Monday, May 12, 2014

Warner Home Video's 300: Rise Of An Empire To DVD And Blu-ray On June 24

Frank Miller’s graphic novel (a fancy name for an adult comic book) “Xerxes,” (as of yet not released) was adapted for the screen by Zack Snyder, who, as you might recall, did the same thing for Miller’s “300” back in 2006.   

After several title changes they finally settled upon 300: Rise of an Empire, which was probably a smart move since the brand identity of the hit film 300 was already in place and familiar to the target audience.

The finished product generated domestic ticket sales of $106 million (and twice that in foreign markets) and now Warner Home Video has announced that 300: Rise of an Empire will be making its way to the home entertainment market place as a three-SKU product offering on June 24.

That street date yields an ARR of 109 days.

The SKU configuration consists of a double-disc DVD edition (bonus features are on the companion disc), a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and a 3D/2D Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (two Blu-ray discs).   Both Blu-ray SKUs feature UltraViolet.

While Gerard Butler as King Leonidas was the clear focus of 300 in his heroic stand at the Battle of Thermopylae, this film has several competing stars, including Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), Artemisia (Eva Green — Casino Royale, Dark Shadows, etc.), the commander of Xerxes’ naval forces and Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton — Gangster Squad, Darkness Falls), the leader of the united Greek armies of Athens and Sparta. 

Whether by design or happenstance, Eva Green overshadows all of her male co-stars, which makes for an interesting dynamic, since she is both a traitor to her “Greek” homeland and the enemy (read that as the villain).   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyHistory records that Artemisia advised Xerxes to avoid engaging the smaller Greek fleet and instead use his ships as close-in support for his advancing armies.  That advice was ignored as Themistocles was able to sucker the Persian fleet into the climatic battle at Salamis.

While 300: Rise of an Empire is sort of the “Cliff Notes” version of history, the film is nevertheless well-constructed, bloody as hell and entertaining throughout. 

As to bonus nuggets, these are anchored by the four-part featurette/documentary titled “The 300 Effect,” which includes segments variously titled “3 Days in Hell,” “Brutal Artistry,” “A New Breed of Hero” and “Taking the Battle to the Sea.”   There also four additional featurettes — “Real Leaders & Legends,” “Women Warriors,” “Savage Warships” and “Becoming a Warrior.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyWarner Home Video also turned to its extensive film library for six new-to-DVD vault offerings that have been added to its May 20 release package.

These are: Fever in the Blood (1961, starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Angie Dickinson and Jack Kelly), Girl He Left Behind (1956, teaming Tab Hunter with Natalie Wood), Jump Into Hell (1955, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu the previous year is revisited with a largely unknown cast), Law and the Lady (1951, toplining Greer Garson, with Michael Wilding, Marjorie Main and Fernando Lamas), Onionhead (1958, Andy Griffith’s follow up to the hit comedy, No Time for Sergeants) and Violent Road (1958, Brian Keith, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Dick Foran as truckers hauling explosives). 

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Wolfe Tabs July 29 For The DVD Debut Of Filmmaker Alan Brown's Five Dances

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Wolfe has tabbed July 29 as the DVD debut date for award-winning filmmaker Alan Brown’s latest film, Five Dances.   

The ARR is 298 days … the film had a one-stop theatrical showcase last year after piling up a ton of awards on the film festival circuit, including Best Picture laurels at the Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival and Rio Gay Film Festival.

After Book of Love, Superheroes and Private Romeo it was pretty much established that Brown was a filmmaker to be reckoned with.   In other words, he could write whatever he wanted, direct it and, perhaps, more importantly get it produced.

There are characters in this film.  There are plot elements as well, but Five Dances is about choreography, dance, love and commitment.  The film is a powerful tribute to the beauty, labor, pain and emotional investment involved in the love of dance as performance art. 

