Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class gets the fall DVD season off to a flying start this weekend. The last four months of the year typically see the DVD release of most of the high profile commercial movies of the year just as the serious adult dramas with Oscar ambitions make their way into the theaters. Fall also sees the DVD releases for a number of high profile continuing TV series that are timed to more or less coincide with start of new episodes in the fall TV season. So as the kids go back to school and business slows down at the Cineplex the pace of key DVD releases picks up.
The top release this week is clearly X-Men: First Class (Fox, “PG-13,” $29.98, BD $39.99). Matthew Vaughn’s film, which earned an exemplary 87% positive rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, was the best-reviewed superhero film of the summer. Audience enjoyed it as well. It was the #3 superhero film of the summer in the U.S. with $146 million, but it did even better overseas and has earned $352.3 million worldwide, which moves it up to #2 for the summer behind only Thor ($448 million). Vaughn’s origin saga cleverly demonstrates the split in the mutant world between Professor X and Magneto by taking us back the 1960s and showing how their relationship sundered against the real Cold War historical backdrop of the Cuban missile crisis. Using all the visual verve of an early James Bond film and getting the most out of a superb cast, Vaughn manage to create the most intriguing X-Men movie yet, and one of the relatively few superhero films that has half a chance to withstand the pressures of time and remain interesting to future generations. X-Men: First Class is a superhero film that has the potential to please both comic book fans and those wouldn’t be caught dead reading a book about characters flying around in tights. It didn’t reach its full potential at the U.S. box office, so don’t be surprised if it overachieves a bit on DVD.
Also due this week is the “philosophical” action film Hanna (Universal, “PG-13,” $29.98, BD $34.98). Directed by Joe Wright, Hanna stars Saoirise Ronan, Eric Bana, and Cate Blanchett. Bana plays an ex-CIA agent who raises his daughter as a sort of super-assassin. Visually arresting, if occasionally narratively challenged (especially during its final act), Hanna still managed to earn a 71% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Everything Must Go (Roadside Attractions, “R,” $27.98, $39.99), which is based on a short story by Raymond Carver, earned an even better 76% positive mark on Rotten Tomatoes. Will Ferrell gives a very subdued performance in this serious film written and directed by Dan Rush. Another cinematic meditation on the dark side of the American dream with elements of Death of a Salesman, The Lost Weekend, and American Beauty, Everything Must Go is a real change of pace for Ferrell—and his fans should realize this is not Talladega Nights.
TV on DVD
The other major American release this week is The Office: Season Seven (Universal, 500 min., $49.98, BD $59.98), which, although uneven, provided some of the American series’ best episodes. This is the final season for Steve Carell and it features a number of excellent guest appearances and cameos from Amy Ryan, Ricky Gervais (who created the original English version of the series), Jim Carrey, Ray Romano, James Spader, Will Arnett, and Catherine Tate.
Another NBC series that uses the single camera, “mockumentary” style made popular by The Office is Parks and Recreation. Parks and Recreation: Season 3 (Universal, $39.98) features Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones in a show that was perhaps too much like a clone of The Office in its first season, but which has definitely forged its own identity and come into its own in Seasons Two and Three. In spite of its quality, Parks and Recreation continues to struggle in the ratings, though it has developed a devoted following.
Also of interest is the “one-and-done” ABC series No Ordinary Family (Lionsgate, 880 min., $29.98), a “superhero-themed” series about a family whose members develop special powers after their plane crashes in the Amazon. This ill-fated series was written by Greg Berlanti, who wrote the screenplay for Warner Bros.’ Green Lantern movie.
Other continuing series out this week include Criminal Minds: The Sixth Season (Paramount, 900 min., $64.99), the always interesting legal drama The Good Wife: Season 2 (Paramount, $64.99), and Charlie Sheen’s sitcom swansong, Two and a Half Men: Season 8 (Warner Bros., $44.98).
Animated TV series include the cat and mouse classic Herman and Catnip: The Complete Series (Vivendi, 60 min., $7.93), the 1980s series The Drak Pack: The Complete Series (First Look, 360 min., $7.98), Scooby Doo & the Pirates (Warner Bros., 84 min., $5.98), and What’s New Scooby Doo: Scooby Doo & the Ghosts (Warner Bros. 63 min., $5.98).
Then there are the live-action vintage kids’ shows, Sigmund and the Sea Monster: Season 1 (Universal, 374 min., $29.93), the 1970s Sid and Marty Kroft extravaganza, and The Secret of Isis (Classic Media, $7.93), the first American live-action TV series whose lead character was a female superhero.
The only new release in a week dominated by repriced previously released sets is Bleach Box Set 10 (Viz Media, “13+,” 300 min. $49.95), which includes episodes 157 to 167 of the popular supernatural action series based on Tite Kubo’s manga series.
The top re-priced set is the vampire saga Black Blood Brothers: The Complete Series (Funimation, “17+,” 300 min., $19.98, BD $24.98), which contains all 12 episodes of the stylish anime. At this price the Blu-ray is quite a bargain. Another great deal is Burst Angel: The Complete Series (Funimation, “14+,” 750 min., $39.98, BD $44.98), which includes all 24 episodes of the series plus the OVA Burst Angel: Infinity.
Also out this week is Peacemaker: The Complete Series (Funimation, “13+,” 600 min., $49.98), a classic samurai series, and To Love Ru Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, “14+,” 650 min., $69.98), which includes both of the previously released To Love Ru Collections, which were issued at $40 each.
Classics on Blu-ray
Classics on DVD