Christmas must be coming because there is something for everyone with this week of new Blu-Ray and DVD releases. Also, a slew more will hit before the holidays -- check back December 21 for a half-dozen more that Movie Fanatic reviews!
The Blu-Ray/DVD preview this week focuses on Anna Kendrick finding her voice in Pitch Perfect and Bradley Cooper forgetting his in The Words. Speaking of forgetting, it seems Colin Farrell has no memory of his past until he visits Total Recall. And finally, Clint Eastwood makes a baseball movie that is very much a father-daughter warming-up tale.
Trouble with the Curve: Clint Eastwood acts in a film he did not direct for the first time in 20 years. The story follows Eastwood's aging baseball scout who is on the verge of losing his position to a driven computer savvy scout (Matthew Lillard) unless he scores a huge prospect. His health is fading. His relationship with his daughter (Amy Adams) is strained.
But if he can just sign this young baseball talent, all may be OK. Worried for his friend's health, John Goodman's Braves exec enlists the help of Adams to go with him on the scouting trip. The Trouble with the Curve poster may have you thinking this is just a baseball movie, but it is so much more.
Total Recall: Director Len Wiseman took on a tough task when he decided to reboot the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall. But, as we stated in our Total Recall review, the man succeeds in producing a version of the short story that is much closer to the original material's tone. Farrell is fantastic as an everyman working in a future that doesn't leave much room for hope. When he visits a place where they inject "new" memories into your brain (the future's version of a vacation), it goes horribly wrong and suddenly everyone in the government is out to get him.
The supporting cast is stellar, including Bryan Cranston, and that proof comes in many of the Blu-Ray/DVD's bonus features as the director's commentary has never been so complimentary of its acting troupe. The seven behind-the-scenes action featurettes also gives insight into the magical mind of the filmmaker. Surprising, given the seriousness of the sci-fi film, the gag reel is bloody brilliant. And for fans of the genre, a don't-miss documentary is Science Fiction vs. Science Fact.
Pitch Perfect: Anna Kendrick leads an up-and-coming cast in the story of a university where the battle for a cappella supremacy trumps all. Kendrick's aspiring DJ is literally too cool for school. Her professor father promises to pay her way to Los Angeles to follow her musical aspirations if she dives into her school and joins some sort of activity. Long story short, she gets sucked into The Bellas and her presence transforms everyone involved.
The film landed on our Top 10 Comedies of 2012 and we have to admit that some of the bonus features on the Blu-Ray/DVD are even funnier. We can see why some of the deleted scenes were cut for material, but it's fascinating to witness them... even out of context. The Starship music video is included, as is the don't-miss of the entire set: On the Set Burrito Drive By with Rebel Wilson's Fat Amy. It's priceless.
Also, it must be pointed out that Pitch Perfect is the perfect stocking stuffer for any music fan, teenage girl and well... anyone who likes movies!
The Words: Bradley Cooper stars as a struggling writer who is not so happy about where he is at in his career. He's pleased in his marriage to Zoe Saldana, but professionally, he feels he is falling short. When he comes across a satchel in an antique store, inside he discovers a manuscript. It is not just any regular piece of literature, it is an earth-shaking piece of work. Desperate, he sells it as his own and becomes an international superstar. When the book's true author (Jeremy Irons) comes forward, things get complicated. The film's strong literary feel seeps even into The Words poster.
The Blu-Ray/DVD pack Movie Fanatic received to review contained two versions: The theatrical and an extended cut. It's actually fascinating to see the extended cut, it is the film as director Brian Klugman intended and slightly different than what we saw for our The Words review.
Bonus features abound, but the most enticing are the director's commentary, especially given the two versions of the film here. Also should be seen is A Gentleman's Agreement, which is a fascinating doc that looks at how Klugman and Cooper found The Words.