Friday the 13th: Killer Cut (Blu-Ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B
DVD GEEK FACTOR 6
(OUT OF 10)
As far as slasher-film remake/relaunches go, this is one of the better ones. I never was a big fan of Jason—I preferred Michael Myers—but Marcus Nispel did a better job with this than Rob Zombie did with Halloween. Actually, he did better with this than with his own remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
A lot happens before the opening credits finish, as the backstory of Jason, his mom and a fresh batch of kills unspool before "Friday the 13th" blazes across the screen. The main plot involves some campers having a very bad time near a weed farm, and some other nubile young men and women having an ultimate bummer party. Jason tends to put a damper on things with his machete and bad attitude.
The "kills" are first-rate and funny, for those of you who have fun with that sort of thing. There is a lot of sex, people getting burned in their sleeping bags, and weed. You really couldn't ask for more in a Jason movie—and more are apparently on the way.
I don't care what anybody says; this one is much better than the original, which was a total piece of shit. Kevin Bacon couldn't save that one.
SPECIAL FEATURES: The package contains two versions of the film: the theatrical cut and the "killer cut" with extra footage. Some decent deleted scenes are included, including an alternate version of Jason finding his mask. You also get a Rebirth of Jason documentary, and another in which the new cast and crew talk about the original's legacy. (The all say they loved it!) Best of all is the Terror Track, where you can watch pop-up trivia and interviews while taking in the movie. It's one of those nifty Blu-Ray things.
Dr. Strangelove (Blu-Ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES A-
DVD GEEK FACTOR 9.5
(OUT OF 10)
It was nearly five years ago that I reviewed the 40th anniversary DVD of this movie—and the new Blu-Ray trumps the standard-DVD version in big ways. Packaged in one of those spiffy books that Warner Home Video likes to bestow on its more prestigious releases, this version of Stanley Kubrick's darkest of all dark comedies is a Blu-Ray mindblower.
It's nice to see all the effort put into the release. Even though most of the special features are holdovers from previous editions, there's definitely some nice new stuff to take in, including the book. The transfer to hi-def treats the movie well; Blu-Ray does as much for black and white as it does for color.
With North Korea getting all funny with their missile testing, and Iran in unstable waters, this movie feels as relevant today as it did almost a half-century ago. In any poll of the all-time-great comedic performances, Peter Sellers (who holds down three roles in the film) should find himself among the winners. George C. Scott reigns supreme as the babyish General Turgidson, and the late, great Sterling Hayden makes for one of cinema history's greatest screen villains.
If you haven't seen this movie, see it now. It deserves the hype it always gets in critical circles. And, as I keep reminding you in this column, it's time to get that Blu-Ray player. They are getting stupid cheap!
SPECIAL FEATURES: A new Blu-Ray feature is an excellent picture-in-picture pop-up track utilizing text and filmed interviews, and delivering all sorts of interesting info about the Cold War. Apparently, this film did a lot to influence the military and the way it handled its nuclear-war tactics. You also get some great documentaries, a feature on the great Sellers and an interview with Robert McNamara.
SPECIAL FEATURES B+
DVD GEEK FACTOR 8.5
(OUT OF 10)
This Civil War movie classic is one of the few movies that has made me cry. And, I mean, really cry. After watching it in an arthouse in my college town, I walked into an alley, looked around to see if anybody was watching, and just bawled. It really got to me.
Denzel Washington won an Oscar for playing Pvt. Trip, a justifiably angry African-American soldier fighting in the war who is constantly at odds with his commander (Matthew Broderick). The scene in which Washington's character gets whipped, and a tear blasts out of his stoic face, pretty much guaranteed Washington his Oscar nod.
I've heard a lot of whining over the years about Broderick in this film, but I thought he did a good job portraying an awkward, young officer who might've been in a little over his head. Morgan Freeman also did amazing work as one of the soldiers, and director Edward Zwick deserved an Oscar nom, but didn't get one, for his work behind the camera.
SPECIAL FEATURES: The one Blu-Ray exclusive feature is an engaging virtual Civil War battlefield interactive map. You also get a director's commentary, deleted scenes and some documentaries.