The Godfather Collection (The Coppola Restoration) [Blu-ray]
Manufacturer: Paramount Home Entertainment Brand: Paramount Color: color
Francis Ford Coppola's Masterpiece features Marlon Brando in his Oscar-winning role as the patriarch of the Corleone family. Director Coppola paints a chilling portrait of the Sicilian clan's rise and near fall from power in America, masterfully balancing the story between the Corleone's family life and the ugly crime business in which they are engaged. Based on Mario Puzo's best-selling novel and featuring career-making performances by Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall, this searing and brilliant film garnered ten Academy Award nominations, and won three including Best Picture of 1972. People used to say this was Frank Sinatra's world, and the rest of us just lived in it. After watching the multiple special features in the box set The Godfather - Coppola Restoration, one might conclude it's actually time for a cultural and historical revision: This is the Corleone family's world. The rest of us better tread lightly. Actually, the point of the half-dozen or so features crammed onto a disc accompanying the beautifully restored The Godfather, The Godfather II and The Godfather III, is that The Godfather movies have penetrated popular culture in such a deep and meaningful way that they are second-nature to everything. David Chase, creator of and writer on The Sopranos, for example, describes in the featurette "Godfather World" that his hit HBO series was intended to be the story of the first generation of mobsters actually influenced by Francis Ford Coppola's hit trilogy. Joe Mantegna calls the three films "the Italian Star Wars." (Mantegna co-stars in The Godfather III.) Alec Baldwin says no matter what one is doing, one is compelled to stop and watch the films if they're on television. Richard Belzer calls the films "a religion." And so on. A number of people similarly testify in "Godfather World" to the importance and ubiquitousness of The Godfather and its sequels in American life. There's no point in arguing, so its best to move on to the other featurettes, including "The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't," reviewing in detail much of what has been said about Paramount's mistreatment of Coppola, about casting fights (Steve McQueen as Michael?), about the studio's assumption they were getting a quick-and-dirty B-movie, and about producer Robert Evans' determination to keep his choice of director and unlikely actors under his wing. Fresh information within the special features, however, begins with "â€¦ When the Shooting Stopped," a fine study of post-production on The Godfather, with several surprising and fascinating facts. Among emerging details is an explanation of why Michael Corleone's scream toward the end of The Godfather III is silenced out. (Hint: it was meant to be the inverse of a sound effect in the first movie.) "Emulsional Rescue: Revealing The Godfather" talks about the painstaking work of restoring the first two films, beginning with a phone call from Coppola to Steven Spielberg (after the latter's DreamWorks studio became...
Gone with the Wind (Two Disc 70th Anniversary Edition)
Manufacturer: WarnerBrothers Brand: Warner Brothers Model: 9044155
Period romance. War epic. Family saga. Popular fiction adapted with crowd-pleasing brilliance. Star acting aglow with charisma and passion. Moviemaking craft at its height. These are sublimely joined in the words Gone with the Wind. This dynamic and durable screen entertainment of the Civil War-era South comes home with the renewed splendor of a New 70th-Anniversary Digital Transfer capturing a higher-resolution image from Restored Picture Elements than ever before possible. David O. Selznickâ€™s monumental production of Margaret Mitchellâ€™s Pulitzer Prize-winning book can now enthrall new generations of home viewers with a majestic vibrance that befits one of Hollywoodâ€™s greatest achievements.
