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Insights from home entertainment industry experts. Home Media blogs give you the inside scoop on entertainment news, DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, and the happenings at key studios and entertainment retailers. “TK's Take” analyzes and comments on home entertainment news and trends, “Agent DVD Insider” talks fanboy entertainment, “IndieFile” delivers independent film news, “Steph Sums It Up” offers pithy opinions on the state of the industry, and “Mike’s Picks” offers bite-sized recommendations of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases.



July 26, 2010
Two Half Seasons Make a Whole


The 'SGU' Season 1 Slipcase


Stargate Universe: Season 1.5, in stores July 27, includes a little surprise for fans who get annoyed at DVD and Blu-ray releases that split up the season. The three-disc DVD and Blu-ray sets come in a single case that includes a pouch gummed to the back. In the pouch is a fold-out box for the Complete First Season. The slip case offers enough room for the SGU 1.0 and 1.5 sets.

It's interesting to note that Fox and MGM haven't yet offered a true complete first season of "SGU" for sale (as they did in England), so fans will need to buy the two halves separately for the time being. The "SGU" sets contain $10 coupons for "SG-1" and "Stargate Atlantis" boxed sets, but the offer doesn't extend to "SGU" sets.

But at least it's some acknowledgement that the need to do things to generate revenue can sometimes put a crimp in the style of the collector.

By: John Latchem


July 23, 2010
A 'Tron' User's Manual



Greetings programs! The annals of film lore have recorded 1982 as a landmark year for science-fiction. Blade Runner, Star Trek II and E.T. are among the beloved films to debut that year. Also on that list is the video game fantasy Tron (on DVD and soon to be Blu-ray from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment). An oft overlooked benchmark in visual effects wizardry, the film is a dizzying fairy tale for the digital age. In preparation for a highly anticipated sequel making its way to theaters later this year, here are just a few reasons Tron endures as sci-fi classic.

The Story

Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) hacks into the Encom mainframe in search of proof he created a popular video game that was stolen from him, but comes across the powerful Master Control Program, which uses an experimental laser to send Flynn into the computer world, where the MCP sends enemy programs to die on the game grid (i.e. in video games). Flynn must team with a security program named Tron (Bruce Boxleitner) to stop the MCP and find the missing data.

The Technology

Just as Flynn is a user who becomes a program, the MCP is a program that would be a user. The MCP grows in power by assimilating other computer systems and taking over their functions. Without invoking the term Internet, MCP’s methods are evocative of its function. Ultimately, the film presents a message that the real world isn’t that different from the computer realm.

The Effects

To achieve the look of the computer world, director Steven Lisberger (pictured) and his team used groundbreaking new computer generated effects, which got them disqualified from the Oscars for “cheating.” Be on the lookout for hidden jokes, such as a cameo by Pac-Man or a Mickey Mouse head in a digital landscape.

The Parable

Religious themes abound. In the computer world, the users are considered gods. Flynn is a user who becomes a program and sacrifices himself to become a messiah, which evokes Jesus. Tron’s user gives him the code that will free his people, which parallels Moses’ experience with the Burning Bush and the 10 Commandments. Plus there’s the Tron vs. Giant Sark battle at the end, a la David and Goliath.

The Influence

Many of the film’s iconic images, such as the light cycles, have been referenced on shows such as “Family Guy.” “The Simpsons” made a memorable reference in the 1995 “Treehouse of Horror VI” segment “Homer3.” “South Park” has made numerous Tron jokes, most recently in “You Have 0 Friends,” in which Stan is sucked into the game grid by his Facebook profile, which has grown too large to allow itself to be deleted (“South Park” also likes to use the MCP as its representation of “Super Best Friends” member Moses). And let’s not forget Jay Maynard, otherwise known as Tron Guy, a computer programmer who parlayed his homemade Tron costume from Internet fame to appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

The Legacy

Jeff Bridges returns as Flynn in Tron Legacy, which Disney releases to theaters Dec. 17. Garrett Hedlund plays Flynn’s son, Sam, who enters the computer world in search of his father. The effects get a 21st century upgrade (for Imax 3D), but all the key elements are still there. Cyberspace will never be the same.

