This week: Quentin Tarantino's eighth film, the Oscar-winning "Django Unchained," starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson, finds emancipation on DVD and Blu-ray after a celebrated run at the box office.
Also new this week is the pitch-black comedy "Small Apartments," the Southern ghost story "The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia" and the Criterion Collection Blu-ray debut of "Repo Man."
Box Office: $163 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Fresh
Storyline: Jamie Foxx plays the titular unchained slave in Quentin Tarantino's latest opus, which is set two years before the Civil War. After Django is set free by German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), the doctor convinces Django to help him hunt down the murderous Brittle brothers. Django remains focused on a singular goal: rescuing his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), whom he lost years ago to the slave trade. Fate intervenes when Django and Dr. Schultz scam their way into the infamous Candyland plantation, where they meet its despicable proprietor, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), and discover that Broomhilda "works" there. Unfortunately, Candie's trusted house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) is immediately suspicious of the traveling duo.
Extras! Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain "Remembering J. Michael Riva: The Production Design of 'Django Unchained,'" the "'Django Unchained' Soundtrack Spot" and a peek at the Tarantino XX Blu-ray collection. The Blu-ray also has "Reimagining the Spaghetti Western: The Horses and Stunts of 'Django Unchained'" and "The Costume Designs of Sharen Davis."
We Say: Tarantino and Waltz took home Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor, respectively, for this crazy mash-up of spaghetti Westerns and blaxploitation that only Tarantino could pull off. Watch it for Waltz' wit and restraint in the face of mortal danger, DiCaprio's riveting performance as one of the most repugnant characters ever put on screen and the gleeful ultraviolence you expect from the director who gave us "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill." Even though you'd think the movie would be a butt challenge at 165 minutes, the characters are so richly drawn that you'll be willing to saddle up with them and ride off deep into Tarantinoland.
Box Office: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: 14% Rotten
Storyline: This pitch-black comedy from director Jonas Åkerlund features Matt Lucas in his first starring role as an overweight albino who dreams of traveling to Switzerland but first must contend with the disposal of his landlord's corpse that is lying in his seedy L.A. apartment. The eclectic ensemble cast includes Johnny Knoxville, James Caan, Juno Temple, Billy Crystal, Dolph Lundgren, Amanda Plummer, James Marsden, Rebel Wilson and Peter Stormare.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a behind-the-scenes featurette and the helpful "How to Build a Gravity Bong" tutorial.
We Say: Åkerlund and his game cast tap into the gentle misanthropy some of us big-city dwellers feel daily about the lack of control we have over with whom we share walls, but there are just too many diverse personalities on display here for any of it to gel. Knoxville stands out as the resident stoner, and Crystal as the drunk investigator is probably the only one who sidesteps the movie's descent into mean-spiritedness.
'The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia'
Box Office: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: 23% Rotten
Storyline: Based on a true story, this Southern-fried ghost story has Andy Wyrick (Chad Michael Murray) move his wife, Lisa (Abigail Spencer), and his daughter to a historic Georgia home that was used as a station by the Underground Railroad. Joined by Lisa's free-spirited sister, Joyce (Katee Sackhoff), who lives in her trailer on the property, the family is forced to face a supernatural threat and unravel the mystery of the house's previous owners.
Extras!: The most revealing bonus feature on both the DVD and Blu-ray is the "Seeing Ghosts: The True Story of the Wyricks" featurette, which has interviews with the real-life people who allegedly experienced the film's events. Also included are an audio commentary, deleted scenes and outtakes.
We Say: Even if you can get beyond the beyond geographically-confused title and the fact that this sequel has absolutely nothing to do with the far superior "The Haunting in Connecticut," you're still left with a creaky haunted house tale based on the stories of some attention-seeking women who, frankly, seem in need of mental counseling and anti-hallucinogens after seeing them on the disc's bonus features. Also, surely filmmakers can find something better for Starbuck from"Battlestar Galactica" to do than vomit up sawdust and cockroaches for cheap gross-out scares.
'Repo Man' Blu-ray
Box Office: $129,000
Rotten Tomatoes: 98% Fresh
Storyline: Alex Cox's 1984 cult sci-fi thriller stars Emilio Estevez as young L.A. punk rocker Otto Maddox, who gets a job with seasoned car repossession agent Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) and enjoys the fast lifestyle of drugs, good pay and hotwiring cars. Otto, a girl named Leila (Olivia Barash), a secret government agent and rival Mexican repo men all compete for a $20,000 reward to find 1964 Chevy Malibu from New Mexico with four dead but deadly space aliens in the trunk.
Extras!: This Criterion Collection Blu-ray debut features an audio commentary originally recorded in 1999, the infamous TV version with bad dubs and reinserted scenes, interviews with cast and crew, a recent interview with Iggy Pop about his work on the soundtrack, the spoof "The Secret Truths About 'Repo Man'" and a collection of missing scenes.
We Say: Cox's feature film debut is an amusing social satire about the crushing banality of modern living that holds up today. Although this high-def debut ports over a lot of extras from previous DVD releases, there are a few new nuggets (like the hard-to-find TV version) in addition to the superior video and audio upgrades that make this a worthwhile purchase for fans.
Also New This Week:
"A Monster in Paris"
"Spies of Warsaw"
"Not Suitable for Children"