valentine as a homeless street musician who transforms into a horned demon when he becomes... well, horny. Despite his affliction, this beast manages to meet and fall for a beauty (the squeaky Michele Little), who he has to save from another, less heroic monster. Goofy as all get-out, My Demon Lover is no lost classic, but it is one of those '80s movies that's nice to have on DVD finally so you can prove to people that it actually exists and you didn't just hallucinate it following a late-night taco binge.
Extras: An audio commentary with Paul McCartney, a making-of featurette, a "Top of the Pops" performance of "Hello Goodbye" and deleted musical numbers. My Demon Lover is, sadly, bonus features free. What, was Valentine too busy to record a commentary track?

Also on DVD:
John Cusack sleepwalks his way through the Se7en-rip off The Raven as celebrated author Edgar Allen Poe, who is trying to rescue his fiancée from his number one fan... who also happens to be a murderous psychopath. (For our full review of this mess, click here.) Before going their separate ways, the beloved band LCD Soundsystem played one last big gig at Madison Square Garden. That farewell concert is memorialized for posterity in Shut Up and Play the Hits, which will serve as the band's tombstone... at least until their reunion tour. The direct-to-DVD creature feature Werewolf: The Beast Among Us finds Eureka's Ed Quinn leading a band of werewolf hunters who are protecting a small village from the toothy beasts Seven Samurai-style. From werewolves to the Wolverines, the '80s Cold War staple Red Dawn gets a Blu-ray release in anticipation of the theatrical release of the much-delayed remake. Also debuting on high-def are new versions of the Hitchcock classics Dial M for Murder and Strangers on a Train, one of my personal favorites in his canon. In more cultish releases, Warner Archive has released the 1967 Boris Karloff film The Sorcerers through the manufactured on demand arm. Finally, the camp classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane turns 50 this year and nabs a special Blu-ray edition with an all-new commentary track and featurettes.

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