Chaplin: 15th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES D
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 5.75
(OUT OF 10)
I thought this movie was pretty good when I first saw it shortly after its release 19 years ago. At the time, I hadn't watched too many Charlie Chaplin films.
Since then, I've consumed many Chaplin films and shorts, and I must say: Robert Downey Jr. does an amazing job capturing the spirit of the man. He successfully re-creates the physical antics of the Tramp, and he never makes it seem like simple mimicry. What he accomplishes is truly impressive, along the lines of other great biopic performances such as that of Denzel Washington in Malcolm X and Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line.
Richard Attenborough directed, and he knows his way around biopics. He also did Cry Freedom (about activist Steve Biko) and Gandhi. He sort of canonizes Chaplin with this movie, glossing over some of the more controversial stuff regarding his love life. It does address Chaplin basically being booted out of the United States after being accused of communism, which resulted in his move to Switzerland.
Apparently, the original cut was more than four hours long. I would be curious to see some of what wound up on the cutting-room floor. The movie does a pretty good job of covering the different phases of Chaplin's career, but it does feel a bit rushed in places. Also, I'm not too fond of the fictional interviewer (played by Anthony Hopkins), who sits with an old Chaplin and pushes the story along. He feels unnecessary.
The film is flawed, but Downey is spectacular here, and any fan of Chaplin must see this.
SPECIAL FEATURES: While this is called the 15th anniversary edition, the movie came out nearly 20 years ago; it has that name because this package was released in standard-DVD format in 2008 (which would've been the film's 16th anniversary ... go figure). The special features are weak, consisting of just a few interview segments with Attenborough. There is also a home movie of Chaplin on vacation, but it's short. Knowing about all of that deleted footage makes me wish there were some deleted scenes or an alternate cut.
Due Date (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES C-
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 5.5
(OUT OF 10)
Hey, it's Robert Downey Jr. week!
Director Todd Phillips got a little darker than he did with his previous hit, The Hangover, with this sometimes nasty road picture that owes more than a little to Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Downey co-stars with Zach Galifianakis, playing John Candy to Downey's Steve Martin.
The movie stumbles in places, and totally goes off the rails here and there, but the two actors keep it interesting. I love Downey's sinister moment as the world's worst baby sitter, and Galifianakis' reaction to Downey's sob story about his dad is a classic.
SPECIAL FEATURES: There's a moderately funny gag reel featuring Downey trying to keep a straight face, and a couple of deleted scenes. It doesn't seem like much work went into this one.
Twilight Zone: Season 3 (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES A-
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 9.25
(OUT OF 10)
These collections remain some of my favorite Blu-ray releases to date. The third season contains classics such as "To Serve Man," where aliens are not as polite as they seem; "The Shelter," where some folks battle over a bomb shelter during a possible nuclear attack; and "Kick the Can," the episode Steven Spielberg chose to remake for his portion of Twilight Zone: The Movie. Guest stars include Robert Redford, Buster Keaton (!) and Carol Burnett.
Season 4 is due out in May, with Season 5's release date unannounced but presumably coming soon. It's hard to believe there were only five seasons of this series.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Isolated scores for all 37 episodes, 19 radio dramas, 19 new audio commentaries for select episodes, and footage of Rod Serling hosting game shows and appearing with Groucho Marx.
Megamind (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
SPECIAL FEATURES B
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 6.75
(OUT OF 10)
This is a great-looking movie with a first-rate voice cast including Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey and Jonah Hill.
Ferrell pays the title character, an alien outcast who, after being rejected by society, sets his sights on taking over the world and defeating Earth's more popular alien, Metro Man (Pitt). The tables are turned when Megamind must battle a new villain (Jonah Hill), a misguided youth given superpowers.
The film has a lot in common with Despicable Me, which was slightly better. Still, Ferrell has a blast; Fey is drolly funny; and Pitt is perfect as Metro Man. I wouldn't mind seeing the further adventures of these characters.
SPECIAL FEATURES: You get a filmmaker's commentary and a new short featuring Megamind and his partner, Minion (voiced by David Cross). You also get a trivia track, and "Animator's Corner," which features picture-in-picture interviews and storyboards.