Chip, played by newcomer Ryan Steele, is literally fresh off the farm and is only in New York City as a result of a Joffrey Ballet scholarship.   He has the dream, but neither the backing (broke is broke) nor the emotional maturity to really push beyond the neophyte level of artistic expression.  He’s got the ticket, but needs, metaphorically speaking, to get it punched.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey 
His assigned dance partner, Theo (Aussie pro dancer Reed Luplau), painfully manages to break through both the immaturity and the walls of “fear” (trust) that inhibit Chip from being both the dancer … and the person that he can truly become.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Film Chest Sets A Restoration Of Director Anthony Mann's The Black Book For DVD On June 24

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Director Anthony Mann’s 1949 film, The Black Book (aka: Reign of Terror), is the latest film to get a full restoration from Film Chest. 

Street date selected for the DVD release is June 24.

This is the second film to be worked on by Film Chest this year that features Oscar-winner John Alton’s (An American in Paris) camera work … Hollow Triumph was restored and released on DVD this past Mar. 11.

Noted for such film noir thrillers as T-Men, Raw Deal, He Walked by Night and Border Incident — all, by the way, collaborations with Anthony Mann — points very much to The Black Book as being filmed in the style of film noir.   Although the film itself is a fairly detailed (obviously events had to be condensed for a film that runs 89 minutes) account of Maximilian Robespierre’s (played here by Richard Basehart) use of the Committee of Public Safety and his deliberate “reign of terror” in 1794 during the French Revolution.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The names of the players are generally accurate and Robespierre’s own demise (although still debated to this day as to whether it was a failed suicide attempt or an assassination gone awry) by being shot in the face, left bloody — but alive — only to meet the same fate on the guillotine that he had dealt out to thousands of his enemies the following morning.
Mann, working with a script provided by noted film noir writer and Oscar-winner Philip Yordan (Broken Lance in 1954, plus nominations for Dillinger and Detective Story), in collaboration with Aeneas MacKenzie (noted for his history-related action films), overlays a tale of mystery and suspense in the context of these actual historical events. 

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAt the core of it is Charles D’Aubigny (played by Robert Cummings), an undercover agent sent by Lafayette to infiltrate Robespierre’s inner circle by posing as Duval, one of the Committee of Public Safety’s henchmen from the provinces.   Summoned to Paris, D’Aubigny/Duval soon learns that Robespierre is in search of a “black book” listing the enemies of Revolution … it has gone missing.  Duval is put in charge of the search, with unlimited powers, but he soon suspects that the document is either a fiction created by Robespierre to ferret-out those who are beginning to question his deity-complex and unquenchable thirst for blood or not missing at all.

The trick is to stay alive, solve the mystery of the black book and avoid being unmasked in the process.  Throw in a love interest (played by Arlene Dahl), who is caught and tortured (but rescued in the film’s denouncement), and you have all the elements of a first-class thriller.

Indeed, you could take the entire French Revolution out of the equation and substitute the Nazis, torture and the dreaded SS and they too would be right at home here.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

The Grand Budapest Hotel Heads To DVD And Blu-ray From 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment On June 17

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment’s sleeper comedy hit from filmmaker Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel, will making its way to DVD and Blu-ray (with UltraViolet) on June 17.

The ARR is 102 days and ticket sales thus far stand at a robust $51.5 million (mainly generated by strong word-of-mouth).

Bonus features for this all-star comedy (Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe and more … plus newcomer Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa) include the four-part “The Making of the Grand Budapest Hotel,” plus featurettes titled “Bill Murray Tours The Town” and “The Society of the Crossed Keys.”

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

HBO Home Entertainment's Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Fourth Season On DVD And Blu-ray Aug. 19

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
HBO Home Entertainment announced this past week that the life and death adventures of Atlantic City crime kingpin, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), will be ready for fans to enjoy on Aug. 19 as either DVD or Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (with UltraViolet) editions of Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Fourth Season.

Bonus features include six episode commentaries, the interactive Blu-ray feature titled “Boardwalk Chronicle” and six production featurettes, including two that are exclusive to the Blu-ray SKU — “Scouting the Boardwalk” and “PaleyFest.”  There is also a review of the previous season titled “Season 3: Revisited.”

