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Blade Runner: Two-Disc Special Edition

Warner Home Video
Movie A
Special Features A
DVD Geek Factor 10 (out of 10)

I recently managed to see this on the big screen. Like many folks my age who were too young to see Ridley Scott's masterpiece in theaters in 1982, I've always relied on home-entertainment devices to view the picture. The sight of Blade Runner on a big screen with massive sound was one of the great pleasures of my movie-going life.

Now, this DVD has become one of the greatest pleasures of my home-entertainment life. The transfer is beautiful, and this "final cut" stands as the best version of the film. The story of Deckard (Harrison Ford) and his pursuit of androids called replicants has never looked and sounded better. Most of the changes are subtle (Joanna Cassidy's stunt-double no longer wears a bad wig), but some are substantial (such as Deckard's unicorn dream, which Scott says is proof he is also a replicant). The voiceover, which Ford allegedly hated, has been removed, along with the happy ending.

The film came out in a year that also featured E.T. It was basically a bomb upon its initial release. Home video gave it a second chance, and now it stands as a classic. Watching it at home isn't as fun as seeing it in a theater, but this DVD comes damn close.

Special Features: The two-disc special edition is good enough, featuring three commentaries (one with Scott) and a 3 1/2-hour documentary that studies all aspects of the film. It features screen-test footage, outtakes of Ford's disgruntled voiceover and a look at the groundbreaking special effects. You can also get a five-disc ultimate edition, including every version of the film, as well as the infamous "workprint" version. It comes in a special briefcase with all sorts of toys in it, and is sure to drive geeks crazy during holiday gift-giving. If you don't want the fancy case, there's also a four-disc version that has all of the features other than the workprint version. Plenty of choices, all reasonably priced.


Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland--Secrets, Stories and Magic

Disney
Show B+
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Lovers of the original theme park will get a kick out of this brand-new look at the creation and legacy of Disneyland.

One of the best features of the show on Disc One would be the depiction of the mishaps and difficulties Walt Disney had launching the park. Footage from the opening-day live telecast, featuring Walt and a host of emcees, is funny stuff. There's also the unveiling of the monorail (which replaced the Train of Tomorrow), with Richard Nixon and his family trying to cut a ribbon that won't give. At one point, workers filled up manmade rivers, only to return the next day and notice that they had dried up.

Mermaids sunning themselves during the submarine ride were eventually abandoned, as was a flying-saucer ride that was more or less an enlarged air-hockey rink. Hellish traffic jams were also part of the early travesties. But then Walt thought up stuff like animatronics (including the Enchanted Tiki Room) and the robotic Abraham Lincoln, and he changed the Mission to the Moon to Mission to Mars, which all helped make the park more successful--and a place that warranted repeated visits.

There's a poignant stretch of the film during which people who actually worked for Disney discuss his 1966 passing, and how it sucked the spirit out of the park for some time. Of course, the place bounced back.

It was recently announced that California Adventure, the park adjacent to Disneyland that hasn't been attracting too many visitors, will undergo a major renovation. Among the changes: incorporating more Disney characters (like those from Toy Story and The Little Mermaid) and bringing back the flying-saucer ride in the form of a tire ride. Perhaps we'll get a California Adventure documentary someday. Then again, probably not.

Special Features: It comes in a collective tin, with fun goodies like a replica of the ticket books that Disneyland used to issue back in the old days. Disc One features the main film, plus a restoration of People and Places: Disneyland U.S.A. Disc Two has 3 1/2 hours of extras looking at the park's history. A must for Disney fans.


The Bourne Ultimatum

Universal Home Video
Movie A-
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7.75 (out of 10)

And with this, the Jason Bourne series starring Matt Damon supposedly came to a close. Damon has been rather ambiguous about possibly returning, and the film's great ending leaves room for more--but it appears this could wind up being a mere trilogy.

In this installment, Jason basically "remembers," which results in all sorts of trouble for those who wronged him. I'm among the crowd who thinks this is the best film of the series, and a fitting conclusion--if that's what it winds up being.

Special Features: A whole lot of stuff. It has deleted scenes, commentaries, Damon training for his car chases and fighting, and more. A safe purchase if you like the series.

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