New to DVD and Blu-ray: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Comes Home!
New on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming this week, one of the biggest movies of 2012; one of the best movies of 2012; a strange, strong drama; and an old favorite on Blu-ray.
Christopher Nolan ended his Batman films not with a whimper but a bang -- and a little mumbling from Tom Hardy's bad-guy Bane -- and this home video presentation is stunning. It's full of information on not only the making of this film but also about Nolan's methods and vision, and how he turned a nearly-forgotten franchise that Joel Shumacher and Tim Burton had destroyed into the single biggest -- and best -- money-making trilogy in years. There's nearly an hour of video shorts on the production and featurettes on creating the look, characters and costumes of Catwoman and Bane. There's also a piece with Nolan and cast looking back on the past, as well as a for-the-heck-of-it extra on the pop history of, yes, The Batmobile. There's also web-based interactivity where you can have a "second screen" on your iPad/iPod, providing making-of footage and factoids in your hand as you watch the film on your TV. As for the film itself… well, even with a few great set-pieces, Hardy's Bane is no Joker, and the film suffers for it, as well as a little too much preamble to an overly ornate plan -- but Anne Hathaway adds some much-needed sex and smirk and slink to the proceedings, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Christian Bale each get a few nice moments. Presenting both the process and the result of bold blockbuster filmmaking, 'The Dark Knight Rises' Blu-ray and DVD is a case where the retail and rental release actually enhances the film.
From 2002, one of the most fun films of Steven Spielberg's career, with Leonardo DiCaprio as real-life con man Frank Abagnale, Jr., who started his career in scammery long before he left high school… and graduated to the FBI's wanted list. Featuring Tom Hanks in a rare -- and impressive -- supporting turn as an FBI agent on Abagnale's trail, the film also stars Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner and Christopher Walken. But as good as the cast members are -- and they're all very good -- Spielberg's the star, with perfect comedic timing, a handle on the kind of suspense that thrills with skill, and a deftly-handled, brightly-lit tone that keeps things engaging. The Blu-ray also looks stunningly good, with the retro-styled look of the film springing to crisp, lovely life.
From the director of the stunning and startling Oscar-nominated film 'Dogtooth,' Giorgios Lanthimos, 'Alps' is another strong and strange drama that's too good to overlook. Four not-quite-friends form a secret society of compassion, reaching out to survivors who've lost loved ones… and offering to have one of their members impersonate and play the part of the ones they've lost, in a strange mix of sympathy and surrealism that may hurt more than it helps. With a mix of surreal physical comedy and soulful drama, 'Alps' is as odd and yet unforgettable a film as 2012 has given us.
A smash at the Sundance Film Festival -- and deservedly so -- 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' stands as one of the best and strangest indie debuts in years, as director Benh Zeitlin created, on a shoe-string, a world with both bruising reality and fantastic visions. The story follows Hushpuppy, (Quevenzhané Wallis), a young girl in an imaginary, off-the-map New Orleans community called "The Bathtub," far beyond sight or reach of "civilization," dealing with both bad weather and the tough love of her father (Dwight Henry) and her own problems, all from her unique perspective. 'Beasts' has divided audiences and critics -- which is, to me, always a good sign -- but it's advocates call it strong, impassioned and powerful, and the home video release may be your chance to see it before it becomes, perhaps, an unlikely Oscar contender.