The new DVD and Blu-Ray releases for this week (August 28) are quite a cross section of entertainment for the home. We have a classic of the cinema, a box set TV series, a fun family adventure and a special effects extravaganza that started this year’s summer movie season. Here’s a closer look:
Here’s one of those Sunday evening ABC TV series that seemed to come out of nowhere, held little promise, and took everyone by surprise. Once Upon A Time is an epic look at fairy tale characters that live together in small town America and have forgotten who they really are. The show has 22 episodes, all here in this box-set. Each adventure peels away a layer to get to the truth of what the Evil Queen has done to everyone and it’s great fun. In many respects, I was hoping the whole story could be wrapped up in these 22 episodes, and to a degree the show does answer all, but there’s still an annoying, obligatory cliff-hanger at the end introducing new conflicts for a second season. Everything I wanted out of the story was covered in this first series, but we’ll see. In the meantime, for those who have never seen Once Upon A Time, rent this box set. Hopefully you’ll be as surprised as I was.
The Birds is now spruced up for a special DVD release and it looks great. First released in 1963, Alfred Hitchcock’s mystery/horror thriller never fully explains why all the birds in Bodega Bay,California start attacking the residents but you’ll have your theories by the end of the film. Talking about it and trying to work out why they would behave in such a ferocious way is all part of the fun. Interesting fact: It was the Walt Disney studios that created many of the special effects. If you’ve already seen the film then you should enjoy watching a new, clean copy. If this is your first time watching this Hitchcock classic then you may look at your parakeet with a different view.
The full title is The Pirates! Band of Misfits (known overseas as The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists). The film comes from the same minds that brought us the ever popular Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, and it’s a visual feast of clay animation smoothed over with a touch of CGI. Pirates was released in 3D at the theaters, but for my taste it actually looks better in 2D on a razor sharp widescreen TV. The film is not as funny as Chicken Run, but it delights all the same. Hugh Grant supplies the voice of the pirate captain and he’s good. Rent or buy it for the family but make sure you watch it with them.
The film version of the famous board game has less to do with the Battleship you may have played in your living room and a lot more to do with Transformers at sea. Directed by actor turned movie-maker Peter Berg, Battleship had the reputation of being one of the loudest films ever made, but at least with your home viewing you have control of the volume. The story revolves around an alien invasion with the battles occurring at sea. It’s fast, loud, and doesn’t always make sense, plus the dialog is as flat as a pancake, but the film has an adrenaline rush which is actually more fun than Transformers. Europeans appear to have taken to Battleship a little more than here in America, but the DVD and Blu-Ray home release may change that.