The Dark Knight Rises (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B+
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7.5
(OUT OF 10)
The Bane voice took a lot of getting used to, but once I accepted the fact that this chapter's villain sounded like a strange combo of Darth Vader, Grover and Gandalf, I was OK.
I've previously said this was the weakest of Christopher Nolan's Batman films, and I stand by that statement. That said, it is still a pretty awesome movie. Anne Hathaway makes for a fine Catwoman; Bale delivers his best work as the Bat; and Tom Hardy is a frightening physical presence as Bane, even with the stupid voice.
The scene where Batman reappears after a long absence is one of the best in the franchise, as is that awful football game and the opening plane sequence. When Bane and Batman go toe-to-toe, it's powerful stuff.
On the downside, Michael Caine's Alfred is a whiny bitch in this film. I just wanted him to shut the hell up. I mean, things are bad enough in Gotham without his pissing and moaning all the time about Bruce Wayne not having a girlfriend. He cries more in this film than Demi Moore in Ghost.
Word has it that Batman will be relaunched in 2015's Justice League, with a new actor wearing the cowl.
SPECIAL FEATURES: You can opt for the whole second-screen experience by downloading the app and watching exclusive content on your tablet. There are also some decent production featurettes focusing on everything from the Batmobile to a look back at the trilogy; also featured are closing thoughts from Nolan and crew.
Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection (Blu-ray)
MOVIES ALL A'S, EXCEPT FOR JACKIE BROWN, WHICH GETS AN A-
SPECIAL FEATURES A-
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 9
(OUT OF 10)
This box set has all of the films Quentin Tarantino has directed, as well as True Romance, which he wrote. (Other notable Tarantino-penned flicks, such as Natural Born Killers and From Dusk Till Dawn, are excluded.)
So that means you get Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, True Romance, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2, Death Proof and Inglourious Basterds. That's a pretty damn good weekend if you choose to watch them back to back.
Tarantino got his start with Reservoir Dogs, a bloody heist film where you never saw the heist, and never looked back. Pulp Fiction, its follow-up, remains his best film, although all of his movies qualify as excellent or very good. In fact, the only film in this box I would give less than an A to is Jackie Brown, and that scores an A-. Yes, I give Death Proof a straight-up A. Rosario Dawson caving in Kurt Russell's skull with her boot—awesome!
The legend continues with December's Django Unchained. Tarantino recently said he only has two films left in him. I certainly hope he is just teasing.
SPECIAL FEATURES: The movie discs are the former releases of each film, so you get the bonus content those prior releases had. On top of that, you get two discs of exclusive bonuses, including "Critic's Corner," hosted by Elvis Mitchell. It's a panel of critics discussing each of Tarantino's movies for a total of nearly five hours. It's a little tedious. The best feature would be the more-than-two-hour-long Quentin Tarantino: 20 Years of Filmmaking, a career retrospective involving many of the folks from the QT universe. Among the things we learn: Tarantino basically owes his career to Harvey Keitel, and the late editor Sally Menke will be sorely missed. (The upcoming Django Unchained is the first Tarantino film not to be edited by Menke.) There's also a panel discussion on Jackie Brown that includes Tarantino and Pam Grier, and some Django trailers.
Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7.5
(OUT OF 10)
Five years ago, Led Zeppelin staged a reunion concert at London's O2 arena. The concert also stood as a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of Atlantic Records and the man who helped propel Zep to stardom. Many, including Jimmy Page himself, thought the concert was a prelude to a world tour. Alas, thanks to a busy Robert Plant, that never came to pass.
After watching their blistering, brilliant set on this Blu-ray, I'm thinking this concert was a fitting conclusion to the Zeppelin legacy.
Jason Bonham sits in for dad John on the drums; John Paul Jones is back on bass and keys; and ... wow, Plant and Page are in top form, with Plant eschewing some of those primal screams for something more mature but no less powerful. He is a beautiful beast in this thing.
Highlights include a terrific "Ramble On," a jaunty "Trampled Under Foot" and, my personal favorites, "Kashmir" and "The Song Remains the Same."
If this is the last we ever see of Led Zep, it is a fitting and graceful exit, indeed.
SPECIAL FEATURES: A bonus DVD containing rehearsal footage, and two CDs with audio of the concert.