Home video heats up this week with a slew of summer smashes including the Conan the Barbarian remake, Super 8, Sarah’s Key, Spy Kids 4 and a couple of new Beauty and the Beast films.
Conan the Barbarian: Director Marcus Nispel sought to reboot the Conan the Barbarian franchise after the original made a star out of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1982. Theatrical audiences failed to see the point, but the film has its merit. It is fun and is honestly more devoted to the original Conan idea put forth by author Robert E. Howard. Nispel’s Conan is less camp and fuller on sword and sandal epic. Jason Momoa stars as the titular character and is more than right for the part. The DVD and Blu-Ray contains extras including audio commentaries and two featurettes on the choreographing of the action scenes. But, what stands out with the extras is A History of the Conan Franchise and the stellar bio-doc, The Man Who Would Be Conan: Robert E. Howard.
Super 8: Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams combined forces to craft one of the best films of 2011 so far. Abrams wrote and directed while Spielberg produced the story of a group of younger teenagers making their own Super 8 movie in 1979. As they are shooting a pivotal scene, a massive train crash unleashes a secret on their small town. When the military shows up it becomes clear that the truth is out there, but not being volunteered by those in charge. The young cast shines and veteran actor Kyle Chandler stands out as the town’s lawman handling questions by his community and misleading information by the authorities. This is not simply an alien loose in a town story -- it possesses emotional power that excels beyond its genre. Stay with Movie Fanatic for a full Super 8 review of the Blu-Ray as well as our coverage of the film’s home video premiere this evening!
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas: Disney releases two new Beauty and the Beast films on home video this week to fan fans’ fire for the series. The first, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, is a holiday tale told by Mrs. Potts that recalls when the court composer, Forte, attempted to keep Beast and Belle apart. The film has brand new songs and bonus features including the delightful As Long As There’s Christmas music video.
Also available is the bonus Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Magical World. Inspired by the original classic, the story involves Belle, Cogsworth and Lumiere and some new additions to the franchise as they discover the importance of working together toward a common goal. The gang give the castle a makeover, turning it from drab to fab.
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World: The fourth in the Robert Rodriguez-directed franchise about the youngest of James Bond types. Jessica Alba is a mom who has retired from the spy game, only to be drawn back in when the Timekeeper begins to erase all time -- second by second. Jeremy Piven and Joel McHale star in the flick that works for kids, but parents may find a little monotonous. Extras include an interesting interview with Rodriguez, deleted scenes and a commentary track by the filmmaker.
Sarah’s Key: Kristen Scott Thomas (The English Patient) stars as a journalist who delves into an apartment’s history when her husband inherits the property. The abode was involved in a notorious 1942 incident where French authorities gave up a group of hiding Jews to the awaiting German forces. The Blu-Ray and DVD extras are sparse, but the film itself is compelling and more than worth a look.