Sherlock: Season 1
Manufacturer: BBC Home Entertainment Brand: BBC Home Entertainment
A contemporary take on the classic Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Sherlock is a thrilling, funny, fast-paced adventure series set in present-day London. Co-created by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Coupling) and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock stars BAFTA-nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (Hawking, Amazing Grace) as the new Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman (The Office, Love Actually), as his loyal friend, Doctor John Watson. Rupert Graves plays Inspector Lestrade. The iconic details from Conan Doyle's original books remain--they live at the same address, have the same names and, somewhere out there, Moriarty is waiting for them. And so across three thrilling, scary, action-packed and highly modern-day adventures, Sherlock and John navigate a maze of cryptic clues and lethal killers to get at the truth. In the wake of Guy Ritchie's reimagining, the BBC puts its own stamp on Arthur Conan Doyle's sleuth--and sets him in a London filled with cell phones and laptops. In the pilot, director Paul McGuigan (a keen visual stylist) introduces Sherlock Holmes (Atonement's Benedict Cumberbatch) as a "high-functioning sociopath" and Dr. John Watson (The Office's Martin Freeman) as an army veteran with posttraumatic stress disorder. Through a mutual friend, the two become flatmates at 221B Baker Street (Una Stubbs plays their landlady). Holmes, who consults with Scotland Yard inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) on his trickier cases, drafts Watson to assist him. In "Study in Pink," four people commit suicide by poison. When Holmes sets out to establish a link, he falls right into the culprit's clutches. Other cases concern a smuggling operation ("The Blind Banker") and a mad bomber ("The Great Game"). Though he doesn't make a formal entrance until episode three, an infamous figure from Sherlock's future has a hand in each mystery, while the detective's brother, Mycroft (co-creator Mark Gatiss), first appears when he tries to hire Watson for a case of his own, an offer that gives the good doctor pause. Through his job at a medical office, Watson also meets Sarah (Zoe Telford), who becomes his girlfriend. Part of the fun of Jeremy Brett's Holmes (and Agatha Christie's Poirot) came from the period details, so this update takes a little getting used to--as does the occasional mumbled line--but Cumberbatch and Freeman share an enjoyable Odd Couple rapport, marked by flashes of deadpan wit, which compensates for the absence of deerstalker caps (Holmes favors scarves) and journals (Watson maintains a website). Extras include commentary on the finale, the original pilot, and a featurette, in which cocreator Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) notes that Cumberbatch was his only choice for the title role. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
The Walking Dead: Season 1
Manufacturer: AMC and Anchor Bay Entertainment Brand: Anchor Bay Entertainment Model: 15713001
After waking from a coma in an abandoned hospital, police officer Rick Grimes finds the world he knew gone - ravaged by a zombie epidemic of apocalyptic proportions. Nearby, on the outskirts of Atlanta, a small encampment struggles to survive as 'the dead' stalk them at every turn. Can Rick and the others hold onto their humanity as they fight to live in this terrifying new world? And, amidst dire conditions and personal rivalries, will they ultimately survive one another? AMCâ€™s The Walking Dead is an epic, survival adventure series from the director of The Shawshank Redemption and the producer of The Terminator and Aliens. Arguably the biggest hit of the 2010 television season, the apocalypse drama The Walking Dead pulls the zombie subgenre out of its overexposed doldrums and finds, ironically enough, the humanity and emotion beneath its rotting shell. Produced by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) and Gale Anne Hurd (Aliens) and based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead follows a band of Atlanta-based survivors of a viral outbreak that has caused the dead to rise up and consume the living. The group's nominal leader is a sheriff's deputy (Andrew Lincoln) who wakes from a gunshot-induced coma to find the world in disarray and his wife (Sarah Wayne Callies, Prison Break) and son missing. His search for his family and the survivors' attempts to make sense of their lives in the wake of the outbreak is handled with intelligence and sensitivity, which helps to elevate the show beyond the grindhouse take on zombies, which favors spilled guts over character development. That's not to say that the blood doesn't flow plentifully here: the special effects are on par with zombie-movie mayhem, but again, they aren't the show's raison d'Ãªtre. Solid performances, including Jon Bernthal as Lincoln's partner, Jeffrey DeMunn as the group's leading rationalist, and Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus as a pair of trouble-making rednecks, and gripping suspense make each of the first season's six episodes compelling from start to finish for both horror fans and those who dislike the genre as a whole. The two-disc set of Walking Dead's first season includes all six episodes, as well as a number of making-of extras, including the show's conception and production, a talk with Robert Kirkman (he's a fan), a look at the makeup by KNB Studios, and the show's panel at the 2010 ComicCon. All of the principal players on both sides of the camera are given adequate screen time to discuss their vision for the show, its influences (George Romero, naturally), and the challenges of depicting the end of civilization on a budget. --Paul Gaita
Sherlock: Season 2
Manufacturer: BBC Home Entertainment Brand: Warner Manufacturing
