Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Superheroes are everywhere this month – on home video, at least. It’s thankfully starting to cool off outside, but there’s also an increasing wealth of reasons to stay in other than the comfort and security of your living room. Warner Bros., for example, offers a stopgap between The Dark Knight Rises and Batman’s return in the Man of Steel sequel, Disney unleashes Tony Stark’s final solo adventure, and Anchor Bay resuscitates Michael Myers for more slasher mayhem – all of which offer plenty of reasons to stay glued to your TV.
The Dark Knight Trilogy (Warner Home Video)
The One-Liner: Christopher Nolan’s Batman films turn up again on Blu-ray in a deluxe box set that explores the trilogy with new bonus content.
Picture Perfect? None of the films features a new transfer, because it’s unnecessary; the HD presentation of all three films is as clear and vivid as any Bat-fan could ask for.
What Else Is There? Although the hardcover book feels more like superfluous packaging than bona fide extra material, a bonus disc features a 76-minute documentary featuring a variety of behind-the-scenes material, while a 25-minute conversation between Nolan and Superman director Richard Donner offers insights into the process of translating superheroes for the big screen.
How Badly Do I Want It? If you’re a fan of the trilogy, this is probably a must-own, if only because its price point ($80 on sites like Amazon) isn’t much more expensive than buying them individually, but its modest slate of new content makes for a cautious recommendation.
Halloween 35th Anniversary Edition (Anchor Bay)
The One-Liner: There’s no reason to pretend people don’t know what this is – namely, one of the greatest horror movies of all time, released for probably the 35th time on home video to commemorate 35 years in release.
Picture Perfect? Supervised by cinematographer Dean Cundey, the transfer is magnificent, offering a clarity and contrast that has heretofore not existed with the film.
What Else Is There? A newly recorded commentary track featuring Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis offers myriad insights about both the film’s production and its legacy, while deleted scenes showcase alternate cuts of the film produced for television.
How Badly Do I Want It? Halloween unfortunately is a film that has jerked its fans around thanks to too many different editions of the years, but as someone who never bought any of them because none seemed complete, this is probably the one to pick up, if for no other reason than its gorgeous transfer.
Hannibal: Season 1 (Lionsgate)
The One-Liner: The first season of TV’s unexpectedly graphic adaptation of the iconic serial killer comes to home video.
Picture Perfect? Effectively stylized, even on the small screen, the show looks great on Blu-ray, where its contrasts and saturated color palette can be properly examined.
What Else Is There? Several of the episodes are presented as “Producer’s Cuts,” which one presumes means there’s a few little extra bits here and there that were cut for length and/or content, while commentaries and featurettes delve into the disturbing world of Hannibal Lecter and the showrunners’ efforts to bring it to life.
How Badly Do I Want It? The show’s uncertain future notwithstanding, this was a standout series during its initial season, and should be fun to revisit more than once – which would require fans to buy it.
Iron Man 3 (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment)
The One-Liner: Tony Stark completes his solo story with this epic finale to the trilogy, which resets the character and his world while offering audiences some of the series’ biggest stunts to date.
Picture Perfect? The transfer looks wonderful in both 2- and 3D, perfectly preserving Shane Black’s clear-eyed but pretty directorial vision.
What Else Is There? In addition to the wonderful “Agent Carter” short film, which has spawned discussions of a television series, a commentary track by Black and his co-screenwriter Drew Pearce offers countless details and insights about their approach to the superhero’s final story.
How Badly Do I Want It? As, by far, the most consistent Iron Man film to date, this one is absolutely worth owning, especially since it includes a ton of great extras that are valuable to fans and aspiring filmmakers in equal measures.
v/h/s/2 (Magnolia Home Entertainment)
The One-Liner: The superior second installment in this anthology horror series comes to home video.
Picture Perfect? Despite its pretense of being on low-grade videotape, the presentation of most installments is solid, bright and clear, and any issues are deliberate stylistic choices.
What Else Is There? Each vignette comes with its own behind-the-scenes featurette, examining how it was made, while commentaries and bonus footage fleshes out its tapestry of terrifying stories.
How Badly Do I Want It? Those commentaries might be valuable to aspiring filmmakers looking to execute unique ideas on a shoestring budget, but overall it’s probably a better rental than purchase, even if most horror fans will find something to like in it.