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Coraline: 2-Disc Collector's Edition (Blu-Ray)

UNIVERSAL

MOVIE B-

SPECIAL FEATURES A-

DVD GEEK FACTOR 8

(OUT OF 10)

While the plot didn't leave me enraptured, I must give major props to the look of the film. Director Henry Selick did an incredible job with the stop-motion animation. The movements are fluid and less herky-jerky than past stop-motion efforts.

The story, about a young girl discovering an alternate universe in her house, has its moments, but isn't as consistently entertaining as Selick's A Nightmare Before Christmas. Available in a 2-disc Blu-Ray package (that includes a standard DVD) and a standard-DVD version, both come with 3-D capability. This looked shockingly good on my home system.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentaries, a making-of documentary and a surprising amount of deleted stuff. Animators worked a lot on footage that got left on the cutting-room floor.


Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5 (Blu-Ray and Standard)

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

SHOW A-

SPECIAL FEATURES A-

DVD GEEK FACTOR 8.5

(OUT OF 10)

Latecomers to this series (like me) should find it relatively easy to jump right into the final season of the show. I had only seen sporadic snippets before, but found the show involving from the very first scene, during which the crew of Galactica finds itself on a decimated Earth.

Things have changed a lot since the Galactica days of Dirk Benedict and Richard Hatch (who makes an effective appearance during this season), stars of the original show. Mary McDonnell plays an ill and depressed president, despondent because she has led the survivors of a Cylon war to a desolate, post-nuclear-war Earth. Edward James Olmos is badass as an admiral on the brink of a breakdown, dealing with decaying morale on his ship.

I am by no means an expert on this series. I've only seen the last season, and I haven't quite figured everything out yet. Still, I can see that this show is put together well, and if I can come along this late and be entertained, that says a lot. I'm definitely going back and starting from the beginning—and the complete series will be available in one package (on both Blu-Ray and standard DVD) on July 28, as will this final season.

SPECIAL FEATURES: More than 10 hours of bonus stuff, including deleted scenes, a doc on the end of the series, a six-part retrospective and more.


12 Monkeys (Blu-Ray)

UNIVERSAL

MOVIE A

SPECIAL FEATURES A-

DVD GEEK FACTOR 9

(OUT OF 10)

This was perhaps director Terry Gilliam's most commercial effort before his films became a little too self-indulgent. He got Bruce Willis, who delivered one of his most sensitive and well-rounded performances as a time-traveler trying to gather clues about a virus that wiped out most of the human race. He also got Brad Pitt, who garnered an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a mentally disturbed revolutionary.

Blu-Ray allows you to revisit and see Gilliam's masterstroke in pristine glory. The movie has a slight resemblance to his Brazil in the future-world scenes. Gilliam likens the look of his future world to the inside of a smoker's infected lung. I'd say that's accurate.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get the stuff from prior standard-DVD editions, including Gilliam's great commentary and a lengthy documentary on the film. The doc is especially good when it captures Gilliam, delighted, after a preview screening, only to later find out that the seemingly friendly people didn't like his movie. If they release this again on Blu-Ray in the future, there'd better be new stuff.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon/Curse of the Golden Flower/House of Flying Daggers (Blu-Ray)

SONY

MOVIES CROUCHING (A), GOLDEN FLOWER (B), FLYING DAGGERS (B+)

SPECIAL FEATURES CROUCHING (B), GOLDEN FLOWER (C), FLYING DAGGERS (C-)

DVD GEEK FACTOR 7.5

(OUT OF 10)

This is a good-news, bad-news, sort-of-good-news scenario. The good news is that Ang Lee's beautiful martial-arts epic, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, finally comes to Blu-Ray. The bad news is that you have to buy it in a combo package with House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower. Then it becomes good news when you consider the other two movies are decent, and you can get the package for cheap. (Amazon.com was offering it for $39.99 when I checked.)

Over the years, I've heard people complaining about Crouching Tiger, and how it started that whole trend of martial-arts fighters flying around during battles. I'm not a purist, so I had no problem with a floating Chow Yun-Fat. Still, if flying martial-arts dudes is a pet peeve, you can aim the blame at Ang Lee.

The treetop fight remains one of the more amazing cinematic feats of the last 10 years.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The Crouching disc is pretty good, with a Lee commentary and some decent production footage. The other two films offer minimal features.

More by Bob Grimm

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