J.J. Abrams’ two “Star Trek” movies get an upgraded Blu-ray release and the final set of “Bowery Boys” movies make their DVD debut this week.
“Star Trek: The Compendium” (Paramount/Blu-ray/Digital, 2009/2013, PG-13, four discs, two movies, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, bloopers, trailers). No need to go through what the two rebooted “Star Trek” movies are about — if you care, you know. This set is an upgrade aimed directly at die-hard fans, so casual fans that have the movies may not wish to return to this well.
But if you’re among the legion of rabid Trekkers out there, here’s what makes this set unique: the inclusion of the IMAX version of “Star Trek Into Darkness,” which means the shape of the picture changes during key scenes as the black bars above and below the film go away and the image stretches vertically to fill the screen, just as it played in IMAX theaters. (If you have a 50-inch TV or larger, this is for you.)
Also new is an “enhanced” commentary for “Into Darkness,” which means lots of people talking about specific aspects of the movie, sometimes stopping the film to point things out, with subtitled comments and insert video popping up on the screen. All of which adds an extra 30 minutes if you watch the entire film this way.
There are also three new five-minute featurettes, one about costumes, another about props and a third that is a gag reel with lines being flubbed and general tomfoolery on the set. Of course, all bonus features from previous Blu-ray/DVD releases are also included.
“The Bowery Boys: Volume Four” (Warner Archive/DVD, 1946-58, four discs, 12 movies, 28 trailers). Slip (Leo Gorcey), Sach (Huntz Hall) and the slapstick gang are back for one last hurrah. Collectors of these movie sets will be happy to see this addition, which completes the 48-movie series on DVD. Too bad they’re not in chronological order, but perhaps Warner Archive feared the final set might not sell as well since the films went downhill with the departure of Gorcey for the final seven entries. As a result, each set is a mix of early and late titles. “The Bowery Boys” movies hold the record for the most films in any U.S. franchise. (Available at warnerarchive.com.)
“The Adventures of Marco Polo” (Warner Archive/DVD, 1938, b/w). This lavish Samuel Goldwyn production has Gary Cooper as the title explorer traveling to China, falling in love with the emperor’s daughter (Sigrid Gurie) and going head-to-head with the emperor’s duplicitous adviser (Basil Rathbone, who handily steals the show). It's an enjoyable adventure given royal golden-age movie treatment. (Available at warnerarchive.com.)
“Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” (Shout!/DVD, 1964, 2002 featurette). Out of print since its 2002 DVD release, this colorful, albeit stagebound version of the beloved fairy tale has been remastered and looks great. Lesley Ann Warren stars as Cinderella, with Stuart Damon as the prince, though top billing goes to Ginger Rogers and Walter Pidgeon as the queen and king, with Celeste Holm as the fairy godmother. (There are now three versions of this musical on DVD, the others being the 1957 original with Julie Andrews and a 1997 remake with Brandy Norwood.)
“Any Given Sunday” (Warner/Blu-ray, 1999; R for language, sex, nudity; two discs, deleted/extended scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, screen tests, music videos, bloopers, trailer). If ever there was a filmmaker who can’t stop tinkering with his movies, it’s Oliver Stone. This set includes the 163-minute theatrical release of the football drama, as well as Stone’s 157-minute “director’s cut.” The all-star cast is led by Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid and Jamie Foxx.
“Godzilla 2000” (Sony/Blu-ray/Digital, 1999, PG, in Japanese with English subtitles, U.S. English-dubbed version, audio commentary, featurette, trailer).
“Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack”/“Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” (Sony/Blu-ray/Digital, 2001/2002, not rated, in Japanese with English subtitles, trailers).
“The Rebirth of Mothra I, II, III” (Sony/Blu-ray/Digital, 1996-98, not rated, in Japanese with English subtitles, trailers). “Godzilla 2000” has the giant lizard battling an alien. “All-Out Attack” has spirit monsters being awakened to take on Godzilla, while “Mechagodzilla” is a robot monster designed to destroy Godzilla. And the “Mothra” films have the giant moth battling various monsters to save mankind. The first two discs offer superior “Godzilla” films, and these Blu-ray upgrades should please fans.
“The Moonshine War” (Warner Archive/DVD, 1970, PG). Elmore Leonard adapted his own novel for this so-so comedy-drama about booze-makers during the Depression and the revenue agents attempting to catch them. The offbeat cast is led by Patrick McGoohan, Richard Widmark and pre-“M.A.S.H.” Alan Alda. Teri Garr shows up in a bit part. (Available at warnerarchive.com.)
“Lolly-Madonna XXX” (Warner Archive/DVD, 1973, PG, trailer). It's a modern-day (in the ’70s) hillbilly feud over a parcel of land and a young woman who innocently wanders into the mix. Rod Steiger and Robert Ryan are top-billed as the respective family patriarchs, but the supporting cast of young up-and-comers is eye-catching: Jeff Bridges, Season Hubley, Gary Busey, Randy Quaid and Scott Wilson. (The film’s title on the trailer is “Fire in the Meadow.”) (Available at warnerarchive.com.)
“Nasty Habits” (Warner Archive/DVD, 1977, PG). Very odd misfire satirizes the Watergate scandal by placing events in a well-off Philadelphia Abbey as various nuns conspire to succeed the dying abbess. The great cast just can’t light a fire under the uneven material — Glenda Jackson, Melina Mercouri, Geraldine Page, Sandy Dennis, Anne Jackson, Anne Meara, Jerry Stiller, Rip Torn, Eli Wallach. (Available at warnerarchive.com.)