Sherlock: Season Two (BBC/DVD)Nominated for 4 primetime Emmys, Sherlock is back with Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson in three new stories. In A Scandal in Belgravia, Sherlock gets embroiled in the complex plans of the dangerous and desirable Irene Adler, and finds himself employing every one of his remarkable skills to survive as the unlikely duo square off in a battle of witsâ€¦and perhaps emotions? The Hounds of Baskerville whisks the increasingly popular detective and Watson to the wilds of Dartmoor, and face to face with the supernatural lurking in the eerie landscape. Meanwhile, Moriarty is still out there in the shadows, and is determined to bring Sherlock down-at whatever the cost-in The Reichenbach Fall. With beguiling performances, witty scripts and some of the most intriguing characters ever created, it's no wonder that Sherlock has proven to be a worldwide success.]]> There is nothing elementary (a Holmesian clichÃ© that this exceedingly smart and savvy series wisely shuns) about Sherlock. This sophomore season exceeds the pleasures and promise of the Emmy-nominated first season with three feature-length mysteries that fully test Holmes's mettle and cunning, and shake his very high self-regard. The first and third episodes do full justice to two figures who loom large in the Holmes canon. The first is Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), a.k.a. "the Woman," in "A Scandal in Belgravia," a ripping and naughty yarn involving a high-class dominatrix and some scandalous royal photos. The second, of course, is Moriarty (an Emmy-worthy Andrew Scott) in "The Reichenbach Fall," who hatches a mad scheme to bring about Holmes's ruination. The middle mystery is perhaps Holmes's best-known, "The Hounds of Baskerville," a psychological thriller that lacks the other two's worthy central adversaries, although Holmes's rare moment of bafflement sets the stage for the seemingly game-changing finale that has Dark Knight echoes. Sherlock's high concept--transplanting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's master consulting detective to 21st-century London--is brilliantly realized, but at the heart of this series' success is the casting and chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson, who chronicles their adventures in--what else--a blog. While some may make innuendo about the nature of their relationship, it is their friendship that unfolds by degrees that holds the most fascination. "I don't have friends," Holmes confesses to Watson in one of his rare quiet and less prickly moments. "I have one." Sherlock benefits from repeat viewings, not so much to decipher clues, but to savor the brilliant wordplay. Series three cannot arrive fast enough. --Donald Liebenson
Game of Thrones: Season 2
Manufacturer: HBO Studios Brand: HBO Studios Model: 25939076
In the second season of the epic HBO original series Game of Thrones, kings from across the fictional continent of Westeros vie for the Iron Throne. As winter approaches, the cruel young Joffrey sits upon the Throne in King's Landing, counseled by his conniving mother Cersei and his uncle Tyrion, who has been appointed the new Hand of the King. But the Lannister hold on power is under assault on many fronts, with two Baratheons donning crowns, and Robb Stark fighting as the King in the North. With tensions and treaties, animosity and alliances, Season Two is a thrilling journey through a riveting and unforgettable landscape. The epic scope of the grand television fantasy series Game of Thrones is matched by the extraordinary wealth of extras found in its sophomore-season set. Based on A Clash of Kings, the second novel in George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, season two of Game of Thrones admirably encapsulates the sprawling War of the Five Kings, which pits the malevolent Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) against a host of contenders for the throne of the late King Robert (Mark Addy), including his brothers Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Renly (Gethin Anthony). Further complicating matters is the appointment of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) as Hand of the King to Joffrey, which sets off an intense behind-the-scenes power struggle with his siblings, Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who carry on an incestuous affair. Meanwhile, there's also the issue of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her three dragons; Daenerys spends much of season two making her way across the Red Waste in order to launch her own plan of conquest. These central conflicts are supported by a host of secondary storylines, including Alfie Allen's Theon Greyjoy, who is faced with dreadful choices in his own quest to prove his worth, and new cast member Carice van Houten as Melisandre, a priestess who uses a variety of wiles, including sex, to spur Stannis's assault against Joffrey's forces in the series' showstopping set piece, the Battle of Blackwater Bay. That Game of Thrones manages to not only weave together all of these myriad threads but also make them compelling and fully realized is among the keys to the show's astonishing popularity, as are the performances, which, along with the direction and writing, help to make the series the best costume fantasy drama ever produced on television. Its blend of historically inspired intrigue and supernatural elements keeps it far afield of camp territory, where most TV fantasy has bogged down in the past, while the cast, led by the extraordinary Peter Dinklage as the wily Tyrion, rivals any modern day/dress series. Of course, the show's copious violence and sexuality (the latter of which borders on excessive this season) are also key factors, but the visceral nature of these parts mesh well with the show's overall theme of a medieval land gripped by extraordinary bloodshed. The five-disc DVD set of Game of Throne...
Game of Thrones: Season 1
Manufacturer: HBO Studios Brand: HBO HOME VIDEO Model: 25229222
The first season of the hit HBO original TV series, based on the bestselling book A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. An epic drama, Game of Thrones is set in the fantasy continent of Westeros, where ambitious men and women of both honor and ill-repute live in a land where summers and winters can last for years. This adventure-fantasy series is now available in a 7-disc Blu-ray collection with these exclusive features: in-episode guide, historical Game of Thrones context, inside look at the creation of the battle of Blackwater Bay and audio commentaries with the cast and crew that includes Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Kit Harington.
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