New on DVD: It's the 'Ultimate' Edition!
'Toy Story 3' and 'The Goonies' Get Special Treatment
The releases this week signal the coming of the holidays with family fare and special editions perfect for Christmas… if people can wait that long.
"Toy Story 3" (Walt Disney Studios), the supposed last installment in the feature film franchise, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray today. The film offered a lovely, fitting, and a little bittersweet resolution to the saga of Andy and his toys that started back in 1995. The character of Andy has grown up with a generation of kids and in "Toy Story 3" he's heading off to college. KPBS Teen Critic Michael Shymon, who is the exact same age as the character Andy, wrote about this in his review. So Andy is discovering that it is time to "put away childish things." Or in his case maybe passing them on to a new generation. This sequel recycles ideas from the previous films about the toys going off and having an adventure. But there are some fun new toy additions, most notably Timothy Dalton as a thespian hedgehog, Michael Keaton as a fashion conscious Ken doll, and a silent Totoro.
I do want to make a note of how the "Toy Story 3" DVDs and Blu-rays are being packaged. There's nothing new about how the studios are trying to lure people to buy new releases by calling them special editions, collector's editions, director's cuts, or unrated. But as we head into the holiday season with people shopping for gifts, I just want people to be aware of what they are likely to face out in stores. For "Toy Story 3" there is a standard DVD and Blu-ray for the economy shopper who just wants to see the movie. But there is also a "Target Exclusive Blu-ray Ultimate Collector's Edition with DVD and Digital Copy." You got all that? That means you can buy it for someone who doesn't have a Blu-ray player yet or for someone who wants to download a copy onto an electronic device and watch it on a computer or phone. But don't be fooled by the addition of "Ultimate." You may think ultimate means the "last or concluding element in a series" or something of the highest degree or order, but the studios just use it as a come on to collectors. There will be additional editions of "Toy Story 3" for assorted anniversaries or to include "newly" found material or some new trinket.
If you don't want to shop at Target for their exclusive box set you can look for the "Ultimate Toy Box Three Movie Collection Blu-ray" that has all three movies plus DVD copies and digital copies for a mere $100. You also get a toy box to store them in.
So buyer beware. Make sure you know what version, format, edition, etcetera that you want or need to get as a gift. If you are buying for a diehard collector, they are going to want the box set with the most amount of bells and whistles both in terms of content and actual physical extras (like toys, booklets, display cases, and what not).
Once again those who grew up in the eighties have something to look forward to: "The Goonies: 25th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray" (Warner Brothers). The Steven Spielberg produced and Richard Donner directed teen adventure is dear to the hearts of many who grew up in the eighties. I was never a huge fan of the film, which played like a stale version of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I know to some of my friends that's sacrilege. But I admit it's still fun to watch to see a very young Josh Brolin and Sean Astin. This "Ultimate" (yep there's that word again) edition has a new board game, original movie storyboard reproductions, 1985 souvenir magazine reprint, and more.
One of the newer films coming out on DVD and Blu-ray is "Centurion" (Magnet Releasing). Director Neil Marshall got my hopes up with his early films, "Dog Soldiers" and "The Descent." But none of his subsequent work has been as fresh or as good. "Centurion" is his latest. It deals with a Roman warrior, Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender), who's marching north in the chilly winter of 117A.D. to fight the terrifying Picts. He and a few random soldiers end up behind enemy lines and in unfamiliar terrain. Now they have to struggle to survive and get back to the Roman front.
Marshall gives the film a dreary bluish-gray tint to reflect the cold, brutal conditions. But he finds nothing to hook our interest. The action is predictable, and unimaginatively staged, shot, and edited. The actors are a cut above the usual for such action fare. Fassbender leads an ensemble that includes Dominic West, Imogen Poots, and David Morrissey. But the film can't seem to decide if it wants to be a historical actioner and serious drama along the lines of "Gladiator," or something cheesier like "Conan the Barbarian." This is another disappointing entry from Marshall.
Old films new on Blu-ray this week include David Lean's Oscar-winning "The Bridge on the River Kwai;" the sentimental holiday musical "White Christmas;" the sappy classic "The Sound of Music;" the silly but somehow irresistible "Highlander" and Highlander 2" with Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert; and yet one more musical, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."