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The Mist: Two-Disc Collector's Edition

Dimension
Movie (Color Version) C+
Movie (Black and White) B+
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) visits Stephen King-land again--and I must admit that I didn't like this movie the first time I saw it. As it turns out, Darabont wanted to shoot the film in black and white, but the studio opposed it. However, the DVD gives him a chance to present it the way he originally intended.

The entire film experience changes when the color goes away. The scares are heightened; the campy performances (especially Marcia Gay Harden's screaming religious maniac) go down easier; the overall tone just changes. For me, the film goes from being a near-miss to being one of the better horror films of the last 10 years.

Shot on a low budget in a short amount of time, this film featured effects that weren't all that great when revealed in color. It also brightened up a movie that should've been dark and gloomy all along. Now, when the monsters attack, the film feels and looks right.

Thomas Jane is excellent as David, who sees a strange mist covering the lake behind his house after a storm blows a tree into his workroom. He heads to town with his son for some supplies, but his return home gets delayed after the mist covers the food market in which he shops, bringing with it all sorts of flying and crawling beasts.

Harden plays Mrs. Carmody, the local religious fanatic who believes the mist is a harbinger of the apocalypse. I despised this Harden performance the last time I saw it, but now, presented in black and white, it comes off as funny.

All I can say is Darabont knows what he's doing, and when he thinks a film should be in black and white, the studio working with him should oblige. Color wrecked his movie's theatrical release--five minutes of The Mist in black and white proves that.

Special Features: An enthusiastic Darabont provides a commentary and extended interviews in a series of behind-the-scenes features. The black-and-white version comes on a separate disc, qualifying it as one of my all-time-favorite DVD special features. This is one of those DVDs that improves upon the original theatrical release in many ways.


Bonnie and Clyde (Blu-Ray)

Warner
Movie A
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 9.5 (out of 10)

And so ended the traditional Hollywood gangster film with this, director Arthur Penn's violent, funny epic in which he dared to make the criminals semi-likable.

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are one of screendom's most memorable couples as the title characters, bank robbers who became cop killers during their crime spree--a spree that ended in an infamously grisly hail of bullets. The film contains the best acting Beatty ever has done, as he plays a criminal icon with sexual and security issues. Dunaway has one of the most beautiful faces ever on screen, and her beauty is matched by an astonishing ability to act. Her Bonnie Parker stands as one of the all-time-great female performances.

The film offered one of the first big-screen breaks for Dunaway and a little-known actor named Gene Hackman, who played Buck, Clyde's brother. Gene Wilder made his movie debut with a small but hilarious part as a man kidnapped by the Barrow gang, only to be left on the side of the road when he admits his unfortunate profession.

The film was nominated for many Oscars, but only took home awards for Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actress. It's funny that Estelle Parsons' shrill and annoying performance as Blanche the Hysterical Screamer was the only one to get Oscar gold. Her work is the one thing I don't like about the movie.

Special Features: The Blu-Ray disc comes in a nice collectors' booklet, a nice bonus. There's a History Channel documentary about the real-life Bonnie and Clyde that allows one to realize the film is very loosely based on real events. The package also includes cool deleted scenes, nice footage of Warren Beatty trying on his wardrobe and an excellent film retrospective including Beatty, Dunaway, Hackman and many more.


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Dreamworks
Movie A
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 9 (out of 10)

I've liked many of Tim Burton's films, but this one--starring Johnny Depp as a murderous barber bent on revenge--currently stands as my favorite. It's one of the better movie musicals ever made, and that's coming from a big fan of the genre.

Depp is brilliant, as is Helena Bonham Carter as the maker of the worst pies in London. This isn't a musical like Grease or even Chicago. The actors are singing for the majority of the film, and they do a fine job of it. The gothic sensibilities of Burton fit the subject matter quite nicely; it's a sick delight.

Special Features: The two-disc package is packed with features on the music, art direction and more. Rehearsal footage and recording sessions are must-views for fans.

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