Magical Mystery Tour (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B+
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7.75
(OUT OF 10)
This is, by far, the worst of the Beatles' five films. That doesn't mean it's a bad movie, although critics at the time slaughtered it upon its initial release on BBC.
The brainchild of Paul McCartney, the film piles the four Beatles on a bus with some strange people, and sends them on a tour of the countryside. It's made up largely of improvised, sloppy material. However, it also features some of the most-memorable, enjoyable musical moments the band ever put onscreen.
What I like most about this movie is seeing John Lennon having a blast. This film might chronicle the last time Lennon truly had fun on a Beatles project. By the time "The White Album" was released a year later, Lennon seemed a little detached and lethargic. From his funny, exuberant performance for "I Am the Walrus" to his spirited participation during the dance choreography for "Your Mother Should Know," Lennon is all in, and all smiles. There's an especially heartwarming sequence during which he blows up a balloon for a kid. There's also his spaghetti dream, a re-enactment of an actual dream in which Lennon is a waiter shoveling mountains of spaghetti onto somebody's plate.
Stretches of the film don't work (a running gag involving Ringo and his auntie fails to catch on), but the musical interludes are very much worth picking this up. The film has been scrubbed up nicely, making this quite an advance over VHS copies.
SPECIAL FEATURES: A feature commentary from none other than Paul McCartney, who expresses plenty of affection for the movie as it plays out. You also get some song-promo clips, recent interviews with Paul and Ringo, and a look at the supporting cast.
Little Shop of Horrors: The Director's Cut (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES A-
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 9
(OUT OF 10)
I've always been a fan of this film, Frank Oz's full-blown musical adaptation of the off-Broadway hit play. Rick Moranis is perfect as Seymour; Ellen Greene is adorable as Audrey; and Steve Martin rules as the sadistic dentist. Best of all is the man-eating plant, Audrey II, an incredible achievement in special effects.
Fans of the movie know the original ending was scrapped, because preview audiences found it to be a downer. In that ending, Audrey II eats the two leads, and the plants take over the planet. While I knew about this original ending, I wasn't aware of how much work went into it. The reshot, happier ending on the theatrical cut was a real copout.
The director's cut contains newly restored original ending in color. (For years, black-and-white footage has been available on YouTube.) The closing scenes are incredible, with huge plants tearing up the streets of Manhattan, attacking the Brooklyn Bridge and ultimately covering the Statue of Liberty.
It's truly great to see the movie the way it was originally intended. As it played out on my TV, I couldn't believe Oz was persuaded to change the ending in the first place.
SPECIAL FEATURES: An older commentary with Oz, who also did a commentary on the original ending when the first DVD was released. (The original footage was on the first DVD as an extra, but the studio recalled all of the copies.) You also get a new interview with Oz talking about the new cut, and an older making-of featurette.
Prometheus: 4-Disc Collector's Edition (Blu-ray)
20TH CENTURY FOX
SPECIAL FEATURES A+
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 9.25
(OUT OF 10)
Director Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi and, more specifically, the Alien universe is a mind-bending visual treat. Yes, it asks a lot of questions, and some of those questions are left unanswered. Who cares? This is some of the most-provocative sci-fi since Scott's own Blade Runner unspooled 30 years ago.
While there is some argument over whether this is a prequel or not, I insist that it is. I happen to love the whole angle that the aliens from the previous films might have originated as a bio-weapon to destroy Earth.
Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender are supposedly set to return for another film that promises to answer some of the questions. Hey, I don't care about cliffhangers when a movie is this exciting and good-looking.
SPECIAL FEATURES: This sucker is LOADED. You get a making-of featurette that lasts three hours and 40 minutes and goes into all aspects of the film's pre- and postproduction. On top of that, there are "enhancement pods" you can access while watching it, thus making the running time even longer. Also, you get the Weyland Corp. Archive, stuffed with art galleries and even some Noomi Rapace screen tests. Toss in commentaries from Scott and the writers, and you have one of the year's best Blu-rays. Be careful to purchase the four-disc version and not the two-disc. While the two-disc has some extras, you don't get the mammoth documentary.