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Midnight Releasing's City Of Lust Debuts On DVD This Coming July 1

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Midnight Releasing has tabbed July 1 as the DVD debut date for the Brain Damage Films release of writer/director David A. Holcombe’s City of Lust, which is an homage to the Giallo horror sub-genre made famous by such Italian auteurs as Dario Argento and Mario Bava during the 1960s and 70s.

Originally title Yellow, which is the literal translation for Giallo … the change in title probably makes it more commercial.  After all, what does “Yellow” mean to the majority of today’s casual genre fans!

In any case, Holcombe manages to deliver both a horror film within the tradition of the  Giallo culture and a nifty mystery … a killer yes, but who?

The obvious choice is Arianna (Margaret Grace), who has arrived in Chicago to work at a beauty salon.   There is something very odd about her (the cause of which is only revealed in the third act … very clever), which quickly gets under the skin of her boss and fellow employees.   

Indeed, things go missing at the salon and Arianna is the focus of accusations … but we suspect early on that she is simply being set up by one (or more) of her co-workers.
Her only “buddy” is Renee, who is in reality a T-girl, who likes to cruise the underground clubs with Arianna in tow.   To escape this, which is not really her thing, and also from the day-to-day grind of work she turns to a sex-chat phone service (yes, she is one odd little duck), where she eventually hooks up with one of the “call girls” named Jackie (Jill Oliver) … and that’s when people in her life start ending up dead.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyA serial killer is definitely at work, but filmmaker David A. Holcombe keeps us guessing and manages to add a number of viable creeps (red herrings) to the mix keep us off track right up until the reveal.

Bonus goodies here include deleted and extended scenes, a blooper reel, a behind-the-scenes featurette, rehearsal footage and videos used to promote the funding of the final production.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Operation Petticoat Leads Olive Films' July Blu-ray and DVD Hit Parade

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Olive Films has announced a ten-strong selection of film releases for both the Blu-ray and DVD formats that are scheduled for delivery during the month of July.

Kicking off the hit parade is the July 1 Blu-ray debut (also available on DVD) of director Blake Edwards’ 1959 comedy, Operation Petticoat, starring Tony Curtis and Cary Grant.  Streeting on the same date (July 1) as both DVD and Blu-ray product offerings are Good Sam (1948, teaming Gary Cooper with Ann Sheridan) and So This is New York (1948, Henry Morgan, Rudy Vallee and Virginia Grey).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyShifting to July 8 we find three new Blu-ray and DVD releases … director Max Ophüls’ 1949 film noir thriller, Caught, starring James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Ryan; Robert Cummings, Susan Hayward and Agnes Moorehead star in director Martin Gabel’s 1947 film adaptation of the Henry James novel, The Lost Moment; and, it is all laughs as William Powell meets a mermaid (Ann Blyth) in the 1948 film release of Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyJuly 15 marks the release of two important film restorations from Olive Films showcasing the talents of Oscar-winner for Best Director, Lewis Milestone (1930, All Quiet on the Western Front).   Available as either Blu-ray or DVD editions are his 1948 film release of Arch of Triumph starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Charles Laughton, plus two versions of his 1943 war saga, The North Star, teaming Dana Andrews (he would also star in Milestone’s World War II film masterpiece, A Walk in the Sun), Anne Baxter, Walter Huston and Erich von Stroheim … it is presented uncut as the original 1943 theatrical and as the 1957 re-cut and retitled Armored Attack! (excising all of the pro-Soviet footage, they were no longer our allies as a result of the Cold War).

Lastly, July 22 marks the release of both DVD and Blu-ray editions of director Irving Rapper’s 1954 film comedy, Forever Female, starring William Holden, Paul Douglas and Ginger Rogers and director André De Toth’s 1947 tearjerker, The Other Love, toplining Barbara Stanwyck as a dying concert pianist confined to the care of David Niven at a remote sanitorium in Switzerland (Richard Conte co-stars).

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report