END OF LINE


 
 

 

By: John Latchem


May 27, 2010
'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Season 2 on Disc Oct. 26



It looks like “Star Wars” just won't go away. Even 33 years after the debut of George Lucas' blockbuster space epic, the franchise continues to grow. The Empire Strikes Back recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, “Star Wars” merchandise is still a top seller, and Cartoon Network's CG-animated “Clone Wars” series continues to perform well in the ratings.

Warner Home Video will release the second season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Oct. 26 (order date Sept. 14) as a four-disc set on DVD ($44.98) and Blu-ray Disc ($59.99). The discs will include all 22 episodes from the recently concluded season, plus audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes and a 64-page production journal. Exclusive to the Blu-ray edition will be “The Jedi Temple Archives,” an extensive database of special effects footage, concept art, 3D renderings and more.

The show takes place in the time frame between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, with the action-packed second season dubbed “Rise of the Bounty Hunters.” One of the highlights was the return of Boba Fett, the badass bounty hunter from the original trilogy, who is still learning the ropes here, as he is still a child seeking revenge for his father's death in Episode II. Longtime franchise fans should appreciate many of the subtle nods to the expanded universe established in novels and comic books.

By: John Latchem


April 30, 2010
Trading ‘Galactica’


The new BSG DVD packaging


Universal Studios Home Entertainment recently re-released Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series in newer packaging that is much simpler than the limited edition released last July. That set offered a Cylon action figure, but the discs were housed in flimsy cardboard sleeves that made scratching the discs more of a problem.

The earlier version of Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series, released July 2009.

Except for a few minor details, the new packaging is basically an outer box wrapped around season sets that already exist (which is the usual Universal strategy for complete series).

Other than the streamlined design, the biggest difference between the two versions is the new set includes The Plan, the BSG TV movie released late last year. Such re-releases are often the focus of fan ire, since many who bought the first iteration might like the second version better and would have waited had they known it was coming. (A majority of fans had to expect the re-release, since that’s how the industry works. But the specific packaging design was the variable.)

Kudos to Universal, then, for quietly offering fans a chance to obtain an empty (no discs) version of the new packaging to which they can transfer the discs from the old. The trade-in offer expires May 31, and you can get details by e-mailing universalcanadahomevideo@nbcuni.com.

Be warned, though. To get the new packaging you have to cut up the boxed set you already have — Universal is asking fans to send in the top and triangular flap of the first-season box contained in the set.



I was lucky enough to get the updated Blu-ray boxed set directly from Universal, so I decided to trade in for the new DVD packaging. The studio estimates two to four weeks for shipping, but my set showed up about a week after I sent the request.

At first glance the DVD version doesn’t appear to contain the TV movie The Plan as promised. You can tell the Blu-ray version comes with The Plan since the movie’s case is slotted after all four seasons. But when you look at the DVD version of the set in stores, it seems to be the four seasons without the extra movie.

Well, it turns out the DVD complete series contains a disc for The Plan in the fourth season, but not any separate packaging (which is kind of a bummer). The replacement set I received didn’t have an empty peg for it among the season four discs, but it turns out the box as a whole offers enough room to slide in the entire packaging for The Plan that I already had, after the four season boxes (just like the Blu-ray).

On further inspection, the Blu-ray box art indicates it’s a 20-disc set, while the DVD set indicates 25 discs, the same configurations as the limited edition, though The Plan should have added one disc to both totals. So confusion about the movie’s inclusion is understandable, but it turns out to be only a minor quibble, as the final product looks great on the shelf. These new complete series sets also have single boxes for the second and fourth seasons, which originally split in half for DVD sales, so that’s a plus.

BSG Complete Series DVD configuration

BSG Complete Series DVD Set with The Plan inserted

 

By: John Latchem


March 10, 2010
Trailer Wars: 'Iron Man 2' vs. 'Tron Legacy'


This past week, fanboys were treated to not one, but two new trailers for some highly anticipated blockbusters due in cinemas this year.

First up, after the Oscars, came the Iron Man 2 trailer:

 

It looks awesome and oh-so-cool, especially seeing Tony Stark deploying the new Mark V suitcase armor. The movie hits theaters May 7.

Also out this week is the new Tron Legacy trailer:

 

Looks like a slick CGI re-imagining of the computer world created in the original Tron from 1982. I don't know if it can be as groundbreaking as the first one but it still looks like a fun ride with a hefty heap of nostalgia. Tron Legacy hits theaters Dec. 17.

By: John Latchem





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