The Weekly Spin: June 2nd 2009

A minor furor has erupted over the upcoming “Battlestar Galactica: Complete Series” box-set and the surprise omission of the Web-isode series ‘The Face of the Enemy’. Universal says the reason is that “Sometimes, however, legal clearances, timing issues, disc capacity or other issues prevent existing material from being included”. Others however are calling it discrimination due to the reveal of Lt. Gaeta’s gay relationship.

MGM will release “The Hannibal Lecter Anthology” on Blu-ray on September 15th. The box-set will include the already released “The Silence of the Lambs” along with Ridley Scott’s “Hannibal” and Michael Mann’s 1986 effort “Manhunter”, adapted from the novel “Red Dragon”, which starred Brian Cox as Lecter. Universal owns the rights to the recent “Red Dragon” adaptation but haven’t announced any US release date as yet.

A bunch of current TV shows have just announced their box-set release dates with simultaneous DVD & Blu-ray launches for “Californication: Season Two” on August 11th, “Lie to Me: Season One” on August 25th, “Heroes: Season Three” on September 1st, and both “The Office: Season Five” and “Fringe: Season One” on September 8th. DVD only bows will also happen for “Psych: Season Three” and “Monk: Season Seven” on July 21st, “Gossip Girl: Season Two” and “The Simpsons: Season Twelve” on August 18th, both “One Tree Hill: Season Six” and “Life: Season Two” on August 25th, and “The Big Bang Theory: Season Two” on September 15th.

The news that has excited the most this week is that French buyers of a recently released James Bond Blu-ray box set found an ad flyer inside that includes a picture of an ‘Alien Quadrilogy’ Blu-ray box set said to be hitting at the end of the year. The DVD release of the ‘Quadrilogy’ is still considered one of the best sets for the format, so many are curious what will happen with this Blu-ray – especially if “Aliens” gets the much needed picture/audio remaster it deserves to bring the quality up to that of Scott’s 2003 remastering of the first “Alien” film.

Panasonic will ship a portable Blu-ray player, the DMP-BD15, later this month for an $800 price tag.

Other Newly Announced DVDs: “An American Affair” (July 28th), “Coraline” (July 21st), “Dragonball Evolution” (July 28th), “Ghost Month” (July 21st), “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” (Aug 18th), “I Love You, Man” (Aug 11th), “Knight Rider (2008): Season One” (July 28th), “The Last Days Of Disco: Criterion Collection” (Aug 25th), “Paris 36” (Aug 11th), “Streets of Blood” (July 28th), “Waiting for Dublin” (July 14th).

Other Newly Announced Blu-rays: “Blue Thunder” (Aug 11th), “Child’s Play” (Sept 15th), “Coraline” (July 21st), “Dragonball Evolution” (July 28th), “Explicit Ills” (July 14th), “The Girl Next Door: Unrated Edition” (Sept 1st), “High Crimes” (Sept 1st), “I Love You, Man” (Aug 11th), “Misery” (Sept 15th), “Night Train” (July 7th), “Starman” (Aug 11th).

This Week’s Picks:

Revolutionary Road (DVD & Blu-Ray)
Yes it pales to the book and suffers from Sam Mendes’ usual issues of heavy-handedness, artificiality and morality points hit home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Yet ‘Road’ remains one of last year’s most wrenching and powerful dramas in its dealing with the slow rot of the souls and dreams of a 50’s couple.

Inside Man (Blu-Ray)
Spike Lee’s smartly made and slickly executed bank heist drama brings a fresh and contemporary flavor to a long worn-out genre. Making the most of its New York locale and strong cast from Denzel Washington’s honest cop to Jodie Foster’s manipulative facilitator, this is intelligent adult-targeted blockbuster escapism.

Defiance (DVD & Blu-Ray)
Ed Zwick’s tale of Polish brothers in charge of a community of Jews hiding out in the forests of Lithuania in WW2 is a great story let down by Zwick’s simplistic storytelling and notable lack of faith in his audience’s intelligence. Good performances from Daniel Craig and Liev Schrieber help this otherwise frigid tale.

He’s Just Not That Into You (DVD & Blu-Ray)
I didn’t get around to seeing this ensemble romantic comedy-drama back in February though opinion pieces were surprisingly vigorous about the value of chick flicks in general when reviews quickly labeled this as one of the pin-up examples of all that’s wrong with our consumer culture.

Prison Break: Season Four (DVD)
The last and worst season of the once great show which really had only one great season to its name – the first – limps off the screen with this rather absurd last two dozen episodes involving retrieving a database of hi-tech secrets and one of the Scofield’s as the ‘big bad’. The last five minutes are also disappointing.

Other Releases This Week:
Air Force One (Blu-ray)
Anaconda (Blu-ray)
Baby on Board (DVD & Blu-ray)
Bruce Almighty (Blu-ray)
Dark Blue (Blu-ray)
Direct Contact (DVD & Blu-ray)
Elsewhere (DVD & Blu-ray)
Fletch (Blu-ray)
Glory (Blu-ray)
Highlander: Complete Animated Series (DVD)
Out of Time (Blu-ray)
Road House (Blu-ray)
Rollerball (Blu-ray)
Silent Venom (DVD)
Spring Breakdown (DVD & Blu-ray)
The Graduate (Blu-ray)
The Hunger: Season One (DVD)
To Live and Die in L.A. (Blu-ray)
Weeds: Season Four (DVD & Blu-ray)
Zeroman: Complete Series (DVD)